Travel Guide TX: Reflecting on Dealey Plaza (Dallas)

Standing at the site of the final shot that killed JFK in Dealey Plaza, while the School Book Depository looms in the background (Dallas, TX).
Standing at the site of the final shot that killed JFK in Dealey Plaza, while the School Book Depository looms in the background (Dallas, TX).

Even though this is a food blog, sometimes I like to write about other points of interest in my Travel Guide. Whether you like history or not, if you are in Dallas, you need to visit Dealey Plaza. This was the site of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November of 1963. There is the Sixth Floor Museum, of course, but you can have a better experience just walking the grounds and trying to imagine what happened that fateful day. I have already written extensively on the Kennedy Assassination and Dealey Plaza on my personal blog, so I will not rehash that here. Instead, I will direct you to the two pieces I have written which may be of interest if you are travelling to Dallas. It was a more somber occasion than I thought, leaving a lasting impact. It put me in the right frame of mine to teach a course on the assassination at Brookdale.

A Trip to Dealey Plaza 

I had seen the Zapruder Film clips over and over, and had poured through hundreds of pictures and documents over the years, so in a way, when I finally visited Dealey Plaza yesterday, I almost felt as if I had been there before. It was a strange feeling. For an area that really is not overly large, I briefly felt overcome with emotion, that choked up feeling someones gets when they are experiencing something special. Here I am. This is where it happened. All those years of studying, and there it is. Walking around the plaza, gazing up at the Texas School Book Depository, and yes, stalking the Grassy Knoll and trying to find where a perfect kill shot could come from if indeed there was a conspiracy.

A simple X marks the spot. It's moving in its simplicity.
A simple X marks the spot. It’s moving in its simplicity.

Visiting Dealey Plaza will Leave Your More Confused about JFK Conspiracies

In itself, the Plaza is something of a circus…by day, every inch is littered with loons hawking their self-published JFK assassination conspiracy books which are little more than pamphlets, and talking to anyone who will listen. Some of these people are informative and an asset to the experience, while others may need to see a doctor. I decided to listen to one the other day. He talked for over a half hour and was very engrossing. He claimed to have witnessed the assassination as a 13 year-old standing in front of the Dal-Tex Building. I actually believed his account to be true, and still do, but then came his theories. Nothing he couldn’t have gotten from Oliver Stone’s film, which is overly exaggerated anyway. Still, I listened. Hell, it was entertaining…until he started going off on how it was Lyndon Johnson’s wife Ladybird who ordered the assassination! That was enough for me…by night, Dealey transforms into a haven for homeless people (who have somehow memorized certain facts of the assassination and the various conspiracies) offering to give you a tour or take your picture by the kill-shot X in the street for the change in your pockets. 

Just like everything else, you have to take the good with the bad. Whether you believe in a conspiracy or not, walking around and talking to people is a great way to get a pulse for what people are thinking. Visit the museum, learn the history, and then walk around and allow yourself to become immersed. Just remember: if you’re going to tastelessly take a selfie on the kill-shot X, it’s an active road and you will be putting your life in your hands.

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