DALLAS (AP) - The symbols are simple yet haunting: a pair of X’s painted in the middle of Elm Street, marking each spot where a bullet struck the handsome young president, bringing a crashing halt to Camelot and leaving many to wonder if Big D would forever be stained.
Then along came “America’s Team,” led by the father-figure coach in a fedora and the clean-cut quarterback who served in the Navy, teaming up to win a pair of championships and give Dallas a reason to feel proud about itself again.
That lasted for a while, until the scheming oil tycoons and big-haired women of “Dallas” hit the airwaves, leaving us to ponder such probing questions as, “Who shot J.R.?”
These are the images of Dallas, the Super Bowl city that has been shaped for the rest of the nation _ and the world _ largely by the three T’s: tragedy, triumph and television.
DEATH OF A PRESIDENT:
On Nov. 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy visited Dallas to do some fundraising for his expected re-election campaign and to shore up a rift in the Democratic Party caused largely by his push on policies such as civil rights in the still-segregated South.
Thousands jammed the downtown streets to get a glimpse of the dashing Kennedy and the elegant first lady, Jacqueline. At Kennedy’s request, a protective bubble was taken off the limousine so those along the well-publicized motorcade route could get a better look at their leader.
Bill Lively was among them.
“I knew it was important to go see any president of the United States,” said Lively, who heads the local Super Bowl committee and was a student at Southern Methodist that fateful day. “As a young man, I did not know all that he stood for. But I knew he was a young, dynamic, charismatic president. I was intrigued by him.”
Lively had already headed back to school when the car rolled slowly into Dealey Plaza and made a left turn onto Elm Street. Up above, Lee Harvey Oswald lurked on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, perched at a window that gave him a clean shot at the motorcade. Authorities say he got off three rounds, two of them striking the president. The second killed Kennedy, his body slumping over against his frantic wife.
The news reached Lively back on his college campus. As a member of school band, he was summoned to play taps at a local elementary school. That evening, he drove home _ right through Dealey Plaza.
“There was no yellow tape, no crime scene. It was a different time,” Lively recalled. “It’s a day I won’t ever forget.”
The sixth and seventh floors of the old school book building are now a museum, chronicling Kennedy’s presidency, his assassination, his legacy and the still-debated issue of whether Oswald was the lone gunman or even if was involved in the assassination at all.
On most any day, so-called “conspiracy theorists” can be found in Dealey Plaza, doling out literature that insists Kennedy was killed by a Communist plot or as part of a coup within his own government. But perhaps the most striking part of the museum is the glassed-off spot where the rifle was apparently fired, which reveals just how close Oswald would have been to the president’s open car moving slowly below.