Red rosebud from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's Dallas bouquet, carried in the presidential limousine on November 22, 1963
Historic dried rosebud from the bouquet of red roses carried by Jacqueline Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, at the time of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The rosebud originates from the collection of Jay Watson, station manager at WFAA-TV in Dallas, who was the first to announce the shooting in Dealey Plaza on live television. Watson frantically interrupted The Julie Bennell Show, a lifestyle and fashion program, with his report: 'Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, you'll excuse the fact that I'm out of breath, but about 10 or 15 minutes ago a tragic thing from all indications at this point has happened in the city of Dallas…A bulletin, this is from the United Press in Dallas: 'President Kennedy and Governor John Connally have been cut down by assassin's bullets in downtown Dallas. They were riding in an open automobile when the shots were fired.''
When Jacqueline Kennedy arrived at Love Field in Dallas on the morning of November 22nd, Elizabeth Cabell, wife of the mayor of Dallas, presented Mrs. Kennedy with a bouquet of red roses. The first lady carried them with her to the waiting limousine, and they were in the back seat with the Kennedys when the president was shot. The roses made an impression on Mrs. Kennedy, and she insightfully reflected on the scene in her interview with Life Magazine journalist Theodore H. White on November 29, 1963: 'Every time we got off the plane that day, three times they gave me the yellow roses of Texas. But in Dallas they gave me red roses. I thought how funny, red roses—so all the seat was full of blood and red roses.' The bouquet was abandoned in the back of the limousine in the aftermath of the dreadful event.
Two of the roses from Mrs. Kennedy's bouquet are known to have been recovered by Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry, and have descended through his family; their existence has occasionally been covered in the local press (see: "First lady's roses left a lasting impression," Dallas Morning News, August 25, 2013). According to oral history from the Watson family, Jay Watson purchased this rosebud from a Dallas police officer for $50. He preserved it in a simple white envelope, marked in pencil: "Rosebud from Mrs. Kennedy's bouquet—Nov. 22, 19."
It is accompanied by Watson's original press pass badge from that fateful day, imprinted, "President Kennedy's Visit to Dallas, November 22, 1963, Press," and signed on the reverse in blue ballpoint, "Jay Watson." The rose has been professionally preserved to prevent any future deterioration, and mounted and framed alongside the pass, an image of Jackie holding the bouquet, and a descriptive plaque to an overall size of 11.75 x 9.75. In overall very good to fine condition, with the rosebud in a dried, fragile state.