November 22, 1963 - A Breakfast with JFK


Former WTVT news director/anchor Crawford Rice was a manager of KTVT in Dallas when President Kennedy made his fateful visit to the area on November 22, 1963. 

Rice attended a breakfast held in JFK's honor in Ft. Worth the morning of November 22nd and shared his observations with BIG 13.

"There was considerable opposition to President Kennedy's being invited to Dallas. However, no one I knew or talked with expected anything serious to happen...probably just some booing and a few critical signs held aloft along the motorcade route. Remember, the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations had not yet happened. We were not yet hardened to the fact that there are individuals in this country who will go to the most extreme measures to make their points.

President Kennedy spent the night of November 21, 1963 in Fort Worth. The next morning he appeared at a breakfast gathering with business and civic leaders of that city. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience with Jim Terrell.  Mrs. Kennedy was there along with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife 'Lady Bird,' and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie were also with the President. 

President Kennedy's Nov. 22, 1963 breakfast talk was humorous, and he received a positive reception from the Ft. Worth attendees, including Crawford Rice of KTVT

JFK's talk at the Fort Worth breakfast meeting was joking, upbeat and charismatic, as usual. He poked some fun at L.B.J., who was seated beside him, asking why people in Texas cheered more loudly for the Vice President than for the President. The speech was not heavy on politics or issues, mostly just how happy he was to be in the great state of Texas and how he hoped the schedule was so tight that Jackie would not have an opportunity to visit Nieman-Marcus.  Jackie was dressed in the pillbox hat and pink dress for the motorcade scheduled later than morning in Dallas.

Jacqueline Kennedy at the Ft. Worth breakfast meeting

Jim and I were at a table fairly close to the dais, not front row but with a good view of everyone. We neither saw nor felt any tensions or anxiety, although there was the usual heavy Secret Service presence, of course.  KTVT filmed the breakfast and speech, and used highlights repeatedly during the brief times we went to local coverage later that day.

After the breakfast, President Kennedy flew in Air Force One from Amon Carter Field, which is east of Fort Worth, to Love Field in Dallas, a distance of about 20 miles. We were told this was done for security reasons.  On landing in Dallas, he began that fateful motorcade through the city.

Jim and I returned to the station after the breakfast meeting. I was just preparing to leave the office for lunch when the first bulletin was aired.  Kennedy had been shot...perhaps mortally.  Along with everyone else, I was in a state of disbelief and shock. But that had to be overcome quickly, as we had the prodigious task of deciding what an independent station with a newsroom staff of 3 persons would do in this unprecedented situation. It soon boiled down to only two choices...somehow get network coverage, or go off the air. 

We contacted Roy Bacus, the general manager of WBAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in the market, who very graciously permitted us to duplicate the NBC feed until things returned to normal.

One last interesting sidelight. This was well before the days of ENG and satellites and live coverage everywhere. Each Dallas-Fort Worth station had only one live remote truck, including KTVT. You can imagine the need for live coverage from a number of locations. We promptly turned our truck, including the production and engineering personnel who manned it, over to WBAP-TV to use as they saw fit, a small quid pro quo for the NBC coverage they gave us.

KTVT's mobile unit positioned across from the Texas Schoolbook Depository
November 23, 1963

As fate would have it, it was the KTVT truck that was on duty for WBAP at the Dallas County Jail on Sunday morning, when Lee Harvey Oswald was being moved to another location and was shot by Jack Ruby. 

NBC's coverage of Oswald's shooting was made possible by the use of KTVT's mobile unit,
as a 'quid pro quo' for the use of WBAP's feed

The murder of Oswald by Ruby was shown live on NBC, and the one lone Ampex two-inch VTR in the KTVT truck was rolling, through someone's foresight or good judgment, and that historic piece of history was recorded on video tape.

End of story."

Be sure to visit the section of our BIG 13 web site called "Tampa Remembers John F. Kennedy."  It's a unique look at the day Pres. Kennedy visited Tampa in November of 1963...just four days before the fateful trip to Dallas.  You'll see first-person accounts of Channel 13 employees who were there that day.

To return to "Tampa Remembers John F. Kennedy," CLICK HERE

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