Sunday, August 14, 2011

X Marks the Spot

About twenty years ago I took it upon myself to do some heavy lifting with regards to our family genealogy, renting microfiche files of all census data from 1790 to 1900 in the vicinity of our kin in Eastern Kentucky. I also located and obtained numerous official court documents including records or births, deaths and the like. In addition, I was able to acquire a number of marriage certificates, which can be helpful in identifying other relations in your family circle.

One such document was my great grandfather's marriage certificate. Since our kin on dad's side of the family were illiterate, it was interesting to read the signature on this document, an "X", and in parenthesis the printed words "his mark".

This week in Dallas I was listening to a man tell about his cataract surgery and he said that the doctor put an X just above his eyebrow to indicate which eye was going to be worked on that day.

The hotel I’d been staying at here in Dallas was the Hyatt Regency, bathed in elegant ritz and walking distance to Dealey Plaza, where John F. Kennedy’s caravan escorted him to his destiny with death. If you’ve never been here, and you saw the events on television that bleak week in November 1963, then rest assured this is a place that will make an impression on you.

The dense air was seething heat as I left the hotel in the early evening. Dallas had been under a spell of 40+ days with no relief from the 100+ degree weather. As I crossed an intersection to approach Dealey Plaza, a small concrete park with a statue commemorating Dallas newspaperman George Bannerman Dealey, I could see I was being eyeballed by a black man on the other side of a long pool. Clearly I was a mark, though I expected pan-handling and not the story he intended to share.

I missed his name when he introduced himself but he began by pointing out he meant no harm and that by avoiding him I missed the plaque with the Warren Commission statements printed on it declaring Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman in the JFK assassination. He pointed up to the sixth floor window in the Book Depository from whence Oswald had fired the shots that took the president’s life and wounded Governor Connally. We were now standing at the corner where the motorcade made its left turn that led to the president’s fatal rendezvous.

In the middle of the road there are two X marks painted in white, identifying the location of the president when each of the bullets struck him. This gets your attention right off.

I pointed to a large tree that would have somewhat blocked Lee Harvey Oswald's view if it had been standing there in 1963. My "guide" indicated that this tree would not have been blocking his view at that time. From a different angle (photo to right here above) I could see that the keep the top of the tree trimmed so it does not block the view from the window where Oswald had set up his firing station.

And then he said, "Let me show you something."

We walked down to a lamppost which was across from the grassy knoll. He pointed to a fence across the street atop the knoll. "Notice how there is a direct line from that corner there to this lamppost with the X precisely in the middle. That's where the second gunman was hidden. Did you know there was brain matter found on this lamppost here? Think about it." (In this picture, the second X is in the middle of the road between the lamppost and the fence where a second gunman purportedly took his aim.)

The scene makes an impression, and I took photos that I knew I would be sharing here.

Back at the hotel I asked someone about these ad hoc tour guides and was told, "They have most of it right."

But when I re-watched the Zapruder film, and looked at a number of other contradictory websites debating the matter, I did not see this particular lamppost anywhere in those pictures. There were lampposts across the street, but not the one that this fellow claimed had been hit by debris from JFK's head. I did, however, see a pretty wide range of explanations of what occurred, including one site suggesting Jacqueline Kennedy herself was the second gunman.

For conspiracy fans there's plenty here to chew on. I myself don't rightly know what to think, except it was clear to me that a U.S. president lost his life in Dallas that day. Two X marks on the road show where the he had been when the bullets struck him. November 22, 1963, was a very sad day.

Bottom right: photo from the grassy knoll.
Compare this last shot with the original Zapruder film.

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