50 Years to the Day
A fiftieth-anniversary observance of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was never supposed to happen in Dallas. The Kennedy family made clear that they wanted the date to receive no official recognition by the city. But the more than $3 million raised for “The 50th: Honoring the Memory of President John F. Kennedy” came from private financing, making the affair essentially something the people insisted on.
The homage will take place Friday in Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination, with performances by the 73-member United States Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough will read from the president’s speeches.
All 5,000 tickets have been issued, but live feeds will be broadcast at Victory Park, Annette Strauss Square, and J.F.K. Memorial Plaza. “This is very important—unbelievably important—as to our place on the world stage,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told the Dallas Morning News in March. “We can’t get out of our skis on this.”
Dealey Plaza, November 22, 11:45 a.m., 50thhonoringjohnfkennedy.com
President Kennedy’s assassination reverberated across the world. Peter Wood, a British adman based in Dallas, was a thirteen-year-old Roman Catholic schoolboy in Scotland when he heard the news. Many years later, a colleague showed Wood the text of the speech President Kennedy was to deliver the day he was killed, published in a collector’s edition commissioned by Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus. Wood teamed with Cliff Simms, a fellow British expatriate in Dallas, to deliver the speech not spoken, through photographs and video of Dallas residents reciting passages or holding up signs of phrases or single words.
The project consists of seven mini-movies stringing together 388 words of the 2,549-word speech. One of them is “Our Adversaries,” a segment featuring high school students inside Lee Harvey Oswald’s holding cell in the Dallas Municipal Building, voicing President Kennedy’s words about using military might for the preservation of freedom. All seven pieces, stitched together into a fifteen-minute work, will run on a loop Friday at a Deep Ellum gallery.
Continental Lofts Gallery, November 22, 6 p.m., unspokenspeech.org
Songs of Tragedy
Homer Henderson, an Austin one-man-band with deep Dallas roots, is among those who think Lee Harvey Oswald may not have done it. His 1985 song “Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine” portrays Oswald as the kind of guy you might go fishing with. Henderson will play it Saturday at Top Ten Records, at the record-release show for “Tragic Songs From the Grassy Knoll,” an album of sixteen country and blues odes to the slain president.
Watching Henderson, whose new album, “Used Without Permission,” includes songs he wrote with the author Nick Tosches, will be especially eerie given that Top Ten, a music shop in Oak Cliff, was the last place the Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit was seen before Oswald reportedly shot him. Audience members with a macabre sensibility can even touch the rotary phone Tippit used to try to make a call just before he was killed. It still sits on the counter.
Top Ten Records, November 23, 2 p.m., nortonrecords.com
Lee Harvey Oswald must have been a mess when he sneaked into a screening of War Is Hell at the Texas Theatre two hours after President Kennedy was shot. In that span, Oswald had allegedly killed two men—the president and Officer J.D. Tippit. He sought sanctuary in the dark theater, but failing to pay for a movie ticket exposed him to arrest.
The theater will replay that day, with matinee screenings of War Is Hell, a Korean War film with narration by the Texas war hero Audie Murphy, and Cry of Battle, which was also screened that afternoon. (In keeping with the theme, the theater will charge ninety cents admission to the matinee screening, the price of a ticket in 1963.) A theatrical re-creation of the Warren Commission’s interviews with theater employees will begin at 6:30 p.m., and then at 8 p.m., conspiracy will rear its ugly head again, with a screening of Oliver Stone’s JFK.
The Texas Theatre, November 22, 1:20 p.m., thetexastheatre.com
El Centro College’s exhibit “Jackie and Main Street” shows the influence of the woman behind the man, with displays of fashions that Jacqueline Kennedy made popular, supplied by Vintage Martini, a Dallas boutique that provides clothes to the television series Mad Men, which is set in the sixties.
El Centro College, November 22-December 13, elcentrocollege.edu
Just the Facts
On the JFK History Tour, guides lead a regularly scheduled two-hour show-and-tell that traces in sequence the events of Nov. 22-24, beginning with the president’s arrival at Dallas Love Field and ending with Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald.
Texas School Book Depository, November 22-23, jfkhistorytour.com