Odd Find

I just heard a blurb on NPR on a recently unearthed home movie of the Kennedy motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963. The movie was turned over to the Sixth Floor Museum at Lee Harvey Oswald’s former workplace. After hearing the bit on the radio, I knew just what to do: check the museum’s website for the video. But the site was slammed with traffic. No problem: YouTube or Google Video (or both–are they the same now?) would surely have it. And they did–thirty-nine seconds’ worth, which might be all that the museum made public; or maybe that’s all that the amateur cameraman, George Jefferies, shot. (Jefferies, 82, a former insurance executive, says the home movies sat in a dresser drawer for more than four decades before he recently asked his son-in-law whether he’d like to see some footage of Kennedy’s visit to Dallas.)

Thirty-nine seconds. Not much. A crowd in the street. Limousines approaching and passing. A group of smiling passengers: the Kennedys, the Connollys. In less than two minutes, all that would change. But beyond the haunting irony in the pictures, I was surprised to see that Kennedy had drawn a big crowd and that the city had made a big deal out of the visit; in the clip, you see the flags and bunting and banners flying on lightpoles into the distance. I never realized that the city had enthusiastically welcomed Kennedy. Here’s John Connolly, quoted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations report:

“The further we got toward town, the denser became the crowds, and when we got down on Main Street, the crowds were extremely thick. They were pushed off of curbs; they were out in the street, and they were backed all the way up against the walls of the buildings. They were just as thick as they could be. I don’t know how many. But, there were at least a quarter of a million people on the parade route that day and everywhere the reception was good.”

Kennedy personally stopped the motorcade twice to speak to spectators. Imagine that happening now. The report went on to say: “Governor Connally noticed that Mrs. Kennedy, who had appeared apprehensive the previous day, was more relaxed and enjoyed the Dallas crowd. The only hostile act he remembered was a heckler with a placard that read ‘Kennedy Go Home. The President noticed the sign, and asked Governor and Mrs. Connally if they had seen it. Connally said, Yes, but we were hoping you didn’t.’ ”

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One Reply to “Odd Find”

  1. Wow! This is so very fascinating. I’m surprised this turned up more than 40 years later. It makes me wonder what else is out there that has yet to surface.
    The person operating the camera sure did take an interest in the School Book Depository building.
    The YouTube video has had over 50,000 views in the one day since it’s been online. And the person who posted it has used the opportunity to link to his own China translation guide as a quasi-advertisement. Why does that seem out of place to me. I’m trying not to let my own personal pessimism come through. So, I guess it’s worth noting that when Kennedy was president, China was just a dream to Americans.
    Also, it just hit me that with the recent passing of President Ford, there are no more Warren Commission survivors. Right? But, that doesn’t matter because it’s closed anyway.
    I do wish I could get a peek at Jackie’s personal memoirs. But, I don’t think they’ll be unsealed until well after I’m gone. Just rambling here.

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