Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November 22, 1963

" A moment that will be emblazoned in your memory and you will never forget it...as long as you live." Frank McGee, NBC News, New York.

I was having lunch at the Astor Hotel with four friends from NBC News. . We left our food and the bill and literally ran the two blocks back to the office.

The scene outside of the newsroom was chaotic. Employees came from everywhere in the building to observe. We had to push our way through the crowd and the security people to get in the door.

What we saw was a reflection of what we all felt- shock, disbelief, confusion and grief. Veteran correspondents and reporters wiping away tears as they tried to make sense of what was to become the most moving and historic passage in broadcasting history.

Back then I was the Administrator of news writers. One of them was assigned to obituaries.

All major TV news organizations have on file pre-produced obituaries of notable individuals who are still alive; allowing detailed obituaries to appear very quickly after these people die.

And this writer was also suppose to be available as back-up in the newsroom when needed. But he rarely was . " I'm still working on the JFK obit" he would tell me . "Let him finish it" my boss would say.

He hadn't even started. And on the day of the assasination, NBC had no obituary on file of the President of the United States.

That writer was dismissed the same day . Five of our top news producers worked through the night to get it on the air.

I can remember that story because I was a part of it. But the rest, after forty four years, is just a blur.

I do remember that four days and 70 hours of coverage later, some of us got to go home. After a wrenching marathon that would conclude only after the president's burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

7 comments:

Ginnie said...

What a fascinating remembrance into the inside workings of a news network, Bud. You must have been fit to be tied. I was in NY City also and that day and the following weeks are as clear to me now as they were then.

kenju said...

WOW. It IS fascinating. I was working in a hospital in Norfolk, VA, and I was walking down the hall to the cafeteria for lunch when the news was announced over the hospital's PA system. I have never heard a hospital that quiet. At that moment, all conversation stopped and didn't resume for a few minutes. It was eerie.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I remember that day very well, because I was in N=ew York playing in a show on Broadway..."SPOON RIVER ANTHOLGY"...I wrote a post about that day and our reactions I believe on November 22, 2005....It is in my archives, if you want to take a look!

Amazing that you were at NBC then...And those four days weee riveting for all of us, but for you and your co-workers---It had t be a wrenching exhausting marathon of grief and work. One neverr forgets where one was when you heard this horrific news.

And I remember Bud, when Eisenhower was President and he had a very bad Heart Attack, I believe...My brother and I watched TV through the night, and I don't honestly remember which of the three channels it was that did this, but BY MISTAKE, they put a vard up that had Eiswenhowers date of Birth and date if Death, as that day....AND, of course, he didn't die!!! OY! Television was young, in the '50's, wasn't it...!

Thanks for your visit Bud....very nice to see you over at my place...!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

You are now on my bklogroll....Hope that is Okay, Bud!

Lucy Stern said...

I was 12 years old when it happened. President Kennedy and Jackie flew into Houston the day before he was shot. My mother wanted her children to see the President so we went to Hobby Airport to watch his plane land and watch him deplane and walk to a waiting car....He and Jackie had smiles on their faces and I remember being only about fifteen feet from them. It was so exciting.

I was in my PE class at school the next day when they announced the shooting. I couldn't believe it after just seeing him the day before. Everyone was in a daze wondering if he was going to live. Then the announce came that he had died and I was stunned again. I'll never forget it....Nope, there are certain things that you don't forget....

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Respoding to yoyr comment about Carol Bruce....She was an extremely talented woman and a Beautiful woman, too....Great sense of humor and she did not have an easy life....I LOVE that she was a Big "Crush" for you, Bud.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Thank You Bud, for your kind words...You make my day with your enthusiasm! Hope you are having a GOOD Monday!