Friday, November 23, 2007

November 24, 1963

44 years have passed and it’s still a fresh, and shocking, memory. It was a Sunday and my husband and I and a close friend were in our NY City apartment. We were grieving over the assassination of President Kennedy two days earlier. We were also glued to the TV set because the accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was about to be transferred from the Dallas police station to a nearby county jail, and it was to be televised.

Nowadays we are used to 24 hour news broadcasting and instant replays. In 1963, however, it was a big deal to be watching this event “live” and we didn’t want to miss a bit of it. I remember that we even hired a young teenager to watch the children so that we could give it our undivided attention!

It was early afternoon in New York and a light scattering of snow had fallen. Our friend Chick had arrived, bearing warm bagels and cream cheese. We had planned on watching the Oswald transfer while enjoying our light brunch and then taking a short walk in Central Park.

We had no inkling of the dramatic events that were about to unfold before our very eyes. The TV screen showed the halls of the Dallas Police station, jammed with reporters, and it was difficult to pick out the detectives or officers from the rest.

Suddenly the door opened and Oswald was escorted in to the room. It was mere seconds before a man leaped forward and, with gun in hand, he shot him at close range. None of us could believe what we’d seen. Mass confusion ensued and the TV announcer was as much in the dark as were we, the viewers.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo above was shot by Robert H. Jackson of the Dallas Times-Herald. It is amazing that he could react so quickly. That same picture had flashed before our eyes but was soon obscured as a roomful of men wrestled the shooter to the ground. It wasn't long before he was identified as Jack Ruby...a well known man about town.

Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, had gained admittance to the Police station by impersonating a newspaper reporter. No one thought to check for weapons and it was easy for him to draw his gun and fatally wound the 24 year old Oswald. Ruby was tried and convicted of murder but he petitioned for a second trial and died in 1967 of cancer before he could be tried again. (He went to his death convinced that he’d been poisoned with “cancer cells”.)

Ruby never explained why he shot Oswald and speculations have been going on for years as to their connection with the crime syndicate and the assassination of President Kennedy. When I hear those arguments it never fails to take me back to that November day in 1963 and to the shock of watching an execution take place before our eyes and the eyes of a stunned nation.


Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

I remember it well, Ginnie...I was in New York at that time too, on Broadway, in a show....(I wrote abour November 22nd and my rememberwences in my Archives--November 22, 2005!
I was over at Bud's and saw where you aid you worked at ABC back then...I have a cuple of friends who worked there during those years....Danny Franks, a Lightening Deseigner and Romaine Johnston, who was a Set Designer....Both in the Television division, of course....! I just wondered if youy ever knew either of them....I Met them both around 1954....and Romaine is gone now, but Danny and his wife are here in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving, visiting a couple of their kids, right now, and I will be seeing them next Thursday....!

9:29 AM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Ginnie....

That post is have to scroll back to November 22, 2005...It's called "THE DA THE MUSIC DIED"
Here is a link...Sort of...(lol):
You may still have to scroll, one way or the other...But it is there, cause I just saw it....
And I don't know that gentleman you mentioned....I'm sure Danny might know his name. When I see him on Thursday I will ask him if he knew him....!

12:40 PM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

Glad you found that Post...

I forgot to say earlier that I too had my TV on when Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald....I don't remember ever being as shocked by anything before or since as seeing that murder happen before our very eyes! It is true that many othershocking things have been on television since that horrific day, but that was a "first" for me and I think for most people.

3:49 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I was watching that day as well. I remember thinking it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen right before our eyes.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Bud said...

Well done Ginny. I can remember precisely where I was standing in the NBC news room looking at a monitor when the shot was fired. And the same place during the Cuban Missile Crises-wondering if I would ever get home to see my wife and kids out on Long Island.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It's one of those days when we all remember what we were doing. Even Canadians.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It is one of those moment we all remember...where we were when JKF was assinated, when Ruby shot Oswald, then,RFK, MLK and John Lennon. I try to remember that we also have had some good memeories as a society. The 1969 moon landing comes to mind.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

How could we ever forget? I remember exactly where I was when Kennedy was shot and how overwhelmed with grief I felt. Then Oswald, then Bobby. Each time the course of history was changed in the blink of an eye with a single shot. And right before our very eyes.

3:16 AM  
Blogger joared said...

Oh yes, I remember that scene, too, as I was in front of a TV. Also, was shocked by the shooting of Jack Kennedy earlier as I sat at my desk with a TV and teletype machine (that went crazy with programming info from the Network) in front of me.

BTW did you ever know an Edie Johnson, later Neely, at ABC-TV? She was involved in various directing, producing functions, including controlling the purse strings on some TV pilots (can't recall the actual title of her position.)

7:26 PM  
Blogger Crayons said...

Wow, I never knew the whole story. I guess I was 4 at the time. I like your framing of it by means of describing TV at the time. That's crucial.

6:49 AM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

Thanks for the visit Ginnie....AWAY FROM HER is a very beautiful film....And it stays with you long after seeing it. Because I got the DVD throigh Netflix, there is a truly glorious bonus of Julie Christie doing a voice-over commentary...I watched the film without that and then watched it again, listening to Julie Christie.....She is just a magnificently bright sensitive woman....I loved hearing what she said about the film and her respect and awe for the director and the other actors...I found this "bonus" a true gift!

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geeze....I really hate to be the pain here....BUT, you have a typo at the beginning of your post, Ginnie. It's FORTY-FOUR years since this has occurred, not 24.
I also remember it well...and also witnessed it as it happened on tv. I was a Jr. in highschool.

8:32 AM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--you are so right that it is difficult for people who have not always experienced 24/7 news coverage to understand what a big deal it was for the Oswald transfer to be broadcast.
I was in a college choir at the time, and we were touring. We were staying in someone's home, and the television was on, so we saw the Oswald shooting. SHOCK--it seemed as though the world had indeed gone mad. Little did we know, that was just the beginning--because Martin Luther King & Bobby Kennedy were still alive then.

6:26 AM  

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