Coach Little kept order

Greg Bass

Greg Bass

Age 13 in 1963

Greg Bass recalls where he was when he learned of Kennedy’s assassination

At 1 p.m. 50 years ago today I was in my 8th grade gym class when we heard the radio report over the PA system announcing the President’s death. The South had begun to turn against JFK due to his speeches advocating civil rights. Coach Little, a proud former Marine, stood in front of our class and announced that if he heard anyone laugh or giggle or saw anyone smile, he would ”take them down.” He was an intimidating figure and we knew he meant what he said. We stood at attention for about 30 minutes before we were told to get dressed and school was dismissed early. We went home wondering what the future held for us. As John Lee Hooker observed, it was a mighty time.

On November 22, 2013, Greg Bass posted this recollection on Facebook. It is published at Kids in Birmingham 1963 with his permission. For his 2013 radio story, “Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church — The Case for Justice,” produced in conjunction with WBHM, click here.