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"That green branch cut down"

Nov 19, 2013 3:34 PM | 0 comments

When the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shut its doors in 1955 the borough lost an important conduit for receiving news of the world and for investigating and editorializing on community developments. After the paper's short-lived revival finally sputtered out in June of 1963 -- just a few months before John F Kennedy was killed in Dallas -- Brooklynites had to turn to smaller neighborhood newspapers for reports on the assassination and to see their grief reflected back to them in stunned print encomiums for the recently dead president.

In addition to the entirety of the Eagle, we also have here in our Collection 88 of these neighborhood newspapers. Though not all of them were around on the day Kennedy was killed, I combed through the reels to select a few that were. Here is a short selection of front pages from Brooklyn's local papers, most which -- being weeklies -- were printed on the day of his death (thus, featuring your run-of-the-mill neighborhood news) and again a week afterwards, which might account for the apparently muted reaction of some papers.

The Graphic, above, ran a portrait of the President that was ubiquitous in the days following the assassination. The front page of the November 29th Brooklyn Heights Press, below, features tree lighting and turkey basting articles, with a memorial spread buried on page 8.

Though a bit too dark to see here, the spread featured photographs of impromptu memorials set up in shop windows.


In the middle of the page, Brooklyn's Norman Rosten contributed a poem:

In Memoriam

The day is still reverberant with drums,
We are blinded in the blaze of his death.

We know there was that green branch
Cut down, the perishable honour;
We know there was the young alternative
To war and evil, the possible good.

Enshrouded in flags, what he gave us
Is yet to be recognized, and time,
The abstract mercy, will come to heal --
Except we feel the terror once again
That moves beneath the blind skin,
Our savage self, who lives upon a land
Blessed with every wind but love.

 A common discussion printed in the Bay Ridge weeklies was whether or not the new Verrazano-Narrows Bridge could instead be named for Kennedy. In the end, Idlewild won out as the best choice for civic memorialization.

High Schools were also in the running for name changes, as can be seen in the Canarsie Courier. Additionally, as you can see from the headline above the masthead, the question of who really killed Kennedy was already on peoples' minds.

 And for those of you interested in the coincidental connections between the presidencies and fates of Kennedy and Lincoln, you'll likely find something of mystic import in this ad which, eerily, ran in just about all of the weeklies on November 22 1963.

The Coney Island Times, on November 29th, spent more front page space mourning the death of Pauline Gluck, mother of the paper's Scouting News columnist, than JFK.


The editors of the Ridgewood Times struck a common note -- that Kennedy's death should not be in vain:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1917-1963

If John Fitsgerald Kennedy is to truly rest in peace it will only be if his death has not been in vain, and that we the people will turn back those forces of hate, bitterness and violence that are eroding the moral fibre of our country and dedicate ourselves to pursue true, lawful Democratic principles to settle our differences.

However, the anger and bewilderment felt by many was given free reign on the front page of the Kings County Chronicle:

The President Is Dead

The First child born into this world was a murderer.

And the murderers are still with us.

How easy our civilization (?) has made it for the lowest of the low to destroy the highest of the high.

There is no cowardice more cowardly than the cowardice of the assassin. He has to be a sneak, a conscienceless cur, a brutal butcher.

When we consider the type of turncoat, traitor, liar, subversive, attempted infiltrator, that the slayer of our President is shown to be, we are compelled to loathe atheism, marxism, communism -- all that revolting breed from Hades.

The assassin is so LOW that he would have to use the speediest jet plane we have and fly upward faster than sound for many years before he could get as HIGH as the bottom of hell.