When I looked into things to see and do in Dallas, only one stood out – The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, this being the location of the former Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot the magic bullet that killed John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The hotel shuttle took me into town to the museum. As we turned onto Elm Street, it was strange to be somewhere I knew from history books and yet here it was, just an ordinary street. I went straight into the museum where I was given an audio guide which led me through a comprehensive arrangement of displays with a narrative of the events leading up to the assassination of JFK and the investigations and conspiracies theories that followed.
Not only is the museum well curated, it was a genuinely moving experience to stand in the place where such a significant turn of events took place. Standing at that window on the sixth floor overlooking the grassy knoll and seeing the ‘X’ marked on the road, I was shocked to see how close it was, how small the actual area is that looms so large in its infamy and aftermath.
Once again I was reminded of the true value of travel – to feel history come to life and feel it imbued with a sense of reality, a superimposition of the present on the past, leaving you with a heightened sense of connectedness and awareness that everyday history is being written all around us and that we can each choose to participate.
I left the museum feeling more sombre than I’d anticipated. I took my photos of the building, the ‘X’ on Elm Street and the grassy knoll where I sat for a while contemplating the gravity of it all.
I took a wander around the rest of the downtown Dallas area and up to the arts district which I found pretty underwhelming. None the less, I stopped by the Art Gallery thinking it might be my best bet for a decent coffee – I was wrong. I decided to cut my losses and get a taxi (no public transport) to the Bishop Arts District on the recommendation of The Belmont Hotel guide.
Not seeing any taxi’s going by, I was unsure of how to best to find one. I asked a local passing by whether it was just a matter of hailing one or if there was a taxi rank nearby. She said she’d never caught a taxi in her life so wasn’t able to help me. Another benefit of travel – realising your extreme privilege not only to have the resources but also the imagination and inclination.
Eventually I caught one passing by and was taken to the ‘district’. You know you’re in a small city when a single street constitutes a ‘district’ and not the whole street either, just a few blocks, a few very quiet blocks. I found an open pub and ordered a pint of Moose Drool lager before deciding it was best just to go back to The Belmont.
At check in, they’d told me that tonight was going to be the first ‘dive in’ movie session for the summer. They project a movie on a screen by the pool which you can either enjoy from the pool or on the lawn. The event is open to the public so all the locals come up to join in the fun with the hotel guests. Tonight’s film: Casablanca.
I put on my other new cosie and headed to the pool area. No one was brave enough to jump in so I held back until the credits rolled and then just dangled my legs in. The night was still young so I drifted to the bar to toast the skyline one last time. Luckily my new friend Jerry was there so I didn’t have to do it alone. We chatted like old friends and exchanged email addresses before parting ways. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship… (or not, but the line had to be used!)