Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Texas Schoolbook Depository

Ahhh – my first day with nothing to do since we got here! Dr. Hawn phoned up to check on us this morning and he and Collyn offered to take us, along with Ulston and his wife, to see the sights of Dallas. Namely, they offered to bring us to the Sixth Floor Museum, which is set up in the building of the Texas Schoolbook Depository and which houses artifacts to do with John F. Kennedy's assassination. That sounded far more interesting than doing the laundry, so off we went.

I was completely unprepared for how moving the experience would be. I know unlike some people David and I were not alive when the actual events happened, but it still felt like a piece of real history from our time that we were being immersed in. Ken Cooper told me that Dallas has never quite recovered from the shame of its role in Kennedy's death, and that was really shown by the installation. Two parts of the museum really struck me deeply. The first was standing at the window where the shooter stood and looking down at the street the motorcade was on. There are two large white X's painted on the street about ten metres apart showing where the two fatal shots were fired.

The second one I would have missed, but David called me over to show me. When the assassination happened, Kennedy had been on his way to an official luncheon. There in a glass display was the entire place setting that had been laid out for him, that he never got to use.

Another haunting image at the museum was the photograph of Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as the President in the cabin of Air Force One, with Jackie Kennedy at his side less than two hours after the assassination. She looks sad but also kind of detached – she was probably in shock. The whole experience was quite intense.

We felt like we'd gotten a bit of American/Dallas culture after that (though it sounds like an awful thing to say!) We also went over to the (in)famous Grassy Knoll. After that, we got a taste of real Texan food at Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse. David and I shared a plate of pulled pork, beef brisket and pork ribs – mmmm! (We're off food for a while now, though).

1 comment:

shortbreadannie said...

Hi Hilary and David,
I remember November 22, 1963 so clearly - I was in grade 2 and we were sent home for the day when Kennedy was shot. I love American history and wanted to read this entry first.

I also was interested in the Stewpot at church - imagine 700 people 3 meals a day. Serving 100 people in Toronto at St. Andrews on Tuesdays is a large enough undertaking.

Blessings for the school year! Be strong and courageous.
Thinking of you with much love,