My 80’s soap opera trivia is second to none, so I’m well aware of the scandalous cliffhanger on TV show Dallas, with the teasing tag line: ‘who shot JR?’. What I didn’t realise was that back in the real world, Dallas is where President John. F. Kennedy was shot.I like the Kennedys, I even watched a bit of that show with Katie Holmes as Jackie O. I knew of course that he was assassinated, but to my shame I did not know it was in the very city I’m in today.
This in mind and I’m set on rectifying my appalling general knowledge, and learning a little more about the Lone Star State.
I head downtown on the blue line, my first stop, Dealey Plaza, a stone’s throw from the scene of the assassination. Just along from there is the JFK memorial, a huge concrete square sculpture that looks like a space age rubik’s cube.
To the side of this is The Old Red Museum, a former court house, which now houses the history of Dallas in it’s halls. It’s pretty quiet so I hop inside to learn about the county’s suburban growth. I find out about the influx of businesses after the war, and how, when it was built, DFW airport was the biggest international airport in the world. I explore the rich religious histories, and hear how Southwest Airlines and 7-11 all got their start here in Dallas. I even spot JR’s cowboy hat, and discover Bonnie and Clyde were Dallas based.
I finish up in the museum as a school party arrives, and head out into the sun. Most of Dallas’ main museums and tourist attractions are in a neat little quad of downtown making life easier for me, and next up I hot foot it to Pioneer Plaza, where huge larger than life-size bronze sculptures of cattle being hustled litter a grassy ridge setting. There’s even a quaint little cemetery full of several of the city’s earliest founders next door. Apparently the Plaza was built to commemorate 19th century cattle drives, and its an amazing sight to behold in the middle of all the skyscrapers of the convention centre district.
I round up my day of Dallas education back by Dealey at The Sixth Floor Museum, where I’m determined to educate myself all about the life and death of JFK. It’s quite freaky actually as the museum is set on the floor of the building, a former book depository, which was the exact spot where Lee Harvey Oswald (allegedly) shot J from.
The exhibition is well put together and I can’t help but be moved by the spine chilling footage and photos of his assassination, and how the world responded. It’s crazy to think in this century a president could be assassinated so easily, and there’s plenty of conspiracy theories as to whether Oswald acted alone or as part of a wider plot. Unfortunately we will never know as he himself was gunned down at point blank range whilst awaiting trial.
Although JFK only spent 1000 days in office, it seems his vision inspired a dejected youth at the time and his magnetism, along with Jackie’s, made them an institution.
Exhibition over and feeling saturated in history, I head back outside into the noisy city. The museum has given me food for thought, and it’s sad that following the assassination Dallas was given the moniker ‘The city of hate’; ironically it taking the very soap opera I know so well, plus the sporting achievements of the Cowboys, to rid it of this dreadful stain.
A quick pit stop at the lovely urban space, Klyde Warren Park, and I head home to power nap before going out on the (up) town.
It’s been a great day here and I feel like I’ve gotten to know Dallas a little more. We’ve broken the ice and I’ve shared it’s highs, and it’s mournful lows. Going out later for drinks and music, and I’m happy to see what tomorrow brings, but enough ‘who dunnit?’ for now.