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Papers show assassination’s impact


Information was sparse in Meriden newspapers the day of President John F. Kennedy’s killing on Nov. 22, 1963. Only late papers that came out after 1 p.m., when Kennedy was pronounced dead, were able to update early reports of a shooting and confirm an assassination.

The Meriden Journal’s city edition included only the barest of facts that Kennedy had been shot, blood had been seen and that the president had slumped forward in his car. Associated Press photographers were included as sources for the story.

That paper’s late edition included confirmation that Kennedy had died at age 46.

Much of the front page on Nov. 22 was still filled with the usual news of the day. On Nov. 23, only a single story unrelated to Kennedy’s death appeared on the front page of the Meriden Journal, an afternoon paper.

Both that paper and the Morning Record had editorials on their front page about the loss of the president.

“The whole nation sorrows today for the loss of this vital young leader who, like other martyred Presidents, has given his life for his country,” the Meriden Journal said.

“How tragic such a death! How wasteful of the youth, vigor, talent, experience and capability for growth in leadership of this man who has served us diligently and faithfully for nearly three years in the highest office of the land,” the Morning Record said.

The Morning Record’s headline announced that a “pro-Red” had been arrested for Kennedy’s slaying. Lee Harvey Oswald’s “professed love for the Soviet Union” was mentioned in the story.

On Nov. 23 the Meriden Journal’s front page made no mention of Oswald’s arrest, instead focusing on the national mourning and Lyndon Johnson taking office. Also included on the front page was an Associated Press story on Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of the assassination.

Over Meriden City Hall the flag was lowered to half-staff and a wreath was placed over the front door “in commemoration of the president and as a symbol of the sense of loss felt by the City of Meriden,” according to the Morning Record.

The Meriden Journal announced that the city would come to a standstill on Monday for Kennedy’s funeral.

“Meriden’s offices, schools, businesses and industry will be shut down Monday while sorrowing citizens attend in spirit the funeral of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States,” the paper said.

On Monday Nov. 25, 1963, news of Kennedy’s funeral dominated newspaper coverage. In Meriden, nearly everything was closed.

“In (store) windows and on doors, signs and displays told how deeply moved the merchants were by the President’s death, that only suspending business was not enough for them. ‘Closed in tribute to our beloved President, John F. Kennedy,’ one sign said,” the Meriden Journal reported. “In a display window, newspaper clippings about the assassination were overhung with black crepe. In another window, a mounted portrait of the President clipped from a newspaper was placed on a stand of black velvet.”

The Morning Record and the Meriden Journal combined in 1977 to create was is now the Record-Journal.



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