Feature: Three Odd Chicago Connections to the JFK Assassination

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CHICAGO – The date of November 22nd, 1963, will always have meaning to certain generations of people as to the where-were-they-when-they-heard that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The City of Chicago was not immune to this event, and three odd connections became apparent as the news broke and in the subsequent associations that emerged afterward.

The facts of the assassination are these … President Kennedy was making a political swing through the State of Texas, on the cusp of the 1964 presidential election, a state which he barely won in his 1960 victory. The Dallas stop on the trip included a motorcade parade – in the presidential limousine were two Secret Service drivers, Kennedy, his wife Jackie, Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie – through the downtown area before a scheduled speech at the Dallas Trade Mart. As the parade was ending at 12:30pm Central Time, shots rang out near the city’s Dealey Plaza (home of the infamous grassy knoll), hitting Kennedy and Connally. Connally survived, President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead a half hour later at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

JFK, Jackie (back seat), Texas Gov. John Connally & wife Nellie (front) Before the ‘Event’
Photo credit: Public Domain

One of the first bulletins on Chicago radio that still survive was from WGN 720 AM. The first reports of shots fired at the JFK motorcade in Dallas were reported by agricultural reporter Orion Samuelson, in the midst of his midday “Country Fair” farm report. He later said he thought the bulletin was at first an elaborate and sick prank, but he saw the reaction “behind the glass” and reported the news in a clip published below by the excellent YouTube channel David Von Pein’s JFK Channel …

For memories of that bulletin by Orion Samuelson … who is alive and recently retired after 60 years on the air in 2021 … click 11/22/63 on-the-air.

For the Patrick McDonald at HollywoodChicago.com interview of David Von Pein, click DVP JFK.

The second oddity was the origin of the rifle used by alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, ordering it under the alias A.J. Hidell. It was traced to a Chicago mail order warehouse on Washington Street called Klein’s Sporting Goods. The Italian World War II infantry carbine model “Mannlicher-Carcano” with telescopic sight was listed as available through Klein’s in the February 1963 “American Rifleman” catalog. Below is a report regarding Klein’s (and other Chicago JFK reactions) from anchor Frank Reynolds of WBKB-TV (later WLS-TV) from online “The Museum of Classic Chicago Television” via David Von Pein …

GO TO PAGE TWO for a bio of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin … Jack Ruby … born and raised in Chicago, Illinois …

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