Finishing out our month-long tribute to the memory of John F. Kennedy, today we look at what may have been the closing chapter of the tragic death-sequence which began on November 22, 1963 with the assassination of JFK, advanced to November 23, 1963 with the shooting and death of Lee Harvey Oswald, and culminated on January 3, 1967 with the passing of death-row inmate, Jack Ruby. Many to this day are convinced that all three deaths are rife with conspiracy. Perhaps time will prove them to be correct. Finding newspapers on the death of Ruby are quite difficult as the event was not deemed significant by most, and many institutions were no longer saving their newspapers for year-end binding - choosing instead to store them on microfiche to conserve precious storage space. However, every now and then one turns up. Please enjoy (?) the January 3, 1967 report as it appeared in The Parsons Sun (Kansas): The Death of Jack Ruby Fifty years ago today scores of Americans awoke in their William Levitt-style home (or similar), slipped on their robe and slippers, and headed out to their front drive to pick up the morning paper. Within moments they were sipping their cup of coffee as they opened their newspaper to discover that Lee Harvey Oswald, the destroyer of American innocence, had been shot and killed. While the spontaneous emotional reaction of many may have betrayed their parent's Biblically-charged rearing that two wrongs don't make a right, somehow this morning's news never found a way to fill the hole left by the events of just a few days prior - the assassination of JFK... their beloved president. This event was captured well on the front page of the same newspaper which had brought horrific news on November 23, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald Shot & Killed Perhaps someday we'll know the truth behind all that occurred during this infamous week in American history. This week I traveled to Dallas, Texas, via The Dallas Morning News (November 23, 1963). There I found the headline that saddened this great nation, "Kennedy Slain On Dallas Street". One article headline reads "Gray clouds went away - Day Began as Auspiciously As Any in Kennedy's Career" but at half past noon, lives would be forever changed when the first shot from the book depository rang out. I was in first grade when this occurred, and still remember our custodian, Ralph, knocking on our window and telling my teacher, Miss Snyder, that the President had just been shot. He was on the way to the flagpole to lower it to half mast. Some events will stay vividly with you for a lifetime. ~The Traveler AS a sidebar... Over the years various lists have circulated comparing Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. The response to the uncanny similarities provided by Snopes is worth reading: Snopes on Lincoln/Kennedy Comparison since 5 different manuscripts exist, there is some disagreement amongst historians concerning what he actually said. Might original newspapers of the day with eye witness accounts provide the answer? If the speech had been long we probably wouldn't have a high degree of confidence in the newspaper reporters' accounts, but the brevity of the speech certainly increases the probability of an accurate transcription. Original reports may not have the definitive answer to this question, but they certainly provide reasonable evidence regarding what was actually spoken. Once again, "History is never more fascinating than when it is read from the day it was first reported." Fifty years ago this week my older sister and I came in from carving Matchbox-car-sized roads through the previously well-manicured turf of our backyard to find our mother staring at the semi-snowy, partially visible screen of our black and white television with tears streaming down her face. Not being prone to such outward displays of emotion, her anguish screamed to us that something tragic had happened. This moment was emblazoned in our minds for life... and was reinforced days later when she took us by the hand to lead us on the long trek to the railroad overpass a few miles from our home to peer over the edge to watch a train draped with a flag pass under our feet. President John F. Kennedy was dead! While at the time my sister and I had no idea whether or not he was a good president (for to a child, all presidents are good), one thing we knew for sure, something vanished from people's eyes which has yet to return - American innocence. As we reflect on this snap-shot of innocence lost, we wonder where it all began - that is, the overwhelming common-man devotion which inspired many to "Ask not what your country can do for you...". When did the admiration of the crowd begin? Was it when he was proclaimed a WWII hero as the Captain of PT-109, or did it spring-forth from his impact as a Massachusetts Representative with his first political election victory? While it may be hard to sort out how he had become so beloved, one thing is certain: a split-second in time along a Dallas street changed everything. Feel free to share your "memory" of November 22, 1963. To commemorate this historic moment (November 22, 1963), we've assembled a host of "assassination-report" newspapers from all over the country. They are viewable at: JFK Assassination. The Michigan Daily--Extra" of Ann Arbor, Nov. 22, 1963 (see below) just might "take the cake". Have you seen a better front page? Feel free to share.
Dallas Morning News" of November 22, 1963. Although it was the day he was assassinated, being a morning newspaper it obviously has no mention of the horrible event, but rather is focused on Kennedy's visit to the city. The headline reads: "Storm of Political Controversy Swirls Around Kennedy on Visit". At the bottom of the front page is a map of the: "Presidential Motorcade Route". It also includes the controversial full page notice by the: "The American Fact-Finding Committee" which is very critical of President Kennedy (see photos). This has become a rather well-know--and much desired--report in a period newspaper. Also of curious interest--and only to be found in a Dallas newspaper--are two inconspicuous advertisements to be found on facing pages inside. One is for the 'Texas" movie theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested (trivia: he was watching the movie "War Is Hell": see photo) and the facing page has an advertisement for the "Carousel", the night club owned & operated by Jack Ruby (see). Because this issue had no reason to be saved, it is very rare today despite offering some great content relating to John F. Kennedy. The Liberator" of Lincoln's very famous & heart-felt letter to a woman who lost five sons in the Civil War. A very sobering report which gives one a small sense of the horror of war not just on the battlefield, but at home as well. This letter has been praised by many as among Lincoln's best works of writing, along with the Gettysburg Address and second inaugural address. Minneapolis Morning Star for June 30, 1942. At first glance it seems to state the obvious. However, upon further reflection, it might be interesting to explore the backstory as to the motivation behind his 1923 evaluation. Perhaps there is nothing here to uncover, but it makes one wonder. Pennsylvania Journal & Weekly Advertiser" newspaper of April 30, 1783. Page two contains this very historic report, but of equal fascination is the wording of the document. He congratulates the Army, noting that those who have performed the "...meanest office..." have participated in a great drama "...on the stage of human affairs...For these are the men who ought to be considered as the pride and boast of the American Army; And, who crowned with well earned laurels, may soon withdraw from the field of Glory, to the more tranquil walks of civil life...Nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty Scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying, consistency of character through the very last act; to close the Drama with applause; and to retire from the Military Theatre with the same approbation of Angels and men which have crowned all their former virtuous actions." There is evidence of Washington's less formal and more pedestrian side as well as he ends the document with: "An extra ration of liquor to be issued to every man tomorrow, to drink Perpetual Peace, Independence and Happiness to the United States of America." See this hyperlink for the full text (or the text of the actual newspaper below). What a thrill to find such a document which has rested on our shelves for many years just waiting to be discovered. What a thrill to be involved in such a fascinating hobby.