Blogfather II: Accidental Tourists

(concluded from Part Four)

Sunday, May 31 – Second Verse

Keeping Herself Company
Woman sits in Dealey Plaza, reading aloud.

When it comes to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, it seems the only thing people agree on is that he was shot. Visiting the site doesn’t help one form a strong opinion one way or the other (not this one, anyway), and I had very little prior knowledge of the topic.

We leave Medieval Times’ wenches, knights and royalty behind us and head to the nearby Dealey Plaza, where the 35th President of the United States made his final public appearance.

With plenty of daylight left after the show, we get out of the van and walk toward the infamous grassy knoll. Before we get there, a somewhat unkempt man intercepts us and starts speaking like a tour guide. He throws out a few theories on what happened, claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald did, in fact, fire a gun from the book depository’s sixth floor, but that his shots were merely distractions while the real killer fired from behind a picket fence atop the grassy knoll. The one who really shot JFK, he says, never was found.

Supposed Shooter Hideout     Grassy Knoll Bunch

Taking in the whole scene, it is easy to believe his story based on the various X’s on the street marking the presidential convertible’s location at the time of each shot’s impact. He states unabashedly that the flyer he sells for $5 promotes the theory outlined in Oliver Stone’s JFK (which I still have not seen).

One by one, we hand our cameras over to this stranger and pose for pictures at various spots. Moonshot comments that it feels a bit strange smiling for a photo at such a somber site. Some of us voice agreement, but most of us smile anyway.

Memorial     Shadowy Figures

We politely decline his offer for a more extensive tour, despite his claim that the $35 price is discounted from what he usually charges a group. Instead, Shannon buys a flyer and tips him while we continue on for the self-guided tour.

Without any signs to lead us there, we stumble upon the JFK Memorial, a spare structure that supposedly strikes a more compelling figure in the dark hours, when it reportedly appears to hover. Perhaps then it would inspire me to snap a photo.

Old Red MuseumOld Red Museum, formerly the Old Red Courthouse, which lies along our route to and from the JFK Memorial, makes us stop and take notice. Built in 1892 of Pecos red sandstone (Pecos County, Texas) and Arkansas blue granite, it stands out among the much more boring buildings on and near Dealey Plaza. My longest zoom can’t get me close enough to the wyverns (not gargoyles) to do them justice.

We conclude our final full day together by going home and snacking while talking and playing Rock Band. Our parental sides admit that we miss our children.

The next day is fine. On the way to Grimaldi’s, a favorite pizza and salad place, I show them where I work and the infamous storm drain that received so much attention here in the past. Following a fine lunch on the restaurant’s back patio, we drive to the airport.

Once more we squeeze our friends we first met online and wish them a safe trip. We know we’ll keep in touch, as we always have.

Next time, Canada, here we come.


Comments

Blogfather II: Accidental Tourists — 8 Comments

  1. Those of us that lived through it remember vividly exactly where we were when the news came in. We were riveted to the TV for days and have the details of the Dealy Plaza etched upon our memories. I’ll also never forget the first time I drove through there years later. I nearly wrecked the car because I had this intense sense of deja vu as I realized where I was. Your generation’s etched memory is the second airplane on 9/11. Of course, the conspiracy theorists have a heyday with that one too.

  2. It was an odd place to be. True, I wasn’t alive in 1963, but it’s still such a huge moment in American history that you can’t help but walk about in silent respect. It was certainly enough to make me promptly remove my cardboard crown from Medieval Times.

    I didn’t care for that guy and his flyers. I had not really thought about it, but my months living in New Orleans have made me very leery of pushy street vendor-types. I’ve seen one too many folks down there get hustled and strong-armed in scams. I found myself hanging back from the group during his lecture, watching out for other folks who might be in on something with him. I hadn’t realized how paranoid the French Quarter had made me until I was put back in a similar situation.

    The actual JFK memorial was an interesting structure, but difficult to photograph in any way that captures it. Even a quick google search for quality images of it finds nothing that makes it look like anything more fascinating than a big white cube. Shame.

    What struck both me and my wife about Dealy Plaza was the degree to which the assassination was downplayed. The actual memorial is huge, but tucked back away from the plaza. I had actually driven through the plaza once years ago when I was in Dallas for work and had no idea. I’m not sure that they should do anything differently, but when something feels so significant, it’s odd to see that it’s just like any other street in America.

    And finally, it’s just a shame distance makes it so difficult for all of us to get together. I really did have such a wonderful time and miss you guys terribly. Can’t wait for Edmonton.

  3. That certainly was a seminal moment, not just in American history, but global 20th century history as well. Given the man, and the times in which he was holding office, his death was felt (and mourned) around the world. I, too, quickly doffed my paper crown, as I felt it ludicrously out of place in such a sombre setting.

    I was glad to see that there was nothing significant erected right there to pay homage to the tragedy that occurred. The cenotaph a couple blocks away was certainly a fitting enough memorial, but it seems more proper to leave the scene of the event relatively untouched. To me, it allows the memory of what happened foster it’s own sentiments, rather than being confronted with an aggrandizing memorial bent on milking emotion. (I’ll cite Ground Zero from 9/11 as a counter-example, certainly intending no disrespect to those so memorialized.)

    As for the weekend itself, we too, up here, miss all y’all. The written (and pictorial) accounting makes for fine reminiscence, but you just can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Thankfully, we have the pleasurable task of planning how to welcome The Damn Yanks to The Great White North next year. I still think it’d be a hoot to convince you guys to come up mid-January. Then again, that sort of fun would wear off after a couple hours when the novelty of the cold lost its allure. After which we’d be stuck playing board games by the light of our blubber lanterns and huddling under polar bear pelts whilst we slept to conserve warmth.

    Next June would be best, most likely.

    Blogfathers Edmon’10.

  4. Pops – I certainly can’t imagine what it must have been like. I was only 10 when the attempt was made on Ronald Reagan’s life, but because it was unsuccessful, it served as fodder for comedians more than a tragic event that etched time and place in my memory.

    You were right about our generation and the 9/11 attacks, Dave… I can remember exactly where I was, when it was, and what I was doing when I heard a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and I bolted up to the only television in City Hall (worked for local government then) just in time to see the second plane live. Never forget it.

    I also remember exactly where I was when I heard the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded.

    Moksha and Simon – Gosh, I sure dig having such smart and articulate friends.

    Perhaps one day we’ll all be able to see each other more often than once a year.

  5. Smrt and articulate friends? Where?!

    More often than once a year would be super swell. I’ll get to work on that teleporter right away. (If Pops hasn’t already beaten me to it.)

  6. I remember it very well…. that day. Part of me hates thinking about it now.

    Great posts about the “gathering” with your friends… you squeezed in a lot in not so many days.

  7. I’ve been there twice, and my sentiments are very much in-tune with what everyone wrote.

    What I have always thought was interesting is how when an assassination is successful, there’s always a conspiracy with the “behind the scenes” contributors. But have you ever noticed that when there’s an unsuccessful attempt, it’s always just that one kook who failed?

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