Thanksgiving Day Tangent


Since it’s presumably a slow news day, I thought I’d step back and look at the Kennedy assassination…last weekend was the 46th anniversary of the tragedy…andregardless of what some thought, I hope people consider it a tragedy…anyway, I’m curious as to opinions…

I was born just over a year and a half after Dallas, which makes me middle aged but not in the picture re: where I was when I heard. Growing up, it seemed JFK was revered as a martyr (though at my tender age, I didn’t know WHY, just that he was the young, not-Nixon president who’d lost his life); I very distinctly recall some of the hullabaloo afterGeraldo Rivera aired the Zapruder film (and in my own zeal to grow up, it made me a then-believer in a conspiracy), I also remember the JFK-legacy fall from grace, if I remember right, first with revelations fromJudith Exner; other “scandals” included his concealing of awful health and — gasp — in light of Watergate, an Oval Office taping system of his own (as to the former, sometimes I wonder if some of the philandering was at least slightly exaggerated–better thought of as a letch than a sickly weakling.)

Anyway, just to digress even more, it was on a diversion to Dealey Plaza on a trip out west that I began to doubt assassination conspiracy theories: Dealey Plaza is TINY. To be honest, I’m surprised it took Oswald three shots…maybe that’s what it means when they say he was a terrible shooter.

But I wonder what others think–is the JFK legacy and/or the assassination even relevant today? The 46th anniversary had a certain tragic roundness to it, being as Kennedy was 46 years old, but aside from a show or two on cable, I really didn’t see much attention paid to it or, more importantly, to the legacy of his policies, aside from a brief mention that his Medicare bill went to Congress on November 21st (if I remember right.) I expect that in four years the half century milestone will generate some interest…until then there’s the sideline interest of the Kennedy era coinciding with the pop culture hitMad Men — and, full disclosure, I got hooked to the show this season and am looking forward to watching at least some episodes from the previous seasons during the holiday. Indeed, watching any JFK assassination special these days, especially the footage from Texas, is a little weird (I’ve seen the Zapruder film quite enough, thanks but no thanks); however, other film or television clips, aside from being either super saturated or in alien black and white, are a kind of warped Mad Men, at least stylistically…Mad Men meets, if notDueling Banjos, Waylon Jennings.

Well, I’ve gone on pretty long, but I hope nobody minds. Look forward to reading any reactions in comments, and otherwise, have a pleasant Thanksgiving. I’m about to head down to New (S)Iberia…the turkey’s waiting, I’m supplying the chicken and sausage gumbo.

7 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Day Tangent

  1. There should be a sign in Dealey Plaza. “Yes, it IS very tiny.” That’s probably the first reaction everyone has. I actually never went there until about 10 years ago. (I can’t stand Dallas, though Ft Worth is sort of cool).
    I was in first grade, so I remember it well, the whole long week in front of the television, seeing Oswald shot, all of it. We went over to friends of my parents house to watch the funeral. It was like Thanksgiving or Christmas, not because it was happy but because everything stopped and people gathered. Carolyn Kennedy is the same age as I am so all those sad shots of the kids during the funeral just went straight into my brain pan.
    It was also the beginnings of my awareness of the outside hatred of all things Texan, which would of course, grow and was mixed up with LBJ. Ironic because it was also my first real awareness, extended thought, of being from Texas and I didn’t completely understand the vitriol, and it was weird we weren’t supposed to be proud there was a Texan president. There was also at that time in my family’s life, a lot of fundamentalist church-going, which they later quit because the hellfire and damnation freaked me and even my older sister out so much. I mean, I was obsessed (at SIX) with the end of the world. So throw in the amplified guilt of being the people that killed the president and it was a real head trip for a little kid.
    When the news of Robert Kennedy’s assassination aired, I remember this clear as a bell: my mother’s first response was “Thank God it didn’t happen in Texas.”
    Oswald’s younger daughter was at UT when I was and lived in Austin later too. I never met her – that I know of – but knew quite a few people who knew her. People I knew felt protective of her. She looked like her father and all those years later, strangers still treated her as kind of a sideshow freak. She was a waitress or bartender at the Chili Parlor.
    I also knew a couple of people who grew up in Dallas and were, as kids, on the parade route that day. Needless to say, they had some complicated memories too.

  2. My husband’s family is from Dallas. My father-in-law told me once about his memory of the day of the Kennedy assassination.
    He went hunting outside of the city that day (didn’t end up shooting anything). When he was done, he put his rifle on the back seat of the car. It’s Texas, right? People put guns on their back seats. He started driving back, and heard on the radio about the shooting. He was stunned, as I’m sure everyone was that day. He was still outside of Dallas at this point. He thought of the rifle on the back seat, and the fact that he’d be driving through the heart of Dallas to get back home. He pulled off onto a small dirt road and ditched his gun, and he’s never fired a rifle since then.

  3. I was sixteen when Kennedy was assassinated–and living on a military base, so, at the time, in that culture, one simply couldn’t conceive of the possibility that the circumstances of his death were in any way different than the government described them–the act of a lone, crazed assassin with sympathies for Castro.
    After Vietnam, after the Church and Pike committee hearings, it was not so difficult to imagine that almost anything is possible, inside and outside the government, if the means are available and the will to do them exists.
    Kennedy’s death–and the inability to definitively determine the truth about it even forty-six years later–ought to serve as a reminder that we do not live in a republic. We now live in a national security state that has its own rules, and its own secrets.

  4. It’s really simple. He pissed off The Mob and The Mob had him killed. No big conspiracy, no wheels within wheels or any crap like that, a simple mystery with a simple solution.
    It always makes me laugh when people dismiss so-called ‘conpsiracy’ theories by saying that conspiracies require thousands of people acting 100% in sync with each other, quite a silly observation if you ask me.
    All a successful ‘conspiracy’ takes is for 1-2 people to act and for thousands of people to do absolutely NOTHING.

  5. There are lots of conspiracies; the problem most people have with most “conspiracy theories” is that most of the really implausible ones basicallydo require complex planning and thousands of people to stay silent about them. Which is whysane people don’t believe in them. The existence of “conspiracy theories” doesn’t at all negate the existence of actual conspiracies, however.

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