Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of the deaths of three well-known authors: US President John F. Kennedy (he wrote three books before becoming President), C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley.
JFK was 46 years old when he was assassinated. In the car driving through Dallas that day, Texas Governor John Connally’s wife turned around and said, “You certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome.”
“No, you certainly can’t,” JFK replied, a blink of an eye before the bullet from Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle killed him.
Aldous Huxley, a British author, mostly known for writing A Brave New World, published in 1932, was 69 at his death on this day. He was a confused man spiritually and a hallucinogenic drug user. On his deathbed, after a long battle with laryngeal cancer, with just a short time to live, he had his wife inject him with a large dose of the drug LSD.
Also, on that same day, less than an hour after JFK was assassinated, author C.S. Lewis passed away after suffering from multiple health issues over the previous few years. He was 64.
In 1982, author and professor of philosophy Peter Kreeft (now 86 years old) published a book titled Between Heaven and Hell, imagining a conversation of these three on the other side of sight.
Another person died that day. Police officer J.D. Tippit confronted JFK assassin Oswald in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas and was shot and killed. While investigating that shooting, investigators were led to the movie theater where Oswald was finally arrested.
Tippit wasn’t an author. He was a Bronze-Star decorated US Army soldier who served in World War II in Europe as a paratrooper, a special group who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes to fight an enemy on the ground. He wasn’t the fearful type.
He struggled to find his way after separating from the Army in 1946 and eventually took the Veterans Administration’s offer of vocational training, becoming a police officer in 1952.
He was earning about $490 per month in 1963 (about $4,900 in 2023 dollars) when he was shot and killed by Oswald, leaving behind a wife and three children. He was 39. His funeral was televised in Dallas on November 25, 1963.
J.D.’s wife, Marie, passed away in 2021 at the age of 92. The Tippit’s eldest son, Allan, who was 13 when his father was killed, died at age 64 in 2014. The remaining two children are still alive.
After JFK was buried in Arlington Cemetery, now former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy wrote a note to Marie Tippit. Speaking of it years later, “She said that she had lit a flame for Jack, and she was going to consider that it would burn for my husband, too, that it would burn forever.”
Stories are everywhere. When you think you understand and have thoroughly covered something, it expands and takes you in many different directions. I started with a date and the deaths of three men. Researching just a little made it even more interesting, at least for me.
For those of you who write as a process of discovery, you never know what interesting story twist is next if you look around.