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Assassin's Bullet Kills Kennedy, shot of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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.



LBJ & Jackie Kennedy, close-up shot of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 


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     
said. 



JFK In Augusta Chronicle - Little People Numbed, shot of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedLee Harvey Oswald, shot of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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 Shots Impact, shot of vintage copy of The Augusta Chronicle, November 23rd, 1963, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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

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On the early afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, I was sitting in 3rd grade at a wooden desk drawing hearts with a BIC pen. It was 2:13 on Friday. I couldn’t wait for the weekend. My 3rd grade teacher, Miss Wells, wore pleated skirts that flowed behind her and she was tall, with slender limbs, but she had a kind, round face.

I was 9 years old. I didn’t know what I was about to find out – at 1pm CST, 2 o’clock South Carolina time, President John F. Kennedy had been pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He’d been shot, half hour earlier, while I was coming in from recess.

But let’s backtrack a little.

By 1 o’clock EST, I had finished lunch served on gray plastic trays by hair-netted, uniformed women: Tater Tots, Velveeta mac and cheese, a pint of whole Borden’s milk (sporting a daisy-ringed, smiling, Elsie the Cow), and all American apple crisp with brown sugar, oats, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, water, salt, and lemon to taste.

At 1:30, the moment Kennedy was shot, I was being called in from recess. When the bell rang, I stopped romping on the wooden planked teeter-totters, playing hopscotch in the dirt, and jumping through the wiry, jute ropes and tall metal swings of the 60’s. I walked toward the brick school building and flirted with freckle-faced Billy while we were standing in wobbly 3rd grade lines waiting for Mrs. Payne.

Mrs. Payne was on playground duty, just about to pull up her lanyard to blow her trademark silver whistle so we could walk single file back to the classroom. I loved Billy because he could rabbit wiggle his nostrils like me, a recessive gene trait we shared. The very act of flaring our nose holes, simultaneously, on command, endeared him to me.

By 2:00, when Kennedy was pronounced dead, Mrs. Wells was preparing to teach the afternoon lesson, South Carolina history. South Carolina, the Palmetto State, dressed in dark blue silk, a white crescent moon and silhouetted palm, was one of the 13 Original Colonies. Can you name the others? A 5th grader probably could. And in 3rd grade, I knew the following about South Carolina:

State Capitol: ColumbiaSouth Carolina Flag
State Bird: the Carolina Wren
State Beverage: Sweet Iced Tea
State Snack: Boiled Peanuts (hmmmm)
State Fruit: the Peach
State Motto: “While I breathe, I hope”

 

Around 2:15, out of a worn brown speaker cover high on the wall, dotted with symmetrically punched holes, the principal’s voice floated, disembodied, out of the public address system (remember the tinny, boxy sound of the PA?) I can’t remember the principal’s name. Just that she was stern, with an apple shaped, peasant stock body like me, curly short hair, and hard-soled pumps that clacked along the waxed linoleum when she snapped us to attention.

But this afternoon, she wasn’t snapping. In a quiet voice, the quietest I’d ever heard, she slowly announced, “Can I have your attention. I’ve got some sad news. President John F. Kennedy was shot today at 12:30 CST. He died at 1pm from gunshot wounds. Let’s bow our heads in a moment of silence.”

We sat there in our seats, stunned, looking up at lanky Clara Wells for direction. Miss Wells stared up at the speaker, blankly, but only for a few seconds. Then she quickly recovered and led us through the moment of silence. I don’t remember what, if anything, she said. I only remember the sinking feeling and the sadness that swept over me like a shroud.

Later that night, on the black and white Zenith, my parents and I, along with 189 million other Americans, relived the day: Walter Cronkite’s low jowls, Jackie’s pink pill box hat and Chanel suit, the raised right hand of Lyndon Johnson’s “do you solemnly swear.” It played like a dream sequence. My young mind could not comprehend the full impact. But I knew something big had changed.

 

When I went back to the South in 1999, Belvedere Elementary stood in the same place, along the scrub pines and dirty salt and pepper playground, across from the Methodist church. The Baptist church that my best friend, Susan, attended every Sunday was still on the opposite corner of the street. The school wasn’t open that day. I peeked in the windows but couldn’t see much. I took some photographs.

The place seemed smaller than I remembered it. But the memories, huge. I did a lot of growing up in that place.

A few weeks ago when I was doing Internet research for a presentation, I ran across Bryan Woolley’s account, The Day Kennedy Died, from a 1983 article he wrote for the Dallas Times Herald. The story is based solely on the facts. In this case, the facts are enough. The facts are powerful.

That day in 1963, this country had the breath knocked out of it. Something died: our collective sense of well-being and hope. Back then, I was the next generation. And the seeds of fear took root in my 9 year old heart.

But while I breathe, I hope.


Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

———————–

Here’s Bryan’s story. Just the facts, M’am. Just the facts.

———————–

Volume : SIRS 1991 History, Article 02                               
Subject: Keyword(s) : KENNEDY and ASSASSINATION
Title  : The Day John Kennedy Died                                            
Author : Bryan Woolley                                                        
Source : Dallas Times Herald (Dallas, Texas)                                  
Publication Date : Nov. 20, 1983      
Page Number(s) : Sec. Sec. 2-3 

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