DALLAS — It was the same time, 12:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22. It was the same place, downtown Dallas. But 50 years later, the thousands of people who filled Dealey Plaza weren’t there to cheer but to remember in quiet sadness the young, handsome president with whom Dallas will always be “linked in tragedy.”
Some were in school. Some were in Dallas. Some were simply going about their lives when word came down 50 years ago today that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas.
Eyewitness to hsitory, produced by the Dallas Morning News and former News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, gathers personal stories of 28 people who witnessed events surrounding the Kennedy assassination.
FORT WORTH — On a gloomy November afternoon, I helped carry the inexpensive wooden casket of Lee Harvey Oswald to a grave on a slight rise dotted with dying grass. With no mourners around to serve as pallbearers, it was a task that fell to me and a few other reporters covering the funeral of John F. Kennedy’s assassin. Fifty years later, I remain a reluctant and minor footnote in American history.
Police Chief Jesse Curry warned that Dallas police would take immediate action to block any improper conduct during President Kennedy’s visit. The chief, in a statement on Nov. 20, asked citizens to be alert to any misconduct. He said citizens could take preventive action if it became obvious that someone was planning to commit an act harmful or degrading to the president.
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.
G. Robert “Bob” Porter Jr.’s life morphed through stages as a musician, writer and historian. He was an aspiring trumpet player with the acclaimed One O’clock Lab Band at what is now the University of North Texas when illness took his ability to play. He became an arts writer for the Denton Record-Chronicle before moving on to a 29-year career as an entertainment writer for the Dallas Times Herald. When the daily newspaper closed in 1991, he found a new home at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where he co-founded the video oral-history collection.
The page was ripped from the Teletype machine when the final news alert came over. “President dead,” it said. The teletypewriter pages from Nov. 22, 1963, are among more than 700 pieces of history in a Denton exhibit surrounding the life of President John F. Kennedy and his death 50 years ago this week.
Keith Shelton still gets the occasional call from a conspiracy theorist. One recent call lasted about two hours. He was curious, first, how the caller had found him. Long retired from the daily newspaper grind, Shelton, 80, lives a quiet writer’s life with his wife, Deborah, and their cat in a small wood-frame house, amply shaded by old oak trees on the edge of Texas Woman’s University campus.