I didnt find out the President had died until I arrived at the Tribune building on Lafayette Street and went into the second floor newsroom. I watched a television set as Walter Cronkite confirmed for those just tuning in to CBS News coverage...that the President had been pronounced dead. I had suspected the president was dead, heard people say it here and there, but until the words came out of Cronkites mouth I just couldnt believe it.

Unlike the frightening silence outside, the newsroom began buzzing as reporters scurried to get local reaction from government leaders and people on the street, bells rang constantly from the wire service machines, editors yelled for copyboys and top newspaper management huddled to decide if they wanted to put out a special afternoon edition, which they did. The next morning, the headline read:

America had lost its innocence and Tampa had lost a good friend. The world stopped for four days.

Television news came of age. It was the first time in history that broadcast news remained on the air non-stop for four days, from the assassination to the funeral. There was no cable TV in those days and only three major networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS plus NET (National Educational Television, later PBS). They all did well. I was glued to the television every minute. Not a single commercial was aired.

The following Sunday morning I was watching live coverage of Dallas police moving suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to an awaiting car in the police station basement when he was suddenly shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. NBC News Correspondent Tom Pettit was there. Years later, I would meet Pettit at the WFLA studios and discuss that chaotic moment with him. That event only added to the unreality of the whole sequence of events for me.

The following Monday, I watched Kennedys funeral procession through the streets of Washington on TV and remembered how one week before to the exact hour he had stared me down in the Armory after I took a picture of him tying his shoes. Pierre Salinger, his press secretary, asked me never to use it and I have always honored that request. The funeral was as surreal as his visit the week before. Again, I was tempted to ask someone to pinch me, this time to assure me it was not a nightmare.