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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Audio Recordings of Houston & Dallas Radio on November 22, 1963

I thought I'd post one last item on the Kennedy assassination.  I've been surfing through old radio recordings and found the following items.  I'm  not a conspiracy nut, but I'm always interested in seeing or hearing contemporaneous accounts of historic events.  After all, they are the first rough draft of history.

The Houston item is a recording of KILT, Gordon McClendon's radio station in the Bayou City.  As I've said before, I and my classmates were in Mrs. Roger Guinn's 8th grade reading and spelling class when our principal, Dugan Hightower, announced the first news reports.  As I recall, he gave periodic announcements for a few minutes, but soon afterward he decided to play the radio on the classroom intercom system.  If I remember correctly, he told us an important world event had happened and we should follow news reports rather than proceed through our classes as if it were a normal day.  I'm fairly certain he tuned in to either KPRC (950) or KTRH (740) -- not KILT (610), which was a juvenile pop station.

I don't know if our next class was Mrs. Mary Frierson's English class, or if Coach Hightower sent us all to our home rooms prior to dismissing us early, but I remember staring at the intercom speaker in her room as the news unfolded.  The speakers were dark-stained wooden boxes attached above the blackboards on the front walls of our classrooms.  They were about 18" x 18" x 6".  Their front panels were canted downward a little, so sound would project down on the classroom rather than bounce off the back wall.  Circular brown cloths covered the inset speakers.  I'm sure many people remember them.  My class sat in silence staring at the speaker and listening to announcements, which were almost non-stop by 1:00 pm.

Maybe I'm a cold northern European type, or maybe my class was exceptionally reserved, but I don't remember any tears.  The atmosphere was more somber, stunned silence than anything else.  My guess is that we all knew a momentous historic event had occurred, but we didn't really know what it was or how to react to it.

I recall a much more emotional atmosphere during the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before.  We all had some skin in that game, and a low-grade sense of dread haunted classrooms.  I can laugh about it now, but every so often, jet fighters would fly overhead at supersonic speed and produce sonic booms.  They were sudden and unpredictable, and they made the school windows rattle.  I'm sure they heightened the tension -- it's amazing we didn't have any quick trips to the bathrooms!

I haven't listened to these audios completely, but I will soon.  Maybe I'll find something new to prove or disprove all the conspiracy theories.