Today people mourn the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. I mourn even though I was just a 4-year-old kid living on Stanley Keller Road in Fort Worth on the day it happened, too young to even remember a vague sense of loss permeating the house that day.
Today I choose to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the day that JFK and Jackie woke up in their Hotel Texas suite, the king and queen of Camelot, stretching and yawning in a room whose walls were adorned with beautiful works of art.
When locals learned that the Kennedy’s were coming to Fort Worth, Amon Carter’s daughter, Ruth Carter Stevenson, corralled some of her art-loving buddies and hastily assembled a remarkable collection of 16 paintings and sculptures, including works by Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh.
As the story goes, the couple had arrived at the hotel late the night before, exhausted from traveling, and gone straight to bed without paying attention to their room’s decor.
But the next morning, Nov. 22, the fateful day, they awoke and were thrilled.
Years later, Stevenson told local art historian Scott Grant Barker that JFK called her that morning to thank her for her decorating the room, and then put Jackie on the line. The glib and typically fiery Stevenson was tongue-tied for once, so astonished by the Kennedy’s graciousness.
The first couple then attended a rally in front of a large and adoring crowd in downtown Fort Worth before heading to the airport for a short flight to Dallas and into the annals of history.