The Towners, Eyewitness Photographers at the JFK Assassination (Part 3)

Frame of my film, Elm Street toward triple underpass, immediately after the assassination, November 22, 1963

Continuing the JFK assassination theme, this is the third excerpt from my book, Tina Towner, My story as the youngest photographer at the Kennedy Assassination, which I self-published in November 2012:

Excerpt from Chapter 2, 1963 The President Comes to Dallas:

My first thought [after hearing the gunshots] was that someone was throwing firecrackers out of a building window. I wasn’t the only one who thought that. When I heard the first gunshot, there had been enough time for me to move back toward or onto the curb. I stopped and looked up at the buildings to see where the sounds were coming from. I didn’t see anything, but I didn’t know what I was looking for. I heard three gunshots, and sometime between the first and last, an unknown man grabbed my arm and pulled me to the ground. He held onto my arm until he though it was safe to get up. I wish I knew his identity….

Everything happened very fast. The aftermath was very confusing, but I was not afraid. I got up off the ground and connected with my parents. The three of us stood quietly together for a few seconds amid the sirens and chaos, as we looked down from the plaza toward the triple underpass. Daddy calmly stated that he knew exactly what had just happened – someone just tried to shoot the president with a high-powered rifle, which he recognized from his Army training. He remained extremely calm throughout the entire ordeal. We all three did….

Many people ran toward the grassy knoll and behind it where there were railroad tracks. Daddy took his camera and followed the crowd….When he finally returned, he brought with him a grim report.

Daddy took three more photographs while he was away from Mother and me, making a total of four color photos….He probably regretted not taking as many photos as possible, although I never heard him say so.

I do not remember whether Daddy asked me before he went down the hill or after he returned, but he calmly asked me if I had used up all of the film in the movie camera. I told him I had not yet heard the film clicking inside the camera, so he told me to keep filming and to pan slowly up and down Elm until I heard the film run out inside the camera. After I finished using up the rest of my film, I took my place beside Mother, and we patiently waited together as we watched the nightmare unfold around us.

[My book is available at The Towner Collection of film, photos, and cameras can be viewed on-line at Towner Collection at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.]