Friday, June 30, 2006


You can't see the same line of sight down Elm Street today as Lee Harvey Oswald saw 43 years ago. For one thing, the trees have begun to overgrow the road—not completely, as all three lanes are still visible in part, but enough that imagining the motorcade from up on the 6th Floor Museum is difficult.

Oswald's spot is at the corner of the building, which has been recreated behind sheets of Plexiglas with period-correct boxes. The rest of the museum tells the story of John F. Kennedy and of his assassination. One of the difficulties for the curators of the 6th Floor Museum is that no one knows exactly how those boxes were arranged, as the police photo-ops after the assassination all showed the boxes in different configurations. This provides even more fodder for the conspracists who stand on the street below, newspaper clips at the ready, ready to charge you to hear their theories.

On the street itself, in the second lane, are two white Xs. These are the two spots where Kennedy was shot, though everyone is quick to point out that they are "approximate." I suppose this means that the actual location might be a foot or two in either direction, which is close enough for me.

I spend a lot of time in the shade of the WPA shelter on the grassy knoll, watching the traffic pass. Something unusual happens when cars reach those Xs: they move out of the way. Of every hundred cars, maybe five treat Elm like any other road and move straight over the assassination spot. Most merge into other lanes for a moment; some skirt the edge of the middle lane, tires on one dashed line.

Whether this is respect for the dead or driver's instinct, I can't say.

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