JFK teletype pages donated to ECU
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services
On Nov. 22, 1963, Balinda Ferree was 19 years old and working in her father’s radio station in High Point, WHPE. That same day, President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, were in Dallas.
As the news began coming over the AP and UPI teletype machines relaying first that the president had been shot and then his death, Ferree watched her father, Gary Davis, and the other announcers gather the pages off the teletype machine and read the news live on the air.
She later collected the pages to help her remember those dark days in American history.
“It was the most important thing I had ever heard tell of,” Ferree said. Ferree was at Joyner Library attending a reception in honor of her donation to the East Carolina University Archives. She donated 130 teletype pages from the Kennedy assassination through the burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
She kept the pages together for decades, wanting to remember the awful event that ended the life of a president she had supported and believed in. Ferree and her husband, John, officially donated the pages to ECU on the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.
During a recent remodel of their home in Seagrove, Ferree came across the box in the back of a hall closet. “I knew there were things in there from John’s radio career and I knew there was Kennedy memorabilia in there,” she said, relating that she went through the box and then came to the folder.
“I looked at it and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I had almost forgotten I had kept that whole folder of those teletypes. This is history. This can’t be thrown away.’”
She knew the pages would continue to deteriorate and decided she wanted them to have a permanent home. She called a friend at her local library, who made a call and eventually John Tucker, university historian and history professor at ECU, was contacted.