Clipped From The Facts
Notes by Connally's press aide resurface AUSTIN (AP) — The pages are yellowed with age. The fountain pen's blue ink is faded. The hastily scribbled words remain as haunting as ever, though. Scrawled on the back of a typewritten speech that President Kennedy gave in the mist outside the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth: "First thing he called for: Where's Nellie? How are the children?" Julian Read, who had been hired to work with the news media during President Kennedy's fateful trip to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, jotted the notes about Texas Gov. John Connally hours after he was wounded and Kennedy was assassinated. Looking at the words he'd written 35 years ago — and only recently seen again — Read recalled the sound of the shots. "When I saw the limousine speed away, I knew that something terrible had happened. We didn't know what," said Read, who was aboard the presidential motorcade bus carrying White House news reporters. They were four or five vehicles behind the car carrying the president, the governor and their wives. Read, now president of an Austin-based public relations firm, followed the victims to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he provided reports on Connally's condition, coordinated a news conference for Mrs. Connally, and fielded questions from around the world. Jotted on one piece of paper, Read described Nellie Connally telling her husband that Kennedy had been killed: "Mrs. C. told of death of president. ... I know was his response. I know." Read's assistant, who ended up with the brown accordion file marked "assassination" in big, black letters, mailed it to him about three weeks ago with a note indicating she had meant to return it sooner. "I was shocked because all the memories came rolling back, like a wave." he said. "I just discovered my own private time capsule, 35 years later." First thing he called for: Where's Nellie? How are the children?" -JULIAN READ Gov. Connally press aide Maria Westfall said her job back then called for sorting and filing her boss' paperwork, which often included little scraps of paper and notes scribbled on the backs of envelopes. She put all of it into a safe- deposit box in Fort Worth, knowing "that one of these days this was something he should have as a keepsake." Westfall always had hoped that she and her former boss could go through the file together. But it never happened, so she went back and reaad every piece of paper before sending it back. "It's just like time stood still. I could visualize every moment," Westfall said. "It's kind of an eerie feeling, really." Inside was routine paperwork, and much more: information for the briefings on Connally's medical condition; a handwritten note from the doctor caring for the wounded governor; a memo listing names of emergency room nurses, orderlies and aides who treated Kennedy and Connally. Among the old papers were carbon copies of suggested local comments and jokes for Kennedy to use. Had he appeared at the Dallas luncheon, one suggestion was to comment on the upcoming Cotton Bowl. The University of Texas football team was ranked No. I, and Navy No. 2. "I like the idea of the Navy- Texas game, personally, and I'd like to do what I can to help," the proposed joke read, "except that I know how you folks feel about federal intervention." Connally died in 1993 at age 75. His wife is still alive.