Other Matters: That Day

Kennedy in MotorcadeNearly all Americans who were alive when President Kennedy was murdered remember how and where they got the news. In announcing her revitalized blog, Carol Sloane asked her contacts to recall what they were doing on November 22, 1963. This is what I sent her:

My camera crew and I were in the ballroom of the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon, interviewing Denise Tourover, the national head of Hadassah. Mrs. Tourover was from Washington DC. She was a friend of the Kennedys. I had just asked her about the importance of Mr. Kennedy’s trip to Dallas when Richard Ross, the anchor at a competing station, burst into the room and announced that the President had been shot. It was soon confirmed that he was dead. KATU-TV had just been named the ABC affiliate in Portland, but theKennedy flame contract allowing us to carry the network’s coverage had not gone into effect. For the first several hours, until ABC made arrangements to hook us into the network, our news department carried the load of reporting about the assassination, depending on wire services and whatever guest experts we could round up. I persuaded Mrs. Tourover to come to the studio and go live with us. She became an invaluable source and a connection to other Kennedy contacts across the country. I did not leave the studio, or the air, for nearly 24 of the most demanding and emotional hours of my life.

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  1. dick vartanian says

    I was approaching the green at #4 hole at the Harding Park golf course in San Francisco. I didn’t finish but sat down for a while to settle my emotions

  2. Bill Benjamin says

    I was in my senior year at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. I was living in an off-campus apartment and making lunch for myself before heading out to my 1pm class in Principles of Insurance. I had the TV on and heard the news. I was riveted to the screen in total disbelief. I was reluctant to turn off the TV but had to in order to get to my 1pm class. No one carried a whit about insurance. Instructor and students talked about what had just happened in Dallas. Around 1:40 pm, the professor in the classroom next to mine entered the room and announced that the President had died. The class was immediately dismissed. I returned to my apartment and watched the events unfold on TV for the entire weekend. I still can’t believe what happened that awful day a half-century ago.

  3. Tony Burrell, II says

    My sister and I were teenagers living in Washington, DC at the time, when my mother called me from her work and told us the sad news. When I told my sister, she broke out into tears. Ironically, I had just finished reading a DownBeat® article that mentioned that trumpeter Joe Gordon had died earlier while smoking in bed, if my memory is correct. I showed that article to my sister and she cried even more.

    My mother, sister and I had been on a trip to L.A. earlier that year and had had the pleasure of seeing Shelly Manne at his Manne-Hole jazz club and Joe Gordon was in the group at the time. For me, going to L.A. for the first time and visiting Hollywood ,in particular, the only place that I really wanted to see was the Manne-Hole.So it was a delight to encounter Cahuenga Blvd. and discover the Manne-Hole just a few blocks off of the main street, which we went to visit later on that same evening and even met Mr. Manne, who was a very gracious host, after one of his sets.

    Several days later, after President Kennedy had been laid in state at the Capitol, we drove down to the Capitol very late at night.The line of mourners who wanted to pass by the Rotunda was very long, stretching for blocks and blocks in the cold November air. It must have close to midnight or even later. We did not even have a chance to get into the line at even that late hour as it was just so long and slow moving, so we turned around and went back home. I think that all of the DC schools were closed for the day of the funeral, as I remember watching the funeral procession take place on a black and white TV with the rest of my family.