“13 days before that dark day in Dallas, Somersett elicited a chilling, police tape-recorded threat from a right-wing racist who talked of how the President would soon be shot ‘from an office building with a high-powered rifle’ and how ‘they’ll pick up somebody within hours after … just to throw the public off.’”
As the 50th anniversary of November 22 draws closer, now is a good time to revisit selected moments from the last year of John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
In early 1963, when the public infatuation with JFK and First Lady Jacqueline was at a peak, a popular deck of Kennedy Kards was published.
Was JFK going to make peace with Cuba?
On November 5, 1963, President Kennedy was exploring the idea. You can hear JFK talking about it with aides on this White House tape recording. (The substantive conversation starts at :25 in the recording.)
The tape, first made public by the non-profit National Security Archive in 2003, was found by Peter Kornbluh, a Cuba scholar whose research makes clear that JFK came closer to normalizing relations with Cuba than any American president since the 1970s.
This Washingtonian magazine uses the new Air Force One tapes and other research to tell the dramatic story of the first few hours of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.
“The five months that Oswald spent in New Orleans during the spring and summer of ’63 played a critical role in the assassination,” explains historian Michael L. Kurtz in the October issue of New Orleans Magazine.
Here’s a JFK story that the editors of the Washington Post and New York Times are still too timid to share with their readers, even 50 years after the fact.
In early October 1963 a young American man visited the Soviet and Cuban consulate in Mexico City, where CIA surveillance teams learned his name: Lee Oswald.
On this day 50 years ago, a strange American visitor appeared at the Soviet and Cuban consulates in Mexico City. His name would soon be world famous: Lee Harvey Oswald. Within 24 hours, a joint US-Mexico intelligence gathering operation received wiretap reports on his unusual actions.
The story of what happened next is told in Bill Simpich’s groundbreaking new book, “State Secret: Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald,” which is being serialized by MaryFerrell.org.
In a season of JFK sotries distinguished by ill-informed experts, bogus revelations, and a Fox News fibber, Simpich’s book qualifies as the most important piece of JFK scholarship to be published this year.
One common misconception about the JFK assassination story is that suspicions of conspiracy originated with authors who dreamed up sensational theories. In fact, the controversy over JFK’s death emerged from the circumstances of the crime before any conspiracy theories had been published.
Case in point: On December 1,1963, Richard Dudman, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who was in Dallas, wrote an unusual article about JFK’s assassination. He did not assume the truth of public statements by law enforcement agencies. Rather, he compared those statements to what he had observed, and he asked “Did Assailant Have an Accomplice?”
Dudman was no conspiracy theorist. He went on to a long career in Washington journalism in which his independent reporting later would land him on President Nixon’s so-called “enemies list.”
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline arrive in Dallas on November 22, 1963. As captured by White House photographer Arthur Rickerby, the first couple exude a charismatic style that did not impress or deter his enemies. The handsome head, the red, white and blue palette, the exploding roses, the uniformed onlookers compose a tableau of imminent disaster. The breakdown in presidential security is almost complete, thanks in part to the CIA’s mishandling (or manipulation) of a man named Oswald. Their limousine awaits.
Did you know that Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was a response to JFK’s assassination? I didn’t.
JFK was the Jack of Hearts, First Lady Jackie the Queen of Hearts, and Bobby Kennedy, the King of Diamonds.
“Long live the King, Queen and Jack,” proclaimed an informational card that came with the deck.
Within the year, the Jack of Clubs, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, would be president. Read more
The current issue of the Atlantic has a fascinating photo gallery of 1963, a reminder of the deeply divided United States of America over which JFK presided.
On this day in 1963, Jack Ruby, owner of the Carousel Club in Dallas, returns to Dallas from Wichita, Kansas, where he visited the T-Bone Club to see Gail Raven, an exotic dancer. Read more
On this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald is thinking about buying a gun. The CIA is paying attention to him and his wife.
The press coverage of President Kennedy’s State of the Union address, on the morning of Tuesday January 15, 1963, while generally positive could not match the adulation shown his wife and family.