November 22, 1963. Young Roger Williams, now a Republican U.S. Congressman, was getting a once in a lifetime opportunity...meeting President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth.
“He came around and he had a cigar in his mouth and he took a puff out of his cigar, put it in the sand urn, shook my mother's hand, came and shook my hand, held my hand and looked back at my mother and said 'you've got a good-looking young man here,’” Williams said.
In the early ‘60s, Julian Read had his own public relations and advertising firm.
Texas Governor John Connally was his prime client. As the President’s motorcade traveled through downtown Dallas later that morning, Read was on the White House press bus several vehicles behind Kennedy and Connally.
“It got about halfway down that block and all of a sudden 'pow, pow, pow’” Read said.
Read says the bus went on to Kennedy's next event and he rushed to Parkland hospital.
“I walked into that room or the hallway and there were 2 women silent across from eachother. Waiting, waiting, waiting to find out whether their husband was dead or alive,” Read said. “Obviously didn't attempt to bother the First Lady but obviously Mrs. Connally I knew very well and she was happy to see anybody.”
Knowing the press would soon be all over the story, Read asked Mrs. Connally to tell him where everyone was sitting in the car.
Later, White House staff announced to reporters the president had died.
“As soon as he made that statement and stepped aside, I stepped up in front of the blackboard and from the little sketch that Mrs. Connally and I had put together, drew a sketch on the blackboard of the seating,” Read said.
Roger Williams says he was in Latin class when he heard the news about the man he'd just met. “Principal came and told my teacher what had happened. He came in and put his hands on his desk and he started crying and then they took us all to the cafeteria where we called our parents to come get us,” Williams said.
Last month President Trump instructed the National Archives to finally unseal government records related to JFK’s assassination -- millions of pages -- many of which have never before been seen.
The conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s death never seem to stop. Like the mysterious “umbrella man” on the grassy knoll. Was he signaling to the shooter? Did he fire a shot himself?
Did the CIA take out the President and Lee Harvey Oswald really was just a patsy?
University of Texas history professor Dr. Jeremi Suri says he's long-believed Oswald was responsible and acted alone. And from what he's seen so far the new information hasn't changed his mind.
So if there's no conspiracy, why did it take so long for the documents to see the light of day?
“Well because the CIA and other agencies, #1 don't want to release information showing that they were suspicious of Oswald and didn't do anything to stop him. They also don't want to release information about the illegal surveillance that they were undertaking with people like Martin Luther King Jr.,” Suri said.
If tragedy hadn't struck in Dallas that morning, JFK was due here in Austin.
Former KTBC photographer Gordon Wilkison captured the abandoned set-up for Kennedy’s welcome at the Governor's Mansion.
The Texas Archive of the Moving Image provided that video to FOX 7.
City archivist Mike Miller says that night Kennedy would have been at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium and Convention Center for a big fundraiser. Thousands of tickets had been sold at $100 a plate.
“They had started setting up so you can see half the table has skirting, half dont. There’s napkins sitting out and they just stopped in mid-process,” Miller said.
Dr. Suri says President Kennedy probably would have gotten re-elected.
Johnson’s landmark Civil Rights Act might not have been as expansive -- but the Vietnam war might have de-escalated sooner. “From Austin’s point of view, you'd think of the prominence of LBJ, especially the history of Austin in the ‘70s...it's a different city. And it's a different city, with less LBJ, perhaps less federal money, less federal attention. You can imagine Austin being a smaller city than it is today,” Suri said.