Dallas then: ‘nut country’
JFK defied warnings and premonitions from those close to him to visit a very hostile territory
Cars traveling on the road past The Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, Texas in Dealey Plaza on November 22nd, 1963. Photograph: Reuters
“Dallas, the city that virtually invited the poor insignificant soul who blotted out the life of President Kennedy to do it in Dallas.” A Letter received by Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell on November 22nd, 1963.
When US President John F Kennedy arrived in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963, he and his wife Jackie were mourning the death of their infant, Patrick.
Marilyn Monroe, with whom JFK had reputedly had an affair, had been dead for 18 months. The first lady, Jackie, dressed in pink, was, unusually, accompanying her husband, and they were said to be growing closer.
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- Doubts that just won’t die
- Dallas then: ‘nut country’
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Addison’s Disease had made Kennedy’s complexion abnormally tanned and his lips defined as if by line. His wasted body was hidden by his well-cut suit, while intravenous drugs masked his chronic pain and gave him vigour.
JFK had been unusually downbeat. Eleven days before, on Veterans’ Day, the couple had brought their son, John, to Arlington Cemetery. “This is one of the really beautiful places on earth, I could stay here forever,” the president said.
When Air Force One touched down at Love Field, Dallas, 50 years ago today, he ignored protestors waving a giant Confederate flag to work the crowd. “Kennedy is showing he is not afraid,” a reporter wrote in his notebook.
In their Dallas hotel room, the president was handed a copy of the ultra-conservative Dallas Morning News, which had a full-page ad denouncing the president for being pro-Communist. The ad’s ominous black border made it look like an obituary. Jackie said, “Can you imagine a paper doing a thing like that?”
Kennedy turned to his wife: “Oh, you know, we’re heading into nut country today.”
The ad accused Kennedy of pro-Communist sympathies and was signed, “The American Fact-Finding Committee”, a name made up on the spur of the moment by Bernard Weissman, acting for a shady group of powerful white racists who secretly ran the city. Weissman was called before the Warren Commission, though Larrie Schmidt, who paid for the ad, was not. Both men are alive today.
This incident is but one of many sinister events, described in a meticulously researched book, Dallas 1963: The Road to the Kennedy Assassination.
The authors, Bill Minutaglio and Steven L Davis, portray a city with a collective consciousness so poisonously divided, corrupt and violent that it becomes clear that the assassin was Dallas. Oswald just happened to fire the rifle.
After seeing the ad, Kennedy paced the hotel room and recalled the chaotic, packed crowd at his and Jackie’s engagement the night before in Fort Worth: “You know, last night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate a president.”