Touring the Most Infamous Site in America

By HOWARD BERGER

DALLAS (Nov. 26) – If the Leafs can beat the Dallas Stars tonight (8:40 p.m. EST face-off), they’ll be guaranteed at least a split of their four-game road trip that concludes on Sunday evening in Anaheim. Jonas Gustavsson starts in goal for the third time in the past four games; Leaf fans are hoping the club continues to make life easy for the Monster, who breezed through 7-1 shellackings of Washington and Tampa Bay earlier this week.

Leafs had their morning skate at the American Airlines Center today. Afterward, I drove about a mile east of the arena to Dealey Plaza, famed site of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I’m hoping that hockey – and history – buffs will enjoy these images:

LEAFS MORNING SKATE…

TWO VIEWS OF THE STUNNING AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM THE WEST-BOUND STEMMONS FREEWAY HERE IN DALLAS.

LEAFS WENT THROUGH THEIR USUAL DAY-OF-GAME ROUTINE (ABOVE) FOR ABOUT 45 MINUTES THIS MORNING, IN PREPARATION FOR TONIGHT’S MATCH WITH THE STARS.

I’LL HAVE TO ASK LEAFS ASSISTANT COACH ROB ZETTLER IF HE WAS ACTUALLY POSING FOR THIS PHOTO FROM CLEAR ACROSS THE ICE. SOMETHING TELLS ME HE WASN’T, DESPITE THE APPEARANCE.

THE HIGHEST SEATING LOCATION IN THE AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER IS IN SEC. 304 (ABOVE) – WAY UP IN THE CORNER BEHIND THE GOAL. BUT, THE VIEWING ANGLE IS RATHER EXTREME, SO IT PROBABLY RANKS AS A DECENT SPOT FROM WHICH TO SEE THE GAME. FANS CAN ALSO CHECK THE TIME WHILE ON THEIR WAY TO THE BATHROOM OR FOOD STANDS DOWN BELOW.

THIS ANGLE (ABOVE) WAS TAKEN FROM THE AREA BETWEEN THE HOME AND VISITING PLAYERS’ BENCHES. DIRECTLY BEHIND MY LOCATION (BELOW) IS THE CORRIDOR LEADING PAST THE DRESSING ROOM OF THE NBA-CHAMPION DALLAS MAVERICKS – CLOSED TO EVEN THE PLAYERS IN THE MIDST OF THE BASKETBALL LOCK-OUT. STILL WONDERING IF THE MAVS WILL BE ABLE TO DEFEND THEIR TITLE THIS SEASON.

FORWARD TIM CONNOLLY (ABOVE) TAPES AN INTERVIEW AFTER PRACTICE TODAY WITH LEAFS-TV GURU PAUL (THE POET) HENDRICK.

KENNEDY ASSASSINATION SITE…

Hard to believe it was 48 years ago Tuesday that American President John F. Kennedy was gunned down here in Dallas. The on-going debate over whether Lee Harvey Oswald actually killed the President (as alleged by the Warren Commission Report on the assassination) has kept alive the dubious moment from the time it occurred, just after 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963. I made a point of touring Dealey Plaza on my first-ever trip here with the Leafs in March 1995 and have rarely missed taking a stroll past the Kennedy site in my ensuing visits. As photos here indicate, people of all ages flock to the infamous location.

APART FROM SUCH OBVIOUS LANDMARKS AS THE U.S. CAPITOL IN WASHINGTON; THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING IN NEW YORK AND THE FAMED HOLLYWOOD SIGN ABOVE LOS ANGELES, THIS TINY, SEVEN-STOREY DWELLING IN SOUTHEAST DALLAS MAY BE THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE IN NORTH AMERICA… CERTAINLY AMONG U.S. HISTORY BUFFS, IT RANKS NO. 1. OSWALD WAS SAID TO HAVE SHOT KENNEDY FROM A PERCH IN THE FAR-RIGHT WINDOW OF THE 6th FLOOR (SECOND FROM TOP). KNOWN AS THE TEXAS SCHOOLBOOK DEPOSITORY IN 1963, IT HAS LONG-SINCE BEEN OWNED BY THE CITY OF DALLAS (BELOW). THERE IS A PUBLIC MUSEUM ON THE 6th FLOOR, INCLUDING AN EERIE RE-CONSTRUCTION OF THE KILLER’S “NEST” AT THE CORNER WINDOW.

TO THE LEFT OF THE FAMOUS BUILDING IS THE SO-CALLED “GRASSY KNOLL” (ABOVE), WHERE BY-STANDERS WATCHED THE FINAL PORTION OF THE KENNEDY MOTORCADE IN 1963, AS IT PROCEEDED DOWN ELM ST. TOWARD A TRIPLE-UNDERPASS LEADING TO THE STEMMONS FREEWAY. MANY STILL BELIEVE THE HEAD-SHOT THAT KILLED THE PRESIDENT WAS FIRED FROM SOMEWHERE BEHIND (OR TO THE IMMEDIATE LEFT) OF THE LARGE, WHITE FENCE IN THE BACK-DROP OF THE KNOLL.

ANY PERSON THAT HAS VIEWED THE INFAMOUS AND LEGENDARY FILM SHOT BY DALLAS BUSINESSMAN ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER ON NOV. 22, 1963 WILL RECOGNIZE THE ABOVE PHOTO-ANGLE OF ELM ST. AND BACK-DROP TO DEALEY PLAZA. KENNEDY WAS FATALLY WOUNDED IN VIRTUALLY THE EXACT SPOT WHERE THE BLACK CAR IS DRIVING PAST ON-LOOKERS. DIRECTLY BEHIND ME (BELOW), A MAN TAKES A PHOTO ATOP THE SAME CEMENT-PEDESTAL ON WHICH ZAPRUDER STOOD WHILE CAPTURING THE ONLY VISUAL EVIDENCE OF THE ASSASSINATION.

THE AFOREMENTIONED TRIPLE-UNDERPASS (ABOVE): ONE-WAY DRIVING ROUTES LEADING TO OR FROM (LEFT TO RIGHT) COMMERCE, MAIN AND ELM STREETS IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS. KENNEDY’S LIMOUSINE SPED THROUGH THE FAR-RIGHT OPENING (ELM ST.) AFTER HIS HEAD WAS BLOWN APART BY THE FATAL BULLET – THE MOTORCADE RACING ALONG THE STEMMONS FREEWAY TO PARKLAND HOSPITAL, WHERE JFK WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD 45 MINUTES LATER.

CONSPIRACY THEORISTS CONTINUE TO WONDER, INCREDULOUSLY, HOW OSWALD COULD HAVE FIRED THREE PRECISION SHOTS AT KENNEDY FROM ABOVE AND BEHIND THE PRESIDENTIAL MOTORCADE. AS YOU CAN SEE, THE SIXTH-FLOOR CORNER WINDOW (ABOVE) IS PARTIALLY OBSTRUCTED BY A TREE LINING ELM ST. I’M STANDING ALMOST EXACTLY WHERE THE FIRST SHOT WAS SAID TO HAVE HIT KENNEDY IN THE BACK; PASSED THROUGH THE FRONT OF HIS THROAT AND INTO THE TORSO, HAND AND THIGH OF TEXAS GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY – ALL WITHOUT PUTTING SO MUCH AS A DENT IN THE FAMED “PRISTINE” BULLET. YOU CAN ALSO SEE (BELOW) THAT THE CONSPIRACY FACTION HAS MADE CERTAIN TO CARVE A BARRIER AROUND THE WORD “ALLEGEDLY” ON A PLAQUE THAT IS LOCATED TO THE RIGHT OF THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE DALLAS COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING.

WHILE HEADING TOWARD THE STEMMONS FREEWAY EN ROUTE TO MY HOTEL (ABOVE), I DROVE THE SAME PATH DOWN ELM ST. AS KENNEDY’S MOTORCADE 48 YEARS AGO – THE GRASSY KNOLL TO MY RIGHT AND THE ELM PORTION OF THE TRIPLE-UNDERPASS STRAIGHT AHEAD (BELOW).

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