People began to arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. for President Kennedy’s arrival at Dallas’ Love Field. By the time of Air Force One touched down four hours later, the sun had broken through, bringing a bright, beautiful sky. Three hundred cops watched of over a crowd of two thousand –and growing- at the airport. When the door to Air Force One opened, the First Lady and President saw an enthusiastic public waiting for them.
Think of it: fifty years ago, Presidents didn’t travel that much. Most folks had seen JFK in the paper, in Black and White. So, when the door of Air Force one opened and the First Lady and President Kennedy stepped into the sunlight LIVE and in person, it was like a gust of wind in the face. As White House Aide Dave Powers said, Jack and Jackie looked like “Mr. and Mrs. America”.
Covering from Love Field for WFAA was Bob Walker. As the door of the jet opened, Walker exclaimed “There is Mrs. Kennedy and the crowd yells! And the President of the United States and I can see his suntan all the way from here!” he enthused. Instead of going right to the Presidential limo, JFK headed for the crowd.
Photographers battled for a good angle as Walker narrated “This is great for the people and makes the eggshells even thinner for the Secret Service, whose job it is to guard the man.” Each time the Secret Service drew closer, the President would lean into the crowd. “Boy, this is really something!” said Walker.
Jackie joined in, holding up departure for a few minutes. To the President, these moments translated to votes.
As JFK’s limousine made its way out of Love Field, Walker wrapped up, explaining the route of the motorcade for those who might want to turn off the TV and get their own view.
It was at the Trade Mart telecasts would resume when President Kennedy would speak “At approximately 1 (o’clock) which will also be carried live on most of these channels, and then we’ll be back here of course as we told you, approximately at 2:15 for the President’s departure.”
This was a big day for local television. The networks might have something on the evening news, but not much. After all, this was mostly an undeclared reelection campaign trip and, he was scheduled to return to Washington Saturday.
No one but Lee Harvey Oswald had any idea.
Three Shots were fired: JFK’s Assassination and TV’s First Global Story By Marc Ryan is an e-book available on Amazon.com.