PRIMARILY PRESIDENTIAL DESTINATIONS: DALLAS IS MORE THAN A JFK DESTINATION
Welcome to the fifteenth installment of Primarily Presidential Destinations. We’ve covered almost all of the Presidential destinations that I’ve visited, but we haven’t talked about Dallas. I live in Dallas now, but my family lived in Georgia when Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza. Like most Dallasites I try to disassociate my city from the assassination, but we can’t quite shake it.
Love Field no longer looks anything like it did when the dazzling Kennedys stepped onto the tarmac. When I think of Love Field, my mind is more likely to run to hot pants by Pucci than a First Lady in a pink suit. Sure I remember the black and white photos, but Braniff landed there a lot more times than Airforce One. I never greeted a president at Love Field, but I welcomed the Dallas Cowboys outside the Braniff terminal after many an away game- whether we had won or lost.
The JFK Sites
If you live here, visitors are going to ask about Dealey Plaza, the Texas School Book Depository and Parkland Hospital, but I always discourage them. From Dealy Plaza you can gaze at the infamous grassy knoll, but you can’t drive the route JFK did, because traffic in front of the old courthouse flows one way in the wrong direction. You can find Parkland Hospital, but you’d never find anything in the huge complex, remodeled several times over, that even remotely reminded you of the hospital in those old news clips.
There’s an old building across from Dealey Plaza that was the Texas School Book Depository. It’s been through several incarnations, but the infamous window is still there. Inside there’s something called The Sixth Floor Museum. Some guy bought up some of the contents of the Depository and several people went broke trying to make money off of them. Apparently the current manifestation of the museum is the most successful, but it’s a good thing they have tourists to depend on, because even Dallas school teachers don’t want to take their students.
A block or so away from Dealey Plaza is a big square piece of concrete that is a memorial to the assassinated president. It embarrasses me a little bit. If a guest does insist that they must see where Kennedy was shot, I will drive them by Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository, but I never allow enough time to see the Sixth Floor Museum and I never point out the memorial. It looks like an abandoned building project – blank walls and no ceiling. If we were going to have a memorial to him, it should have looked more like Dealey Plaza – columns, a statue, lots of grass. Maybe a waterfall or something, but not the empty concrete walls on a slab of concrete behind a red brick courthouse.
There’s so much more to see and do in Dallas. Dallas didn’t kill John F. Kennedy. Maybe it was Lee Harvey Oswald. Maybe it was the Mafia. Maybe it was aliens. But it wasn’t Dallas. For that matter, we didn’t shoot JR either, but I’ll save that for another day.
Come to Dallas to shop. Redecorate your digs in the Design District. Eat at our restaurants. See the Dallas Museum of Art, The Meadows Museum, The Crow Collection of Asian Art, The Nasher or any number of museums besides the Sixth Floor. Catch an opera, symphony or show in the Arts District. There a lot to do, but don’t waste time on an event we’re working so hard to ignore.