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The Story

“Wherever there is need”

The holiday season of 1963 was among the bleakest in our country’s history. An American President had been murdered in Dallas. A hundred miles away at Sul Ross Elementary in Waco, the principal entered our classroom and quietly informed our teacher what had happened. Mrs. Claunch, usually tough and stoic, sobbed uncontrollably for what seemed forever before sharing the tragic news to her scared and confused group of students.

President Kennedy died just days before Thanksgiving and less than a month away from Christmas. His death was the topic of conversation at school, at the store, the evening dinner table, and at my grandfather’s barbershop. Wherever people gathered, Kennedy’s assassination always came up, despite the season.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the gunman responsible for the President’s murder, left behind a shocked and bewildered Russian wife, and two small children. What would happen to them? How would the country react to their situation? Would we even care? I hadn’t planned on posting anything for December. This website needed a redo and I intended to spend the month focused on that task.

That changed during a random “Christmas” search on the Portal to Texas History, a fabulous website of primary sources created and managed by the University of North Texas.

I happened upon two type-written letters, the first from a piano teacher from Florida to the Dallas Chief of Police, Jesse Curry. The second letter is Chief Curry’s response. Both letters were written in late December 1963, and are the subjects of this unscheduled post.

Despite the sadness of the time, their words symbolize the sentiments of a generous nation. Perhaps you will feel the same way.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.