Ripples of Assassinations
by Minnie E. Miller
by Minnie E. Miller
November 22, 1963. The day was humming with noise of a legal environment. Lawyers were checking their cases, staff typing indictments, orders, and motions on old-fashioned typewriters, and clerks penciling court orders in large, ragged journals. They stood behind a granite countertop half the length of the exceedingly voluminous space. At the end of that space was a glass-enclosed office consisting of one desk, a chair, and one man processing execution documents. My desk was the last in the large clerk’s office and directly in front of his office. I was one of the clerk typists assembling and typing documents being prepared for the execution of human beings.
The Clerk of the Criminal Division of the Court House in Chicago, Illinois, emerged from his sanctuary and announced, “The President of the United States has been shot. The building is closing. Please leave immediately.”
We stood in amazement, our faces frozen. Lawyers accustomed to trying gruesome murders of all types merged with common people for an instant, trying to understand what happened to our President. Law and tradition states that the President must be protected with security of the highest order. I thought, How could this happen?
I admired Senator Kennedy and nearly touched him (until secret service gently moved me further behind the barriers) when he visited Chicago to campaign for the presidency. Orders had come from top political bosses to be prepared to go to the airport. We were to greet the candidate the National Democratic Committee had backed for President of the United States of America. Buses were available at headquarters for those in need of a ride. No excuses accepted!
I was an assistant precinct captain at the time of his arrival, going door-to-door selling the candidate to voters. Nevertheless, it was a fun job for me. My job in the clerk’s office included, among other responsibilities, being a typist among four and the youngest at twenty-seven years old -- my first real job as a Six Ward Young Democrat. Rachel, (a fictitious name, of course), my immediate supervisor and deputy clerk of the criminal division, had taken me into her care. She was also my ride home so I ran when she ran, and followed as best my short legs would allow. Speed-walker best describes Rachel.
Rachel and I knew the workday was going to be short, but not because President Kennedy had been shot. Rachel’s Mother passed two days prior, and she being the oldest daughter had the responsibility of funeral arrangements. My Mom and I worked closely with the family during that stressful time.
The rush was on. Watching Rachel gather her belongings and people rushing by me was clue enough for me to move as well. It was a little past 1:00 p.m. -- lunchtime in the restaurant directly across the street from the Court House. Jimmy owned the restaurant for years. Always a gathering place for lawyers, ‘suspects’ and their families, members of the state attorneys, public defenders, and court stenographers; it seemed most of the criminal division walked across the street to the restaurant filling it to near overflowing.
Note: Some of those present have since moved on to judgeships, state offices and higher. Consequently, I will not name them here.
We all took seats at the selected tables and booths. Of course, all the lawyers were talking about the law, and capital punishment, and what will or should happen to the shooter or shooters. The television blared information from the Texas scene. Nevertheless, the lawyers examined all areas of criminal law in less than an hour.
Suddenly, the loud chatter changed to understated comments in confidential conversations. My mood had been following the crowd, but this shift threw me. Mystified, I mentally wondered what had happened and then followed the eyes of the group at our table. A man who had been on trial as a member of the mafia entered the restaurant with his lawyer leading the way.
Rachel whispered, “Watch me. Move when I move.”
The intrusive guest stood near the tables and announced, “Lunch for everybody,” waving his arms at us. “Jimmy ... steaks on me.”
Persons who knew the defendant uttered indistinctly their thanks, spoke excuses, and left immediately.
Rachel said, “Count me out. Have business to take care of,” and gently pulled me by my sleeve out of the big booth. We rushed to her car as she mumbled something about what the media would do with that stupid impromptu gathering with a member of the mafia.
Talk about unintentional significance!
That week and the following days were chaos for America, Rachel, and me. My Mother stayed close offering Rachel and family condolence even though she had only known Rachel for a short time.
April 4, 1968. Soon the assassination of another great man shook the nation. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was the leader of the modern American Civil Rights Movement. At age 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Dr. King died on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, from a killer’s bullet.
June 6, 1968. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles, CA. I was in Los Angeles; my second home and near the hotel on Mariposa Street. At the time, I was working for Governor Pat Brown of California.
These particular events affected my drive to write. I believe my choices are metaphor for life and losses. Please understand, I am still involved in politics, albeit it armchair politics. Working in the background gives one a different view, especially in the case of President Barack Obama.
I believe history will treat our African American President with dignity and respect, unlike today.
About the Author
Minnie E. Miller presently resides in her native state of Illinois in Chicago's Hyde Park community.
She has traveled to London, Paris, Jamaica, and many United States cities where she met individuals of all persuasions. She was a curious kid, a news junkie even in high school, and has worked in politics since the age of eighteen even though she was not old enough to vote.
Miller spent fifty-three years in the workforce. Her last full time job was in the administration of the former Mayor of San Francisco as special assistant to his press secretary. She co-authored "The San Francisco Mayor's Summit for Women: Summit Report 1998." She retired in 1999, left San Francisco, and sped through Atlanta, Georgia. Still, she worked as a freelancer in Atlanta City Council's Communications Office for a year and a half.
Heeding a whisper from her subconscious, Miller returned to Chicago, Illinois. Unable to sit still as a retiree, she took a part-time job at NBC TV. She finally left the workforce May 2004.
Miller lives alone, devotes her time writing, and all things involving the book industry.
She has written many articles and essays. Books by Minnie E. Miller
* The Seduction of Mr. Bradley - Available for Kindle download
* Whispers From The Mirror - Available in Paperback
Purchase copies: https://www.amazon.com/author/minniemiller
Follow Minnie E. Miller Online
Minnie E. Miller
Writer, Essayist & Humanist