Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where were you when JFK was killed?

I wonder if this idea would work as a book...let me explain.

See that book cover to the left of this screen? It touts "When the News Went Live," a book written by four of us who were radio/TV reporters when President Kennedy was killed. The book chronicles our experiences covering the story of the century as the nation pivoted from newspapers to television as the major source of news.

We wrote the book for history, not money.

As we pump the book in panel discussions, the same thing happens after each presentation -- people want to tell us where they were and what they were doing when the president was shot.

That awful day is the Pearl Harbor for our generations. And we are getting older, dying, and soon those stories of how we survived as a nation, as individuals, will be gone forever.

We were so busy as reporters covering the breaking story that we didn't have time to cry until days later. So busy, in fact, that I didn't stop to think about the impact this would have on people throughout America, throughout the world.

I remember one person from Nebraska who was just a school kid at the time told us that the principal gathered all the students outside where they formed a circle around the flagpole, said a prayer, then dismissed the kids to go home to their parents arms.

Another told of the boss, crying, going from office to office to tell workers to go home.

There a millions of poignant stories out there that are worthy of being told. Preserved for history. I would like to try to tell those stories.

Where were you?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was on the front lawn of the Scottish Rite Dorm at UT when I heard JFK had been "shot in San Antonio,"such was the confusion. By the time I walked to "Harry's Place," the library, I learned he had died. I went on to Latin class. We were all present save one: Linda Bird Johnson. I remember sitting numbly and silently before the black and white tv in the rec room for hours on end that weekend. A.

ArchGrafiX said...

I was in 6th Grade Science class at General George S. Patton, Jr. Junior High School, Ft. Leavenworth, KS. I was -- and am --an Army "Brat." I think it was just after lunch that November day. Bill Martin was our science teacher, a quiet bald man, sitting in front of us while we were doing an assignment. The principal came over the PA and announced that President Kennedy had been shot and was thought to be dead.

We all looked at Mr. Martin. He stared straight ahead at his raised lab desk, looking over our heads toward the back of the room, then slowly bowed his head, resting it between his steepled forefingers, elbows on the table. I don't remember much after that, but I don't think there was any crying in the room, talking or anything. Just silence. I guess we were all trying to let it sink in, to understand the enormity of what we had just heard.

We had never heard anything like it before, nor much like it since. Maybe the 9/11 event is close to the same feeling. It was a sad, somber day and the wonder arose in many of us, "What will happen to us now?" And later many of us would watch Jack Ruby murder Lee Harvey Oswald in that Dallas Police Department hall you were standing in, George. On TV, the first murder ever televised...the day the news went live.

-- Buddy Lerch

The South Plainsman said...

I was just pulling into my driveway on my way home from my 11 AM class at the law school at UT when the announcer interrupted the radio program saying that the motorcade had been fired upon, and it was believed that JFK had been shot. I rushed into the house and turned on the TV and stayed glued to it until after the funeral.

JFK had been my first vote for President, and I had been excited by his approach. That day marked the end of the post-war "good times." I don't like what has followed nearly as much as what came before. It was a sad and somber day.

Anonymous said...

I was at that grade school in Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

I was not even a glimmer in my mother's eye yet (though I am fascinated with the era).
s.l.d. cowen

Anonymous said...

I had just finished eating a hurried meal after my classes at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview. My wife was hurrying to take me to work so she could go to her work.
It was cold that day,so I went out to warm up the car. I had the radio on when they broke in on the scheduled programming stating that JFK had been shot in Dallas.
I hurried back into the house and turned on the tv much to the chagrin of my wife who was trying to get out the door and go to work. I told her what I had heard and we sat down and listened to the reporters describe the rush to Parkland.
We then went on to our respective jobs,mine at Sears,hers at the First Baptist Church.
When I walked or rather ran into Sears I expected everyone to be drawn to the tv department where there were several tvs on.No one was watching.They didn't even know that JFK had been shot until I got to work.
Soon everything in the store had stopped and everyone was visually connected to horror playing out before us.
One of the first things that came to my mind,was a joke going around then that JFK wouldn't even have to bring the Secret Service with him to Texas.He was perfectly safe. After all, Texans knew who would be President if anything happened to Kennedy.------Goose

Anonymous said...

I was in civics class at Spur High School. I don't remember anyone crying after the announcement came over the intercom. We just turned into zombies. The next day, another announcement: school officials had determined that JFK would want us to go ahead and have the Football Banquet that weekend as scheduled.

jnetb

Anonymous said...

I was working for a radio station in Bryan/College Station. I was home eating a bowl of soup, listening to my radio station when I heard a noisy relay on the mike open. We had specific orders not to interupt the program in progress, as it was a paying program. That's when I heard the bulletin. There is an irony here. The program interupted was "Life Line" a extreme right wing program sponsored by H.L. Hunt. The whole purpose of "Life Line" was to bash JFK and the Democratic party. By the way, Bob Huffaker,,one of the authors of The Day the News Went Live left Bryan for Dallas for KRLD a few days prior to the assassination. His was the voice we heard when Ruby shot Oswald at the Dallas P.D.

Anonymous said...

On November 22, 1963, I was in the sixth grade at the white school in my hometown in Mississippi. It was just after lunch and the principal of the school was going from room to room making an announcement. Although I could not hear what he said, I heard the whole class jump up and cheer. This happened at every classroom all the way down the hall to our's at the end.

I expected good news when the principal stuck his big red neck into our classroom and with a phony sad look on his face, said, "The president has been shot", to which most students jumped up and cheered.

I had heard talk about how the people of my hometown hated Kennedy for having confiscated some weapons my cousins were training with to take over Cuba. the white also hated JFK for talking about integrating the schools. (Mississippi had a law requring a voter to pass a literacy test in order to vote, so whites were not in farvour of bringing about any changes that would upset their order.) I did not grow up in a free and democratic society in Mississippi in the 50's & 60's.

All that summer of '63 I heard the Klan Kids bragging how Kennedy was going to get it. I even wrote Kennedy a letter warning him not to go to Dallas because I had over heard plans to shoot him there, but who listens to a ten year old.

IOn the day he was killed I couldn't believe they got away with it. I was in shock and my head hung low. A Klan Kid in front of me turned to see my sad look and said "Ha! That's nutin' they're gonna keep goin' till ther's a KKK!", which "they" did. Kennedy King Kennedy

Then all the students ran out into the hall. At this point it had only been about 30 minutes since the President had been shot. No one knew officially if he was dead. The principal, some teachers and most students gathered around one eighth grade boy in the middle of the hallway and patted him on the back, the head, shook his hand and proclaimed his father a mighty man. "He should be proud of his father." "His father was a good shot."

His father was in the National Reserves and was a well-known crackshot throughout the south.

I walked over to the boy and asked, "Did your daddy just shoot the president?"

"Naw honey. He just won a 'Turkey Shoot'"(Three marksmen in a triangular formation), proclaimed the eighth grade teacher standing beside the boy.

I have never been successful in telling any authorities about this and probably never will. That man died a few years back having never been charged with ANY crime, and he committed more than one or two.

Anonymous said...

Dear Abby published a book with that title and full of memories of people.

I was 5 and my aunt was babysitting me. We were in the parking lot of a school and were picking up my older cousins. I asked my aunt why they were crying. She told me it was because somneone shot our president. Now 49 years later, I teach at that same school. I tell my students about that day and they feel a little more connected to it. I have a phot of Kennedy matted and framed in my classroom. It shows him at my school making a speech when running for president in 1960.

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