The Story of the Kennedy Assassination in Jim Lehrer’s Autobiography

Autobiography essay #3

For English I have been reading Jim Lehrer’s autobiography A Bus of My Own. Lehrer is a PBS newsman and an author of over 19 novels. He is a very good story-teller and his book is full of stories that collectively tell the story of his life.

There are so many well told and interesting stories in this book that it is hard to choose one as a favorite. There is the story of his heart attack, the story of him buying a bus, some stories about when he was a kid, and many others but the one that stuck out to me the most was the story of the Kennedy assassination.

Lehrer was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald at the time and was sent over to Love Field, which was the only airfield in Dallas back then, to report on John F. Kennedy’s arrival and departure. He was at the airfield where the president’s plane was going to land and there was a telephone mounted on a fence for the rewrite man to talk with Lehrer. It had been raining earlier that day and the rewrite man wanted to know if they were going to put the bubble top on the president’s limo. Lehrer told him he would find out. He asked Mr. Sorrels, who was the agent in charge of the Dallas Secret Service office, if the bubble top would stay on (it was on already). Sorrels radioed an agent downtown and asked him how the weather was. When he found out that it was clear Sorrels ordered the agents standing beside the car to, “Take off the bubble top!” After the assassination Lehrer saw Sorrels at the Dallas police station  and he only spoke five words to Lehrer, “Take off the bubble top.” He wanted to tell Sorrels that it wasn’t their fault but Sorrels left before Lehrer could say anything.

John F. Kennedy probably would have had the Secret Service take off the bubble top anyway, but if the top had stayed on he wouldn’t have been assassinated that day. With a topkennedy on the limo Lee Oswald would not have been able to make an accurate shot and would have probably never tried.

Lehrer wrote the words in memory of John F. Kennedy on the Philip Johnson “open tomb” memorial two blocks away from the assassination site.

Lehrer did a story on the assassination and he says in his book that it was his biggest newspaper story. In his book Lehrer makes the point that he doesn’t believe that the assassination was a big conspiracy, but he doesn’t think that Lee Harvey Oswald did it on his own. It is a mystery that will in all probability never be solved.

I found this story interesting because it involved something important in American History. This story shows how the great events in history often hinge on small seemingly inconsequential happenings.  I have never heard this story anywhere but Lehrer’s autobiography and it is a very unique story about the death of John F. Kennedy.

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