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Ann Atterberry

Wade Rhodes

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Ann Atterberry was a 26-year-old reporter for the "women's page" at the Dallas Morning News. She wasn't assigned to cover the presidential

visit, so she bought a sandwich in the paper's cafeteria and joined three friends to watch the lunchtime motorcade.

"It was really Jackie we wanted to see," she told me. "We wanted to get past the big crowds, so we went down to Dealey Plaza and sat on the

curb and ate our lunches."

Atterberry walked me over to the spot, just east of the grassy knoll. She recalled how the motorcade turned sharply onto Elm and crept down

the hill, passing within 10 feet of her. "I thought (Jackie) looked great in her pink pillbox hat. The sun was out, and her pink suit radiated. She

was not terribly older than we were."

This was the end of the parade. In just a few seconds the motorcade would pass under the Triple Underpass and speed off to a luncheon at

the Dallas Trade Mart.

"Jack and Jackie both looked pleased, and relieved," Atterberry said. "As they passed by us they waved, and they both made eye contact with


Tears moistened her eyes, and her voice cracked.

"I've often wondered if the four of us were the last thing he ever saw."

At almost the same instant, she heard the first crack of gunfire. "My first reaction was that it was a firecracker," she said. "I thought that was

awfully rude. I was just turning to see where the sound came from when I heard the second shot. Just as I realized what it was, I heard the

third shot, and then there was no doubt in my mind. We all burst into tears.

"It was absolute chaos. People on the knoll threw themselves on the ground. A motorcycle fell over and was left in the middle of the street.

People were running everywhere."

Atterberry had been standing about 100 feet from Zapruder, and I asked her if she was in the famous home movie. She said she could never

bring herself to look at it. (Later I watched the film in slow motion; there are four young women just where she said she and her friends were.)

"It's haunted me ever since," she said. "My roommate, one of the girls I was with that day, joined Kennedy's Peace Corps not long after that.

Her psychologist told her she was doing this to atone, and she said no, but of course she was."

And maybe a similar instinct is what brings the rest of us to Dealey Plaza.


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