THE DAY JOHN KENNEDY DIED                      
      Sun cleared dawn's drizzle, but gloom clouded Dallas         
                        by Bryan Woolley                           
                          Staff Writer                             
     The valet walked past the Secret Service guard and entered    
Suite 850 of Fort Worth's Texas Hotel. He knocked on the door of   
the master bedroom. It was 7:30 a.m. "Mr. President," he said,     
"it's raining out."                                                
     President John F. Kennedy, coming out of sleep, replied,      
"That's too bad."                                                  
     While he was dressing, he heard the murmur of the crowd       
outside and went to the window. Below him, 5,000 people were       
standing patiently in the soft drizzle, some wearing raincoats,    
some holding umbrellas, most simply ignoring the weather. They     
were office and factory workers. They had begun gathering before   
dawn to hear the speech the President would make in the parking    
lot where they stood. Mounted police officers wearing yellow       
slickers moved among them. "Gosh, look at the crowd!" the          
President said to his wife. "Just look! Isn't that terrific."      
     In the lobby, he was joined by Vice President Lyndon          
Johnson, Gov. John Connally, Sen. Ralph Yarborough, several        
members of Congress and the president of the Fort Worth Chamber    
of Commerce. They crossed Eighth Street and plunged into the       
crowd, shaking hands, smiling. They mounted the truck that was to  
serve as the speaker's platform. Kennedy grabbed the microphone    
and shouted: "There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth!"            
     The crowd cheered. Somebody yelled, "Where's Jackie?"         
     Kennedy pointed toward his eighth-floor window. "Mrs.         
Kennedy is organizing herself," he replied. "It takes her a        
little longer, but, of course, she looks better than we do when    
she does it."                                                      
     Fort Worth was the third stop on the President's five-city    
Texas tour. He had ridden through Houston and San Antonio like a   
triumphant emperor, and Fort Worth had stayed up past midnight to  
welcome the handsome 46-year-old President and his beautiful       
34-year-old wife, lining their route from Carswell Air Force base  
to the hotel.                                                      
     After an informal speech in the parking lot, he would go to   
the hotel, deliver a breakfast speech, fly from Carswell to Love   
Field, ride in a motorcade through Dallas, deliver a speech at a   
$100-a-plate luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart, fly to Austin for  
a banquet and a reception at the Governor's Mansion, and then go   
to the LBJ ranch for a weekend of rest.                            
     Back inside the Texas Hotel, Kennedy accepted the ceremonial  
cowboy hat from his hosts, but refused to wear it for              
photographers and TV cameramen. He would model it later, he said,  
at the White House. His breakfast speech was the standard          
fence-mending one-- about the greatness of Texas and Fort Worth    
and the Democratic Party--and it drew a thunderous ovation.        
     The President and the first lady retired to Suite 850 to      
prepare for the flight to Dallas. Kennedy placed a call to former  
Vice President John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner in Uvalde, Texas,   
to wish him a happy 95th birthday, and an aide showed him a        
black-bordered full-page ad with a sardonic headline in The        
Dallas Morning News. "Welcome Mr. Kennedy to Dallas," it read. In  
13 rhetorical questions, something called the "American            
Fact-Finding Committee" accused the administration of selling out  
the world to communism.                                            
     "Oh, you know, we're heading into nut country today," the     
President said. Mrs. Kennedy later told author William Manchester  
that he paced the floor and then stopped in front of her. "You     
know, last night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate  
a president," he said. "There was the rain and the night, and we   
were all getting jostled. Suppose a man had a pistol in a          
briefcase." He pointed a finger at the wall and pretended to fire  
two shots.                                                         
     Not many in the presidential party were looking forward to    
Dallas. Several Texans--some from Dallas--had warned the           
President not to include Dallas on his Texas tour, that an ugly    
incident was likely to occur there. But Kennedy insisted that the  
state's second-largest city be placed on the itinerary.            
     So the preparations had been made. Dallas civic leaders had   
launched a public relations campaign to try to ensure a friendly   
turnout for the President.                                         
     Seven hundred law officers--city police officers and          
firefighters, sheriff's deputies, Texas Rangers and state highway  
patrol officers--had been assembled to keep order. About the time  
that John Kennedy was waking up, Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry   
had gone on TV to warn that his officers would take "immediate     
action to block any improper conduct." If the police were          
inadequate, he said, even citizen's arrests were authorized.       
     Others were preparing, too, in the early morning. Waiters     
were setting the places for the Trade Mart luncheon. A warehouse   
worker named Lee Harvey Oswald sneaked a rifle and a telescopic    
sight into the Texas School Book Depository. Because of forecasts  
showing that the rain probably would be past Dallas by the time    
the presidential party arrived, a Kennedy aide told the Secret     
Service not to put the bubble-top on the big blue limousine in     
which the President and Mrs. Kennedy would ride.                   
     Air Force One had barely left the runway at Carswell before   
it began its descent toward Love Field. The flight took only 13    
minutes. The big plane touched down at 11:38 a.m. Police armed     
with rifles stood along the roof of the terminal building. A       
large crowd waited beyond a chain-link fence. Many in the crowd    
were jumping, screaming, waving placards: "We Love Jack," "Hooray  
for JFK." Others were less friendly. They held placards, too:      
"Help Kennedy Stamp Out Democracy," "In 1964 Goldwater and         
Freedom," "Yankees Go Home And Take Your Equals With You." They    
booed and hissed when the President and first lady emerged from    
the plane, smiled, waved and descended the stairs of Air Force     
     For the fourth time in 24 hours, Lyndon and Lady Bird         
Johnson were waiting to welcome the Kennedys to a Texas city. The  
presidential couple was introduced to the 12-man official          
welcoming committee. Mrs. Earle Cabell, wife of the Dallas mayor,  
presented Mrs. Kennedy with a bouquet of red roses. Then Kennedy   
broke from the official cluster and moved along the chain-link     
fence, smiling, shaking hands; letting people touch him.           
     At 11:55, two motorcycle police officers led the motorcade    
out of Love Field and turned left on Mockingbird Lane. Police      
Chief Curry drove the lead car. With him rode Dallas County        
Sheriff Bill Decker and two Secret Service agents. Then came       
three more motorcycles. Then the blue limousine with two Secret    
Service agents in the front, John and Nellie Connally in the jump  
seats and the Kennedys in the back seat. Two motorcycles flanked   
the car on each side. Next was another convertible, full of        
Kennedy aides and Secret Service agents, and four more agents      
standing on its running boards.                                    
     Then came the vice presidential convertible, carrying two     
Secret Service agents, the Johnsons and Yarborough. A Texas        
highway patrol officer and four Secret Service agents rode in the  
next car. A press pool car, a press bus, convertibles bearing      
photographers, and cars carrying lesser dignitaries completed the  
     The motorcade would move through a sizable portion of         
Dallas--along Mockingbird to Lemmon Avenue, right on Lemmon to     
Turtle Creek Boulevard, along Turtle Creek and Cedar Springs Road  
to Harwood Street, down Harwood to Main Street, where, at City     
Hall, it would turn right and move westward along Main through     
the downtown business district.                                    
     At the west end of downtown, it would turn right onto         
Houston Street and then immediately left onto Elm Street and move  
through the Triple Underpass. A few yards beyond the underpass,    
it would turn right again onto Stemmons Expressway and move to     
the Trade Mart at the intersection of Stemmons and Harry Hines     
Boulevard. After the President's speech, it would proceed out      
Harry Hines to Mockingbird, turn right, and return to Love Field.  
     The sidewalk crowds were sparse at first. A few people in     
the factories and offices along Mockingbird came out to have a     
look. The sun was bright now, and Mrs. Kennedy was regretting      
that she was wearing the pink wool suit. She had expected woolen   
weather. It was, after all, late November. She put on sunglasses,  
but her husband told her to take them off. The people wanted to    
see her, he said.                                                  
     At the corner of Lemmon and Lomo Alto, a group of children    
held a long banner reading, "Please Stop and Shake Our Hands."     
Kennedy ordered his driver to stop. He got out and shook their     
hands. Farther along, he ordered another stop and got out to       
greet a group of nuns. At Lee Park on Turtle Creek, the crowd      
began to thicken. And at Harwood and Live Oak, still two blocks    
from the turn onto Main, the people in the motorcade heard the     
downtown crowd murmuring like a distant tide.                      
     When the caravan made the turn, it faced pandemonium. People  
were standing 10 and 12 deep on the sidewalks. Red, white and      
blue bunting fluttered from the buildings. People leaned out       
windows, waving and screaming. There were no picket signs, no      
sour faces. The feared Dallas crowd was friendly--even adoring.    
The nuts had stayed home. It was 12:21 p.m.                        
     At the Trade Mart, the luncheon guests were showing their     
tickets to the door guards and filing to their seats. The huge     
building was surrounded by Dallas and Texas police, standing at    
parade rest, holding riot sticks, glaring at a handful of          
protesters. Inside the atrium hall, parakeets flew freely from     
tree to tree. A fountain splashed. An organist was practicing      
"Hail to the Chief." Dozens of yellow roses adorned the head       
table. The presidential seal had been mounted on the rostrum.      
     As the motorcade neared Houston Street, the size of the       
crowd diminished, but the cheers and applause were still hearty.   
Nellie Connally turned in her seat and said, "You can't say        
Dallas doesn't love you, Mr. President."                           
     Kennedy replied, "No, you can't."                             
     Workers from the Texas School Book Depository, the Dal-Tex    
Building and the Dallas County buildings lined the sidewalks at    
Houston and Elm as the head of the motorcade turned toward the     
Triple Underpass. Others stood on the grass of Dealey Plaza. Many  
had brought their children to see the President. Several           
spectators noticed a man standing very still in a sixth-floor      
corner window of the depository. One man saw the rifle he was      
holding and assumed he was a Secret Service agent.                 
     As the blue limousine made the sharp left turn from Houston   
onto Elm, the Hertz rental car time-and-temperature sign on the    
roof of the depository red 12:30. A Secret Service man in the      
motorcade radioed the Trade Mart: "Halfback to Base. Five minutes  
to destination." He wrote in his shift log: "12:35 p.m. President  
Kennedy arrived at Trade Mart."                                    
     Some thought the noises were firecrackers. Others thought a   
motorcycle was backfiring. Some recognized them as rifle shots.    
Pigeons flew from the roof of the depository. Kennedy lurched      
forward and grabbed his neck.                                      
     Sen. Yarborough, in the vice president's car, cried, "My      
God! They've shot the President!" Secret Service agent Rufus       
Youngblood climbed from the front seat to the back, threw Johnson  
to the floorboard and covered him with his own body.               
     In the blue limousine, Gov. Connally had been hit, too. He    
pitched forward and fell toward his wife. "No, no, no, no, no!"    
he screamed.                                                       
     Then another shot. The President's head exploded. Blood       
spattered the occupants of the blue car. The first lady, in        
shock, tried to climb out over the trunk. A Secret Service agent   
pushed her back. The car slowed and then lurched out of the        
motorcade line and sped past the Triple Underpass, with Chief      
Curry's car and the Secret Service car in pursuit.                 
     UPI White House correspondent Merriman Smith was sitting in   
the middle of the front seat of the press pool car. He grabbed     
the mobile phone. He called the wire service's Dallas bureau and   
dictated the first bulletin: "Three shots were fired at President  
Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas."                           
     The cheers of greeting in Dealey Plaza rose to screams of     
horror and fear. "They killed him! They killed him! They killed    
him!" Parents grabbed children and ran. Men and women lay          
prostrate on the grass and sidewalks, as if dead. The motorcade    
was disintegrating, the cars veering hither and yon, trying to     
get through the crowd and follow the limousine. Helmeted police    
officers leaped from motorcycles, pulled guns, looked wildly       
about. The Hertz clock still read 12:30.                           
     The staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital had only five         
minutes notice of the massive emergency rushing upon them, and     
many thought the message was a joke. When the blue car arrived,    
they weren't ready. No one was waiting at the emergency entrance.  
A Secret Service agent dashed inside to order stretchers.          
     Connally--whose wounds were serious but not fatal--was        
wheeled to Trauma Room No. 2, Kennedy to Trauma Room No. 1. Teams  
of surgeons and nurses went to work. The Secret Service regrouped  
around the Johnsons and hustled them to seclusion in another part  
of the hospital. Reporters dashed around the halls and offices,    
searching for phones. Parkland patients heard the news and rushed  
to have a look.                                                    
     "Gentlemen," a weeping Yarborough told reporters, "this has   
been a deed of horror. Excalibur has sunk beneath the waves."      
Mrs. Kennedy insisted on being in the trauma room with her         
husband. A nurse protested, but she was admitted.                  
     Outside, more of the motorcade vehicles were arriving. Their  
passengers tumbled out and stared in horror at the blood-soaked    
     At 1 p.m., Dr. Kemp Clark, the senior physician working on    
the President, pronounced him dead. A priest administered last     
rites. At 1:13, the news was carried to the vice president. At     
1:26, the Secret Service, fearing the assassination was part of a  
massive plot against the government, spirited the Johnsons away    
to unmarked cars and sped to Love Field. They boarded Air Force    
One at 1:33, while Kennedy press aide Malcolm Kilduff was          
announcing the President's death to the press.                     
     Police were still combing the Dealey Plaza area for           
Kennedy's murderer. Indeed, only a minute after the fatal shot     
was fired, Marrion Baker, a Dallas motorcycle officer, had         
pointed his pistol at Lee Harvey Oswald. Baker had been riding by  
the Texas School Book Depository when the killing occurred, and    
he jumped off his motorcycle and dashed inside with Roy Truly,     
the building's superintendent. They encountered Oswald in the      
second-floor lunchroom. Baker drew his gun. "Do you know this      
man?" he asked Truly. "Does he work here?" Truly said he did, and  
Baker let him go. A minute later, Oswald walked out the front      
door of the depository, where he encountered NBC reporter Robert   
MacNeil, who was looking for a phone. Oswald told him he could     
find one inside. Five minutes later, police sealed off the door.   
     At 12:44, Oswald boarded a bus at Elm and Murphy streets,     
seven blocks from the depository, but got off a few minutes later  
when the bus was caught in a traffic snarl. By 12:45, Dallas       
police had questioned the witness who had seen the man standing    
in the depository window with the rifle and had broadcast his      
description from a radio car in front of the depository. Two       
minutes later, Oswald caught a taxicab at the Greyhound bus        
station and rode to Beckley and Neely, a corner near his Oak       
Cliff rooming house. He went to his room, got a pistol and left    
     Meanwhile, Roy Truly had drawn up a list of depository        
employees and told police that Oswald was missing. At 1:12,        
sheriff's deputies found three empty cartridge cases near the      
sixth floor corner window. Ten minutes later, they would find the  
rifle, hidden between boxes of textbooks in the room.              
     At 1:15, Dallas officer J.D. Tippett was cruising by a drug   
store at 10th and Patton, less than a mile from the Oak Cliff      
rooming house, and spotted Oswald walking along the sidewalk.      
Tippett, for reasons never determined, pulled over and stopped     
him. Oswald jerked his pistol from under his jacket, shot four     
times and ran away. Nine people saw the shooting. A pickup truck   
driver took the dead officer's radio mike and said, "Hello,        
police operator. We've had a shooting out here."                   
     On Air Force One, stewards were removing some of the seats    
in the tail compartment to make room for President Kennedy's       
coffin. In the plane's stateroom, Lyndon Johnson was watching      
Walter Cronkite on television and was asking aides and             
congressmen whether he should be sworn in immediately or wait      
until they had returned to Washington. Some thought he should      
wait. Others thought it might be dangerous for the country to be   
without a President while he was en route. Johnson decided he      
would assume the office in Dallas. "Now," he said, "What about     
the oath?"                                                         
     The aides and congressmen were embarrassed. They could        
remember neither the words nor where to find them. They couldn't   
remember who, besides Supreme Court justices, was authorized to    
administer the oath. Everyone was in such shock and confusion      
that phone calls were made to several Justice Department           
officials in Washington and Dallas before someone remembered that  
a President may be sworn in by any judge and that the oath is in   
the Constitution. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach      
dictated it by phone from Washington, and U.S. District Judge      
Sarah Hughes, an old friend of Johnson who had been appointed to   
the North Texas federal bench by Kennedy, was dispatched to Love   
     At 1:40, Lee Oswald ran into the Texas Theater on West        
Jefferson--eight blocks from officer Tippit's body--without        
buying a ticket. The box office attendant called the police.       
Cruisers began converging on the theater. At 1:50, the house       
lights went up, and officers moved up and down the aisles, looked  
into the faces of the few patrons. Officer M.N. McDonald stopped   
at the 10th row and said to a man sitting alone: "Get up."         
     "Well, it's all over now," Oswald said, according to          
witnesses and he stood up. But when McDonald moved closer, Oswald  
struck him in the face and went for his pistol. McDonald struck    
back and grabbed for the gun. Oswald pulled the trigger, but the   
web of skin between McDonald's thumb and forefinger was caught     
under the hammer. The gun didn't fire. Other officers joined the   
fight. They subdued Oswald and hustled him out of the theater. "I  
protest this police brutality!" Oswald shouted.                    
     Twenty-five minutes later, Capt. Will Fritz, chief of         
homicide, returned to the Police Department and ordered that the   
missing Texas School Book Depository worker named Lee Harvey       
Oswald be arrested as a suspect in the presidential killing. An    
officer pointed to a small young man with a bruised eye who was    
sitting in a chair. "There he sits," he said.                      
     At Parkland, a Secret Service agent called Oneal's Funeral    
Home in Oak Lawn to order a casket. The funeral director, Vernon   
Oneal, arrived with it at 1:30. After the President's body had     
been placed in the casket, Mrs. Kennedy entered Trauma Room No.    
1, took off her wedding ring and placed it on her husband's        
finger. The casket was closed and placed on a funeral home cart    
to be moved to the hearse.                                         
     Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas County medical examiner,            
protested. Kennedy was a homicide victim, he said, and the body    
couldn't be released legally until after an autopsy had been       
performed. A quarrel developed between him and the Secret          
Service. Kennedy aides and the Secret Service agents forced the    
casket through the crowd that had gathered at the hospital door    
and loaded it into the hearse. Mrs. Kennedy rode in the back with  
it. At 2:20, the dead President was carried up the stairs into     
Air Force One. Mrs. Kennedy retired to the bedroom.                
     Judge Hughes boarded the plane at 2:35 and was handed a       
small white card with the oath scrawled on it. Capt. Cecil         
Stoughton, an Army Signal Corps photographer, tried to arrange     
the crowd in the cramped stateroom so that he could take a         
picture of the ceremony. "We'll wait for Mrs. Kennedy," Johnson    
said. "I want her here."                                           
     Mrs. Kennedy came out of the bedroom still wearing the        
blood-soaked pink suit. Johnson pressed her hand and said, "This   
is the saddest moment of my life." The photographer placed her on  
Johnson's left, Lady Bird on his right. Judge Hughes, the first    
woman to administer the presidential oath, was shaking.            
     "What about a Bible?" asked one of the witnesses. Someone     
remembered that President Kennedy had kept a Bible in the bedroom  
and went to get it.                                                
     "I do solemnly swear..."                                      
     The oath lasted 28 seconds. At 2:38 p.m., Lyndon B. Johnson   
became the 36th President of the United States. The big jet's      
engines already were screaming. "Now, let's get airborne," he