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Dave Graybill | Pressman recalls day Kennedy was killed

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Dave Graybill molding a page mat in 1955. (World file photo)

Editor’s note: Retired World packaging manager Dave Graybill offers this recollection of what it was like at The Daily World on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Those were the days of hot metal production.

I had worked at The World over 13 years. I was a combination stereotyper and pressman. We heard the news of the assassination and the whole plant seemed to get quiet as we prepared to go to press that day. Right away, we decided to use red headlines on Page One. The wooden type we used was about 3.5 inches high. The headline was to be two lines long. We first fitted the form with these headlines, then added the details as the story came over The Associated Press.

In those days, I made most of the color plates. We then decided to go ahead with the red plates. Since the full story would be on the black plates. I rolled the page, made the mold to cast the press plates form.

The headline read, “President Kennedy Critically Wounded.”

That was the story at that point in the day. I put these plates on the press and proofed them. I saved some of these proofs as mementos. A very short time later, the news came that Kennedy was dead. We did those headlines over, changing just the second line to read “President Kennedy Killed By Assassin.”

You could still hear the Linotypes clatter and the roar of the press — the standard noises (of the newspaper). But above all with the production workers, printers, sterotypers and pressmen, there was an eerie silence that day. It was indeed a day for me to remember in the business of “bringing the news.”