I was standing outside the Trade Mart building where the president was to speak at a luncheon. My mother was inside, having received a ticket from then-U.S. Attorney Barefoot Sanders. One of Sanders’ daughters, Janet, and I were with my father. We had gotten out of school at Preston Hollow Elementary to see JFK. I was 9 years old.
The Trade Mart building is close to Stemmons Expressway and I remember seeing some cars going by quickly but didn’t know that was the motorcade going to Parkland Hospital.
A police motorcycle was parked near where we were standing and we heard something come over the radio, something about the president. It seemed like a long time but I have no idea how long, and then people started coming out of the Trade Mart ashen faced, including my mother. The people inside had been told the president was dead.
I remember spending the entire weekend in front of the television watching Walter Cronkite and CBS News. However, we were not at home that Sunday morning when Ruby shot Oswald. When we heard about that, it was just unreal. Watching the funeral coverage on Monday is seared into my memory.
Hearing Cardinal Cushing celebrate the Requiem Mass, seeing John Jr. salute his father, the incessant drums and the clicking of the horses’ hooves as they drew the caisson with the president’s flag-draped coffin, are so vivid. When I see video of it either on television or at the Sixth Floor Museum, it brings back tears and sobs even now.
My mother cannot discuss this—50 years later, it pains her so. Interestingly, I was not Catholic at the time. I believe looking back, that something of how reverently and dignified the whole Kennedy family was and the funeral itself, combined with other influences, touched a desire in me that later culminated in my being received into the church some eight years later at age 17.