This post is going to be dated November 23rd 2013, but that’s cuz WordPress is messed up. It’s 7pm on the 22nd of November 2013 as I type this up. Most of the following I scribbled into a yellow legal pad around lunch time, so you could say they’re the thoughts I had about John F Kennedy’s assassination EXACTLY fifty years later… give or take.
This morning a friend shared this story with me. Fifty years ago she was an elementary student. Like many Americans who are over around fifty-five years of age, she remembers where she was and what she was doing that fateful day. After lunch she remembers returning to class with the other students and waiting for their teacher, who entered the room crying and the children asked why. Her teacher told them the president was dead. So they started crying too. They gathered around their teacher and consoled her. My friend pointed out they were too young to really understand the ramifications of that event in that instant. They just knew their teacher was unhappy, so they were too, but what struck me about my friend’s story was that when she told it, it made her happy, not because Kennedy was gone, but because that galvanizing moment is like a time machine for her now. The mention of JFK’s assassination can bring my friend back to that time in that class room. She just thinks about it, and is transported in her mind back to a simpler time in a special emotional moment where she is surrounded by friends, and showing love and gratitude to a mentor. I know I didn’t do this story justice, but when she told it her eyes were sparkling and she was looking past me and the others in the room. She was seeing in her mind’s eye that classroom and those tear streaked faces, as if she were there now. This is a bittersweet memory she has carried with her for five centuries now, and she can share this with others who share an interest in that moment of time, like a gift of thought.
I was an egg in my mother’s ovaries when JFK was assassinated. There were several eggs ahead of me in line and I had to wait my turn before I traveled down the fallopian tube. I wasn’t even sperm yet. I would not become a fetus until after LBJ left office. My sisters were alive, but they were babies, so whatever they were doing.. I don’t recall us kids ever talking about it. I have never known a world in which John Fitzgerald Kennedy was alive. To me he’s always been one of the dead presidents. My parents probably told us kids elaborate stories about where they were when they got the news and what they were doing, but I can’t remember now what those stories were aside from, evidently speaking, forgettable. Neither of my parents lived to see the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. That’s okay. I lived through it, and I could tell them they didn’t miss much. The traffic sucked on November 22nd 2013. I asked a friend to drive me to work cuz I didn’t trust mass transit today. We planned a course to avoid the detours. I read about five thousand people with tickets getting to go down to Dealey Plaza today, and a bunch of people who wanted to attend but were told not to attend because their conspiratorial theories about what happened fifty years ago tends to annoy or creep out The Normals.
By the way, Fuck The Normals, have I said that recently? If you’re a Normal, fuck you. I’m glad I got that off my chest. It rained off and on all day today, and it was cold. A jarring contrast to the sunny and cheerful day of November 22nd 1963.
Though I’ve lived in Texas most of my life, I moved to Dallas in the 1990s; Oak Cliff to be precise, and at the risk of giving away on the web where I live a bit more precisely than I find comfortable most of the time, there is a bus route I take most work days which closely follows the route Lee Harvey Oswald must have taken from his home off Berkeley Street near Zang Boulevard to downtown. I pass by that house almost every day. About a year ago, a for sale sign was erected on that spot, and a few months ago another sign was put there offering tours into the boarding house where Lee Harvey Oswald was staying.
According to the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald went with his friend Frazier to Irving the night before the assassination. Lee told Frazier he needed to pick up “curtain rods.” The next morning he returned to Dallas with Frazier and they went to work. Where did he work? The Texas School Book Depository, which still stands today and has been converted into a museum. Now, do you believe that? I don’t. It’s the Warren Commission. All the best JFK conspiracy theories dismiss the Warren Commission.
Based on eyewitness testimony and multiple sources of information as well as just the stuff of legend, as I understand it, Lee Harvey Oswald got on a bus similar to one I ride several times a week. He held a long bag in one hand. When someone asked him what it was, he said it was curtain rods. He traveled from his home off Beckeley and Zang in Oak Cliff to Dealey Plaza on a bus, holding what many believe to be the gun which was later used to shoot president Kennedy. No one knows if that’s the truth. Some people believe LHO did it. Others believe he was set up. Some believe he was really carrying curtain rods. Some believe he was really carrying a sniper rifle. Perhaps still other people don’t believe he took a bus that day, but I can attest its a very long walk from his house to Dealey Plaza. I’d never walk it. I’d take the bus.
When I first started using public transportation here in Dallas, I felt there must be something significant in the fact Dallas Area Rapid Transit has designated this bus route with the number one. Apparently that’s just a coincidence. I can’t find any evidence to support my theory that DART named this bus route “The One” because it’s the one Lee Harvey Oswald used on November 22nd 1963 to go kill John F Kennedy. Especially since not everyone believes he used the bus that day. My version of this story reads better when I say he took the bus. How dare reality get in the way of a good story?
And of course I’m well aware I’m not supposed to assume LHO killed JFK. There’s simply not enough evidence to believe it, even though that’s what a cold sober look at the evidence suggests, avoiding the endless unproved conspiracy theories that trip millions of people.
Based on what we do know, LHO certainly could have acted alone. He also could have had help, although obviously not enough help cuz he got caught, unless of course that’s what his “help” had in mind all along.
Multiple formal investigations over the decades have concluded that Oswald was sympathetic to communist causes, and even spent some time in the Soviet Union, though under less than ideal circumstances. There is circumstantial evidence suggesting he attempted and failed to assassinate retired General Edwin Walker just six months prior to JFK’s death. This could have been fabricated to make Oswald look more guilty, but that’s a far fetched idea even by JFK conspiracy standards.
Reading biographies about Oswald, one gets the idea that he aspired to be seen by others as someone greater than he really was, without really putting the necessary effort into it. He seemed to be a jack of many trades but a master of nothing. His sniper skills as a former marine were below average by military standards, but that still puts him at higher than the average person for that time. Some people described him as charming and friendly, but others found him to be arrogant, and even prone to a violent temper. Heck, we all have mood swings don’t we? ANSWER ME!!!!! Friends of his Russian bride wanted her to leave him because they didn’t think he was good for her, but she stayed with him until after his death, although by 1963 she stayed with him from a safe distance in another city.
Some think he could have been working for the Russians. Others think he was a mercenary for the mob. Others think he acted mostly alone, but could have had some support from others. If so, it was probably not monetary. He did after all have to use the bus to get around or bum rides from friends. I have to do that and I assure you I’m not spying for anyone. If I were, I’d demand to get paid more. And that boarding house on the corner of Berkeley and Zang is no ritzy hotel, even fifty years later.
About a month before JFK’s death, Oswald was seen in Mexico, trying to get permission to move to Cuba but he was turned down. He was offering to help the communists and they essentially refused his help. Essentially it came down to this: with a friend like Oswald, who needs an enemy? Lee simply didn’t believe in America. He tried, but the American military found him to be the wrong stuff. He could see that the facade of happiness wasn’t for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for him, because everything he did was below average and no one praised him for that. No one acknowledged him as better than he was, because he wasn’t better than he was. He didn’t deserve to be a hero, but he wanted someone to see him as one, without having to really put the effort into it. He idealized Russia until he spent some time there and realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but CUBA! Now THAT woulda been a party place for a young aspiring Communist, huh? Sadly, it was not meant to be, and upon his return from Mexico, “O. H. Lee” found himself on Berkeley and Zang in Dallas Texas, occasionally visiting his wife who was staying in Irving. Why? Well, young love is rocky, isn’t it? Early in November the FBI went to visit Lee’s wife. Why is kinda sketchy, and Lee got upset about that. He reportedly went to the FBI offices and threatened to retaliate if people kept bothering his wife.
Now, Oswald had gotten a job at the Texas School Book Depository, but presumably that was before newspapers began reporting JFK’s arrival in Dallas and that his motorcade would just happen to pass right by Lee’s new place of employment. Was this intentional? Depends on which conspiracy theory you subscribe to believing. Oswald couldn’t keep a steady job. It’s just as possible this was sheer luck. That whole day coulda been just sheer luck, both good and bad. Or maybe he went to Mexico to get secret intel and orders from communists to kill the president, and all this talk after the fact of the Soviet Union not wanting anything to do with Oswald is just the disavowal thing that is done regarding spies when they’re caught. Oswald could have secretly been better than James Bond but he was really good at pretending to be below average.
Perhaps the real reason why, fifty years later, so many people still insist there was a conspiracy behind the JFK assassination is because we don’t want to believe such a beloved leader could be taken down by one individual so limited in resources, he had to resort to public transportation. We don’t want to believe that one man’s actions could override the electoral college. It had to have been a conspiracy involving thousands maybe millions of shady characters behind the scenes. Mysterious people with near omnipotent power that we couldn’t possibly have been prepared for because they were just too cunning. The Mafia. Cuba. The Illuminati. The Soviets. Hitler’s Brain. LBJ’s golfing buddies. Somebody. It couldn’t possibly have been just one man, acting alone. It couldn’t be one stupid fuck with a bus pass.
Well. I am one stupid fuck with a bus pass. I don’t have any “curtain rods” at the moment, but I know how to get them. With some practice, maybe even I could hit a moving target from hundreds of feet away. I’d rather not, but I have no motive. I don’t have a Russian bride that the FBI is bugging all the time. If I had a reason, maybe I could pull it off, however I have no evidence to support this feeling. In fact, objectively speaking I’m a lazy fuck, so I really have difficulty imagining that I could do what Lee did, but surely there are other people on the bus I share every day who are more than capable of violence than me. I have confidence one of them could do it. I’ve walked the streets Lee Harvey Oswald walked. I’ve breathed the same air. There is nothing special about these streets. There is nothing special about this air. It did not take super villains to take down a living legend. The King of Camelot was felled by a disturbed peasant.
I have looked at the conspiracy theories, and when I use the same discerning skeptical eye I now use on everything, the JFK conspiracy theories become as silly as beliefs in fairies, or bigfoot, or martians, or gods. However, we DO have evidence that it’s possible for one stupid fuck with a bus pass to do some pretty crazy shit. We have the Oklahoma City bombing for example. Or Virginia Tech. Or Sandy Hook. Columbine. The list goes on, and it’s a terrible list. One man, maybe two people, and a lot of bloodshed, usually followed by the gunman’s suicide or being taken out by law enforcement. Why anyone would think this path is favorable is beyond me, but sometimes rats walk towards the cat instead of running away. Sometimes panda bears don’t mate even though it means the end of their species.
Sometimes lions rough house, and one lion accidentally punctures the other in the throat suffocating them. Fifty years after JFK, a lion just accidentally did that to another lion right here in Dallas, at the local zoo. Maybe he meant to hurt her. Maybe he didn’t. We may never know. She’s dead now though, and apparently the lion isn’t being prosecuted for it, but maybe there’s a Jack Ruby Rhino in the wings, waiting to steal the limelight.
Shit happens. We can’t always prepare for it. We can’t always prevent it. We can’t always know. It’s hard to believe. We don’t want this to be true. However, fifty years later, The Lone Gunman Theory is still the most plausible explanation.
One man. One gun. No conspiracy.
Just a stupid fuck with a bus pass.
Crazy. I know.