Today I traveled to Parsons, Kansas, by means of The Parsons Sun dated January 3, 1967 where the headline read: “Cancer Victim – Death Takes Ruby; Slayer of Oswald”. “Jack Ruby, insisting to his final day that he acted along as Lee Harvey Oswald’s slayer, died today of cancer in Parkland Memorial Hospital…” This was the same hospital in which President Kennedy was pronounced dead.” Soon after Ruby’s killing of Oswald, conspiracy theories were stoked as news spread focusing on the point that Ruby knew Oswald. However, he attempted to debunk these stories as is described within the coverage: “…over the last weekend, it was revealed that one of Ruby’s last acts was to record another statement denying any conspiracy… a small recorder into the hospital room for Jack to use and tell his story — the story he died with…”
My Fellow Americans: Devastating hurricanes, Pearl Harbor, 9-11, the end of WWII, Lindbergh’s 1st flight across the Atlantic – while there is much that divides us, there have been times throughout our history when both triumphs and tragedies have inspired us to lay down our weapons and to unite as one. While these times of mutual good will are typically short-lived, they often act as a reset to help center us on that which binds us together. We need such a time!
It is was with the current atmosphere of angst as a backdrop that I was moved by an under-the-radar prayer found buried on page 11 of an issue reporting the assassination of President JFK. His death, airmailed via television directly into the living room of nearly every home in America, brought together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike and unified us around shared grief. May a day come when such unity of spirit flourishes without the inspiration of deep sorrow, tragedy, or war. As another assassinated President once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand (Abraham Lincoln).” It is time for us to lay down our weapons. Much is at stake.
One of the more desired of the newspapers reporting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has always been the “Dallas Morning News“, published in the city where he was killed. Unbeknownst to most–including us for many years–is the curious obituary found on page 6 of the last section. Inconspicuously listed among the 33 entries in the “Deaths & Funerals” section is the one shown in the photo. It is a paid obituary notice inserted by a private funeral home announcing the death of an American president. The O’Neal Funeral Home handled President Kennedy’s remains in Dallas and furnished the casket in which he was sent to Washington. Although certainly not a local funeral, I suspect the funeral home sought the opportunity to gain some stature & credibility by letting all know they handled the remains of a President of the United States.
Has anyone else discovered this obituary notice?
And of note as well, relating to the Kennedy assassination, is the death notice of “J.D. Tibbit”, the police officer killed by Oswald shortly after the Kennedy assassination. In fact it was for Tibbit’s death that Oswald was initially arrested, the connection to Kennedy’s assassination discovered afterwards.
The best headlines need no commentary – they speak for themselves. However, sometimes they communicate the wrong message. Let’s hope the LOS ANGELES TIMES – EXTRA for November 22, 1963 was such an instance and not wishful thinking: “ASSASSINATE KENNEDY“
Today I traveled back in time through The Detroit Free Press of March 15, 1964. The issue featured a banner headline “How Dallas Jury Reached Verdict of Death for Ruby” in which “…the four women and eight men jurors reached the decision — one of four possible verdicts open to them — after just two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation…”. Ruby was on trial for shooting to death Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed President John F. Kennedy. Ruby did appeal the case but died from a pulmonary embolism as the date for his new trial was being set.
Just a few weeks prior, Cassius Clay had defeated Sonny Liston in the world heavy weight boxing match. “‘Cassius X’ Says He’s a ‘Prophet'” said “…his Muslim name is ‘Muhammad Ali and I’m a true follower of Elijah Muhammad. I face east five times a day…”. This is when he started using Muhammad Ali as his known name.
And just for fun, “Happiness is a 40-ft. Beatle”… yeah, yeah, yeah!!!
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.
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
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.
Always in the search for the most dramatic front page on the John F. Kennedy assassination, this issue of: “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.