Monday, July 13, 2015

Jack Moseley - A Second Area Connection to JFK

Jack Moseley, a graduate of Vivian High School, was a young reporter covering John F. Kennedy's visit to Dallas-Fort Worth and actually spoke to the President on the morning of November 22nd.  Jack would also cover the interment of Lee Harvey Oswald, being one of the reporters carrying the killer's casket at a funeral attended by only family and media.

One has to wonder if the paths of Jack and Jimmy Darnell ever crossed and if so, that they realized they were from the same area

Per his autobiography (see below) Jack's family moved to Vivian from Haggerty Hill, an unincorporated area between Jefferson and Smithland, Texas. His father was a truck farmer and mother a substitute teacher. Here he's shown as an eighth grader at Vivian High School.

Source: 1951 Vivian High Warrior (yearbook)

At Vivian he held the distinction of being voted "Most Intelligent Boy," was a member of the band, and participated in Pelican Boys State. After first attending Kilgore Junior College, Jack majored in journalism at the University of Texas.

Source: 1958 University of Texas Cactus (yearbook)

Here are excerpts from an Arkansas Times article about his assignments during that time.

My assignment on the morning of the 22nd was to get a quote from JFK that nobody else had. I figured he had to speak at this political breakfast and I figured he might have to go to the men’s room unfortunately he didn’t have to go. So Moseley repositioned himself in a place he knew Kennedy couldn’t avoid as he left the hotel to go to the rally. 

Moseley got between two glass doors that led to the parking lot and the area where he was scheduled to give a speech in front of 10,000 people standing in a drizzling rain. As Kennedy walked through, I grabbed his coattail, Moseley recalled. The Secret Service grabbed me, they pulled me, I pulled him. He read my press credentials and laughed. He said ‘Moseley, let go of my coat and you can follow me anywhere. C’mon.’

Three days later, Moseley was assigned to cover the funeral of Lee Harvey Oswald, who’d been shot by Jack Ruby on Sunday morning. The location of Oswald’s planned burial on Monday afternoon had been originally concealed by the authorities, but Moseley said his editor was able to sniff out the locale Shannon Rose Hill cemetery in Fort Worth. He was hurriedly conscripted as one of six reporters to grab the casket and carry it up a hill to the chapel. Then it hit him: He was likely carrying the body of the man who’d killed the U.S. president. Almost automatically, I wish I hadn’t done it, he recalled. I felt bad.

On the way up the hill, Moseley lost it a little. He yelled for the casket to be tilted to confirm a body was actually in it. Up till this point, Moseley had barely gotten in any sleep in three nights and the tension was starting to eat at him. He decided he didn’t trust the authorities’ word that Oswald was in the casket since they had already tried to deceive the reporters regarding the burial site. Nobody trusted anybody much, he recalled.

Oswald’s family his mother, brother, two young daughters and widow had been kept under protective custody of the Secret Service at the nearby Inn of the Six Flags, Arlington, Texas. They arrived not long before the body was lowered into the gravesite and learned the minister who’d agreed to have chapel services never showed up. A local reverend volunteered to give a short, ad hoc eulogy.

Then the family members crumpled clods of earth and threw it on the casket, Moseley recalled. As the family was walking back to the government vehicles, Marina, Oswald’s wife, was carrying their young daughter. And the little girl looked back at the grave and waved blew a kiss and said ‘Goodbye, papa.’

That’s what I wrote my story about the next day in the Press. Here was the most hated man in the world at that particular time I’m sure but to a child, somebody cared about him. He was ‘papa.

Arkansas Times 21-Nov-2013 Arkansas Blog

Here is a feature on local Fort Smith television where he describes being at Oswald's funeral on the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination..

Jack became managing editor of the defunct Fort Worth Press (newspaper) in the early 1970s.

Jack later was editor at the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas and published his memoir, titled Up From Haggerty Hill: A Journalist's Journey in 2006. He continues to live in the Fort Smith area and is even on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment