News of the fatal shooting of President John F. Kennedy struck Spokane like a bomb today.
Word of the tragedy spread like wildfire by word of mouth through downtown offices and stores and by telephone around the city and its outskirts.
The Chronicle switchboard was overwhelmed with calls, operators reporting the largest number of calls in their recollection.
In many places in the city, all normal activities either ceased or slowed noticeably while people gathered in groups to discuss the news and ask “what’s new.”
Groups gather around radios in many placed. In some larger firms executives called the Chronicle for authentic, late news of the shooting of the president and Gov. Connally of Texas and then put out the word over loud speakers of other means.
In some cases they cautioned employes (Eds note: spelled this way in the newspaper at the time) not to telephone and overload lines.
Reaction in many quarters was sudden and unexpected.
“In all respect to President Kennedy and the government we are removing pickets from Fairchild Air Force Base and nine Atlas missile sites,” said Otho Hood, business agent for the Northeastern Washington –Northern Idaho Building and Construction Trades council (AFL-CIO).
The pickets were posted Tuesday in protest to Air force transfer of Civil Service personnel here to do most of the modernization work planned on the missiles.
“The assassination of the President is an unbelievable and tragic thing,” Lorin B. Markham, general manager of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce said.
It will be extremely harmful to our world-wide relations,” he said. “I believe it is fortunate that, in the face of this tragic occurrence, we have a man of great capabilities as vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson.”
Trading stopped on the Spokane Stock Exchange as brokers and customers crowded around news tickers and a radio. There was a “hushed silence and everybody acted stunned,” an official said.
At the huge Washington Water Power Co. officer building at E1411 Mission, the news of the President’s death was received with “total shock –everyone was overwhelmed.”
Almost all activity in the offices came to a halt with the first news of the shooting “and employes were gathered around every available radio,” Kenneth D. McCord, WWP public relations representative, said.
“This is one of the worst things that ever happened to this country. It is a terrible thing: all of us had hoped he would pull through,” George M. Brunzell, WWP president, said.
Brunzell said there is only one television set in WWP’s headquarters, in Chairman of the Board Kinsey M. Robinson’s office, and said employes from all over the building clustered around it this morning, waiting for word on the President’s condition.