A Historical Day Off

by Jessica on March 24, 2011

The Texas Book Depository and Sixth Floor Museum

Saturday was my day off, which means my sainted parents willingly and happily took a carload of boys to their house, so that my husband and I could enjoy some grownup pursuits. With the whole day spread out like a blank canvas before me, I had breakfast with some friends, got a haircut, and took a heavenly nap. With the rest of the day, I decided that Gary and I should go to the Sixth Floor JFK Museum in downtown Dallas.

My husband delighted in teasing me that my choice proves once and for all that I am history nerd. I think it is actually more of a testament to my dogged desire to see new places. In thirty-something years of living near the Sixth Floor Museum, I had never visited, so it seemed like a logical choice. I was especially looking forward to the luxury of languishing over the exhibits, without needing to worry about policing any kiddie behavior issues.

The President’s motorcade turned the corner on this street when shots were fired from the window in the upper right.

The exhibit is a series of photographs and video presentations housed inside the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository building, where Lee Harvey Oswald fired at President Kennedy. The opening photographs and accompanying music do a terrific job of transporting your thoughts back to the 1960s. It was a Dickens of a decade, having both the best and worst of times that our country had ever experienced.

The Kennedy Memorial

The storyboards recreate the election of John F. Kennedy, his early days in the White House, and the politics surrounding his trip to Texas. At the mid way point in the presentation, a video shows JFK and Mrs. Kennedy arriving at Love Field and climbing aboard the open limousine that will carry them into downtown Dallas. I could feel a catch in my throat, as I watched the last moments before the shooting, and anticipated the terrible ending to the story.

The Kennedy Memorial with Reunion Tower in the background

The story continues with the conviction and death of Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as some discussion about the variety of conspiracy theories that surrounded the shooting. A stirring tribute to Kennedy and his legacy closes out the moving and fascinating retelling of a most troublesome story.

The Infamous ‘Grassy Knoll’ is pictured over my left shoulder

 As we exited, I stopped to sign the guestbook and took a few moments to read the comments from others. The poignant comments of travelers from far and wide summed up the museum in far better words than I ever could. So I simply wrote “Thank you for creating an heirloom for future generations.”

Know Before You Go:

  • Lines at the elevator can be expected on weekends and holidays.
  • Photographs are not allowed inside the exhibit.
  • Using the audio guide, the tour will take between 60-90 minutes.
  • The exhibit is appropriate for children ages 6 and up, but will be most appreciated by ages 13 +
  • A cellphone guided tour of the outside area connected to JFK can be purchased at the ticket counter and is well worth the $2.50
  • You can spend an entirely historical day in this area of downtown Dallas.  The Dallas Holocaust Museum and Old City Hall museum are just across the street from the Sixth Street Museum.  

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