Monday, November 22, 2010

Texas Tidbits: Forty-Seven Years Ago in Dallas...

The 35th President of the United States
Today is one of those dates that when something historic happens, you recall exactly where you were and what you were doing. On November 22, 1963, I was in first grade at Springdale Elementary School in Fort Worth, Mrs. Gill's class. The school is about 32 miles from where the tragedy took place in downtown Dallas. Dallas, Texas, the United States and the world changed forever on that sunny November afternoon 47 years ago. It's a time so long ago, but it is still fresh in our minds, like it happened yesterday.

A young, dynamic President died that day and America, with echoes of I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver ringing in our ears, lost her innocence and the city of Dallas would, for decades, be known as "that place where President Kennedy was killed". Thankfully, Big D would become one of the biggest cities in the country, home to Fortune 500 companies and as well-known for the Dallas Cowboys as it was as "that place where President Kennedy was killed". But the thing that made this horrible incident resonate so loudly with the American people was that it was immediately brought into our living rooms by a still-young medium called television. Never before in our nation's history had a history-making event been brought straight into our living rooms. We could actually see Dealey Plaza and Parkland Hospital, where the President was declared dead. We could see the pink dress the First Lady was wearing, her husband's blood splattered all over it. These images allowed us all to "be there" as events unfolded around the assassination. Two days later, as the nation and the world watched, Jack Ruby mortally wounded the President's accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, on live TV. It was almost surreal. Can this be happening before our very eyes? Or is it a horrible nightmare from which we would awake and everything would be fine?

Years later, I met a man we'll call Bill. Bill was the man who took his neighbor to work on November 22, 1963. That neighbor was carrying a package with him as he got into Bill's car. He said it was curtain rods. The neighbor's name? Lee Harvey Oswald. My friend, Bill, was an unwitting accomplice to history. I knew Bill for many years before moving out of the Metroplex and he never mentioned that day to me. I found out about it through one of Bill's family members, who is still a close friend of mine.

I forgot to mention earlier that my Mom and two sisters were shopping near downtown Fort Worth the day of the assassination and the were amongst hundreds of people who watched the Presidential motorcade as it headed out of Fort Worth after President Kennedy's speech to some group or another. I don't even know if either of them even remember this or not.

Those are my thoughts about November 22, 1963. Please share yours with us in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

***Thanks for the linkage to The Blogmocray!***

***I deliberately did not link to any video or photographs of the killing of President Kennedy. We've seen them all ad nauseam.***


  1. As a child of the 60's, television, was my link to the world. Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Huntley, Brinkey,and Harry Reasoner were the voice of THAT weekend. My mom picked me up from school. She told me the President had been shot. Her, being a working single mom, really had now information for me about whether the President was alive or dead. When we got home, the news anchors had delivered the news of the President's death and were beginning the long trip into the night. I watched(it seems like, every minute of the coveage)though-out the weekend. The plane arriving in Washington, D.C., the body laying at rest in the Rotunda, the service, the trip to Arlington Cemetary, and then, the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.......then the burial. Such a long time many memories, more questions and the main one being....really....Why? Did this happen and why has life been changed so much by this one event?

  2. James, I can't add to that. Great comment. Thanks.

  3. Ann and I had just arrived home after a trip to Michigan. Even before we got out of the car, the cleaning lady from nest door, came out and told us that it had happened just minutes before. We got in the house and flipped on the TV to watch the coverage. We unpacked the next day. A definite day in infamy.

  4. was a weird time to be sure. I was just a kid then and I remember the disbelief in the faces of the grown ups around me. I still can see their faces.

  5. I remember I was also in First Grade, in Irving @ Lee Britain. It seems as though they made an announcement on the intercom, or maybe someone came to the door and told my teacher. I remember my teacher crying.

  6. That look on the faces of the grownups is still etched in my mind. Thanks, Kim for the comment.

  7. I was in junior high in East Texas when this happened. Some teachers had tried to put together a field trip for a couple of school buses to go to Dallas for the President's visit, but it was canceled. Not enough parents would sign the releases.
    In my family and closest friend's families, there was very little sadness over his assassination, he was a Democrat and a Kennedy. There was no joy either, but the biggest concern and outrage was that this could happen to our president and what was becoming of our nation.
    Having grown up with this and living in Dallas for the past 20 years, I have heard and read it all. I generally don't believe in conspiracy theories. If more than one person is involved it generally becomes known. For example, Monica Lewinsky. She and Bill were alone together, but the entire world found out. When it comes to JFK's assassination, it is very clear that a significant number of people were involved.
    To this day, the greatest work of fiction I have ever read(and one of the funniest non-humor books) is The Warren Commission Report.
    I am a pretty fair country shot. I shot competitively for a number of years and I have actually fired an Italian Carcano. I'm not certain I could get off three well aimed shots in 6-7 seconds with a semi-auto, such as an M16. Making those shots with a clunky Carcano that also had a scope, requiring more time for reacquiring the target, to me would be impossible. Not to mention the adrenaline coursing through his system.
    The old school book depository is now The Sixth Floor Museum and draws huge numbers of people of all ages from all over the world. It is tastefully done and I highly recommend anyone visiting it.
    As for this historic event, it just never had a big impact on me or my thinking. I was outraged that the president could be murdered and how such an act demeaned the value of our nation's history and placed our system on the same level as a banana republic.

  8. n2l... Another superb comment.

    Thanks, amigo.


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