Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
When I was a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on. Encyclopedias and history books were my favorite collections, because it was all real. Someone lived it, did it, or learned about it - and then they wrote about it. That was better than anything anyone did on a prairie, as far as I was concerned.
My grandparents had a great collection of historical books, and when I would stay overnight, one of my favorite things to do was to pull out their books on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. They had two big coffee table books that detailed every minute of the fateful trip to Dallas, with full page photos, both professional and amateur, and some of the most iconic images of current history. And on my latest trip to Dallas, I got the chance to finally see everything for myself, and put concrete to the photos that had been cemented in my mind.
Getting to Dealey Plaza isn't the easiest thing, because traffic in Dallas is notoriously bad, and maybe it's just me, but I never get through Dallas without getting lost at least once. I would highly recommend getting a GPS unit if you're driving a rental car.
Driving down Houston Street toward Elm Street in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, the Sixth Floor Museum is unassuming, sitting on the right side of the road and looking very much like any of a hundred buildings in any of a hundred downtowns throughout the U.S. Pay your $5.00 for your parking spot, and you can head into history.
After buying your admission ticket, you head toward the elevator, where you pick up your audio tour headphones. It takes about 90 minutes to tour the museum with the audio tour playing, so plan for the time if you want to listen. I found that I preferred to walk the museum and read the associated stories rather than listen to the tour because I am so familiar with the story, people, and timeline. Nothing, however, can replace seeing the corner of the warehouse where the infamous window sits, and where you can yourself look out a window near there, and see the street, the grassy knoll, and the path President Kennedy took into immortality.
Also, check out the cell phone tour of Dealey Plaza itself. It's a great, self-paced way to learn the history of November 22, 1963, and put yourself into the first-person view of history.
Whether or not you're a history buff, Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum are well worth the trip into Historic Dallas. It was one of my most impactful trips this year.