Eyewitness to Murder

When I was a kid, I had it all. Yep. When I was a kid I had everything you could name. When I was a kid I had The Chicken Pox. I also had The Mumps. I had The Measles; I even had the German Measles (Rubella); I had Fever; I had an ear infection that caused some permanent hearing loss. I had Impetigo. I had Tonsillitis for the which I had my tonsils surgically removed. When I was a kid I had all of what used to be called the diseases of childhood. I had “growing pains” for which I was prescribed three days bed rest and confinement. God bless Jonas Salk as I didn’t get Polio like some of my playmates. The Polio vaccine was all that was available at that time. Yep. I pretty much had it all.

In my thirteenth year I got a whopping bad case of Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis) resulting in a “secondary infection” that left three of my toes pretty much raw meat.

I’ve been colonized for life by this fungus and if I ever fail to take good care of my feet it just comes roaring back. And so it was, that, because of this, I was home from school on November 22, 1963.

On that historic day, and absent from school, I was sitting at a folding card-table in the diningroom soaking my badly infected foot in some kind of purple concoction and doing my homework which my teacher had so graciously phoned in. (I couldn’t catch a break.) Seated where I was I could lean back in my chair and both see and hear the TV set playing in the livingroom (we called it the front room). I heard the very first announcements from CBS’s Walter Cronkite that President Kennedy had been shot. Throughout that day and the next, many shows were cancelled or interrupted and the news updated periodically. When Mr. Cronkite gave confirmation that JFK was dead he was choking back tears. I was deeply impressed by the number of people just standing about, openly crying in the streets.

November 24, 1963 (two days later): I was once again soaking my foot and doing my homework when I heard that Lee Harvey Oswald was about to be brought out to be transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the County Jail. Wanting a glimpse of him like so many others I leaned way back in my chair just in time to see Jack Ruby step up, point, and fire. Oswald clutched his abdomen and collapsed with the sudden pain and Ruby was mob tackled. I heard the announcer’s voice say: “He’s been shot! He’s been shot! Lee Oswald’s been shot!”

At that time there were but three major Television Networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. Only NBC actually broadcast the assassination live. CBS had it on video from a different angle and broadcast it seconds later, which was perhaps the germ of the idea of “instant replay”. ABC apparently missed it completely. The Dallas Police detectives were apparently on a first-name basis with Jack Ruby as I heard one of them say JACK! No! (or something to that effect.) From early on, it was said that Jack Ruby was a familiar figure around the DPD.

(Not to belabor the issue: the original NBC video of the shooting is not currently available on the Internet. Why not? Why not now? Who knows?)

Like so many other Jews of the era, Jacob Leon Rubenstein had no compunction against anglicizing his name to Jack Leon Ruby.

So, at the ripe old age of thirteen I was an eyewitness to the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jacob Leon Rubenstein, live via NBC television, November 24, 1963.

It was all there in black and white:

Over the years I’ve often wondered how many other children were actually eyewitnesses to this murder. Although I know most American children were in school at that hour they most assuredly saw the constant replays when they got home after school. I’ve often wondered too, how this and similar horrific events viewed live on television affected us as a nation, especially the children. I think it was Mad Magazine that parodied both Hollywood and Television’s penchant for dramatically depicting fictional gunshot victims that always seemed to be shot in the armpit (no blood – no bullet hole visible).

It was not until a dozen years later (1975) that the Abraham Zapruder JFK assassination film was released to the general public. When it finally was it was shown on all the networks suspiciously propagandistically ad nauseam. (And I mean ad nauseam!)

The Zapruder film made cowards of us all. That, I think, was intentional.

No politician since then has dared step up to the plate.

About The Twentieth Man

Age 69
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