What remains to be said about the Kennedy assassination? He was vibrant; someone shot him; the world mourned. All the rest is bookshop fodder.
Generations of historians, forensic scientists, memorialists - and, even to this day, crackpot theorists - have looked at every fact, angle, and aspect of what happened when, on November 22nd, 1963, at 12:29:45 p.m. Central Standard Time, a 1961 midnight blue Lincoln Continental Limousine traveling at 11.2 miles per hour made its way across latitude 32° 48' 10.638 longitude -96° 46' 11.7228…
The limo roof was off, the rear seat raised, the occupants clearly visible. A former Marine sharpshooter 265 feet away and six floors above viewed the car and its passengers through a 4-power telescopic sight affixed to his 6.5×52mm Italian Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle; it had a six-round magazine. He fired three shots. It took :08.4 seconds for the brightest presidency of the 20th century to go dark.
On the day before his death, Jack Kennedy was ebullient – mostly. His back, which perpetually pained him, felt great. He was getting along with wife who, in testament to this unusual marital harmony, was traveling with him on a political trip. The only irritant was his Texan vice-president, embroiled in that state’s internecine warfare – but the crowds greeting Kennedy had been so overwhelming large and enthusiastic, even Lyndon Johnson’s squabbling and sulking sunk into the background.
On November 21st, 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy made a pre-1964 campaign trip from Washington D.C. to three cities in Texas: San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth. They rode in 6 motorcades; were cheered by hundreds of thousands of people; did the things presidents running for re-election do - dedicated a medical center, dined with a newspaper publisher, attended a reception, made speeches to the League of United Latin-American Citizens, Mrs. Kennedy’s in Spanish – and all day, everywhere, shook hands. Kennedy, apart from his wife, spoke at a congressman’s banquet, and too, had a heated argument with Lyndon Johnson.
Five hours spent in the air, two-and-a-half in motorcades, the rest primarily politicking: that was the last full-day of John F. Kennedy’s life. When, past midnight, he arrived at the Texas Hotel for their over-night stopover in Fort Worth and walked into their three-room suite, number 850, both he and his wife were exhausted. They were so tired, in fact, that they didn’t notice the original art on the walls: Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso. A local group of patrons, wishing to make the Kennedy’s visit memorable – and their sleepy city, look sophisticated – installed for the night an exhibit of locally owned artwork, replete with a catalogue. The President, his right-hand trembling with exhaustion, went to bed with stomach cramps; Mrs. Kennedy slept in a small room facing a parking lot and neon signs.
On the morning of the 22nd, and due to leave for Dallas, the Kennedy’s noticed the artwork on the walls. They were astonished. The President immediately called to thank the woman (a staunch Republican) who had organized the private, and welcoming, exhibition. He told her how much it meant to him and his wife; how beautiful the paintings were; how he appreciated all the effort that so many had made. Then Mrs. Kennedy took the phone to proffer her thanks. She didn’t want to leave, she said: it was all too beautiful to let go of so quickly. Then they were gone, and just a little later, another motorcade, and three shots.
This is the key to Suite 850, on the eighth floor of the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth, where John F. Kennedy spent his last night alive. It marks, as much as any artifact, the end of a day, and sleep at last.
[John F. Kennedy: Assassination] Skelton-Type Key to Suite 850 on the 8th Floor of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth; no date or place. The head is stamped “The Texas Fort Worth" on one side and "850" on the verso.
Suite 850 was where President John F. Kennedy, accompanied by bis wife, spent his last night alive, November 21-22, 1963. This key may or may not be the one used by the President’s party.