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A Day to Remember

by

Jack Mann


Do you remember where you were on November 22, 1963? Well I sure do. I was driving a limousine in the parade when John F. Kennedy was killed! It was also my first wedding anniversary. I was twenty-one years old with a two-week-old baby boy.

That day started very much like any other except that I had to get up an hour earlier. There was going to be a big parade through the streets of downtown Dallas and the whole world would be watching. I worked for Earl Hayes Avis Truck Rental on Commerce and Industrial as a rental representative but they also rented limousines to important people that came to town from time to time. Since the President of the United States was going to be there that day, we needed a lot more limousines than we had drivers for. I happened to have a chauffeurís license so I was elected to help out the cause. 

I was to drive the president of Texas Instruments, who was going to be the key speaker at the event to be held at the Trade Mart after the parade. Another driver and I were to pick up his entire family about 6:30 a.m. When we pulled into his driveway that morning, the sun was just beginning to break and I was amazed at the size and beauty of the house. Then I found out that this house was just the servants quarters. Past it, and through a grove of trees, was another big house, only it was ten times as large as the first one. We didnít get to go in there so I donít know what it looked like on the inside, but it was BIG! We had to wait for the family in the servantís quarters. The maid served us cookies and coffee and was very polite, but somehow I felt like a slave. I never will forget that feeling, as if we werenít good enough to go in the big house.

I never did understand why we had to get there so early because we had to wait for an hour and a half for the family to get ready. Eventually though, they came out dressed like they were going to a funeral {I guess in a way they were} and we made our way to the Love Field airport to meet the Presidentís plane. If you have ever seen the old newsreels of President Kennedy getting off the plane that fateful morning, you probably saw the back of my head, because I was right there. I remember us talking about how bad it would be if someone tried to kill the President while he was in Dallas. Little did we know that in just a few hours, that is exactly what was going to happen.

After leaving the airport, we fell into a random order to make our way to the parade route that had already been determined. People lined the streets as far as the eye could see. I donít think I have ever seen that many people in one place in my life. As it turned out, I was five or six cars ahead of the president in the parade. I had just passed the Schoolbook Depository building and was pulling up on the freeway when we heard the ear piercing sound of many sirens. After looking in my rear view mirror, all the cars pulled off to the side of the road to let the motor cycle police pass. Right behind them came the President's convertible with two bodyguards holding Tommy guns and riding
the back bumper. Not knowing what was going on, I turned on the radio and waited for the news to tell us what had happened. 

We didnít hear any shots because the air conditioner was running and all the windows were rolled up. In a few minutes, all hell broke loose. People were running everywhere you looked and the knot in my stomach would not release its grip. We just couldnít believe what had happened. Police came from every direction and we were stuck there for what seemed like a couple of hours. After we were able to start moving again, we made our way to Parkland Hospital and waited outside in the car for a couple of more hours. Finally the news came that the President was dead. People were crying everywhere you looked. It was truly a sad time for our country. We eventually took the family to the Trade Mart so they could tie up any loose ends there and then drove them back home. I arrived home about ten p.m. that night and my wife was frantic. She had no way of knowing where I might have been when the shots were fired or if I was all right. We were supposed to be celebrating our first anniversary that night but somehow we werenít in the mood. After thirty-seven years of marriage, my wife and I have never forgotten an anniversary. What a sad way to remember them.

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