2 Women Share Links To JFK Death

For many Americans, the day they'll always remember where they were and what they were doing is Sept. 11. But for most Americans older than 45, that day came Nov. 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while in a motorcade in Dallas.

"That was the most rousing, happy, raucous parade I was ever in. I couldn't have been happier," Nellie Connally, wife of the then-Texas Governor John Connally, told CBS News Anchor Dan Rather.

Both were riding in the same car as President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy during the Dallas parade in which JFK was shot.

"I turned to the President and said, 'Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you.' And he grinned … you know he had that wonderful grin and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. And he was happy," she says.

There were two couples in the car that day in Dallas; the President and first lady in the back, and the Governor Connally, and his wife, Nellie, seated in front of them.

The Warren Commission found that although three bullets were fired, one missed completely. It's an assertion Nellie Connally has always disputed.

"I heard this loud noise, and I turned to look. I saw the President's hands fly up to his neck. And he just sunk down in the seat. He said nothing," she recalls.

"He was looking straight ahead with the saddest, strangest eyes. The second shot came, and as John was hit he said, 'My God, they're going to kill us all,' and just fell over. Blood just everywhere," she says.

Nellie Connally says she then heard a third shot. "I couldn't turn around and look because of the weight of my husband in my lap. But matter, like buckshot, only it was bloody matter with a little bone and blood stuff, was all over the interior of the car and all over my clothes," she says.

"Anyway, the words out of the backseat —I couldn't look— was Jackie saying, 'They've killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.'"

There were many whose lives were forever changed by the tragic events here in Dealey Plaza, among them a woman named Ruth Paine, reports CBS' Rather.

She was a Quaker who had taken in a pregnant Marina Oswald while her husband, Lee Harvey Oswald, boarded nearer his job at the Texas schoolbook depository. It was a job Ruth Paine had helped him find.

"He was looking for work, his unemployment insurance had run out, his wife was a month away from delivering their second child," Paine says. "A neighbor said there might be an opening or work at the school book depository."

Paine says, in her judgment, the most important thing to know about Lee Harvey Oswald is that he was "a very lonely and depressed man wanting to make a mark in some way — feeling that nobody appreciated him or thought highly of him."

Unknown to Paine, Oswald had hidden a rifle in her garage; the rifle he would later use to assassinate President Kennedy and seriously injure Governor Connally. Forty years later, she still struggles to make peace with her chance involvement.

"It's always there. You learn to live with it. But my sense of loss of President Kennedy, my sense of regret at having known the assassin, those just stay with me," she says.

For Nellie Connally, it's the loss of possibilities, of all the things that might have been that haunt her.

"We didn't believe the world owed us a living. We thought we owed the world and we were ready to charge," she says. "And no telling, maybe we could have but we never had a chance."
  • Lauren Johnston

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