Assassin’s Bullet Kills Kennedy, vintage newspaper found last summer in a box of old family photographs, November 23rd, 1963, The Augusta Chronicle — South’s Oldest Newspaper — Est. 1785, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
It’s the anniversary week of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Could it possibly be that 45 years have passed? Last summer, when rummaging through family photographs at my uncle’s, I happened upon a vintage newspaper that headlined Saturday Morning, November 23rd, 1963, the day after the Kennedy shooting. The handwriting of some member of my family was in the top left corner — “killed Friday morning.”
The Kennedy assassination rattled me as a child. I wrote about it a few years ago, and discovered Bryan Woolley’s Dallas Times Herald account of the facts from the morning of November 22nd, 1963. It was strange to be holding a yellowed newspaper from that day, one that had circulated through the town where I was born. There were front page interviews, reactions of everyday people walking down Broad Street.
Where were you the day Kennedy was shot?
Though I was young, I clearly remember the headline photograph of LBJ, Lady Bird and Jackie. It wasn’t until later I would learn it was taken aboard Air Force One by White House photographer, Cecil Stoughton, at the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson. Stoughton was close to the Kennedys and rode in the fifth car in the motorcade. He heard the shots that fatally wounded JFK; he was at Parkland Hospital when Kennedy died.
The Augusta Chronicle Caption – Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as President in the cabin of the presidential plane as Mrs. John F. Kennedy stands at his side. Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes administers the oath. Background, Jack Valenti, administrative assistant to Johnson, Albert Thomas, D-Tex; Mrs. Johnson and Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Tex. This photo was made by Capt. Cecil Stoughton, official White House photographer, who was the only camera-man allowed to record the ceremony.
Out of the 12,000 negatives Stoughton shot during the Kennedy years, none would be as important as these – he was the only photographer allowed aboard Air Force One that day. And his were the only shots that proved Johnson had actually been sworn in. According to Stoughton’s son, “He took about 20 pictures but the first one almost didn’t happen because his Hasselblad, the Rolls-Royce of cameras, malfunctioned.” A photographer’s nightmare.
From Bryan Woolley’s account of the facts, here’s exactly what happened in those few moments that changed Cecil Stoughton’s life, and the world:
Judge Hughes boarded the plane at 2:35 and was handed a
small white card with the oath scrawled on it. Capt. Cecil
Stoughton, an Army Signal Corps photographer, tried to arrange
the crowd in the cramped stateroom so that he could take a
picture of the ceremony. “We’ll wait for Mrs. Kennedy,” Johnson
said. “I want her here.”
Mrs. Kennedy came out of the bedroom still wearing the
blood-soaked pink suit. Johnson pressed her hand and said, “This
is the saddest moment of my life.” The photographer placed her on
Johnson’s left, Lady Bird on his right. Judge Hughes, the first
woman to administer the presidential oath, was shaking.
“What about a Bible?” asked one of the witnesses. Someone
remembered that President Kennedy had kept a Bible in the bedroom
and went to get it.
“I do solemnly swear…”
The oath lasted 28 seconds. At 2:38 p.m., Lyndon B. Johnson
became the 36th President of the United States. The big jet’s
engines already were screaming. “Now, let’s get airborne,” he
LBJ & Jackie Kennedy, JFK In Augusta Chronicle – “Little People Numbed,” Lee Harvey Oswald, shots of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
The Augusta Chronicle Caption – Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in Dallas and charged Friday night with the murder of President Kennedy. Oswald was captured in a downtown Dallas theater after an alert cashier notified police a suspicious looking man had entered the theater shortly after the shooting. Oswald attempted to shoot his captors inside the theater but his pistol misfired. Four years ago Oswald said he was applying for Russian citizenship. His wife is Russian.
Stoughton had an amazing collection of photographs and memorabilia. He appeared on Public Television’s Antiques Roadshow in June 2007 where they estimated his collection at $75,000. Cecil Stoughton died a few weeks ago, on Monday, November 3rd, 2008. By some odd twist of fate, a pre-scheduled, taped segment of his 2007 Antiques Roadshow episode was rebroadcast that Monday night, about an hour after he died.
World Feels Shot’s Impact, vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle — South’s Oldest Newspaper — Est. 1785, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
There is one last thing that struck me about The Augusta Chronicle account. Above the headline World Feels Shot’s Impact is a smaller headline – Little People Numbed. It reminded me of our recent presidential elections in this country, how the whole world was watching — and how it was the little people — everywoman, everyman — who really made the difference.
The Augusta Chronicle – World Feels Shot’s Impact
Saturday, November 23rd, 2008
Word of President Kennedy’s assassination struck the world’s capitals with shattering impact, leaving heads of state and the man in the street stunned and grief-stricken. While messages of condolence poured into the White House from presidents, premiers and crowned heads, the little people of many lands reacted with numbed disbelief.
Pubs in London and cafes in Paris fell silent, as the news came over radio and television.
In Moscow, a Russian girl walked weeping along the street. At U.N. headquarters in New York, delegates of 111 nations bowed their heads in a moment of silence.
In Buenos Aires, newspapers sounded sirens reserved for news of the utmost gravity.
Britain’s Prime Minister Douglas-Home sent condolences and Sir Winston Churchill branded the slaying a monstrous act.
“The loss to the United States and to the world is incalculable,” Sir Winston declared. “Those who come after Mr. Kennedy must strive the more to achieve the ideals of world peace and happiness and dignity to which his presidency was dedicated.”
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, November 18th, 2008