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UNT alumni reflect on JFK 50th anniversary

UNT alumni reflect on JFK 50th anniversary

UNT almnus Sue Carrico holds up a photo of her husband Jim Carrico, who was the first doctor to see President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital on the day he was assassinated 50 years ago.

UNT alumni reflect on JFK 50th anniversary
November 21
09:15 2013

Javier Navarro / Staff Writer

Former Dallas Times Herald political writer and UNT alumnus Keith Shelton remembers the cheers from the crowd of people all over downtown Dallas as President John F. Kennedy made his way through the city. Shelton was in a press bus several vehicles behind Kennedy’s motorcade, and everything was going smoothly until he heard a few shots fired.

Shelton said when the shots rang out, a few people on the bus initially thought it was a car backfiring. But having served in the U.S. Army, Shelton knew what rifle shots sounded like.

“We could hear where it came from, and down in the lower area it reverberated, so it sounded like it came from the grassy knoll or across the street,” Shelton said. “We then went to the Trade Mart, where [the president] was supposed to be going to, and when we got there, he wasn’t there. That’s when we realized something had happened.”

Kennedy was shot at about 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22, 1963. Although it happened 50 years ago, Shelton still remembers the initial reaction from the community.

“It was such a shock that nobody had anticipated,” Shelton said.

After Kennedy was shot, he was rushed to Parkland Hospital and the news of the attack soon broke out.

UNT alumnus Sue Carrico said she sat at her home in Irving taking care of four children while watching TV when she saw Walter Cronkite interrupt the program she was watching to announce that the President was shot.

Carrico said her first reaction was to call her husband Jim, who was a surgeon at Parkland Hospital, but she couldn’t get in touch with him immediately.

“Later on, another doctor called me and told me that my husband had been the first doctor to see [the president],” Carrico said. “I was just shocked and surprised.”

Kennedy was officially pronounced dead at about 1 p.m.

Shelton said it was very emotional in the news field and in the office where some people had trouble keeping calm enough to get correct information immediately. He said he didn’t think much about it until he went home that evening.

“All day, I was really busy concentrating on my job and didn’t think about it in a personal way, but when I got home and tried to go to bed, it hit me,” Shelton said.

The search went on to find Kennedy’s suspected killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was seen hiding in the Texas Theatre and arrested by police.

Two days after the president’s assassination, Oswald was being transferred to the county jail in the Dallas Police Headquarters when nightclub owner Jack Ruby stepped in front of Oswald and shot him to death.

The aftermath of the events shocked the whole community for the following weeks and the overall mood was grim, Shelton said.

Carrico said when her husband finally came home from the hospital, he didn’t want to speak about the situation immediately and didn’t talk about it personally until 30 years after.

“It just had been too big of a thing, and he knew it was big and important, and it was just too much emotion,” Carrico said.

She also said in the following months, her husband had to testify before the Warren Commission and even received hate mail from people who believed he let the president die.

Carrico also said she found out later that Oswald’s wife actually lived a few blocks down in the same neighborhood as her. She said Oswald and his wife were separated at the time, and that Oswald spent the night at his wife’s house the day before he killed the president.

Earlier this month, the city of Irving opened that house as a public museum.

UNT alumnus Adam Donaghey and a few partners took over operations at the Texas Theatre in August 2010. Donaghey said the theater shows independent films as well as classic films.

He also said he and his partners embrace the history and they will usually point out to visitors where Oswald was sitting when police found him. He said it’s hard to believe that he’s operating the theater where Oswald was arrested.

“Even after three years of operation it’s still haunting,” Donaghey said. “But especially now that the 50th anniversary of that fateful day is upon us.”

Carrico said the day of the assassination greatly affected her and her husband, who died 11 years ago. She even wrote a letter to first lady Jackie Kennedy the same day of the assassination where she expressed her condolences on behalf of her and her husband. She never mailed the letter.

“It’s hard for me to believe that our lives have come so close to touching on this tragic day,” Carrico said, reading the letter. “Serving your husband during the final minutes of his life is an experience [Jim Carrico] will never forget. May God bless you and your families.”

Feature Photo: UNT almnus Sue Carrico holds up a photo of her husband Jim Carrico, who was the first doctor to see President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital on the day he was assassinated 50 years ago. Photo by Harris Buchanan, Staff Photographer.

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