You may be asking yourself why a video production company and recording studio in Tampa Bay would post this. But there is a connection and a twist. The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination reminded me of a job we did in 1999. CMR Studios was hired to digitize President John F. Kennedy’s personal record albums from the Robert L. White Collection for an exhibit at the Florida International Museum.
The collection included some home recordings on lacquer discs that predated recording tape. One featured “John Fitzgerald” and others singing “Smile Awhile” and “Sweet Adeline” at what sounded like a great party. Among the other records and popular recordings was an album by Roger Williams with the song “Yellow Bird”. I was told by the museum that the significance of the album was that it was played by JFK while flying on Air Force One during the trip to Dallas.
One of the well known habits of JFK was his doodling. Kennedy’s secretary Evelyn Lincoln compiled many of them that are now in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. After meetings, he would leave his papers behind and Lincoln would collect them. Well maybe those are in the archives, but he evidently drew on lots of other things that were at hand. That brings us back to the record album on that fateful flight.
Holding the records that I knew had been handled by Kennedy was a bit eerie in the first place. When I pulled the record sleeve out of the Roger Williams album I was excited to see pencil markings on the paper. Because of his doodling habit, these were likely by the President himself. At first it just looked like random repeating images which are very common in the archives of his doodles.
Then a drawing that looked like the hands of a clock caught my eye. It was spine-chilling when I realized that two of the three hands drawn showed the time as 1:00. That was the time President Kennedy was declared dead at Parkland Hospital. Or was it representing the three shots?
The repeating square images could be interpreted as being the view looking up at windows of a large building, like the Texas School Book Depository. It appears that there are even six lines of squares. Oswald shot from the sixth floor. Could this have been some subliminal premonition Kennedy had of the assassination that came out in his drawings?
I informed the curator of the exhibit about my discovery, but nothing more was ever mentioned about it. The exhibition in St. Petersburg closed May 29, 2003 and in October Mr. White passed away suddenly of a heart attack. The collection was sold at auction in 2005. I don’t know if the album was sold at that time. If it was, I wonder if the new owner knows the mystery inside the “Yellow Bird” album perched on their shelf.