Yesterday on July 4th, my parents and I went to downtown (or was it uptown? who knows, I definitely don’t) Dallas. We only hit two places on my list, but one of them was the most important one- the Sixth Floor Museum.
This is the building that Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from. The name comes from the fact that Oswald was standing on the sixth floor. It used to belong to a textbook company, but after the assassination, they moved out and nobody else really wanted to rent it (understandably, I wouldn’t either). It was about to be torn down when people decided to make it a museum- I feel like this is the how the origin story of most museums go.
You’re not allowed to take pictures on the sixth floor, so I did a lot of scribbling in my notebook instead. Here’s what I wrote down. It’s probably way more information than most people want to know, but including it in a post validates in my brain my decision to copy it all down. If you’re like, “I don’t care about this,” skip down for french fries and books.
- For the first time in American history, nearly half the population was under the age of 25. (that’s crazy)
- The campaign was long and arduous. In some towns only a few people greeted the energetic Democratic candidate. (imagine how painful that must have felt- to put so much excitement and energy into something and for almost nobody to care)
- won by less than 120,000 votes out of a total of 69 million (this is me walking around in his skin again: he barely won. If I had won by that small of a margin, I would’ve felt very insecure in my abilities)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, the nation’s oldest president, relinquished the office to John Kennedy, the youngest ever elected. (I always love the symmetry when things like this happen)
- Unaware that anything had happened, crowds on the other side of the triple underpass waited to wave at the president. (I can’t articulate why, but I find this sentence to be so sad.)
The next few were said by JFK himself.
- The pay is good and I can walk to work. (about the presidency)
- I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. (at a dinner for Nobel Prize Winners)
- I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it. (when the presence of his wife was more celebrated than his)
- Mrs. Kennedy is organizing herself, it takes longer, but of course she looks better than we do when she does it. (when asked about his absent wife)
- But Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it? (the morning of his death, said according to his biography written by his assistant and aide)
And finally, how the world reacted.
- Major networks lost up to 40 million dollars from canceled commercials. (This sentence stuck out to me because in a time where everbody’s like “all companies and businesses care about is money”- for example, people finding reassurance that Marvel can’t kill over half of their characters because that would be throwing away millions of dollars, those newspapers and stations were not like that at all. They were willing to lose all that commercial money for the ability to communicate something they thought was really important.)
- only time Associated Press silenced their teletype machines
- improptu torchlight parade of 60,000 people in West Berlin
- Panama Canal closed
- Greek police stopped traffic
- Manhatten cab drviers got out to bow their heads as Taps played
- Big Ben tolled every minute of an hour
- Picadily Circus dimmed their lights- an honor reserved for monarchs
- Cambodia had a three day moratorium on attacks against the US
- more than a thousand people all over London caught buses or tube train, took taxis, drove or walked to the American Embassy…they had to do something
- a Japanese family walked 18 miles to the American Embassy
- 3000 Kenyan natives bowed heads to mourn a “Great Chief”
The last part is what hit home for me. I had no idea that regular people around the world were so impacted and grieved by JFK’s assassination. I had no idea that they cared at all. For more, here’s a whole post written about this.
About the name of the bookstore (this is copy and pasted from their website): “The name of the store, Interabang Books, comes from an old printmaker’s term. The interabang is a punctuation mark that combines a question mark and an exclamation point in a single symbol.”
TELL ME THAT ISN’T THE COOLEST THING EVER.
The interbang is offically my favorite symbol.
Sidenote: Nancy Perot owns this bookstore- AKA Perot as in the Perot Museum, which is the big science museum in Dallas that I, along with hundreds of past and future students, have and will have gone to as a school field trip.
If right now you’re like, ‘who in the world is Perot?’ the first thing I want to say is that it’s pronounced Peroe- the ‘t’ is silent. Second of all, here’s what I think are the three most relevant things about Ross Perot. Well, actually, the third one is not really important.
1) He is a billionaire.
2) He ran against Bill Clinton in 1996. Spoiler: he lost. But from what I can tell, he did very well for someone who ran as a third party.
3) His last name is everywhere around where I live. Just kidding, that’s a huge exaggeration. The main way his last name shows up in my life is when it’s connected to the museum, but there’s also a building named Perot at this hospital I drive by.
Another sidenote: After looking on the Perot website, I found out that the museum was founded from a big chunk of money that the five Perot siblings gave, not their parents like I always thought. That’s pretty neat- power siblings!
I wandered around the bookstore for about thirty minutes and lingered around the table of notebooks for a good part of that time (there were Leuchtturms! and Blackwings!), but I didn’t end up buying anything. I did see some cool things though:
– book cover enamel pins (I LOVE these)
– this puzzle
– a table croquet set (hahaha, this is hilarious)
What did you do for July 4th? And nope, I did not watch fireworks. I actually don’t like them very much. I’ve never thought they were that pretty or cool or interesting.
Do you have a favorite symbol?
Have you been to an independent bookstore lately? If so, tell me, and I’ll try to visit it some day! I love bookstores in general, but independent ones are even better.