Oswald’s Ghost appears in Texas Theatre, 44 years later

November 22, 2007

President John F. Kennedy died 44 years ago today. Five year anniversaries tend to get more attention.

High school U.S. history students have been alive less than half the time since the assassination. To them it is ancient history, even more than the Vietnam War. Teachers need to find ways to make the history stick even in years that are not multiples of 5.

President Kennedy greeting a crowd in Ft. Worth, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963

A new film offers some aid.Oswald’s Ghost” had it’s world premiere at the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff, the place where Lee Oswald was arrested. Restoration of the theater is not complete, but it is far enough along to host events.

The movie is in severely limited release prior to a January 14, 2008 premier on PBS stations. Director Robert Stone places the assassination in history and tells some of the effects on America, rather than dwelling on facts or controversies around the shooting. The movie got a good review from the Dallas Morning News:

“Nobody had stepped back and told the story of the debate itself,” he says.

“How did these ideas come about? Who propagated them and why were they so widely believed? And what had they done to this country? Seventy percent of Americans still believe the government was involved in the Kennedy assassination or has worked to cover it up. And that’s had a huge impact.”

In the end, a seemingly disparate chorus of voices – including the late Norman Mailer – accomplish the filmmaker’s objective.

As he says, Oswald’s Ghost is “a way of explaining the ’60s. We’re not arguing anymore about what happened in Dealey Plaza. It’s an argument about explaining what came after … and how did everything go so wrong.”

With luck, it will be on DVD for classroom use by early February.

Dallas’s PBS outlet, KERA, is showing another locally-produced film this week that I have found useful in the classroom, focusing on the news coverage that day, JFK: Breaking the News. For slightly more adult teachers, there is the fun of finding news people in their infant careers, people like Robert McNeil then of NBC, Peter Jennings, and then-local Dallas reporters Jim Lehrer and Dan Rather, and Fort Worth reporter Bob Schieffer. Few other one-day events have produced such a stable of news greats — the Kennedy assassination spurred the careers of more new people than any other event with the possible exception of World War II. Jane Pauley narrates the story.

The Baltimore Sun’s Frank James offers serious thought on the historical influence of the day in a blog post, “The Big ‘What If?‘”

There is a webcam view of Dealey Plaza from the Texas Book Depository Building — the cam claims to be from the 6th floor window from which Oswald shot, but it looks like the top of the building to me.

The Kennedy assassination kicked the wind out of America. In many ways it was the event that triggered 1968, perhaps the worst single year in American history.

44 years, and we still don’t know the full set of ramifications of the events of that day. Historians keep chipping away.


Grateful for heroes

November 22, 2007

As her physician I would have told her to stay down. As her parent, I don’t know what I would have done. As a bystander, after the fact, I can only admire the courage of this high school cross-country runner (from Fox News in Cleveland):

Claire [Markwardt] made it within forty feet of the finish line when her leg broke. She tried to get up, but it broke again.

“I knew I really couldn’t stay there and I didn’t wanna let my team down and I had gone that far, so there wasn’t really a point in laying there.” she said.

Amazingly, with a leg broken in several places, Claire crawled the rest of the way across the finish line. “It was my last race of my senior year and I didn’t know how my team was doing in the race, but I wanted us to be as high as we could.” she said.

Good write up about it at Education and Technology alerted me to the story. Surprisingly to me, Ray Ebersole writes:

When I was in my 20’s I was reading the print copy of SI, it was the only copy back then, when I read about a female high school track runner who broke her leg 100 yards from the finish of her race. She was the anchor for the 4×400 relay in a state meet and was leading by a lot when she broke her leg. Not wanting to let her teammates down she crawled to the finish line.

That high school girl inspired me to do a lot of things. She showed me what loyalty, courage and guts were all about. I never thought I would see anything like it again in my lifetime, but I see it everyday in the news.

Go see the examples he offers.

And be openly grateful we have such people among us.


Why creationists? Why Rachel Carson critics?

November 22, 2007

At least once a week I buy the New York Times. Tuesday’s edition carries the Science section. It’s better than a weekly science magazine.

And especially since the Dallas Morning News absent-mindedly closed down their award-winning science section and misplaced their award-winning science section editor, Tom Siegfried, the Times is even more important here in Dallas.

Last Tuesday’s main story explained a lot about some of the issues I write about here: Why do people deny obvious stuff — creationists, DDT nuts, history revisionists, Christian nationalists, and so on? Go check out “Denial Makes the World Go ‘Round.”

I’m sorta surprised the guys at denialism blog (“don’t mistake denialism for debate”) haven’t mentioned it.


Texas was thankful first

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving? Texas had it first. No kidding (unless you count the Vinlanders, who probably were grateful to be out of Greenland, but left no records that they ever actually had a feast to say so — but see the comments in the posts linked at various places).

Mrs. Bathtub is in the hospital. Nothing major, but it appears the staff who should have signed her out yesterday all headed off for Turkey Day and may not return until mid-December, so Mrs. Bathtub languishes at the expense of the insurance companies because security is tight and there are only enough sheets to get her down two stories, and she’s on the third floor (and the people-with-unknown-fathers at the hospital have sealed the door to the balcony anyway — that’s got to get you thinking). So Mr. Bathtub is frantically reading the back of the Libby’s Pumpkin can, and you can imagine what antics are up in the kitchen today. Blogging will be sparse.

So it’s reprise post stuff, mostly, today. If you need more, go here:

Google's Thanksgiving logo, 2007

Here’s the main reprise post, text below (there were some good comments last year); Margaritas and nachos do sound good, don’t they?
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Patricia Burroughs has the story — you New Englanders are way, way behind.

Palo Duro Canyon in a winter inversion

Palo Duro Canyon during inversion, Winter 2001, site in 1541 of the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States. Go here: www.visitamarillotx.com/Gallery/index3.html, and here: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/paloduro/

Update, 11/27/2006: Great post here, “Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving.”

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Resources for 2007:


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