Longtime Denton resident Keith Shelton was the political writer for the Dallas Times Herald when President John F. Kennedy visited Texas in November 1963. He was assigned to cover the president’s scheduled stops, which were to include San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and Austin.
Below is an excerpt from Shelton’s original reporter’s notebook from that tour, which he donated to the Sixth Floor Museum. The details of his notes have never been published, but he agreed to share his copyrighted materials with the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Shelton’s Fort Worth notes begin with a breakfast at the Texas Hotel that included leaders of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and other local dignitaries. Here are some excerpts:
Someone shouted “Ole”
They introduced the President of the United States
“All of you sit down
This organization has done a good deal for our state and this country
I’m glad this offers an opportunity for all Americans to develop their talents”
Before 7 a.m., peo[ple] lined up down the stairs at hotel for 8:45 a[m] breakfast.
Lobby full by 730 and sev hund[red] in rain ac[ross] st[reet]
(Speech in hand for 2 star)
Shelton said he already had written the story for the president’s speech in Dallas, and was holding on to a copy of the speech so that he could file it as soon as he was finished speaking in Dallas.
Break[fast] seats 2,000.
Only decor red white signs
“Membs of the FWCC must be missionaries of progress, not just beneficiaries of the efforts of others[”]
Full at 740
Soft scrambled eggs, bacon & potatoes, org juice, rolls, butter
Doors open at 7:30
Eastern Hills HS (FW) Ronnie Martin, Director
Jimmy Rovitto Combo
Red gladiolas & roses wi[th] white chrysanthemums
Shrine Circus tickets do brisk business in lobby
5-600 in rain by 8
Tarrant Co Sheriff’s Posse on horseback
Welcome to T[exas] Jack and Jacky
Texas Boys Choir Fort Worth, George Brogy, Director
Shelton then turned his attention to the head table and listed the guests seated there, including their affiliations where needed. Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce president Raymond E. Buck later would give comments.
Msgr. (Catholic) Vincent J. Wolf
Mayor Pro Tem and Mrs. Willard Barr
Co. Judge and Mrs. Marvin B. Simpson Jr.
Sen. And Mrs. Don Kennard
Cong Jim Wright
Senator Ralph Yar[borough]
Gov. and Mrs. Connally
VP and Mrs. LBJ
M and M Raymond E. Buck Pres C-C
Mayor and Mrs. Bayard S. Friedman
Att[orne]y Gen and Mrs. Waggoner Carr
Speaker and Mrs. Byron Tunnell VP C-C
M and M Marionol Hicks VP G[eneral]-D[ynamics]
Mr and Mrs. Jack W. Melcher VP C-C
Mr and Mrs. M.A. Atkinson Jr Exec VP and GM
M and M O.C. Yancey Pres T Co Central Labor Council
Dr. and Mrs. Grandville T. Walker
Pastor Univ Christian Ch[urch]
Shelton noted the music that opened the event and who wasn’t at the head table yet.
Hail to the Chief
Texas Our Texas
Jackie not here
Audience watched head table eat
Choir sang “Eyes of T”
“Most gallant and ablest Texan of them all” - Buck on LBJ.
(Connally 10 a.m. Longhorn Rm)
Intro[duced] Yarb[orough] as the “Sr citizen of T[exas].”
Then he turned his attention to the first lady’s arrival. She gets as much applause as JFK.
Applause for G[eneral].D[ynamics].
Pink - two piece wool suit
Black silk collar.
Ascot black. Pink pillbox hat.
“Our hearts and our arms are open to you” Buck on JFK.
The president’s remarks begin.
“I know now why everyone in FW is so thin having gotten up 9 or 10 times.” JFK.
“No one expects our life to be easy, certainly not in this century.”
Wio [without] US Viet Nam [would] Collapse overnite
I don’t th[in]k we are fatigued or tired.
We would like to live as we have in the past, but history will not permit it.
Balance [of] power still on side of freedom
The chamber of commerce president returns to the podium to give the president and first lady gifts from Fort Worth.
Buck – U have bro[ugh]t rain to moisten our pastures and our fields U have bro[ugh]t sunshine in our hearts
Gave Texas hat
“I’ll put it on in WH [White House] Mon. If you’ll come up, you’ll have a chance to see it.”
“We won’t ask you to put them on here.”
Boots for Mrs. K
A staffer lets Shelton know the correct description of the first lady’s ensemble.
Jackie’s suit raspberry.
Shelton gets on the press bus and describes the crowd that watches the caravan from the Texas Hotel to Carswell Air Force Base, where the president will board a plane to fly to Dallas.
4 sher[iff’s] dep[utie]s on horses
Confetti [weather cleared]
10:40 g[oo]d crowd Main St.
Poly “Marching 100” on steps of c[our]thouse
Sparse out Belknap
Arlington H[eigh]ts Band at Belknap & Henderson
3 men hi up on a forklift on Henderson
On Jacksboro Hgwy mother rocking baby in big rocker
Lots of “Hooray for JFK” signs.
Glad you came
Come back soon
Flite Time 8 min.
Left ab 1150
Shelton’s notes resume in Dallas as the caravan leaves Love Field.
Solid crowd on Lemmon
“Mr P There’s still hope in S.”
Sch kids at Lemmon & Inwood
Cop on overpasses
Stopped at Lomo Alto
“Pls Stop & Shake our hands” sign.
Fairly solid crowds all way to CS
Bec of hi[gh] regard for Pres I hold you & yr bad soc policies in contempt
Balloons & ribbon on Dem HQ
Rep Dick Morgan wi AuH20 [Goldwater] sign
Broom — to Goldwater Sweep in ’64
Thinned a little toward town
Very heavy on Main.
Hang out bldgs
Shelton’s continued his observations as events turned.
12:30 at triple underpass
3 – 4 shots ?
Man pounding ground
Lead car go around underpass
“Yank go home” at Mart
Shelton’s notes continued from the Dallas Trade Mart.
POS FM info “he was dep ch MW Stevenson”
Parkland M and H
“We’re checking everybody real close now”
Not listening to radio KNOTS
Johnson “There has been a delay in arrival of motorcade”
“There has been mishap”
“Don’t know extent or nature of it”
Pls keep seats
When can learn anything bel[ieve] me we’ll tell u
Johnson “Ladies & Gentleman I’m not sure th[at] I can say wh[at] I have to say
I feel a little bit like felt Pearl H[arbor] Day
It is true Pres and Gov Con have been shot
We don’t know how ser[ious]
rep[ort]ts are scanty”
Left wi[th] grim faces
Women damp eyes
Pres seal, flag
Rose, uneaten steaks
1:18 dr on staff at Parkland sed pres dead
“There are no w[ords to] des[cribe] to exp[ress] what we’re feeling
Many carried momentos
Black leather arm chair vacant
Police to analyze food
Reporter’s notes copyrighted by Keith Shelton.