From the front page of the Portland Evening Express, Nov. 22, 1963.
Maine residents were shocked by the death of President Kennedy.
Maine’s Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, a close personal friend of the President, was at the Eastland Motor Hotel here when the news came. He went to the studios of WCSH to be close to the latest news on the President, and when his death was finally confirmed issued this statement.
“This is a tragic and shocking thing. All we can do is pray and it may be too late. I don’t know yet if the President is alive or dead, and there is nothing more I can say at this time.
Gov. John H. Reed expressed shock and sorrow over the shooting of the President. He asked Maine residents to pray.
Here’s the governor’s full statement:
“Words are inadequate to express my shock and sorrow at this terrible incident. The ruthless shooting of our president and my fellow governor John Connally has stunned all of us in Maine.
“We wait anxiously for some encouraging news from Texas. I ask the people of Maine to pray for the President.”
The UPI reported from Washington Sen. Margaret Chase Smith wept today when told of the assassination attempt on Presidents Kennedy.
Mrs. Smith, herself a possible presidential contender, was told of the shooting as she sat at her desk eating lunch after a Space Committee meeting in Washington.
The Senator immediately cancelled all her appointments for today and went to a Senate Republican meeting summoned by Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.)
“I am deeply shocked. I pray for his recovery. In the past weeks we have become such very (good) friends…he was so generous to me,” Mrs. Smith said in tears.
All day long a National Broadcasting Co. television crew had been filming her activities because of talk that she might enter the presidential race.
She cancelled the filming and sent the crew home.
Mrs. Smith left at her desk her traditional luncheon menu, cottage cheese and peach salad.
Her assistant William Lewis told newsmen, “Mrs. Smith has also cancelled a speech planned for Monday at the Air Force Academy. It was to have been on “The role of Congress in National Policy.”
Lewis added, “We don’t know what we will do about her scheduled speech Dec. 5.” It is on the fifth that Mrs. Smith expected to announce her presidential plans.
City council Chairman Ralph Amergian called the shooting “Outrageous! It’s one of the blackest days in history. I can’t find the words to express my feelings.”
Amergian said as soon as he heard of the death over the radio he called the city manager and asked that all city flags be lowered to half-mast immediately. City Manager Graham W. Watt said that regardless of one’s political beliefs, “I’m sure that all in the city will join in sorrow. I don’t feel like saying much now. It’s almost unbelievable “
Rep. Stanley R. Tupper, R-Maine, said today the assassination of Pres. Kennedy is “the most tragic circumstance since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.”
“Every person in this land,” Tupper said. “who has encouraged these vicious extremists who have unleashed this murderous assault on President Kennedy and Gov. Connally and every politician who has not raised his voice against the paranoids of the radical right are equally guilty.”
Miss Lydia Cormier, U.S. Collector of Customs for Maine called it “a terrible shock to all of us.”
“We are praying that it won’t be serious and that his life will be spared,” she said. “We need him in a time of crisis like this.”
“What can you say at a time like this?” said James E. Flanagan, City Democratic Committee Chairman. “It’s just hard to believe. It makes us all stop and think.”
“It is unbelievable and hard to understand until we know more. The faculty and students at Lincoln Junior High School (where Flanagan teaches) all know about it. You never really know how much feeling there is until something like this happens.”
“Now we can just hope and pray for the best.”
Flanagan said Principal Donnell Graham announced the President’s death to the faculty and students over the school’s public address system just 20 minutes before classes ended at 2:30 p.m. Although classes remained in session, everything came to a standstill until the final bell, he added.
Rabbi Harry. Z. Sky will conduct special prayers for President Kennedy and the country at 8:15 p.m. today in Temple Beth El.
Two Catholic High School girls said it was “awful.”
Susan Morrisette, St. John St., one of the students, said she didn’t think anything so awful could happen in this country. Her companion, Pauline Hobbs, Wood St., could only say “it’s awful.”
Ernest H. Griswold, Saco, said he was “deeply grieved” by the news which he learned only moments before.
Another woman who would not give her name said she was “terribly sorry…everyone will be.”
“It’s awful. It’s shocking!. I’m just stunned by the news,” said Bernard M. Devine, judge of the South Portland Municipal Court.
“Awful! It gives me the creeps,” Mrs. Leona West, 188 Pearl St, said. “My mother yelled the news to me as I was leaving for work.”
“It’s an awful thing, a sad, sad thing,” declared Mrs. Anna Casso of Portland. “He and his wife have had a lot of trouble. She didn’t want him to be President either.”