Remembering JFK's Assassination

Stories from those connected to the 48 hours surrounding that moment in history

Joe Harrison, son of William (Blackie) Harrison, in front of the old Dallas Municipal Building where Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the building's parking garage. In the newspaper Joe is holding, his father's arm is visible reaching in for Ruby's gun from the side of the photo.

Casa Mañana is presenting Oswald: The Actual Interrogation from Nov. 9 – Nov. 17. This compelling performance examines the history and events surrounding the 48 hours that Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of the Dallas Police Department after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the momentous event.

Over the next few months leading up to the performance, we will be spotlighting individuals with a tie to those 48 hours in history.

Joe Harrison is son to William (Blackie) Harrison, who was a detective for the Dallas Police Department in 1963. Detective Harrison had been on the force for 11 years on the day Oswald was shot, and he was responsible for wrestling Jack Ruby to the ground.

“On the day Kennedy was shot, my dad had been seated at the far right-hand side of the head table at Market Center,” Joe says. Market Center’s Grand Courtyard was the destination of President Kennedy’s motorcade on the day of his assassination. JFK was scheduled to give a speech to 2,600 people at the sold-out luncheon in which Detective Harrison was present.

Two days later, on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 24, Detective Harrison was assigned to keep people away from the cars and prisoner Oswald. Before his duty that morning, Detective Harrison walked across the street and had breakfast at the Deluxe Diner.

After breakfast he took his station in the basement. A crowd of police and press with live TV cameras gathered to witness as Oswald was brought to the basement at 11:21 a.m. on his way to a more secure county jail.

“Ruby slipped up behind my dad, and he had his hand on Ruby’s hand when Ruby took the shot,” Joe says. After Ruby fatally wounded Oswald with a .38 revolver, Detective Harrison wrestled Ruby to the ground and then took him to booking before returning to the basement to assist the other officers.

Ruby operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas with minor connections to organized crime. He was later found guilty of murder with malice in association with killing Oswald and was sentenced to death. In 1966, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision, but while awaiting a new trial Ruby died of lung cancer in a Dallas hospital.

Joe remembers watching everything unfold on television when he was 15 years old. “My father never liked to speak about what happened. He was close-lipped about the whole thing,” Joe says.

Performance Information:
Oswald: The Actual Interrogation
This compelling new play delves into the history and controversy surrounding the 48 hours Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of the Dallas Police Department after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Casa Mañana
Nov. 9 - 17