Local Man Witness to Tragic History

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Jan 16, 2009 at 1:25 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--IT’S NOON TIME AND AS USUAL DON CONNALLY IS OUTSIDE FORT WAYNE’S WHISPERING MEADOWS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, DIRECTING PARENTS COMING TO PICK UP THEIR KIDS. BUT 45 YEARS AGO CONNALLY WAS A WORLD AWAY FROM WHISPERING MEADOWS ELEMENTARY…WORKING AS A CUB NEWSPAPER REPORTER AT THE FORT WORTH PRESS…

Don: I was just a makeshift copy boy, gopher, whatever you want to call it..photographer when nobody else was available, I did it.

AS A CUB REPORTER CONNALLY WOULD COVER WHAT WOULD BECOME THE NEWS STORY OF THE CENTURY. IT BEGAN WITH THE ARRIVAL OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY AND WIFE JACKIE AT THE DALLAS FORT WORTH AIRPORT ON NOVEMBER 22ND 1963. AS THE FIRST COUPLE SPED OFF IN THEIR LIMOSINE, CONNALLY BOARDED THE PRESS BUS AND JOINED THE MOTORCADE FOR DOWNTOWN DALLAS. TWENTY MINUTES LATER THE PRESIDENT WAS SHOT.

Don: And we knew something had happened because the motorcade stopped abruptly, I mean it stopped and people started shouting and running toward the front of the motorcade so we knew something had happened. You know it’s funny you react as a journalist you don’t think I gotta get pictures of this stuff, you don’t think ‘Oh my god the presidents been shot’, you don’t think that way, you think ‘Oh I got to report this to somebody’.

CONNALLY FOLLOWED THE PRESIDENTS LIMO TO PARKLAND HOSPITAL, WATCHED HIS CASKET LOADED ONTO AIR FORCE ONE…WITNESSED THE ARREST OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD AND HIS MURDER ON TV. THEY ARE DAYS DON CONNALLY DOESN’T THINK OF OFTEN NOW…BUT THEY’RE DAYS THAT CHANGED HIM PROFOUNDLY.

I think it made me more aware of what’s around my presence. Even at the school if I see somebody out here I don’t recognize I question why is he here, why is that lady setting in the car why is that guy standing on top of the hill. And worry more about the kids than I do anything else. I don’t want anything to happen to them.

ERIC OLSON OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY.




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