JFK, photographed on April 23, 1960, in Medford, Oregon. In the left-hand photo, at extreme left in the trenchcoat, is Pierre Salinger. (Click to enlarge.)

I’ve written before about Mary Moorman’s Polaroid picture of the Kennedy assassination, and today Time’s Harry McCracken—a man who, judging by this post from a couple of years back, has the Polaroid bug almost as seriously as I do—posted about a small discovery he made on a trip to Oregon. In an antiques shop, he happened upon a pair of Polaroid photos of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, campaigning for president in 1960.

Unnervingly, he’s riding in a Lincoln Continental convertible, in the back seat, in almost the same pose we all know from photos taken in Dealey Plaza. (Jackie wasn’t along on this earlier trip.) Kennedy was driven around by the car’s owner, a local businessman named Wally Watkins who still lives in the area, and who talked to McCracken about the parade that day. (McCracken also checked in with me about the format and the missing border on one side of each photo; I’m of the opinion that they were trimmed down to fit into a frame or an album, facing each other.)

What’s especially touching, of course, is that not only was the photographer there with Senator Kennedy; these actual prints were, too. It’s fun to think that he might’ve taken one of them in hand, squinted at it, made a remark about the state of his suit or his hair, and handed it back to the photographer. Probably with a smile and a wink, if that person happened to be a girl.

For the hardcore Polaroid enthusiasts: The photos are on Type 47 film, imperfectly coated (see the streaks around the car’s windshield), probably shot without flash. The photographer is, of course, unknown, probably for good. When these things end up in a vintage shop, they typically are coming from an estate sale, and a lot of their history vanishes when the original owner does.


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