The 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination is tomorrow.
M's grandmother now lives in Israel, but when the murder happened, she lived behind the Iron Curtain, with only state-run TV available, and that seen in public spaces. She remembers what happened. It was global news, history made and changed.
In an American Terrible Top 10 list, JFK's murder would be a contender for the top spot with 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Lincoln, the Civil War and the New York Yankees.
When I was in Dallas, I worked with a handful of people who had strong recollections of that awful day and weekend. Several had been in Dealey Plaza. Carol worked for D.A. Henry Wade (of Roe v. Wade fame). His office overlooked Dealey and she was in the crowd that day. She told me she was interviewed by government officials and told to keep quiet. Harry said the same thing; he saw things that he thought curious and was told he was mistaken. Tommy sold ads at the paper just a few blocks away from the site; on 11/22, he was chatting with a client in his office. Well-known guy named Jack Ruby.
Then there was Clint.
I met Clint Grant in 1990. He was 73 then and officially "retired" from a lauded career as a photographer at the Dallas Morning News. Clint was a spry old dude who was doing part-time freelance shooting for us. He died three years ago.
One day Clint and I drove to White Rock Lake to take some pics of a forgotten vehicle called a Sterling. (Sterling was a failed British marque that sold fewer than 40,000 cars in the U.S. in its 1987-92 run.)
Being young and oblivious, I had no idea then of the things that Clint had seen or the great things he'd accomplished. He was extremely well-regarded. I just knew him to be a sharp-eyed photographer, and a wonderful man.
Somehow the topic of the Kennedy assassination came up.
He was there. In the motorcade.
JFK's visit to Texas was huge news. And it was a political trip... with an eye toward the 1964 election, which was less than a year away, Kennedy wanted to make sure and lock up Texas as he had when he narrowly won in 1960. Having LBJ on the bill was essential, and making a good impression on the state was a smart play. He'd wing his way through most of the state's key cities, and for good measure he'd bring his best asset: Jackie.
It was the first time she'd accompany him on a domestic tour.
And the last.
Because the trip was so highly anticipated, the newspaper sent reporters -- and Clint -- to D.C. to document the historic visit. Clint was around the president a lot in those final days.
The presidential entourage in Texas included Air Force One and two other planes. Clint said that appearances were carefully orchestrated. It's a 30-minute drive from Fort Worth, where the president and first lady awoke on a rainy Nov. 22, 1963, to Dallas, where history awaited. But Air Force One took off from Fort Worth, and the entourage jets followed. Then, the entourage jets landed first at Dallas Love Field, deplaned to get in position for the presidential arrival, and then Air Force One landed.
Clint was there as the president and his wife emerged at Love Field. In one photo, the smiling couple greets the crowd, with LBJ and Texas gov. John Connally in the background. Clint took that.
Not long after my conversations with Clint, I came to work early one morning and pulled my chair out from under my desk. On it was an unmarked manila folder with a note from Clint saying simply, "You might find these interesting."
For more than 20 years I've marveled at these photos. Would you like to see them?