This article from CJR's archives is presented as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.
Donovan: A man I took to be a Dallas radio station man said to me that the President had been shot and may be dead. Well, it was stupefying, utterly stupefying. We had just seen him in the bright sunshine with his wife Then there was a great clamor of “Where is he? Where is anybody? Where is the President?” This Dallas radio man went to a policeman and came back and said he was in Parkland Hospital. I said, “How can we get there?” and he said, “I have a station wagon. Come on. I will take you.” By this time we were all running back through the dining hall before the startled diners, and Tom Wicker, of The New York Times, was grabbed by the head waiter, who said, “Here, you can’t run in here.” Wicker just ran over him.
Wicker: I pulled free and ran on. Doug Kiker of the Herald Tribune barreled head-on into a waiter carrying a plate of potatoes. Waiter and potatoes flew about the room. Kiker ran on. He was in his first week with the Trib, and his first presidential trip.
Kirkland: At 1:07, Eric Johnsson announced in a very, very trembling voice: “I’m not sure that I can say what I have to say. I feel almost as I did on Pearl Harbor day.” At that point his voice broke. Then he announced that the President and the Governor had been shot It was quiet.
Donovan: Peter Lisagor, of the Chicago Daily News, and I and some other reporters got into a station wagon with his radio man and we went out of the Trade Mart at a breakneck clip with his horn blaring, through traffic, through lights. It was a horrifying ride.
Wicker: I barely got aboard a moving press bus. Bob Pierpoint of CBS was aboard and he said that he now recalled having heard something that could have been shots—or firecrackers, or motorcycle backfire. We talked anxiously, unbelieving, afraid.
Davis: I went to a policeman and said, “You’ve got to get me to Parkland Hospital,” and he said: “Buddy, all the cars are gone. We have nothing available here to get you anyplace.” I said, “You have got to get me there. I am a member of the White House Press,” or something of that sort. I insisted. He stammered that he had no vehicles for me, but he stood out in the middle of the freeway and stopped a car. It was about a 1948 Cadillac driven by a Negro gentleman, and the policeman said, “Get this man to Parkland Hospital right away.” This fellow said, “Yes, sir.” he hit the accelerator on that car, and I nearly went through the back end, and I shouted up front to him and said, “Sir, we both want to get there. Take it easy.”
Donovan: As we approached the hospital on a double-lane highway, [the radio-station man] saw traffic piling up ahead of him, so he turned in and went against the approaching traffic, some of it approaching at high speed, horn blowing. Well, the police had seen this station wagon coming up the wrong end of the street with its horn blowing, assumed it was full of officials, and stopped all traffic and waved us into the hospital grounds.
Wicker: At its emergency entrance stood the President’s car, the top up, a bucket of bloody water beside it. Automatically, I took down its license number—GG300 District of Columbia.
Dugger: In the hospital I heard people who work there saying, “Connally, too.” “It’s a shame, I don’t care who it is.” No one knew who was alive or who was dead. At the emergency entrance. Senator Ralph Yarborough, terribly shaken, gave the first eyewitness account that I had heard. He had been in the third car, with the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson; removed from the President’s car by the one filled with Secret Service men.