WAUKESHA - A
half-century after his death, John Fitzgerald Kennedy has become a
There have been
television programs about America’s youngest elected president and
at least one feature film (see separate story). One would have to
spend his life savings to purchase all the JFK-related books and
magazines available for purchase of late - and would then need a
wheelbarrow to carry them all away.
On the other hand,
one could do worse than limiting his cottage industry involvement to a
single item - Vincent Bugliosi’s “Parkland,” a paperback
condensation of his 2007 tome “Reclaiming History: The Assassination
of President John F. Kennedy.”
perhaps best known for prosecuting Charles Manson and subsequently
writing the book “Helter Skelter” about the notorious Manson
“family” and its murderous spree of 1969.
The murderers in
“Parkland,” of course, are Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Ten
lesser-known, book-based facts about them and President Kennedy
In the 1960
presidential election, the only such election in which JFK
appeared on the ballot, the winning candidate lost just one
“large American city” to Richard M. Nixon: Dallas, Texas.
At the time of
the Kennedy assassination, federal law did not prohibit the
killing of a U.S. president (unless the killing was on federal
property, which JFK’s was not).
Kennedy’s back brace might’ve contributed to his death,
hampering any prospective attempt on the president’s part to
duck out of the way of the second bullet he took.
Oswald might’ve escaped his own fate had Dallas Police Chief
Jesse Curry’s wife not taken their home phone off its hook the
night before Oswald’s death. Another police official came up
with the idea of transferring JFK’s killer from the police
department to county jail secretly and considerably sooner than
scheduled. Since Curry could not be reached to OK that plan, the
transfer started as scheduled - in the ominous presence of Jack
first observed Oswald at Dallas police headquarters the day after
JFK’s assassination, hanger-on Ruby thought Oswald a handsome
individual who resembled the actor Paul Newman.
The pastor who
had reluctantly agreed to preside at a funeral service for Oswald
failed to show up at the cemetery in Fort Worth. A substitute
minister was enlisted. Several reporters were pressed into service
as pallbearers. Oswald’s funeral took place the day after his
death - the same day on which his victims, Kennedy and police
officer J.D. Tippit, were also buried.
Abraham Zapruder might not have made the most historically
significant movie in American annals had it not been for his
secretary. She persuaded Zapruder to get the camera, which he had
left at home, in time to record the presidential motorcade in
Dealey Plaza. Zapruder subsequently sold the rights to his film
for $150,000 to LIFE magazine.
Working in a
Fort Worth newspaper office the afternoon JFK died, a 26-year-old
reporter felt excluded from one of the biggest stories of the 20th
century until he picked up a ringing telephone. The caller boldly
asked whether someone at the paper could pick her up and drive her
to Dallas. She identified herself to the newsman as Marguerite
Oswald - and added that her son was suspected of murdering the
president. The reporter - Bob Schieffer, now an esteemed network
broadcast journalist - was only too happy to shuttle Mrs. Oswald
and score an exclusive interview in the process.
If you recall
seeing footage of law enforcement personnel wearing Stetsons in
the aftermath of JFK’s assassination, you were likely observing
Dallas Police Department detectives, for whom such hats were part
of the uniform.
On the Sunday
Kennedy’s body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in
Washington, automobile traffic was backed up all the way to
Baltimore, some 30 miles distant. People wishing to pay their
respects stood in a line that as late as 11 p.m. stretched the
better part of 10 miles.