PRESIDENT'S BEEN SHOT"
Staff Photographer (retired)
There was no point in trying to sleep late on Saturday. Too many
things were happening and the world would never be the same. I dressed, ate
a hurried breakfast and went to some shops in the area to purchase some
toiletries, underwear and some clean shirts, since I had left Long Island
the day before without a chance to pack anything. I put the items in my
hotel room and headed for the White House.
When I arrived, the first thing I saw was a line of journalists
stretching down Pennsylvania Ave., around the corner and back
Treasury Building. At the gate, security officers were telling
arriving newsman or woman to get to the end of the line in order
credentials to enter. All previously held credentials were nullified.
those of the White House Press Corps. I had absolutely no credentials
other than a press card issued by my local county police department.
So, I trudged to the end of the line,
prepared to wait for hours before I could get to the gate. And
there was no guarantee that I would be allowed in. In those
was just a 6 day a week, Long Island tabloid, without much
standing the the
capitols of the world. Even our own.
No sooner had I settled in at the tail of the line, than a security
official walked down the line announcing that anyone whose office
called earlier for clearance should follow him back to the
gate house. I
thought "What the hell. Let's take a chance. Worst that can
happen is that I'll find myself back at the end, here, again." So,
I walked back with the official, and a handful of other news people.
When my turn
at the security
desk came, I gave my name and affiliation. "Oh, yes, Mr. Kraus.
Your Bureau Chief, Bob Rhodes called earlier. Here's your credential,
Go right in." I must have
stood there with my mouth open in disbelief for a minute, until
one of the
guards nudged me forward. As I walked past the line of journalists,
whom I recognized as heavies from network tv news shows, I
Heaven's blessings be bestowed upon Bob Rhodes and my regard
professionalism has remained high in my mind after all these
I found myself standing in the front row of a group of still
film cameramen (this was before ENG cameras) under the portico
at the front
entrance to the White House. And hour by hour, the pack grew
and tv from all over the country and indeed, the world, began
to appear. I wasn't recognized as a Washington regular and had to stand
firm to hold my front row position as shooters from the Washington
Press Corps tried to elbow their way into my footprints.
Limousines were arriving, and very important looking people
getting out and entering the White House. I recognized
none of them, but
every time the flashes would go off, I would shoot, as well.
Then I would
ask one of the photographers from the Washington papers
or from the wires,"
Who was that?" And I have to say, with gratitude, that these so
hard-ass" Washington Press Corps people took pity on a young shooter
from the boonies, and they would tell me, "That's the Secretary
of Treasury. This tall one
is the Ambassador from Great Britain and here comes Emperor Haille
Selasse of Ethiopia." I'll always be grateful to those guys and
as years went by and I
got to cover more stories with them, I always expressed my thanks for
Later that afternoon, the White House stopped accepting any more
callers and we were escorted off the grounds. I called the Bureau
Bob Rhodes what he wanted me to do next. He told me that there
that I could do, especially since we didn't have a paper the
next day. So,
he told me to relax and check with him later. I think I went to three
movies that afternoon, because I was just too charged up to sit in my
When I checked with him later that evening, Bob told me that
next day, Sunday, Kennedy's body would be taken from the White
House in a
procession, down Pennsylvania Ave. to lie in State in the Capitol.
I was to
plan to be in place along the parade route, and after the procession
passed, I was to grab my stuff from the hotel and grab a plane back
with my film.
END OF PART II