Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
Photo Gallery

Part:         Session:         Page of 512

I was appalled because I really had no idea why he was phoning me or what he was phoning about. All that I could think of to say, because the ball seemed to be in my hand, was, “Mr. President, I want you to know that I've been thinking about you very much these last two days.”

There was a silence, and he said, “Well, John, I want you to know that I've been thinking about you, too.”

This was an answer that I didn't really expect to get. The whole thing was so unreal that it just really was ludicrous except that it was a very emotional moment. Then it developed that he called me to express thanks for some nice things that we'd said about him that morning editorially. Of course, remember this was the day after the assassination. We naturally had a fine piece about Johnson. To tell you the truth, when he first began to thank me about what we had said editorially, I really thought, which shows how innocent I was, that he was complimenting me on an editorial that we had had about the late president, but then I realized that he really was talking about another editorial that we had on the same page the same day about the new president. Here he was. He said, “I just didn't want to leave the White House (it was easily nine, maybe a little later) without just phoning you and telling you how much I appreciated this and how I need your support.”

I started to say something to the effect that, “Mr. President, You know you're going to have our support,” but I caught myself in the middle of that sentence. I didn't want to promise, even under the emotion of the moment, future support. So before I said the word “support,”

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help