this coming week holds for me some work in the big d (dallas, texas!) the original plan was to fly out sunday night, but i am lucky enough to know folks around here to come out early for a little vacation. mark and kathleen are like a second set of parents to me, and the minute i told them i’d be in their neck of the woods, they gladly accepted me as a houseguest for the weekend. how fabulous!
after a few winks of sleep friday night, we woke up to enjoy a quick breakfast of grapefruit, cereal, and cinnamon roll cake. mark kept us on schedule, ushering us out the door just after o’nine hundred hours to make our way to the city. on the docket for the day was everything jfk related, so dealey plaza was our destination. as tragic as november 22nd, 1963 was, there is something intriguing about that day’s events. i was looking very forward to learning more about the assassination that defined a generation.
we started the morning with a trolley tour of the motorcade’s route that friday morning nearly 51 years ago. our guide mike was enthusiastic and informed, giving us the true sense of what the day was like for the kennedys in downtown dallas. the city was ecstatic to have the president on their streets, swarming the route thousands strong. after coming down main and heading north on houston street, the open-top limousine made the sharp left turn onto elm towards the president’s final destination, the trade mart where 2,600 attendees were awaiting his arrival for the welcome luncheon.
the limousine was moving along slowly, creating the opportune moment for 24-year old assassin lee harvey oswald, who was hidden in his sniper nest on the sixth floor of the texas school book depository. at precisely 12:30 p.m., three shots blistered out of the high-powered rifle and into dealey plaza, injuring governor connally and fatally wounding president kennedy. those moments were forever captured in the silent zapruder film, depicting the tragedy in clear-cut color.
the tour didn’t end there, as so much more happened on this infamous weekend. tour guide mike took us through the town of oak cliff, where oswald fled immediately following his departure from the depository. after quickly visiting his rental home on beckley avenue, oswald continued on foot through the neighborhood, encountered officer tippit on 10th street, took his life with a pistol, and walked on in the daylight. radio communications alerted the police to oswald’s location, finally taking them to his arrest at the texas theatre.
just two short days later, that following sunday, oswald’s life was taken by the hands of local nightclub owner jack ruby. while oswald was being transported from the dallas police headquarters, jack ruby took two steps through the media to deliver one shot to oswald’s chest. though ruby had hopes to be seen as a hero, as the man who shot the man who shot kennedy, the loss of oswald’s life forever leaves so many questions unanswered.
we were able to learn so much more about this event at the sixth floor museum at dealey plaza. the self-guided tour allowed us to move along at our own pace, learning about kennedy’s political career preceding the assassination, the world’s reaction following his death, and the legacy his administration left.
as we chatted about the tour afterwards, we were all more curious about first lady jacqueline kennedy. who was she before she was a kennedy? what did she do after the assassination? i’m glad you’re curious, too, because i’ve got lots of answers for you.
before joining the kennedy family in september 1953, jackie spent her childhood among the cities of mclean, newport, and new york city. she become and stayed an enthusiastic equestrienne throughout adulthood. jackie attended vassar for a couple of years, ventured to france for her junior year, and then returned to george washington university, where she graduated with a degree in french literature. a journalist position at the washington times-herald led jackie to the same social circles as john fitzgerald kennedy. they were introduced at a dinner party in may 1952, and the relationship grew more serious throughout the year. they were engaged in june 1953 and then married at st. mary’s church in newport.
the newlyweds enjoyed a few years together by themselves before they began building their family. sadly, their first child arabella was stillborn. it wasn’t until almost a year later in november 1957 that daughter caroline bouvier was born healthy. john junior was born in november 1960, and just months before the assassination, son patrick bouvier died of infant respiratory distress syndrome.
following the abrupt end to kennedy’s term in office, jackie, caroline, and john junior remained in the white house quarters for two weeks, preparing to vacate. the family spent a year in mourning out of their upper east side apartment in manhattan; jackie made very few public appearances during that time.
tragedy struck the kennedy family again in june 1968 when her brother-in-law robert f. kennedy was assassinated. jackie came to fear for the life of her and her children, demanding they leave the country. in october 1968, not even five years after jfk’s death, jackie married wealthy greek shipping magnate aristotle onassis. upon her second marriage, jackie lost all entitlements permitted to widowed first ladies, including secret service protection. the marriage lasted only seven years, for onassis’ health deteriorated rapidly after his son’s death in a plane crash. he soon died of respiratory failure in 1975. due to strict greek law, jackie settled with onassis’ daughter christina for $26 million.
many decades later, jackie was diagnosed with a form of cancer, news that ended her three-packs-a-day smoking habit. jackie kennedy passed in her sleep on the evening of may 19th, 1994 at the age of 64. jackie is buried alongside her husband john, son patrick, and stillborn daughter anabella in arlington national cemetery.
interesting, yes? we thought so, too.
after perusing the museum’s gift shop and finding a few trinkets to take home, we piled in the car to head back to frisco. before heading north on interstate 35, though, we took a scenic drive through the highland park area. talk about old money and big homes. wait, i’m mistaken. these are not homes; they are mansions with multiple garages, perfectly pruned topiaries, and luxury coupes as far as the eye can see.
we soon arrived home, travelers content with our day’s adventures. beer, salsa, and chips were swiftly retrieved from the refrigerator and pantry as we rested our feet. we enjoyed a lazy evening with the breezy texas outdoors, steaks, conversation, and good memories.