|Lost 8mm film of JFK's 1962 motorcade along Duval Street, now back in Key West.|
Three years ago, when KWHx first researched the activities of October and November, 1962, we learned about a home movie taken that Monday, November 26, that captured Kennedy's trip down Duval Street, 30 days after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The film was in the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. We were fascinated - we love to be tipped off about artifacts - so we pursued our lead. Thanks to the museum's Gary Mack and Deborah Marine, we learned the film had come into the possession of the museum in 2003. It was donated by an individual who had picked up the 8mm bit of history at a garage sale in Key West. The filmmaker is unknown.
So, three years after curiosity sent us on a treasure hunt to Dallas, here they are - the best frames from a home movie that documents President Kennedy's first visit to Key West.
Precisely at 4:49 p.m., November 26, 1962, President Kennedy's motorcade left the Casa Marina and made its way to Duval Street. Meanwhile our man-with-the-8mm-camera, standing in the 300-block of Duval, is ready and waiting. As the motorcade passes Eaton Street and heads toward him, he starts filming.
|(1&2) The Women's Club is on the left in the photograph, putting our man on the 300 block of Duval, in the vicinity of todays Caroline's Café.|
|(3) Approaching the 200 block of Duval Street, the motorcade then turned left onto Caroline Street and passed the Gallery Lounge - a combo bar and art gallery. Today the building houses The Bull, The Whistle Bar and The Garden of Eden.|
|(4) It's the next frame that's indelible - that face. Kennedy normally appeared so handsome, yet it can't be denied that the stress of the previous six weeks is evident. No doubt this man had felt the weight of the free world on his shoulders, no question he knew exactly how close we had come to war - it's written in every line, in every wrinkle, in those deep eyes, of that face. At this frozen moment in time, the President had been on the ground for an hour and a half - he had reviewed the results of orders he had directly given since that first secret aerial photo was taken on October 14. Perhaps the Key West trip was lending the human experience to a situation he had heretofore experienced only intellectually.|
(5) The last frame of the JFK home movie was captured just seconds after Kennedy and his motorcade passed through the Presidential Gates at Whitehead and Caroline onto the Naval Base. The sailors haven't yet broken formation - they've just shown the highest respect to their Commander in Chief, and the crowd is dispersing.
(Below) According to line item 12 of the Secret Service's itinerary, it is precisely at 5 p.m. when Kennedy's motorcade passed through the Presidential Gates. That was the last time the Presidential Gates were opened for a seated President. Many locals and out-of-towners walk by daily, not knowing the significance of the gates which they pass.