Most all of this event played out on our major television stations. It began on a very happy day for the proud people of Texas.
Many elements of this event were set in place before dawn of the day. That morning a mild, misting rain greeted those who would come out to watch and hear a man greatly admired in this city of Ft. Worth – just to the West of me - with the hopes of a glimpse of his beloved wife.
Short speeches from a stand adjacent to the Hotel Texas ensued, then on to breakfast in the hotel with notable politicians - local, state and Federal – along with citizens of the area and the ever-present news journalists .
A few hours after, the group was transported 30 miles, 13 minutes, to the East, to the city of Dallas.
The weather had cleared to a beautiful sunny day, and a decision made that the President’s official automobile’s protective top would be removed for the motorcade through the city. The motorcade would travel from Love Field Airport, through downtown, then on, via Stemmons Expressway, to Market Hall, where another group of notables and citizens would be gathered for a luncheon.
A great, happy crowd greeted President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie at the airport. A bouquet of deep red roses were given to Jackie, which she carried with her in the motorcade, and which would become more a symbol of deep sadness than joy.
During the mid-part of the motorcade, Texas Governor John Connally turned from the front seat of the automobile to the rear and stated “The people of Texas really do love you, Mr. President.”
Minutes later shots rang out: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was struck in the neck by the first bullet which continued on, striking the governor in the upper arm; the second, and fatal bullet, struck the President in the back of the head.
That morning I was going to be late getting to our business; I would be taking time for a tea-clatch with neighbors. We women, four of us, were our own little U.N: me from the U.S., Hilda from England, Lenny from The Netherlands, and Lorana from Jordon – we were all tea drinkers. Earlier we had watched on TV part of the events in Ft. Worth, but had turned off the set.
About the time we were to break up our “clatch”, my husband John called unexpectedly. He asked if we were watching TV, then immediately told me the president was shot.
Lenny quickly turned on the TV, and we sat mesmerized and shocked, unbelieving of what was happening. We continued watching news on TV the better part of the day.
Reality didn’t seem to set in until Walter Cronkite announced the information, given him by Dan Rather via phone from Dallas Parkland Hospital, that the President was dead. A bit of irony that President Kennedy was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital, just a few blocks from his original destination for that day, Market Hall.
I remember, in the afternoon, Lenny getting a call from her parents in The Netherlands, shocked and hopeful she would move out of Texas. “They killed the President, they could kill you!” Of course they were saddened and in a panic for her safety, as was natural for a parent with a child so far away.
My husband had, a few days earlier, purchased a late-model Cadillac that had a “PRESS PASS” card left in the glove compartment, and it, the press pass, was in his office desk drawer. That afternoon he had one of his workers drive him to Love Field in Dallas, the Press Pass visible in the window. Surprisingly, the car was allowed to drive onto the tarmac and he and the driver watched as the casket was loaded on to Air Force One; watched as Jackie, V.P. Lyndon Johnson and others boarded the plane. He remembered that casket, and remarked later that night, as we watched TV and the unloading of the casket in Washington D.C., “That’s NOT the same casket I saw being loaded at Love Field!”
It was later explained that the family had brought another casket aboard in D.C., President Kennedy’s body transferred to the second casket before being unloaded from the plane.
Following Strange Events: Oswald (the accused assassin) was murdered by Jack Ruby; Ruby gave only one interview while in jail: to Dorothy Kilgallen, who died in her New York home – days after doing the interview with Ruby - from taking a sleeping pill after ingesting a few alcoholic drinks, something she had done for years without any bad effects*; not long thereafter Ruby died in jail, before ever going to trial, and after an injection was given him for the flu.
The city of Dallas, unlike Ft. Worth who had strong ties to the Democratic Party, had many fanatical Right Wing groups that included multi-millionaire businessmen.
“…when Dorothy [Kilgallen] returned to New York, she told friends that she had discovered that Ruby and the slain Officer J.D. Tippit (Oswald known as the perp) had been friends. They had been seen together in Ruby's Carousel Club at a meeting 2 weeks before the assassination, in the company of B. Weissman, who had placed the ‘JFK-Wanted for Treason’ newspaper ad in Dallas newspapers on the morning of November 22nd, 1963.”**
I personally read this abhorrible, shocking ad, along with a brochure proclaiming “Left-Wing Politicians the Bane of America” (“Kennedy a Monarch of the Pope, E. Roosevelt a n……-loving communist,” etc.) mailed about a month earlier, from Dallas, to about a couple million households (our household being one) in the D/FW metroplex area; postage at the time being $0.05. I couldn’t, personally, have floated a loan to pay that postage!
I bring these matters forth to describe the broiling, underlying political temperament of Dallas at the time of Kennedy’s assassination; the majority of the people of Dallas not included.
For days I continued to ask “How could this have happened here?” until I finally rationalized: how could this NOT have happened here?
Throughout the next days and nights our television was not turned off. Our phone was busy with calls from friends and family in Texas, Missouri, California, Oklahoma, and Mexico: Did we know more than they? It was a time when no one could get enough news, hoping that what had happened…had not really happened. We watched as the world changed.
Yes, it did, and the event will not be forgotten nor fully explained…possibly until this generation, too, passes. Then it will be history…and still fully unexplained.
(see *http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkilgallen.htm and
**http://www.jfkresearch.com/morningstar/killgallen.htm for more on Kilgallen)
An interesting, lesser known, fact on the Kennedy assassination:
© Jackie (Micke) Jinks, November, 2006