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Reply #23: ''The world was shattered and everything just shut down.'' [View All]

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-08 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #16
23. ''The world was shattered and everything just shut down.''
From a person who was there, words that explain what I've felt for 45 years:


Serving his last supper

By MELISSA VARGAS Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:04PM

More than four decades later, 77-year-old Rudy Castro still cries.

As he recalls Nov. 22, 1963, his eyes well up and a few tears stream around the wrinkles on his cheeks. In a faint whisper, he remembers how it seemed that the world stopped turning when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

But Castro is touched even deeper than many the former Rice Hotel banquet captain served the late president his last dinner the night before.

"I haven't really told anyone about the banquet, because no one really asked," he said sitting in the lobby of the refurbished Rice Hotel 45 years to the day after he served the president at a banquet in what was the nearby Sam Houston Coliseum. "It's very painful for me, but I wanted to tell someone. I'm getting up there in age, so it's time."

The staff of The Rice Hotel was overjoyed at the news it had been chosen to host the president. On the night of the banquet, hotel employees were feverishly running about making the final touches, Castro said.

The then-32-year-old used a tape measure to ensure the space between the glasses, plates and silverware were placed perfectly at each setting.

More than 3,200 people attended the dinner, which the then-chancellor of Rice University called "probably the largest seated dinner ever held in Texas." Hundreds who showed up at the Coliseum trying to buy the $5 dinner ticket at the door were turned away.

On the last night of his life, Kennedy dined on Chicken Virginia, rolls, green beans and pumpkin pie. The meal was simple because the chefs didn't have the correct equipment for an elaborate dinner at the Coliseum, Castro said. He and two other banquet captains were in charge of serving Kennedy and the dignitaries and Castro remembers the late president was very polite.

"He looked like a movie star," Castro said.

When Kennedy spoke at the banquet, Castro and the other staff members peered around a velvet curtain to watch him honor U.S. Rep. Albert Thomas, who had been instrumental in bringing the future Johnson Space Center to Houston.


Albert Thomas. He's the guy who winked at LBJ on Air Force One the next day.

Thanks for giving a damn, my Friend. For Justice, Progs Rock.
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