DALLAS — A nearly 60-year-old Polaroid photo of the President John F. Kennedy motorcade as it traveled through Dallas that fateful day, ended up in a thrift store in Ferris, Texas some 30 miles south of Dealey Plaza. And, while we are still searching for who took that photograph, we do know that there was a 24-year-old blonde from Mesquite in that crowd who likes to believe the President that day was looking directly at her.
"I was shocked. And that's putting it mildly," George Rebeles told me after buying a music CD at the Souls Harbor Thrift Store in Ferris only to find the black and white JFK motorcade photo inside. The date "11-22-63" was handwritten on the back.
"Kind of giving you the antiques road show interpretation here," JFK expert and former FBI Analyst Farris Rookstool III told WFAA. "The assessment is while you have a nice photo, it's a nice keepsake, it's a nice heirloom. It's something that meant something to someone in someone's family."
And, one of those families was the Baird family in Mesquite.
"Anyhow, here I am," Jackie Baird told us, identifying herself as a blonde near the middle of the photo looking off to her right as the President appears to be looking exactly in her direction.
She confirmed, as Rookstool surmised, that the photo was taken along Lemmon Avenue as the motorcade left Love Field. Baird was a secretary for Texas Instruments which had offices on Lemmon in the 1960s. She said several employees rushed outside to watch the motorcade pass by. Another TI employee, armed with one of those newly state-of-the-art Polaroid instant cameras, snapped the photo and had several copies made for other employees. Baird, and members of her family, have kept copies of that photo all these years.
"Well the President was coming to Dallas and we were all excited," she said.
Jackie said her nephew, who has one of those copies, saw our original story and called her immediately.
"He saw it and he jumped up and he called you," Baird laughed. "And he said 'hey I know a lady in that picture!'"
Jackie said she doesn't remember who took the picture or why it would end up in a thrift store inside a Bachman Turner Overdrive CD case. But she keeps her copy as a memento of that day as a prized piece of family memorabilia, and to honor a popular president whose life ended just a few miles later.
"Oh everybody was just devastated. I mean it was very sad in our country," she said. "It was just devastating. We just couldn't believe it."
As for the mystery about the thrift store in Ferris, Texas and who left the picture there, George Rebeles would still like to know.
"How this ended up in a CD case in a small town thrift store fascinates me," he said.
That part of the story, for now, remains a fascinating mystery too.