the early 1960s, I was working as a Texas Highway Patrolman in the
north Texas area. On November 22, 1963, my supervisor assigned a number
of us to work security in Dallas for the arrival of President John
F. Kennedy. I was stationed in the Dallas/World Trade Center, just
a stone’s throw from Dealey Plaza and the Triple Underpass, for President
Kennedy’s luncheon with thousands of local people and dignitaries.
As the appointed time of his arrival came and passed, many people
in the crowd grew restless and nervous. Some had been served their
salads, but many were half-eaten or uneaten altogether. Some people
were listening to transistor radios, and word began to spread throughout
the building that something terrible had happened at Dealey Plaza.
Finally, it was confirmed that the president had been shot and would
not arrive for the luncheon. Thousands of people slowly got up, leaving
their steak lunches on the table and mingled about the room. They
finally departed the building, saddened by this dark day in their
Immediately, my fellow highway patrolman and I hurried to Parkland
Hospital (only a short distance away) where we checked on President
Kennedy. It was then that we learned he was dead. Several of us were
then assigned to security duty with Governor John Connally at Parkland,
where elaborate security precautions were taken. Heavy plate steel
was erected over the doors and windows to his hospital room and several
officers remained with him around the clock.
had the opportunity to visit with Governor and Mrs. Connally for the
next ten days. We officers pulled rotating shifts at the governor’s
room, providing elaborately detailed security for him, his wife Nelly,
and their family. It was there that I felt personally involved, close,
and deeply touched by the lives of our First Family of Texas. The
loss of President Kennedy and the serious wounding of our governor
was, and still is, a very, very sad day in my life. I am of the opinion
that his wounds there that day took years off his life, although he
was a very strong person until the day he died.
Weeks later I was back at my permanent assignment in Sulphur
Springs. My partner, Patrolman John Odom and I, were traveling
east on U.S. 67 one Friday night – very near where I-30 ended at that
time – when we stopped a drunk driver. With the driver was a lady
companion. As Patrolman Odom interviewed the drunk driver, I interviewed
the drunken lady passenger. As she stumbled from the passenger side
door of the car, she exclaimed, "Why (hic) y’all out here bothering
us? Huhhhh? Why ain’t y’all (hic) over there trying to catch the people
(hic) that stabbed the president?" Needless to say, they both had
reserved lodging for the night at the Hopkins County crossbar hotel.
What can I say? All in a night’s work, I suppose.
© N. Ray Maxie
January 16, 2005