Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zanesville Times Recorder

By Lewis LeMaster
Nov 3, 2012

DALLAS (UPI) — As Zanesville citizens sat around their breakfast tables reading the Nov. 22, 1963, edition of the Times Recorder, few gave any special significance to an article entitled, “JFK’s Texas Reception Runs Hot and Cold.”

“President Kennedy came to Texas as a political troubleshooter Thursday to the rousing cheers of crowds in San Antonio, but a considerably cooler welcome in Houston.

“The President and Mrs. Kennedy flew to Houston from (San) Antonio to plunge into a two-day swing through five cities of the politically pivotal Lone Star State where party factions are feuding.”

It seemed as if the gods had been especially kind to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was young, famous, wealthy, handsome and witty. He had an extremely attractive wife and two adorable children. As president of the United States, he was the most powerful man on earth. Then, the events of Nov. 22, 1963, quickly brought about unbelievable tragedy and despair for his family and the nation.

At Grover Cleveland Junior High, several of us were struggling through what was a typical mechanical drawing class until one fateful moment in Dallas. A staff member came into the room and whispered something into the instructor’s ear. Our teacher’s face flushed; his voice breaking, he told us Kennedy had been shot and was presumed dead. I shuddered uncontrollably for several seconds. Regaining my composure, I said a silent prayer for the president and his family. The room became eerily quiet.

School was dismissed early. Stunned, I sat on our porch steps until some friends stopped by. Shocked neighbors huddled together or went home to turn on their radios and TV sets. At that moment there were no Democrats, Republicans, or Independents; we were simply fellow Americans who shared an awful bond of grief.

Just hours after the assassination the Times Recorder rushed out a special edition:

Kennedy is slain during Texas trip

“ President Kennedy was assassinated today in a burst of gunfire in downtown Dallas, Texas. Gov. John Connally was shot down with him. The President was killed by a bullet in the head while riding in an open car through the streets of Dallas. His wife was in the same car, but was not hit. She cradled the President in her arms as he was carried to a hospital where he died. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was in the same motorcade and was immediately surrounded by Secret Service men until he could take the oath of office as president.”

Locals react

The Nov. 23 Recorder stated: “In voices choked with emotion, Zanesville residents from every walk of life — Democratic and Republican — expressed grief and shock at the brutal assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“The mournful sound of tolling bells from the towers of Catholic and Protestant churches filled the bright November afternoon moments after the President’s death had been confirmed.

“Within an hour, the flag on the Zanesville post office as well as those throughout the city, were lowered and flown at half-mast.”

The Times Recorder interviewed several Zanesville residents:

Attorney Vashti Funk: “It’s just tragic. I’m so shocked by it! I think it’s a tragic thing that anyone would assassinate the leader of our government.”

Mrs. Vincent Linn: “Oh! I hadn’t heard. I’m shocked at the thought of it. I don’t know what to say.”

Fred Bohn, chairman of the Democratic Party in Muskingum County: “I think the country has just lost one of its greatest citizens. It is quite a shock to everyone in the country.”

Carl E. Smith: “One of the most terrible things I can ever remember. I’m certainly most sorry for the family and the country.”

Dr. Harry Baker, superintendent of the Zanesville District of the Methodist Church: “Well, I’m all shook up. It’s a very dastardly and diabolical deed by some demented person who has lost all sense of comprehension of the democratic way of life.”

The Sunday TR edition (Nov. 24) ran an article titled, “City And County To Join Nation In Day Of Mourning.”

“Zanesville and Muskingum County will join Monday in the national day of mourning to pay a final sorrowing tribute to the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, slain by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Tex., Friday.”

Almost all folks over 55 years of age remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the tragic news. Here are a few examples:

Rick Mautz: “I was in the fifth grade at Westview Elementary and we had just returned to our room from being outside. Our teacher told us the news that President Kennedy had been shot and we were being dismissed to return home for the rest of the day.”

Bob Jenkins: “I was sitting in a chemistry class working on an experiment during my junior year in high school. The school didn’t know how to handle it so they simply switched on the radio so that through the public address system everyone could hear the announcement that the president had been shot. A few minutes later we heard them announce that President Kennedy was dead. Everyone was so stunned we just sat there in shock.”

Bob Arter: “I was in my office at McGraw-Edison. I had the radio on when the announcement was made. I then called the personnel manager and had him turn on the public address system so that all the workers could hear the tragic news.”

Jack Hampson: “I was in the front yard raking leaves. A neighbor who had been helping me heard the news while he was taking a break . He broke the news to me.”

Gene Mautz: “I was working at the Mould Company. Several of us played our radios while we worked, so that’s how I heard about the assassination.”

Lewis LeMaster is a retired local teacher

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