The Kennedy Assassination
Dallas, Texas, U.S.A
Article and Pictures, Tony Hart-Wilden
November 22nd 1963, 12.30pm, Dealey Plaza, Texas. At this moment President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, by whom remains a mystery. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and subsequently shot, by nightclub owner Jack Ruby before he went to trial for his alleged involvement. The Warren Commission that investigated the Kennedy assassination concluded Oswald was solely responsible for the crime. Since then, sufficient evidence has been uncovered to suggest a second gunman was involved, and that there was a conspiracy implicating everyone from the C.I.A to the mafia. In 1973 a government house select committee concluded that the possibility of a conspiracy was highly probable.
The assassination of the United States President on November 22nd 1963 in Dallas, Texas , is a subject, that there are probably more books, documentaries and theories about more then any other mystery, ancient or modern. What is certain however is that it involves many more people then John F Kennedy and Lee Harvey-Oswald. Although I was already aware of the conspiracy theories surround the Kennedy assassination, it was the 1992 Oliver stone film J.F.K that caused me to take a greater interest in the subject. The movie itself prompted a massive amount of debate on TV and in the press, and as a result enough information became available whereby you could make up your own mind, regarding what actually occurred. I t should also be pointed out that the majority of Americans believed there was a conspiracy long before the movie came out, in fact within months of the incident in the early sixties, the governments lone gunman theory was already being questioned.
I flew into Dallas from Los Angeles , and stayed in a hotel about ten minutes away from Dealey plaza. Dallas is criss-crossed with Kennedy assassination related landmarks. From where I was I could look out of the hotel window and across the street to see the world trade mart. Clay Bertrand, the only man brought to trial in relation to the conspiracy, was at one time Trade Mart president, and Kennedy himself was on his way to a reception there, on the day of his assassination. As I was to find out over the next few days, there are so many places, streets and buildings woven into the ever expanding trail of related events, that their almost impossible to avoid. I had arrived in Dallas about 5 pm so I had little time to see anything that evening. I was actually going to walk to Dealey Plaza from the hotel to see it illuminated at night. But the receptionist at the hotel front desk advised me the the down town area where the plaza is located, is best avoided after dark, so I left it till the next day. The following morning at about 10 am I ordered a taxi to Dealey Plaza. Ten minutes later and straight ahead on 411 Elm Street was the book depository.
Despite it being a fairly bland looking red brick building, the fact that anything related to the Kennedy assassination will at some point have a had a description or picture of it, means it is instantly recognizable. The driver dropped me off next to the fountains opposite. At that point my short taxi ride, had already followed part of the same route the presidents motorcade had taken just before he was shot, and my journey along the assassination trail had begun. I was now standing on Huston Street . You are immediately surrounded with half a dozen key Kennedy assassination locations and I hadn’t even taken my first step yet. Instinctively I did just what I’m sure thousands of others have done before me, and counted up six floors to the right hand side of the book depository. One, two, three, four, five, six there it was, where Lee Harvey Oswald was alleged to have fired the fatal shot. Looking to my left there w as Dealey plaza, from where the Abraham Zupruder film was taken, and in front was the street where the president himself was assassinated.
Slightly beyond that was the grassy knoll famous for being the location of a second gunman. Fifty one witnesses claimed to hear shots coming from here, as well as seeing gun smoke rise from behind the fence. On the far left there is the triple underpass along which a blacklimousine once sped towards the freeway carrying the dying President. From the bridge above, another witness, a deaf mute by the name of Ed Hoffman saw a man in a black suit with a rifle , who passed the weapon to a second man dressed as a railway worker who disassembled it , placed it in a tool bag and walked away. T o my right was the County Court jail where several prisoners claimed to see not one, but two men with rifles in the book depository across from their cell-block, just moments before the Kennedy assassination. Jack ruby the man that eventually shot Lee-Harvey Oswald was put on trial in the same building. But despite there being so many key points of interest in Dealey plaza, this was only the beginning of a puzzle that remains unsolved over forty years later.
In 1966 the London Sunday times asked Lloyd’s of London to compile a probability table of just the first 16 deaths of a list of key figures involved in the conspiracy dying, in such a short space of time. The odds against it were one hundred thousand trillion to one. The first thought I had as I looked up at the sixth floor sniper location was why would anyone wait while a target that slowed down to take a turn, and was directly in front of them, had passed by, sped up , and was almost twice the distance away partially covered by trees, and then make the shot. Unless of course it was an ambush involving more then one shooter. Before I went to Dealey plaza and inside the book depositor I had decided to visit the nearby conspiracy museum. This is located a short distance away on 110 south Market Street. This has many exhibits, related not just to President Kennedy, but almost every other major conspiracy dating back to the assassination of President Lincoln by John Wilkes booth. There’s a map of Dealey plaza, and a video presentation of the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. There are also a vast amount of books, videos and souvenirs, all of course conspiracy related. I purchased a guidebook by John M. Nagel called, a guide to the sites of November 22 1963. He was at the time of my visit, also working at the conspiracy museum and giving guided tours of Dealey plaza. I decided to join the next tour , there was a small group of about ten of us, and it definitely added to the experience to be in the company of someone who is so knowledgeable about the surrounding locations and there relation to the assassination. After we left the museum we walked down Houston street and then on to Dealey Plaza. As you get closer to the plaza, it does seem smaller then you imagine it would be. At this time of day it was also overrun with tourists. But if you really want to contemplate the monumental events that occurred here, do what I did the following morning, and come down here very early at about 7 am, when it will be almost empty. Today on a hot summer Texas afternoon, aside from about a hundred other sight seer’s there are also many street vendors selling conspiracy magazines, or offering Kennedy assassination tours.
In the middle of the road there is a x marked on the tarmac, this is the exact location the President was shot. Just behind in the plaza at the top of the grass slope is the white marble pedestal where Abraham Zupruder shot the famous footage of the assassination on 8mm. After having seen the film so many times, the images become ingrained, and you find yourself recalling exact details as to where people were standing, and whereabouts’ the presidential limousine passed, as seen through the cameras eye on that day. I didn’t stay to long at Dealey Plaza, but decided to head to the sixth floor book depository museum. I walked back up the hill again looking at the corner of the sixth floor window, imagining a rifle protruding from it. There is a plaque next to the entrance of the building that once referred to Lee Harvey Oswald as being the assassin, but in recent years the word allegedly was added in front of it. Like the plaza, it’s very busy. There’s a lot to see, but they won’t let you take pictures or video inside, which was a disappointment. You may think that this being a city sponsored museum it may tend to ignore the conspiracy the
theories, but this is actually not the case. There are photographs, and newspapers articles about the Kennedy assassination on display, and also an original radio broadcast that plays in the background. But what everyone comes to see is the 6th floor window where the assassin or at least one of the assassins may have fired at the President’s limousine along Houston Street. O n the right of the building the corner where the window is, is caged off, but the surrounding area has been recreated from photographs taken at the time to be as it was at the time of the assassination. There are various wooden packing crates scattered about to hide a would-be gunmen from view, and you can still see through the cage to look out from the window to the spot 88 yards away where the president was shot.
Gunnery sergeant Carlos Hitchcock, Americas most accomplished sniper, with 93 confirmed kills, including one at over 2500 yards under combat conditions ,tried to recreate the shot at the sniper school in Quantico. He couldn’t do it. Neither could agents from Mossad , Israel ‘s elite secret service. Immediately after Oswald’s arrest he was tested by the F.B.I to see if there was any trace of gunpowder on his hands or on his face, which would indicate he had fired a rifle, none was found. And even if Oswald did fire the three shots, it would mean that one of them, the famous magic bullet, would of had to have caused seven different wounds, several at right angles to each other, passing through Kennedy and Governor Connolly who was sitting in front of him, and then be found in “pristine condition” on a hospital stretcher sometime later on. The evidence actually points to between 4-7 shots being fired, and even if Oswald was involved, it was not probable or possible, that he fired all of them. It would have been more interesting if other floors of the book depository were also open to the public, such as the second floor snack room where Oswald was seen just before the assassination. He was then seen there again about a minute and a half later. This meant that he would of have to have positioned himself on the sixth floor, to fire off three shots at the President then run down 4 flights of stairs within the space of a few minutes. But two women walking down the stairs at the same time never reported seeing him, and witnesses said that he didn’t appear out of breath. There is a lot of information concerning all accepts of the Kennedy assassination on display at the depository, and this was without doubt one of the highlights of the tour. The Sixth Floor Museum is in fact the number one tourist destination in Dallas attracting visitors from all over the world. A few minutes walk around the corner just across from the nearby metro station there’s several bars and restaurants. I had lunch there, and by this time it was about 3 pm in the afternoon. The other place I planned to visit today, was the Municipal Building on 2014 Main Street . This was where Lee Harvey Oswald was taken after his arrest, and also where he was shot live on TV by Jack Ruby. You can walk there from Dealey Plaza which took me about twenty minutes.
I walked back down Houston then left on main. Several blocks away on the right hand side there is an entrance ramp that slopes down beneath a white concrete building. This leads to an underground car park. This is the same entrance Jack Ruby claimed he walked down before shooting Oswald. The main entrance to the Municipal Building is on the adjacent street. You may want to use this, as there is a pedestrian’s prohibited sign at the top of the ramp, and the building is still a functioning police station. At the bottom on your right hand side there is a raised walkway which is the lower entrance to the building, behind which is a set of glass doors. I assumed this was location where Oswald was shot but it’s actually several feet behind the doors in the hallway. Jack ruby was a local nightclub owner with mob connections. Some people say he was a patriot for killing Oswald, others that he was part of the conspiracy by eliminating a key witness.
When interviewed by the Warren Commission during their investigation of the Kennedy assassination Ruby asked to be taken to Washington “so he could tell what he knew”. He wasn’t transferred and eventually died of cancer in jail in 1967. I walked up the steps through the doors and into the corridor behind. As I was taking photographs a police officer passed by. I asked him if I was in this was the exact location where the shooting had occurred. He was obviously used to the question and confirmed that it was. I took the lift up to the main floor of the building and left via the front entrance, and then I walked back down to Houston Street. At about 7 am the next morning, I made the short drive to Dealey Plaza. There was no one about, and it was much more atmospheric then yesterday and I was able to park the car nearby. In the middle of the car park behind me, is a grey railway switch tower. From here signalman Lee Bowers saw two men standing in the far corner by the fence behind the grassy knoll. He also saw a flash of light, at the exact time of the assassination. I walked over to the corner of the fence, and peered out over the top towards the spot on the road where the President was shot. From here you can also see the sixth floor of the book depository in the distance. I am just behind the knoll, and from this location you have the cover of the fence and overhanging trees, and you would be much closer to the limousine as it passed.
At Dealey Plaza, you can picture the events that once occurred here more vividly when it’s empty. I walked around for a few minutes, and climbed up onto the pedestal in the plaza where the Zapruda film was shot from. But the solitude of the location even at this time in the morning doesn’t last very long. Already someone had begun to set up a stall to sell Kennedy assassination guidebooks. I bought one of them, and got the person that sold it to me, to take my picture at both the Zapruda pedestal, and standing on the grassy knoll. Then it was back to the car. There were another six major related assassination sites to see before I caught the flight back to Los Angeles at 6 pm that evening. The next four stops were all within a short drive. First stop is 1026 north Beckley Ave. This was where Lee Harvey Oswald rented a room at the time of the assassination for $8.00 a week. The house looks virtually unchanged from the old pictures I had seen of it. Someone who currently lived there was outside cleaning their car at the time, I asked if i could take a picture of the building, and they didn’t seem to object. Shortly before his arrest Oswald returned back here to pick up a revolver. Just round the corner is 214 Neely Street. The house is not quite as recognizable. But this is where the famous photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle and a communist newspaper were supposed to have been taken.
But the photographs are believed to have been doctored in order to incriminate him, and Oswald himself referred to one of them as a photo-composite. Upon analysis many discrepancies were found including inconsistent light angles, and the discovery of crop marks. I tried to walk around to the back of the house to find the exact location of the pictures but the house is now a private residence. The next location I went to was the corner of Tenth and Patton streets a few blocks away. This is where Oswald was supposed to have shot Officer J.D Tippet. However like almost everything to do with the assassination there are inconsistencies about this. Aside from the fact, that to fit in with rest of the time frame of the day, Oswald would of have to covered almost a mile on foot in under eight minutes. Two of the empty gun cartridges found at the scene didn’t correspond with the bullets removed from the dead officer. The final stop in the immediate area is 231 w Jefferson Blvd. This was where Oswald hid after supposedly shooting the president. He walked into what is the Texas Theater without paying, police were alerted, and he was arrested and led out of the building in handcuffs screaming “I am not resisting arrest”. What was the final stop for Oswald is about a hour away in Rosehill cemetery. This is not a place most people visit, and it is far away from the tourists of Dealey Plaza. It’s in an out of the way Dallas suburb, and visitors to Oswald’s grave are not encouraged.
I had no idea where the grave actually was, so I roamed the cemetery for about an hour looking for it. Finally I came across one of the gardeners there and asked him, he said he wasn’t supposed to tell people but helpfully pointed me in the general direction. The grave is just a simple marble stone that has the words Oswald engraved upon it, not Lee Harvey Oswald which was done to avoid encouraging sight seers. But even here the conspiracy continues, for rumors that the man buried beneath wasn’t in fact Lee Harvey Oswald led to the body being exhumed for verification in 1981. Before I left, I purchased some flowers from the shop in the Rosehill cemetery administration building. I wrote on the attached card, “the conspiracy lives on” and placed them on lee Harvey Oswald’s grave. For even more then forty years later the conspiracy is still being maintained. And as time passes there are less people alive that know the truth surrounding the Kennedy assassination, but undoubtedly someone does. By now it was almost 4 pm in the afternoon. I drove back into Dallas to drop off the rental car. On the way I made a one more stop, at Parkland Memorial Hospital on 5201 Harry Hines blvd. this is where the president was taken after the assassination and declared dead at 1.00 pm November 22nd 1963.
It was also where one of the attending surgeons declared he had been shot in the head from the front, contradicting the assertion that Oswald was a lone assassin, as the shots from the book depository would have come from the rear. The final destination on the trail ,was Dallas love field, the airport I was leaving from. This was where Lyndon B Johnson was sworn in as acting president after Kennedy’s death. It was also where president Kennedy arrived on November 22nd1963 to attend a business function that he would never get to , and from where his dead body was flown out on Air Force one a few hours later.
The Assasination Of John F. Kennedy – Wikipedia
November The 22nd 1963 – J.F.K Library
The Kennedy Assassination – J McAdams
The JFK Assassination In Color – Youtube
Who Killed JFK – The Week
Who Killed President Kennedy – 22 November 1963