Kennedy assassination still fascinates

Terrace lawyer visits historic locations in Dallas, Texas

By Ken Anderson

My companions and I hurry down Commerce Street, the wind surprisingly cold for a Canadian expecting warmer weather in Dallas, even in November.

My two women companions are American, but I’m guiding them. I’ve been here before and I know where I’m going.

We reach Houston Street, turn right, cross Main Street and then, like President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade had done 50 years before, turn left at Elm.

We skirt the Texas School Book Depository on our right and join a larger group near the railroad tracks behind it.

Our group works its way through Dealey Plaza, author and tour guide Larry Hancock – bundled in jacket, gloves, and balaclava, the front of it pulled below his chin so he could speak – providing running commentary as to the physical features before us and their relevance as to what happened here five decades before.

The experience now nearly overwhelms. The railroad yard, the Grassy Knoll and picket fence, the Triple Overpass, the concrete pedestal where Abraham Zapruder stood and filmed the horrifying spectacle of President Kennedy’s killing, the concrete manhole cover which was hit by a stray bullet that day, the newly paved over section of Elm Street where the fatal shot occurred.

My mind churns – listening, striving for understanding, storing, observing, emoting. The icy wind is relentless. There is little time for reflection. That will come later.

We board a bus and continue the tour to the rooming house where Lee Harvey Oswald lived part-time in November 1963.

Patricia Hall, the granddaughter of the woman who owned it then, shows us through, including the almost cupboard sized sleeping room of Oswald’s – his bed and shelving unit still there 50 years along.

She says when she was 11, she witnessed Oswald deal with her two squabbling brothers. “He sat them down on the porch and sat between them and said, ‘I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me. You are brothers and you have to look out for each other, you have to love each other and never do anything that would harm another human being.”

One of our tour guides, a retired police officer, says, “Does that sound like someone who would shoot the President?”

A couple of days earlier at the Adolphus Hotel, I saw James Tague, a tall, heavy set Texan, signing books. I didn’t wait to talk to him. I now wish I had. He died a few months ago.

Tague was the third person injured by the gunfire which erupted in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.

It was the fact of Tague’s wounding which forced the Warren Commission to come up with the so called “magic bullet” theory to attempt to explain how Oswald allegedly fired three shots – one of which missed its intended target and wounded Tague – and yet caused three wounds to Kennedy (shoulder blade, throat, head) and four wounds to Texas Governor John Connally (back, chest, wrist and thigh). Connally was a passenger in Kennedy’s vehicle.

Sherry Fiester, a retired forensics expert, says the Warren Commission is wrong and that the fatal shot came from the front, not the back.

Her book, “Enemy of the Truth – Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination” looks at the wounds Kennedy and Connally sustained.

It’s a book of ballistics and bullet trajectories, blood spatter, and the knowledge of what happens when a projectile pierces a skull. Perhaps surprisingly, she rules out the shot coming from the Grassy Knoll.

She autographed my copy of her book, “To Ken. Hope this helps with your search for the truth. Sherry.”

Before I start my long trip home, I walk near my sister’s home in the rugged hills on the outskirts of Dallas.

The sun flames as it dips below the horizon, a huge orange and red ball. It closes, in my thinking, in true Texas style, at least this chapter in my search for that truth.

Ken Anderson practises law in Terrace, B.C. He’s been in Dallas several times, including 2013, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.