50 years ago today, the United States experienced the assassination of beloved President John F. Kennedy on a day that remains permanently etched in the nation’s consciousness. Although he did not witness the assassination firsthand, Bellefontaine native Ralph Wood was in Dallas that fateful day and recounts the events and the city’s reaction.
A snapshot of the fall of Camelot
TOP RIGHT: Bellefontaine resident Ralph Wood holds a copy of a newspaper superimposed with the cover the Dallas Morning News’ Nov. 23, 1963, edition with news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Wood, 25 at the time, was living and working in Dallas the day the shooting occurred. (EXAMINER PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)
TOP LEFT: In this Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, file photo, seen through the foreground convertible's windshield, is President John F. Kennedy's hand as it reaches toward his head within seconds of being fatally shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm as the motorcade proceeds on Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. Gov. John Connally was also shot. (AP FILE PHOTO | JAMES W. "IKE" ALTGENS)
The Parkland Hospital in Dallas is shown from a nearby rooftop shortly after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963. (PHOTO | RALPH WOOD)
The morning of Nov. 22, 1963, was like any other for 25-year-old Ralph Wood. Sure, iconic U.S. President John F. Kennedy was in town, but the Bellefontaine native, who was managing the Dallas office of a nationwide trucking company, had no plans to watch the presidential motorcade pass through downtown.
But the relative tranquility of that morning soon would be shattered as Mr. Wood, his fellow Dallasites and the nation as a whole watched one of the most dramatic assassinations in U.S. history unfold before their eyes.
“For me it was a regular workday,” Mr. Wood said. “It was neat that the president was coming. The whole Camelot thing was very real. The glow of Camelot touched everybody. But as far as that day, I didn’t have any plans to watch him speak.”
The young businessman was dining with an associate at an El Chico’s restaurant when initial reports came across the radio that the president had been shot.
“As soon as we heard this everyone panicked,” said Mr. Wood, now 75 and living again in Bellefontaine. “It was absolute shock in Dallas as it was throughout the country.”
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