From a Kennedy archive we didn’t know we owned

Yesterday, during our annual hunt through the garage for the Christmas lights, we made an amazing discovery that, due to its uncanny timing, is still giving me goose bumps.

Folded into an old high school athletic program and tucked on top of a cardboard box lay a yellowed Green Bay Press Gazette very specifically dated November 23, 1963 noon — five months before I was born.

The historic special edition covered President Kennedy’s assassination and we found the paper almost exactly 50 years after it happened.

Freaky, right?

Half a century later, the paper stands as both a testament to that brutal day and a tribute to a team of reporters, editors and photographers, reeling themselves from the awful news, who covered every angle.

Sports reporter Art Daley interviewed the five Texans on the Packer roster, who each expressed a particular horror that the assassination had taken place Dallas. More than 800 University of Wisconsin fans heard the news while riding a train from Madison to Minnesota for a football game that ended up being postponed until Thanksgiving Day.

In a move Commissioner Pete Rozelle calls the biggest regret of his career, NFL games went on as scheduled. “It has been traditional in sports for athletes to play in times of great personal tragedy,” he said, according to my yellowed copy of the Press Gazette. “Football was Mr. Kennedy’s game. He thrived on competition.”

High school basketball games went on as scheduled and were covered accordingly, with Green Bay West edging Preble 60-59 and earning the top story and feature photo.

Wisconsin Governor John Reynolds called for 30 days of mourning and all area schools announced they would be closed on Monday, November 25.

In the weeks leading up to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, Molly and I watched with fascination the steady stream of documentaries we found on television. We’ve read books and discussed articles we found online. Imagine how astounded we were to discover our very own piece of Kennedy history right in our garage.

I thought this story about Packer Texans Bill Forester, John Roach, Hank Gremminger, Forrest Gregg and Jerry Nelson offered an interesting perspective.
This is the headline that caught our eye when we moved the paper aside to look for Christmas lights.
This is the headline that caught our eye when we moved the paper aside to look for Christmas lights.
The front page of the Press Gazette on Saturday, November 23, 1963 at noon. My mom, who was pregnant with me at the time, saved this issue. My Grandpa Fey saved the Cincinnati Enquirer on the same date. I imagine reporters from Dallas, to Manhattan, to Green Bay understood their stories would have a profound and eternal effect on readers everywhere.
The masthead reads “Saturday, November 23, noon.”
Local reporters scrambled, covering a national story from every angle — politically, religiously, editorially, socially, and retrospectively.

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