Durham County

Sally Greene looks back on the JFK speech in Dallas her late mother never got to hear

Michelle, right, and Matilda Chipperfield of England look at photos of U.S. Presidents while visiting Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.
Michelle, right, and Matilda Chipperfield of England look at photos of U.S. Presidents while visiting Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint. AP

Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene remembers the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She was a third-grader in her hometown of Gilmer, Texas, and she remembers how the news came over the school’s intercom “and it being very shocking to everyone.”

On that day, Nov. 22, 1963, Greene’s mother, Sarah Greene, was on assignment for The Gilmer Mirror newspaper preparing to cover JFK’s speech to the Dallas Citizens Council at the Dallas Trade Mart. Kennedy would never give that speech.

DUR_ IMG_Sally_Greene-color
Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene Michael Czeiszperger The News & Observer

Sarah Greene, who died about a year ago at age 87, wrote about her experiences just after that day for the Mirror. “For years ahead, anyone you ask will be able to tell you where he was and what he was doing when he first learned of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination,” Greene wrote in that article. Greene also chronicled her initial disbelief that the news was true, and her final acceptance.

The article continued: “When I left two hours later, my overwhelming feeling was one of shame that this monstrous act should have happened in proud, beloved Texas. And for all the stricken Dallas citizens, who had tried so hard, a sense of pity came even before the feeling of grief for the country’s loss. It was evident on many faces that the keen edge of shame cut deep.”

The Gilmer Mirror reprinted the article in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the assassination. Sally Greene posted the article on Facebook Thursday, the same day that the National Archives was scheduled to release some 3,000 pages of documents related to the assassination.

“She was a young woman then,” Sally Greene said of her mom. “She wrote about it every time there was a major anniversary. ... It was an important event to her that she reflected on later in life.”

Sarah Greene’s parents, Georgia and Russell H. Laschinger, were owners and publishers of the Mirror. Sarah Greene’s grandfather, George Tucker, purchased the newspaper in 1915. On Nov. 22, 1963, Georgia and Russell Laschinger were on their way to an event in Austin that President Kennedy was scheduled to attend. They heard about the assassination en route and drove back to Gilmer, Sally Greene said.

In 1949, Sarah Greene (then Laschinger) was reporting for The Dallas Morning News, where she met her husband Ray H. Greene of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. They resettled in Gilmer, and Sarah Greene later became the paper’s publisher. The newspaper is still in her family, Sally Greene said.

“She was an accomplished journalist. She left a lot of papers,” Sally Greene said. When she was cleaning out her mother’s papers, Sally Greene sent 40 boxes to UNC’s Southern Historical Collection, where it is being indexed and organized. Among the papers in that collection are copies of Kennedy’s Dallas Trade Mart and Austin speeches that were provided reporters covering the events.

Her mother “lived the life of a community journalist when it was important to be a community journalist,” Sally Greene said. She said she is glad UNC will be the home of the collection “so that people can have access to it.”

As new documents about the killing of President John F. Kennedy are released, The New York Times's Peter Baker walks us through who’s who in this American tragedy.

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1

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