My Century Home Page


JEFF FRANZEN

I'm Jeff Franzen. I'm originally from Dallas, Texas. I was born in 1957. And I was going to tell you about my mother's birthday on November 22nd, 1963.

I have a large family - five older brothers and sisters. And they were all in school. But I had yet to start first grade. So my mother and father, since it was my mother's birthday, had invited me to spend the day with them. Dad took the day off from work.

We had anticipated going down town to go shopping at Neenham Markets, a big department store in Dallas at that time - it still is.

There was a big parade in town, because President John F. Kennedy was in Dallas that day. Traffic was very difficult anywhere. So as a result, my parents and I decided to park on the outskirts of Dallas and wait for the parade to go through.

We tried to get actually near the parade route, but it was so crowded that we ended up just at the very end of the parade route, near what is called the Triple Bypass in Dallas.

And, as it was a nice day, my father and I had a ball and we were playing catch in the grass and just having a great time.

You could hear the noise of the crowd start to reach a little more of a crescendo, and it was obvious something was getting closer. So we all stopped and my mother and father and I came close to the street. And you could actually see one of the first cars of the parade and the motorcycle policemen come around the corner. And then the main limousine, carrying the President and the then Governor of Texas, John Connolly, came also right in front of us, coming down the street from our right.

As they started coming down the hill, they slowed a little bit. And you could hear a loud pop, which to me at the time sounded like firecrackers. Being a young child, I felt like it was just part of the parade and fireworks and confetti. And then it proceeded - the car came even closer to us, which was by then maybe less than ten to fifteen yards away. And there was another pop of firecrackers. And this one - there was a great deal of what I thought at the time was confetti, just exploding from the car. I subsequently learnt, much later, that this was obviously President Kennedy being shot, and the confetti was actually his head - the front of his skull and the brains, in retrospect, going up into the air.

Fortunately, even to this day, it didn't have the horrible effect on me that it quite possibly would have, if I had been a little bit older. Certainly it did on my mother and father. That's probably the thing I remember most - instantly my mother just bursting into tears and crying.And that was the first time I think I'd really seen my mom completely break down crying.

After the explosion, the President's wife - she was dressed in a very bright pink dress, and she had a lot of red roses in her lap, too; which was also confusing, because it was a mixture of the President and the blood and all the mess and then her pink dress and the flowers - she immediately panicked. And at that point she jumped up and tried to climb out of the back of the vehicle, when a secret serviceman came running from the vehicle right behind. And he just barely jumped on the car as the driver was accelerating, and was able to push Jacqueline Kennedy back into the seat.

Shortly thereafter, things started to go a little crazy. And that's when my father pulled us down to the ground and covered us up.

E N D