Kennedys time

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Kennedys time! (It’s always Kennedys time.)

James (Jim) Leavelle, the Dallas detective who was accompanying Lee Harvey Oswald to the county jail in November 1963, has died. Obituary in The Guardian here, and CBS News has amazing clips of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald, and footage of the aftermath. It’s noticeable that this raw footage from over fifty years ago looks unreal, not in a hyperbolic sense, but in that all the reporters, detectives, eyewitnesses, simply look and talk like a bunch of actors in an old film.

negatives of photographs taken 23rdNov, 1963, from

Shifting to events following the shooting of Robert Kennedy in 1968, in Aug 2019 his assassin Sirhan Sirhan has been attacked in prison, while one of his granddaughters has died in Hyannis Port.

And, after RFK falters in his progression to president, Nixon’s the winner in the 1968 election. Things look promising when Nixon aims for re-election: he doesn’t have to face Edward Kennedy as his Democrat opponent, not after the events at Chappaquiddick in 1969, and he wins massively in the 1972 vote. But his re-election campaign came with a twist.

Obituarist M Carson, writing in The Guardian in April 2019, tells the Watergate story again, through the lens of James McCord. His intriguing obituary opens with:

“It is somehow fitting that the death of James McCord – the CIA agent and Watergate burglar whose arrest then sensational trial in 1973 set in motion the scandal that eventually forced the resignation of the US president Richard Nixon – should have evaded public notice for almost two years.”

And ends with: ‘He had told Judge Sirica “I have no regrets in telling the truth,” but exactly what truth he told may never be clear.’

I imagine the secretive, mendacious McCord thinking, ‘If nobody has noticed, maybe I’m not really dead yet.’ He’s the opposite of author JD Salinger, whose reclusive life caused me to read his obituary with a sense of, ‘He’s dead? – hasn’t he always been?’ 

I like the idea of McCord removing himself from the picture, remaining unnoticed, unsupervised, unmonitored. It loops back to surfing, specifically, to details given by CR Stecyk 3 and Drew Kampion, in their Dora Lives: The Authorized Story of Miki Dora (Santa Barbara: T. Adler Books, 2005). (Mickey Dora, surfer extraordinaire, was there at The Ambassador Hotel when RFK was killed, of course.) Dora visits a friend in Lakewood, California, and is persuaded to pose for some fan photos. But, the friend recounted:

“This is true. I saw the prints when they came back. The photos didn’t show Dora, just me! He disappeared from the film!”

Photographic skill – it doesn’t just lie in taking photos, but in controlling one’s level of exposure. 

photo from