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Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Assassination Hot Spots


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Wes Wise Tour of Dallas – Warts and All –

JFKCountercoup2: Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Hot Spots

The Assassins Tour of Dallas

On November 22, 1963 Dallas TV and radio news reporter Wes Wise waited in vain for President John F. Kennedy to arrive at the Dallas Trade Mart. There was to be a luncheon with special guests, where gifts would be given to the Kennedys for them and their children, but Kennedy never made lunch, having been ambushed and gunned down in Dealey Plaza.

Two days later Wes Wise was assigned to film the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transferred to the Dallas County jail, just across the street from where Kennedy was murdered. But Oswald too, was a no show. Jack Ruby shot and killed him in the basement garage of Dallas City Hall.

Thwarted on two assignments during the most excruciating weekend in his life, Wise kept an interest in the case from the time he was pounding the streets as a beat reporters through his promotion to TV anchor and later as mayor of Dallas. And he’s still on the beat, videotape recording oral histories of assassination witnesses for the Dallas County Historical Society, which now has offices in the former Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), the alleged assassin’s lair.

The day after the assassination Wise was assigned to trace Oswald’s movements from the TSBD to the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff where he was captured. It was an assignment he is still, in a sense, pursing. Of all the reporters in Dallas who covered the assassination, it was Wes Wise who set of a small spark on the fuse of a time bomb that’s yet to explode – the evidential outcome of one reporter’s small but significant clue to the crime of the century. A clue that is still being run down nearly 30, now fifty years later.

I first read about Wes Wise in the published reports of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). It was listed under the heading “Oswald-Tippit Associates,” and labeled “The Wise Allegation,’ although Wes Wise never made any allegations. He just followed his reporter’s instincts, which led him into a labyrinth of intrigue involving a fleeing suspect and a ’57 Plymouth. Wise either came up with a fantastic coincidence, or a clue that could lead to the unraveling of the conspiracy and the eventual solving of the crime.

So when I was in Dallas I called Wes Wise on the telephone and took him up on his offer to give me a tour of the town.

We began at the once and forever Texas School Book Depository, which now houses the Sixth Floor Museum that overlooks Dealey Plaza, the scene of the crime.

THE TEXASSCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY – DEALEYPLAZA

People come here from all over the world to see the place where John F. Kennedy was murdered. At any time of the day or night you will find people walking around, pointing up to the sixth floor corner window of the TSBD and walking behind the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll. It is a daily ritual that is acted out over and over, every day and every night.

People realize that something significant happened here, and Dealey Plaza acts as a vortex of our political and social culture, drawing pilgrims to the place where it happened. Dealey Plaza is an American political Mecca. Some pull a plank off the wooden picket fence – a relic to take home with them.

“It’s the number one tourist attraction in Dallas, and may be the most popular in Texas, as I don’t think the Alamo even surpasses it as far as public interest,” says Wise, as we sit in his car on Elm Street, sort of a dead end alley that runs in front of the TSBD. An historical marker on the side of the building tells the story. You can see the scar on the bronze plaque where it was amended, on a more recent date, to qualify Lee Harvey Oswald as the “alleged” assassin. Things just don’t seem as definitive as they once did.

“I remember Eddie Barker, the KLRD (now KDFW) news director saying this corner will never be the same again,” reflects Wise, “and I kind of agree with him, but didn’t realize quite how much so.”

A hot dog vendor is set up next to the curb; a young man hawks a newspaper, “The Dealey Plaza Times,” catering to the tourists.

“The assassination of this man had such a tremendous impact on us,” Wise continues. “At the ten year mark people said that would be the end, and we could all forget about it. But here we are now, nearly 30 years later, and if anything, there is much more interest in all of this.”

The Sixth Floor exhibit, a multi-media museum, attracts bus loads of school children, and travelers can’t pass through downtown Dallas without paying a pit stop homage to Dealey Plaza.

Although it is controversial for not including conspiracy theories, and only parroting the official version of events, Wise says “The exhibit captures the impact the assassination had on us, as well as the Kennedy mystique, and much of that sort of history.”

The new generation just learning about the assassination of JFK might know the place, the time and the date – 12:30 pm, Friday, November 22, 1963, Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, but to really understand the significance of JFK’s murder you have to put it into an historical context. “I think the background of Dallas at the time is important, and the Sixth Floor exhibit is fair with it, although it doesn’t show Dallas, warts and all,” reflects Wise, who proceeds to drive east on Elm a few blocks before he pulls over to the corner of the Greyhound Bus station....

JFKCountercoup2: Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Hot Spots

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