Fifty years ago this morning in the Madera Tribune newsroom Barbara Brown, Tribune staff writer, was stunned by the sound of bells ringing on the paper’s United Press International teletype. It read “FLASH — President Kennedy seriously wounded, perhaps seriously — perhaps fatally by assassin’s bullet.”
This was the first word Madera received that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, and Brown knew from the confused wording that the writer was in a state of shock. The message had come in the midst of a routine report on the president’s first speech of the day in Texas.
According to Brown, the Tribune staff gathered around the teletype in disbelief as they read the words. They couldn’t bring themselves to believe it either. Brown gathered her thoughts and prepared to write one of the most important articles of her journalistic career. Within hours, she had the story in print.
In downtown Madera, “the streets grew quiet as radios and televisions flicked on everywhere inside the buildings. One apparel shop closed for the day with a magazine portrait of the late President and his young son, bordered in black, posted on the door...