Saturday, November 16, 2013

Unseen Color Photos of JFK’s Final Minutes in Dallas in 1963

After sitting in storage for more than 45 years, Sonia King, a mosaic artist based in Dallas has uncovered a set of remarkable images taken mere minutes before President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The photos, which now appear in TIME and LightBox, were taken by her father, H. Warner King, a Dallas Jewelry wholesaler and amateur photographer who died in 2005. Sonia was just 10-years-old when JFK was shot, but she remembers the day quite well.
"My father, H. Warner King, was an amateur photographer in New Zealand during the Second World War. He frequently shot with his trusty Leica and multiple lenses on Kodachrome slide film. He was always interested in photography and was very organized in how he archived his pictures.
My entire family was enamored of the Kennedys. Although my father’s job required him to travel constantly, my dad arranged to be in town the day he heard Kennedy was coming to Dallas because he wanted to take pictures. He knew Dallas really well, and he knew where to go to get close to the motorcade. Because he was a manufacturer’s rep, he had a showroom at the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy was scheduled to speak.
He had it all figured out: he would take pictures of the Kennedys as they drove near Turtle Creek (pictured above) and then take the back streets to the Trade Mart to photograph the president and First Lady. The cars passed him and he photographed John and Jackie. In one photo, they’re smiling right at him.
But when he got near the Trade Mart, all he photographed was the motorcade racing to Parkland Hospital. He never really showed those photos to anybody, and I think he may have deliberately destroyed them — my father’s carefully numbered slides were missing the sequence immediately after the photos you see above.
We were all devastated by what happened, and the assassination was at the forefront of my father’s mind for a long time. He retired at age 53 and moved back to New Zealand in 1975. He shipped all his slides with him, the Kodachromes riding across the Pacific Ocean on a large container ship. In 2005, my father passed away. As we were going through his possessions, I didn’t want all his old slides at first, because I worried it might be some giant burden and I’d never look at them again. But I took them, anyway.
Recently, I began to sort through them, and came across a long, red box labeled “November/December 1963 Kennedy.” I found these pictures right away. The images have never been published, but my dad would be happy to see them in TIME Magazine, his favorite news publication. Now, fifty years later, his photographs of the Kennedys finally see the light of day."

John and Jacqueline ride in an open-top limousine on the way to the Dallas Trade Mart, Nov. 22, 1963, where Kennedy was to give a speech later in the day.

Despite ill political winds in Texas, the Kennedys were greeted on Nov. 22nd by cheering throngs in Dallas.

Kennedy's well-wishers crowded close to his limousine as the motorcade neared Dealey Plaza.

Here, on Nov. 24th, mourners gathered in Dealey Plaza, many still in a state of shock.

Almost immediately, wreaths, tributes and memorials began to accumulate in Dealey Plaza near where Kennedy was shot.

Onlookers milled about, treating Dealey Plaza with reverence.

Wreaths and tributes left in the Plaza by the public.

(Photos: H. Wilmer King via TIME)

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