CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
Adulthood and Other Notions
Revised 08 July 2020 by author Lawrence Eugene Vaughn Jr
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Military Enlistment
- Joining the Air Force
- Charlotte NC
- Introduction to Broadcasting
- Carolina School of Broadcasting
- Frightful Return Flight
- Growing Up and Getting Out
- Sharing Discipline
- View On Suffering
I enlisted in the Air Force during my senior year of high school. I felt the Air Force mission was more sophisticated than the army’s, and better suited my quest of becoming a pilot. I had no interest in serving aboard ship because I had heard too many stories about riding out typhoons in a metal can tossed aimlessly from wave to wave, and other Navy wartime stories my uncles told.
Since active duty military service did not work out for me, I spent the next thirty years or so serving in civilian volunteer organizations such as Jaycees, Civil Defense Shelter Management, Civil Defense Police, Danville Auxiliary Police, Civil Air Patrol, Missouri Militia, Lions Club, and Indiana Guard Reserve. I finally retired as a Colonel, serving as Indiana Operations Director (G-3) , on the Commanding General’s Staff.
Shortly thereafter I was inducted to the U.S. Order of St George, which was an honorary society designed to recognize persons who volunteered time and talents to serve the public good over their careers. The Chancellor was Nicholas J Knutz, former Commanding General of the United States Civil Air Patrol, and Vice Chancellor was Herbert W Watchinski, Jr., formerly Chief of Staff of the Missouri Defense Force.
I was subsequently elevated to the governing board as a Grand Knight, and later elected secretary of the Order. The organization pretty well went dormant after the death of its leader, Dr. Knutz
Joining the Airforce
A high school football buddy, Tom Camara, and I enlisted under the “buddy program,” which would let us attend basic training together. I wanted to be a pilot, and Tom wanted to go into communications or electrical engineering. After we took the Vocational Aptitude Test the recruiter gave us documents to fill out to indicate what fields we wanted to go into. The recruiter had told me that I had scored well enough to get into my choice of vocations. I wanted to be a pilot. I didn’t care what kind of pilot, fixed wing or helicopter, I just wanted to fly. I was excited! It was going to be a great adventure!
I checked off all the boxes for aircraft pilot, ranging from fighters to air transport, fixed wing to helicopters. I just wanted to fly, and would take probably any field they would offer. The recruiter then scheduled us for physical exams in April, which would be just a few weeks before graduation. He told us that our schools would be assigned while there at the recruiting center.
On the appointed weekend we boarded a Recruiting Center bus at the local recruiting office, and were taken about 90 miles to the Joint Services Recruiting Center in St. Louis for our exam. We first took filled out paperwork detailing contact information, and then took a more detailed and timed Specialty Indicator Exam, then went into the physical examination area.
There were no females in the military in those days, and I found myself in a gymnasium size room with a couple hundred guys. We were told to make two lines on the two black lines painted on the center of the floor, line up shoulder to shoulder, facing away from the recruits behind us.
We were then told to undress completely and place our clothing on the shelf three or four steps in front of us, step back two steps to the red line, bend over and spread our butt cheeks. Then, a man in a white lab coat walked past each of us, inspecting I believe, for hemorrhoids and physical deformities. If he saw nothing amiss, he patted you on the back and said, Okay.”
As each of us was visually examined, we were tapped and told to move to station B, although there were some guys sent elsewhere at that point. At station B we were examined for problems with lungs and heart. Those with hernias were taken aside and more closely examined. Doctors checked height and weight, complexion, eye and hair color, joints, eyes, nose, teeth and throat.
The doctor who checked my eyes asked what occupation I was interested in, and I told him, “Pilot. He then asked if I needed to wear the eyeglasses I had on. I told him, “Only when I want to see.” And, he said, “Well, then, you can’t be a pilot!”
I told him, “My recruiter already did all the tests and told me I was a shoo in.” The doctor grinned wryly and just shook his head. I was very disappointed, shocked, to learn that my recruiter had grossly misled me. I asked about specialty lenses or waivers, and the doctor said, “No way.” I said, “Well, then, I don’t want to be in the Air Force.”
I was told to get dressed and go to an area where all the Air Force recruits were gathered to be counselled by senior level recruiters who would finalize our enlistment and assign us to occupational school training.
The counselor I talked to was not sympathetic at all, and told me that my test scores qualified me for a vast number of interesting occupations, but that I was not going to be entering flight training of any kind. So, I didn’t sign my final enlistment document.
Instead, I took my test results folder and went over to talk to the Army recruiters. I told my story, and a recruiter told me that the flight schools were booked up for the next several months, but that he could get me temporarily into a different school to prep me for when the flight school became available.
I was again disappointed, and his remarks didn’t ring true. So, I didn’t enlist with them either. I didn’t know what I was going to do after high school, but I knew it wasn’t going to be the miliary.
Introduction to Broadcasting
Upon learning that my plans to join the military had been dashed, my uncle, Bill Vaughn, gave me an opportunity to attend radio broadcasting training. At that time, I thought “radio” meant being a disc jockey like the famous ones we listened to on clear channel radio stations.
Dick Biondi, a Top 40 and Oldies disc jockey known for his screaming delivery and wild antics on the air, gained national attention in the 1950s and early 1960s on leading AM radio stations in Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California. In our area we listened to his night time program on WLS Radio, Chicago.
As a young man, just barely out of high school and ready to take my place in the world, I leapt at the offer! I hadn’t known that there was such a school, and I hadn’t even thought about a career in broadcasting. The offer was extended through my dad, and soon a one way ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina on Piedmont Airlines arrived in the mail. It was for the day after my high school graduation.
It was all quite exciting! I hadn’t flown before, hadn’t lived in a big city, and was sure to be a famous disk jockey! I rounded up our record player and a collection of 45 RPM vinyl records and began practicing in our basement introducing the songs and singers as the disks dropped down the spindle onto the platter.
Carolina School of Broadcasting
My uncle, Bill Vaughn, my dad’s younger brother, owned a house he shared with two other professional men who rented bedrooms from him. There was a nicely shaded lawn out back with lawn chairs and a grill. The house was an older single story ranch style home with four bedrooms and two baths. The location was about fifteen minutes from the school which was located right on the edge of downtown Charlotte.
The school was housed upstairs in a two story brick office building that had been modified to house the sound proof radio station booth and two large adjoining classrooms with an office at the opposite end. The nicely decorated office had a large wooden desk, side chairs and a couch.
The school was operated by Bill and two contracted instructors from radio stations in town. The class I attended included seventeen men ranging in age to mid thirties, and I was the youngest, still in my teens. One of the first things the instructors had us do was to stand at a microphone at the front of the class and introduce ourselves, telling a little about our interests and what we expected from the school.
We had been given fifteen minutes to prepare our comments, and were expected to talk for at least two minutes. We were challenged to tell the class, in particular, our names and where we were from, something we like for people to know about us, and an interesting experience we had.
I was fairly comfortable at the microphone, and told about the high school oratorical contest, my military recruitment experience, and the interesting people I had met on my Grit newspaper route. Little did I know that our talks were being recorded.
At the school, we were taught broadcast station operations ranging from announcing, disk jockeying, auditioning new songs, creating playlists, news gathering and newscast preparation, commercial writing, audio tape editing and production, commercial traffic management, program production, directing, and all aspects of managing broadcast stations, focusing on Federal Communications Commission regulations for broadcast stations.
Another part of the classes that I enjoyed was learning to conduct interviews. The skill involved is to be able to listen to what is being said, while planning the next question to take the interview in an interesting direction, while arriving at the desired target information. Only a few of the class members were able to master it, but I found that it came easily to me.
In the 1960s, American Bandstand, hosted by ever youthful Dick Clark, was a very popular television program that featured teenagers dancing to the current top ten songs on the Billboard music charts. Most large cities had a local hour-long dance program that aired just prior to American Bandstand with local teens dancing to tunes ranked 11-20 on the top forty charts, and sometimes, a new release not yet ranked.
Through Uncle Bill’s contacts at WSOC-TV, I was able to get an intern position and I trained to become one of their studio camera operators. After just a few shows I got to run a camera during the local dance show held in their studios, where there was a turntable in the floor large enough to rotate an automobile for local car commercials. The turntable made it possible to just lock one studio camera down as it pointed at the turntable, and watch the dancers as they rotated in front of the camera.
The studio camera was so big and heavy that I sometimes had a difficult time getting the camera moved, but I enjoyed the challenges of live television. Later, as these shows became so popular, WIST radio broadcast a local show at Belk’s Department Store, which was the show’s sponsor, and featured live talent telling the background information on their current and past hits, and often giving a little insight into their personal lives.
I liked announcing better than camera work, and enjoyed doing interviews. I was quickly added to the floor team interviewing highschool and college age dancers; “Hi, what’s your name? Where do you go to school? What’s your favorite top forty song? What dances do you like?”
The early sixties were a fun and high-spirited decade, and the famous dances demonstrated this energy. Some of the popular dances included the Watusi, the Loco-motion, Mashed Potato, Bossa Nova, the Shimmy, and the Twist. Also, carryovers from the fifties included the Boogie Woogie, the Bop, the Bunny Hop, the Rock & Roll, and the Madison Line Dance. There were many faddish dances, too, that were inspired by a popular song, and disappeared when the song fell from the charts.
Interviewing the dancers was fun for me because I was about the same age as many of the dancers, and younger than some, so they didn’t take me as seriously as the older announcers on the crew. The talent usually regarded me as a youngster who asked the kind of questions that were of interest to listeners in my age group.
The big challenge for those shows was managing the very long, brown, microphone cord strung across the floor, not getting tangled with dancers, or wound up on the rotating turntable. In those days the microphone cable was about as thick as an adult’s ring finger, and was pretty heavy when there was fifty feet of it to haul around.
Occasionally, a recording artist that was performing at the Charlotte Coliseum would make an appearance or grant an interview during the program, and I got to interview several stars of the day. I had favorites, of course, and there were a couple that were disappointing because they were nothing like their public image.
In many cases I got autographed photos and seasonal Christmas cards, most of which were lost when I shipped a large box of momentos back to Missouri, with only a scant few brought back in my suitcase.
Eventually I was given a regular program slot by WIST and given the air-name Robin Vaun. The theme song for my 2-hour early evening shift was Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day, which had been a 1957 top forty tune. I also did a Saturday evening jazz show named Charlotte Jazz.
My jazz show theme song was Stolen Moments by the Oliver Nelson Septet, and I read poetry by classical and local bards, did all commercials live in a very mellow manner, and had featured telephone interviews with local jazz musicians, and occasionally, well known jazz artists making local appearances.
One of my classmates, Hardy Paradise (real name) got hired by WIST after his internship, and was given the on-air name Rusty Morgan. He manned the afternoon shift and also auditioned all new records that recording companies submitted.
Another classmate, Denny Mills, did a children’s show on one of the local television stations. After an audition and a brief trial, he was hired full time and was enjoying doing his show when I left Charlotte. Other classmates went into positions at many area radio stations.
There was no pay for any of the internships I did at the various radio and television stations I worked for, so I supported myself by working the breakfast shift in a 1930s stainless steel streetcar diner.
I mostly tended the waffle machines, but also helped with the griddle, keeping the kettle full of water for poached eggs and steaming hash browns, keeping the stack of raw eggs, sausage and bacon stocked, and general cleaning of the work stations.
Occasionally I worked the flat top when the cook needed a short break, but he usually wanted to work when there was work to be done. I usually got paid a few dollar bills out of the register when I headed to WYFM for class, and it was just enough to keep me happy.
A day or two before graduation, Bill called me to his office and gave me a receipt for the school tuition, and then presented me with an invoice for almost $500. He said that the school tuition was a gift from him, but that the invoice was for the airfare tickets to and from the school.
I told him that I didn’t have anywhere near that amount of money and could not pay it. I knew that he had traded airtime (commercials) for the airline tickets, and, I realized that he was toying with me, so I told him that I could call my dad and see what could be worked out. He quickly said, “That’s okay. I just wanted to see what you’d say.” With that he dropped the invoice in the trash. Two days later I flew back to Missouri.
Frightful Return Flight
When I returned home that year, I flew again in a Piedmont Airlines turboprop regional airplane which had wing mounted engines at my eye level. As we approached St Louis, we ran into a rain storm which was bumpy, loud, and blocked out the sun. The darkness was pierced only by ominous streaks of lightning that seemed all too close.
To top it off, I had a view of the rear of the engine, and could see flames and fumes coming from them and illuminating the nearby clouds. I thought the engine was on fire! No one else seemed concerned, however, so I stayed quiet. But, I kept my eyes glued to that engine, and had a white knuckle descent and landing in the thunderstorm!
It wasn’t until years later that I saw video of a turbine engine in operation and finally understood that the flames and trailing fumes were normal, they were just made more ominous by the rolling dark rain clouds I was in at the time.
Growing Up and Getting Out
After broadcast school, I returned to my parents home in Louisiana, Missouri and began searching for work in broadcasting. Using the Directory of Broadcasters Manual while in North Carolina, I had compiled a short list of radio and TV stations I thought I might be interested in working with.
A few days before leaving Charlotte, I mailed postcards to each of them, listing my recent graduation and detailing my broadcast experience, which included radio stations WYFM, (Classical Music), WIST, (Rock and Roll), WBT, (Contemporary), and WSOC-TV where I ran a studio camera and conducted periodic interviews during the telecast of the local American Bandstand.
As I recall, I mailed about ten of the postcards, and soon received a call from Bill Tedrick, owner of KWRT Radio in Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri, and another from KOMU-TV in Columbia. In a telephone interview with KOMU I discovered that their open position was for sports announcing, which I had no experience or interest in doing.
My next telephone interview was with KWRT, Boonville, Missouri, which sounded like a mutually good fit, and a paid in-person audition at the radio station was set up.
Upon the appointed time the following week I was interviewed by owners Bill and Audrey Tedrick, husband and wife. The audition was recorded by Don Shepard, who gave me smiles and thumbs up through the window separating the recording booth and the control room.
Soon, I was hired as an announcer, and news director, a job the three of them had previously shared. My salary was $65 per week.
KWRT Radio Days
KWRT was named for its owner, William Robert Tedrick (the WRT in KWRT). He and his wife Audrey operated all facets of the station, and Don Shepard was the engineer and sign-on announcer. Don and Audrey had a mid-morning hour long talk show where they discussed the news, current events and upcoming activities.
Bill Tedrick was the station’s sales department and public relations specialist. Sharon Stoecklein was the traffic manager and receptionist. I served as news director, announcer, and liaison to the police department and city hall.
One memorable special event that I did the announcing for was the Heritage Days fishing contest, which was held at a lake near the radio station. The fishing contest was for children, most of whom fished from shore, but some were in small fishing dinghies and inner tubes.
I was in an Amphicar, a German made vehicle that transitioned from earth to water, which was outfitted for remote broadcasting by our engineer. It allowed me to float, or drive up, to children so I could interview them.
The Amphicar was manufactured in West Germany and marketed from 1961 to 1968. It offered only modest performance compared to most contemporary boats or cars, and after operation in water, required greasing at 13 points, one of which required removal of the rear seat.
Boonville has more than 400 antebellum and other architectural sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 46-acre Kemper Military School Campus, and celebrated Boonville Heritage Days each summer with a weekend event that included a parade, craft booths, and a carnival. On the last evening there was a glorious fireworks show.
Periodic public events held at Kemper Military School were also special broadcast events as dignitaries made appearances, A private military school located in Boonville, Kemper was founded in 1844, and closed in 2002. Known as the “West Point of the West,” the school’s motto was “Nunquam Non Paratus” (Never Not Prepared).
I sold some radio commercials, mostly to give me a reason to produce them, because I liked adding in sound effects and music beds. I also contacted recording artists’ agents and arranged to do live telephone interviews during my afternoon shifts, a practice I had started while at WIST radio in Charlotte. It was during this time that I became interested in the volunteer fire department, but I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the annual recruit training because of duties at the radio station.
Ice Cream Shop
The sports announcer for KWRT was Cal(vin) Aisles, owner of a soft-serve ice cream franchise in Boonville. He also owned an apartment building not far from downtown where I initially rented a studio apartment from him. It had a kitchenette, so I usually cooked a TV dinner before heading out to cover evening meetings for local news. I also worked early morning store openings for Cal, prepping the ice cream machines, ovens, toasters, and general restocking while cooking to-go breakfast items.
There were no convenience stores or food trucks in those days, so Cal sold breakfast food items that were not on the regular menu of the ice cream franchise, which the franchisor didn’t allow, so he eventually had to give up the franchise and go independent.
Many of the food items he provided are just normal everyday carry out breakfast items today, ranging from sausage patties and cheese on a hamburger bun to Italian sausage on a hot dog bun, and scrambled eggs and crumbled bacon or sausage in an ice cream cone. But, still today, that franchise company doesn’t offer breakfast items.
Marriage and Mice
Lea and I were married February 8, 1964 in the First Baptist Church in Louisiana, Missouri, by my Uncle Virgil Vaughn, who had also married my mother and father back in 1942. Ours was a pretty modest wedding, attended by our families and a few invited friends, on a wintry Saturday afternoon.
Our wedding night was spent at a 1950s era motel in Bowling Green, Missouri. Lea had an awful night, as the ductwork made popping noises as it expanded and contracted as it heated and cooled.
She thought the noise was mice moving around in the ductwork, and could not rest well. no matter how I tried to calm her. It was a long and frightful night for her, with little sleep. The next morning, however, we arose to a spectacular fresh snowfall that had blanketed the countryside.
Nevertheless, I had to return to work on the next day, so after checkout we went to lunch and then drove to our home, an apartment in Boonville, which I had just recently rented. It was located on the second floor of a private residence at 1316 Main Street. Our life together started there in those simple furnishings, supported by the meager income I made as news director for the local radio station.
Assassination of Our President
November 22 marks the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX. Most of us felt a tragic trauma that day so horrible we wouldn’t experience it again until September 11, 2001.
I was a young man, a recent graduate of the Carolina School of Broadcasting in Charlotte, North Carolina, working as an announcer and reporter for KWRT, Boonville, Missouri on the day of the assassination.
Serving in my first full time job, I felt privileged to receive the title of news director. I didn’t mind that the title brought with it responsibility to attend city council and other night time business and social meetings, checking the police blotter each morning, covering weekend events, and keeping up on all local area news. After all, I was grossing $65 a week!
News ID Signed by William R.Tedrick
It was a much simpler time. 1963 was before wireless anything. There was no internet. The White House and Moscow had just earlier that year agreed to have dedicated hard-wired telephones installed to provide fast communication between the two world leaders.
Alcatraz Penitentiary closed after 29 years of operation because it was too expensive to continue operating, and US car maker Studebaker closed business and ended production. The United States Postal Service launched the Zipcode System during July of 1963.
KWRT subscribed to the Associated Press news service, which is how we obtained current news to broadcast to our audience. AP reporters in far-flung news bureaus around the world could send text through teletypewriter machines connected continuously by telephone lines to printers used by local reporters, approaching real-time reporting of breaking events. The AP service included an hourly national news summary, periodic regional news reports, weather, and human interest summaries.
The Associated Press News Printer at KWRT in 1963 was located in a nearly soundproof wooden cabinet just outside the broadcast studio door. The cabinet had a door that lifted and swung back so the printed news could be reached and torn off at the printer carriage. Below the printer, on the floor, sat a large rectangular cardboard box with hundreds of feet of fan-fold newsprint paper that fed up into the carriage and under the letter keys.
A few minutes before the top of each hour, we would rip off the newsprint and quickly read through it to select stories for our 5-minute “local, regional and national” newscast. The printer was equipped with a bicycle-like bell that could be remotely rung by the network to signal a special bulletin, or news flash, then being printed.
It had started out as a normal newsday. We were more focused on events in Maryville, Missouri, where the Governor had just ordered the State Highway Patrol to enforce a strict curfew on the campus of Northwest Missouri State College.
For two consecutive nights more than 1,000 students had marched on downtown Maryville in noisy, stone-throwing demonstrations alleging that the college was serving poor quality foods.
The Presidential Visit to Dallas
We had reported earlier that the president was in Fort Worth with his wife, Jacqueline, America’s sweetheart, and that he would be making a speech at a Dallas luncheon. A light rain was falling there, but a crowd of several thousand stood in the parking lot outside the Texas Hotel where the Kennedys had spent the night.
The president made some brief remarks to the crowd, and the presidential party then left the hotel and went by motorcade to Carswell Air Force Base for the thirteen-minute flight to Dallas.
Arriving at Love Field, President and Mrs. Kennedy disembarked and immediately walked toward a fence where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered, and they spent several minutes shaking hands. Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, were already seated in the presidential limousine as the Kennedys entered and sat behind them.
Since it was no longer raining, the plastic bubble top had been left off the presidential convertible. As was proper protocol, Vice President and Mrs. Johnson occupied another car in the motorcade distanced from the president.
The procession left the airport and traveled along a ten-mile route that wound through downtown Dallas on the way to the Trade Mart where the president was scheduled to speak at a luncheon. Crowds of excited people lined the streets and waved to the Kennedys.
The Local News
The big news story that morning had been the continued student rioting at Northwest Missouri State College. A curfew had been announced and a contingent of State Highway Patrolmen had been deployed to quell the disturbance.
Then the teletype alert bell began ringing almost constantly that early Friday afternoon as one of the greatest tragedies in American history unfolded!
President Jack Kennedy and first lady Jackie Bouvier Kennedy
Associated Press staffer James Altgens was photographing the presidential motorcade, and became an eyewitness when President John F. Kennedy was shot just after noon on November 22, 1963.
The presidential limousine turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated through the plaza. High powered bullets struck the president’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was also hit in the chest.
Altgens’ quick phone call to the AP’s Dallas bureau became the first news bulletin about the shooting distributed across AP’s teletype circuit. Hours of frantic reporting followed, supplying local reporters with information as events unfolded.
Milton Wright was a young Department of Public Safety State Trooper in 1963. He was driving the “Mayor’s Car,” also called “Dignitary Car #1,” a 1964 white Ford Mercury Comet Caliente 2-door convertible with red interior, in 4th position behind the Presidential Limousine when the shots rang out.
Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell was in the front passenger seat, his wife, Elizabeth Cabell in the left rear seat, and Congressman Raymond Roberts in the right rear. Separating him from the Presidential Limousine were Dallas police motorcycles, Presidential secret service follow-up car, the Vice Presidential car, and the Vice Presidential secret service follow-up car. Behind him were press pool vehicles and other VIP cars and police escort motorcycles
A few moments later, Secret Service agents frantically waved the motorcade to go ahead. The Vice Presidential car and protection detail peeled away to protect the Vice President, leaving Wright directly behind the Presidential car which Wright closely followed to Parkland Hospital. When they arrived, he helped lift wounded Texas Governor John Connally out of the limousine’s jump seat.
Wright was quoted as saying, “As soon as we got the Governor out (of the car) a secret service guy ran right up in the car and pulled President Kennedy over to one side,” said Wright. “I could see the side of his head was partially gone.” Wright helped put the president on a gurney and then stood guard outside while a medical team worked to save him and Governor Connally.
Little could be done for the president. The bullet was well placed, and the damage too extensive. Last rites were administered, and at 1:00 p.m. U.S. President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. I recall clearly the horror I felt when that report came in. There were many questions to be answered.
There was, and still is, much speculation about the assassination. The president’s body was quickly taken to Love Field in a hearse and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office, administered by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes at 2:38 p.m. Though seriously wounded, Governor Connally did later recover.
If you aren’t familiar with the rest of the story, just a few minutes earlier, police had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a recently hired employee at the Texas School Book Depository.
He was being held for the assassination of President Kennedy and the fatal shooting of Patrolman J. D. Tippit on a nearby Dallas street, as Oswald tried to escape the scene. On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to the county jail under heavy security.
The transfer was being broadcast on national television. Viewers across America, still in shock from Friday’s events, suddenly saw a man aim a pistol at Oswald and fire at point blank range. The assailant was identified as Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Oswald died two hours later at Parkland Hospital.
A Dallas jury found Ruby guilty of murdering Oswald, and Ruby was sentenced to death. Later, he appealed his conviction, had it overturned, and was granted a new trial. Before the new trial took place, Ruby became ill and died of a pulmonary embolism due to lung cancer.
A Painful Day
As I was approaching the end of my shift on that fateful day, I knew that there would be many folks leaving work and wanting more details of the day’s events. I arranged with the station management to do an extended newscast at the 5:00 hour, putting aside our normal “drive time” programming. Audrey and Don were planning a special talk segment following the report so they could accept phone calls from the public.
I gathered news bits from the various Associated Press reports of the day and put together a stack for Audrey and Don, and another for me to use in the newscast. I selected 31 full or partial pages of news stories for my extended report, and after delivering the newscast, decided to keep the pages, rather than discarding them, as was the usual practice for news that had already been delivered. Those 31 pages wound up going into some storage device at home that I no longer remember.
But, 52 years later, while searching for and cleaning out things that no longer were worth keeping around, I came across a “Larry’s Papers” box that my wife had assembled. In the box were those 31 pages of news from the Associated Press. Reading through those pages recently, and recalling anew the dread and horror I felt that day, I am happy they got preserved because, for me, they bridge time to when America really admired their President and First lady, popularized by most Americans as “Jack and Jackie.”
We also came to a whole new appreciation for the Secret Service Presidential Detail. There was much heroism displayed in those days by people from all walks of life, including the law enforcement officers at the scene and the medical team at Parkland Hospital.
Below is a scan of the first page of the report made at 5:00 p.m. Friday, November 22, 1963. These 31 pages are now kept in a special notebook in safekeeping to, perhaps, someday, be of interest to my grandchildren who might have more than just a passing interest in an historic event of long, long ago.
Next Chapter: Lea’s Family