by Dick Kraus
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 toward the Treasury Building. At the gate, security officers were telling each arriving newsman or woman to get to the end of the line in order to get credentials to enter. All previously held credentials were nullified. Even 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 even then, there was no guarantee that I would be allowed in. In those days, Newsday 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 had 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, some of whom I recognized as heavies from network tv news shows, I asked that Heaven's blessings be bestowed upon Bob Rhodes and my regard for his professionalism has remained high in my mind after all these years.

I found myself standing in the front row of a group of still and tv 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 as newspapers 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 were 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 called" 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 their kindness.

Later that afternoon, the White House stopped accepting any more callers and we were escorted off the grounds. I called the Bureau and asked Bob Rhodes what he wanted me to do next. He told me that there wasn't much 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 hotel room.

When I checked with him later that evening, Bob told me that the 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 had passed, I was to grab my stuff from the hotel and grab a plane back to NY with my film.


Dick Kraus





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