I thought I’d been through all the minutiae of November 22 1963…until I watched an uncut CBS black and white tv broadcast inside Fort Worth hotel breakfast where JFK gave what was to be his final speech. What I discovered was somewhat poignant and sad.
… I knew that JFK joked about Jackie’s absence in the parking lot speech beforehand – see my avatar and later in this message – but what shocked me a bit was her absence from the hotel breakfast. I’m not reading anything into this from their relationship, or anything like that, but what happens is that JFK walks into the hall to applause etc and is seated at the top table, next to an empty chair waiting for Jacky. Along the top table row is LBJ, Lady Bird, Connally, Yarborough, & all the other dullards from that fateful day, whose sum total of charisma adds up to a thimbleful compared to JFK and JBK.
Then, and this is my point, JFK, the most powerful man on earth etc, and on his last morning (though of course no one knew it) is left to go over his speech and fidget for approaching 20 minutes before his wife arrives. To me he looks bored with what company there is around him – I’ve been there at functions I’ve attended too! – and it’s the first time I sense he’s lost the knack of small talk. In short, with just a few hours to live, he looks alone and isolated – rarely something I’d associate with JFK – the Massachusetts man surrounded by Stetson men from Texas and their wives, while Jackie is, I guess, preparing her look.
Eventually, she appears and sweeps in charmingly to huge applause. Its all smiles, and JFK, although they had their ups and downs, seems genuinely over-the-moon and relieved to greet her. However, when viewing the black and white tv coverage, CBS’s Mike Wallace’s words… “…she is wearing a woollen pink suit..” bring a shudder of what will inevitably take place a little later.
A final thought: I chose this image as an avatar after seeing it originally produced in a book, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, As we remember him. As well as connally, LBJ, etc is someone directly behind JFK in this pic, which, if produced larger, is hooded, a little hidden, but taller than the president, and quite a good resemblance to Death, stalking him on his final morning….other photos from other angles of course reveal the more boring truth. It’s a woman – one of the dignitaries’ wives perhaps – wearing a raincoat and holding an umbrella. Do any of you know who she is?