JFK Remembered
November 22, 2002 9:24 AM   Subscribe

JFK Assassination: Up close and personal After years of silence, they're finally talking. Here's a first-hand account from my family who were about 10 yards away from the shot that killed JFK. They are clearly visible in the Zapruder film. Spooky.
posted by sparky (38 comments total)
That was a good read, thanks.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:51 AM on November 22, 2002

Clarification please, sparky: is this a first-hand account of a family, or a first-hand account of your family? If it's the former, it's an interesting and timely link. If it's the latter, it's a self-link.
posted by yhbc at 9:57 AM on November 22, 2002

Yeah, tell us soon because we need to know whether to thank you or yell at you.
posted by bondcliff at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2002

I don't know, the JFK assassination is very interesting, even if in a sort of alt.conspiracy kind of way, but what's the kid's testimony? He saw JFK's brains being shattered by the bullets (and being a kid he thought it was confetti) --
does it add anything new?

It's hardly new evidence (like, say, never-before-seen autopsy x-rays or photographs or the missing Zapruder frames)
posted by matteo at 10:17 AM on November 22, 2002

I really enjoyed reading this - I hope that self-link comment was a joke.

It's hardly new evidence
Agreed, but it it did help me to get a better understanding of how quickly information about his death spread, which I thought was very interesting. And, it's really rare to hear a new first-hand account of something like this so long after it happened.
posted by soplerfo at 10:24 AM on November 22, 2002

Today is anniversary #39. The museum (three floors over my head) is packed. I'm gonna dread next year's anniversary.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:40 AM on November 22, 2002

Also released for the anniversary: tapes of radio exchanges between Air Force One, the White House and cabinet members on the way to Japan.
posted by SealWyf at 10:48 AM on November 22, 2002

When I was in Dallas I made the obligatory trip to the museum and walked around the area. What suprised me is just how close and easy a shot it would be from behind the fence on the grassy knoll. Another case of things looking smaller in real life.
posted by trust_no_one at 10:49 AM on November 22, 2002

The father's account was far more substantive than the boy's. Even his memory of their talk with the FBI was interesting. These people were probably the closest to the car when it happened; it's fascinating to read their memory of the day and place it in the historic context of Texas at the time.

If this is a self-link, I don't mind it; this is exactly the sort of thing I come to Metafilter for.

Brace yourself, Ufez: more on remembering the assassination on npr's all things considered tonight.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:49 AM on November 22, 2002

Also: The Muchmore film is being restored.
posted by Silune at 10:55 AM on November 22, 2002

Ufez, you really work in the Texas School Book Depository building? It's weird! I know that the Hertz sign is not there anymore, is the building the same as it was in '63?
Isn't it a little creepy to work there?

Have you watched Elm Street from the sniper's window? In the photographs it looks like an almost impossible shot. Your opinion?

On preview:
ah, the Muchmore film...the Babushka Lady -- what about _her_ film?
posted by matteo at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2002

11/22/1963 was my father's 18th birthday. Spooky.

Happy 57th, dad.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2002

I loved the account; it's always fun to read some living history.

The comment at the end about why Oswald didn't shoot when the car was turning onto Elm at the front of the Depository has me thinking. I've been looking at the map of Dealey Plaza and trying to think like a sniper. It strikes me that Oswald was in the best possible position if you're going to snipe in Dealey Plaza.

Consider-- from Oswald's window in the Depository, he gets *two* shots at the motorcade: one just as it starts onto Houston from Main, and the other on Elm in front of the grassy knoll. After the car is about halfway down Houston toward the Depository until Elm curves just before the knoll the shot he has is actually *worse* than the shot he took; either the car is too close (and the angle of depression is changing too quickly), or the car is off-axis (moving across the field of view), both of which are tough shots.

But in front of the Criminal Courts building and in front of the grassy knoll are ideal shots-- not too far with target moving but on-axis with the shooter. If Oswald had been in another window on the same floor, his shot down Houston would be much harder (but it wouldn't have affected the shot down Elm as much).

This leads one to wonder why he missed the shot on Houston, opting for the somewhat more difficult shot down Elm. We'll never know. Maybe he wasn't ready; maybe it just didn't 'feel' right.

Or maybe he was gunning for Connelly, and didn't want to shoot through the windshield (which would have covered Connelly-- but not Kennedy-- until the car was quite close to the Depository, where Oswald wouldn't have a shot; this is not a problem as the car proceeds down Elm).

Food for thought, anyway.
posted by Cerebus at 11:18 AM on November 22, 2002

As an adjunct to the above: A putative shooter on the grassy knoll has only one good shot-- as the car turns off Houston onto Elm right in front of the Depository. This is ignoring the obscuring brush and trees, of course.

Shootig from the knoll to a car on Elm at its closest point would be far more difficult, though not impossible. At that point the car would have it's greatest angular velocity relative to the knoll; and it's angualr velocity relative to the shooter that determines a shot difficulty as much as distance or environmental factors.

I personally wouldn't have been on the knoll to shoot. If I couldn't be in the Depository, I'd have tried to set up in the old courthouse and try for a shot on Houston or down by the underpass.
posted by Cerebus at 11:24 AM on November 22, 2002

matteo: yeah, that's where I work (dallas county administration building now). The inside has been totally redone. The offices are actually pretty nice now. i finally went to the museum about a month ago with my parents. They have the "sniper's nest" corded off so you can't really see the exact angle of the shot, but as trust_no_one brought up, it's not far from here to the spot where JFK was (there's an X on the road that is supposed to be where he was at point of impact). The fence that trust no one was talking about it probably 30 yards from my building, but not much farther from the big X. I've not even touched a gun in over a decade, so I won't try to hypothesize about the ease of the shot, but it seems somewhat doable to me.

It was a little odd when I started work here (in june), but I've gotten pretty used to it. If the museum weren't here, I wouldn't think about it half as much. But there are tourists galore (supposedly most visited tourist spot in Dallas) and people outside all the time selling memorabilia and papers and posters, etc. Like I said, today has been a zoo. And there are all kinds of local media people around too. Like I said, next year should be a mob.

(on preview) Cerebus: I think I can see what you're saying (but if I had a window, it'd probably be easier, damn cubicle). Now there's a rather large tree that may impeded any similiar shot taking place, so he'd probably be forced to take the shot on Houston. That Criminal Courts building is now the County Records Building, and houses the Probate Courts and County Courts at Law. The now-Probate-Court-#1 (where the famous trial took place) is absolutely gorgeous. Still looks like it did back in the day. The rest of the building is gone to crap, for the most part.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:25 AM on November 22, 2002

Maybe he wasn't ready; maybe it just didn't 'feel' right.

Maybe he didn't care, because he had ben told that the grassy knoll guy(s) would have the best, closest and cleanest shot anyway
posted by matteo at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2002

Ufez: It'd be easier if I could draw it.

matteo: Except that anyone on the knoll has a harder shot than someone in Oswald's position.

My personal opinion is Oswald was shooting for Connelly. It looks pretty clear to me from the Z film that Connelly was hit first; the first shot is always the best shot-- it's the one you wait for.

But I'm just this crazy guy in San Antonio, what do I know? 8)
posted by Cerebus at 11:53 AM on November 22, 2002

Now that the statute of limitations is over they are talking.... THEY DID IT!
posted by banished at 12:25 PM on November 22, 2002

the President's car was very, very, very slow.
when the first and non fatal shot rang out, the limo driver braked: the Secret Service agent simply _runs_ a little and jumps on JFK's car, which stopped .
the theory of angular velocity is a bit weak when you consider the car's sloooooooooow speed

"shooting for Connely": maybe, only Oswald knows that. but if he was really shooting for the governor he chose the day when Connelly had the highest security ever around him, a pretty dumb move. and he didnt kill his supposed target, he only got him with one bad shot and instead shot at least twice (back wound, throat, head) and decapitated another passenger. the ladies were untouched, just like the driver. lousy shot, that Oswald
posted by matteo at 12:29 PM on November 22, 2002

I really enjoyed reading this - I hope that self-link comment was a joke.

No, it wasn't. The rule against self-linking is one of the most stringent around here. Whether it's enjoyable reading is not the point.

sparky: Answer the question, OK? From your post it sounds like this is a self-link and shouldn't be here. (Since you put no information about yourself on your user page, there's no way for us to check.)
posted by languagehat at 1:09 PM on November 22, 2002

Sorry to offend. The story is my family's, as I clearly stated, but it's not my site. I honestly thought it was interesting and that people might enjoy reading it. I'm not selling anything, nor are they. If you want to delete it, it's fine with me.

I don't list my URLs with my profile. That would be self-linking and I'm not that grandiose. Besides, I can't imagine anyone would want to go to my blog and hear my endless opinions.
posted by sparky at 1:39 PM on November 22, 2002

sparky, it is interesting, but even if neither of these folks are you (another brother and/or sister, perhaps?) it's definitely a self-link, and the fact that you can get to the info page so easily from your linked page illustrates the danger of self-links. Sorry.
posted by yhbc at 1:45 PM on November 22, 2002

If you visit the Sixth Floor Museum, be absolutely sure to visit the 7th floor, where the photography exhibit it. It's one of the most fascinating and emotional things you will ever experience.
posted by wigu at 1:50 PM on November 22, 2002

Today is anniversary #39. The museum (three floors over my head) is packed. I'm gonna dread next year's anniversary.

Say hi to my buddy, Russ JFK. He should be around giving interviews as he played the character in the movie. They use to have a limo (that was from one of the movies)ride wired with actuall sounds from the day with the full ride re-enacted. I did it at exactly the eve of the shooting a while back. I can tell you sitting in Jackie's spot, your an open target everywhere from a snippers perch in my opinion. The thing was when I did this, you had almost every eyewitness, expert and family member connected to this event who are still living watching, real spooky. Especially with all the clicking and flashing of cameras going off at the spot of the shot made me want to first duck, smirk, then a feeling of seriousness with a deep feeling of nausea, all within a few seconds of time. It is an erie spot down there around now as there are a lot of living connections in town visiting for the anniversary walking about.

You can see one of Jack Ruby's dancers and then this one eye-witness, she sings the Stars Bangle Banner on the eve and anniversary of the event.

Also the easier shot for Oswald would have been when he made the right hand turn facing towards the Book Depository way before the grassy knoll.

PS, there is a clock high up on a down town building that stopped on JFK's death. You can see it on the JFK route a few blocks before you get to the grassy knoll.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:51 PM on November 22, 2002

no problem - I'll get it taken off. I really am sorry. I had no intention of upsetting the balance -- those folks aren't even in business any more. That JFK stuff has been there for years.

My apologies!! Now I know. Thanks for the friendly explanation, I appreciate it.
posted by sparky at 1:52 PM on November 22, 2002

Now I feel like the jerk.

"All I need is this chair."

No, not that jerk. I don't like being MeCop - maybe it wouldn't be too much to ask that if the post is deleted, Matt could start another one himself and move the comments from here to the new one? As the only JFK thread on the anniversary, this post definitely had merit, apart from the inherent interest of being about the family we've all seen whiz by on the Zapruder film.
posted by yhbc at 2:00 PM on November 22, 2002

I have seen some jerks and you, sir(?), are no jerk!

Funny thing is I really debated about it before I posted. Pobody's nerfect, I guess. D'oh!
posted by sparky at 2:11 PM on November 22, 2002

Sparky: Don't feel bad; it was a great post in every other way, and everybody enjoyed it. Maybe you could overcome your modesty enough to put your URL on your user page so we could get to it from there? I promise you that's not "self-linking"; in fact, it's encouraged.
posted by languagehat at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2002

Oh, come on guys. I feel like a self-link is "here's my blog, isn't it cool?" This isn't like that at all. It's interesting and isn't self-promoting at all. In my opinion, lay off, people.

Very interesting link. I find it interesting too that the museum doesn't let people look out the window at the view the "shooter" had. I don't put much credence in all the conspiracy theorists, but I do believe that this one goes much deeper and that LHO wasn't the shooter. It seems that this family kind of thinks so too.
posted by aacheson at 3:19 PM on November 22, 2002

My word guys... lay off. The self-link rule isn't sacred, and every once in a while something comes along that is proof for why it's not ironclad. If I could find the link I would but just last year we had a great post that was a self link that matthowie left up because it was so damn cool. And it was really a self link... not just a link to people the linker knows.

If such a problem, take it to metatalk.

posted by silusGROK at 3:48 PM on November 22, 2002

I'm old enough to be mr_crash_davis's father. Great.

Gee, I can remember I was having Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch when I heard and wondering if I'd have to miss the big judo tournament in the gigantic and fascinating metropolis of Salt Lake City that weekend. This guy got to see Kennedy get his brains blown out at ground zero. I like mine better somehow.
posted by y2karl at 4:47 PM on November 22, 2002

aacheson: I find it interesting too that the museum doesn't let people look out the window at the view the "shooter" had.

The sniper's nest area has been restored to the conditions the police found in 1963, and glassed off as its own exhibit. While one can't DIRECTLY look out the shooter's window, you can 1)look through both the display glass and the window, or 2) stand at the windowsill directly to the right of the sniper's nest and see everything Oswald saw. (plus or minus a few degrees)

Also, there WAS a webcam in the sniper's window, looking directly down Elm Street. I lost the URL when I sold my previous computer, and until today, hadn't thought about it in a long time
posted by Wildcat3 at 5:24 PM on November 22, 2002

I have been to the depository in the early 70'S. At that time the 7th floor was closed to the public. Looked out the 6th floor window. It is my belief that two shots from am old Russian rifle would not have been able to hit a target with any accuracy. there were experiments made by sharp shooters with that particular weapon . Of the qualified sharp shooters, (Gov sponsored) I believe that just two men could hit a slow moving target with any accuracy. (That is in the given time frame of the event) Thanks for a very interesting blog.
posted by farmen at 5:28 PM on November 22, 2002

I came back to officially "lay off", because I remembered something that changed my mind - I did the same thing. I posted my brother-in-law's extreme croquet site.

The only differences were, first I emailed Matt and asked if it would be a self link; when he wrote back and said to go for it I did, but I used my first comment for full disclosure. So - I'm sorry, sparky. It was a great link, and one I enjoyed seeing very much. Just, if it comes up again (maybe some other family members have a website about them going down on the Titanic, I don't know), maybe some degree of disclosure up front would keep assholes like me from jumping all over it, okay?

Again, my apologies and my thanks.
posted by yhbc at 8:56 PM on November 22, 2002

Seems to me, the best shot towards elm street would be from someone prone on top of the Triple Underpass.

...and what are the exact rules for the self link?
posted by wuakeen at 2:08 AM on November 23, 2002

I think Metatalk is where the validity of posts is discussed.
posted by mecran01 at 6:27 AM on November 23, 2002

mecran01: Yes, in theory. In practice, if you take anything but the most flagrant and evil violation to MetaTalk, especially since Matt has imposed a front-page limit there, you will get a chorus of "Why are you wasting MeTa space with this? You just pushed a valuable post to the archives!" &c. &c. Since yhbc and I were both nice about it, I don't see anything wrong with our having brought it up here.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on November 23, 2002

maybe some other family members have a website about them going down on the Titanic, I don't know

Now that you mention it...
Thanks for the laugh!
posted by sparky at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2002

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