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Shelton detailed history

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
Keith Shelton took these notes while covering President John F. Kennedy’s stops in Fort Worth and Dallas for the Dallas Times Herald in November 1963.
Keith Shelton took these notes while covering President John F. Kennedy’s stops in Fort Worth and Dallas for the Dallas Times Herald in November 1963.

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:

8:45 a.m.

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


5-piece combo

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.

Head table

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

President K[ennedy]

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].

Jackie late.

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.

Trim navy.


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.

Mr Pres

Glad you came

Come back soon

Westerner Drive-in

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.

Teenage girls.

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

Heavy d[owntow]n.

Very heavy on Main.

Hang out bldgs

Hang lampposts


Shelton’s continued his observations as events turned.

12:30 at triple underpass

3 – 4 shots ?

Man pounding ground

Lead car go around underpass

Dealey Plaza

“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

Organ playing


“We’re checking everybody real close now”

Not listening to radio KNOTS

Reporters mobbed

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


Cleaning tables

Parakeets singing

Seal gone

Many carried momentos

Black leather arm chair vacant

Police to analyze food



Reporter’s notes copyrighted by Keith Shelton.