Dallas honors assassin’s second victim, policeman J. D. Tippit

November 21, 2012

Forty-nine years.

That’s how long it took people in Dallas to get around to erecting a memorial for police officer J. D. Tippit, killed in the line of duty on November 22, 1963.

07-27-2011 Colo Bend to 6th Floor, Pentax K-10 158 - 10th & Patton in Oak Cliff, where J. D. Tippitt died

Residential street in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas, Texas, where police officer J. D. Tippit died on November 22, 1963; photo from July 27, 2011.  Officer Tippit was discovered about the location of the Crime Watch sign.

For the first 20 years, most people probably thought the idea too raw, to mark the place where Officer Tippit died.  More recently people complained that there was no other memorial to Tippit, whose actions may well have smoked out the assassin of President John F. Kennedy that day.

With pressure from the Dallas Police Department, and assists from the Dallas Independent School District, the marker was installed on school property at the intersection, across the street from the spot where Tippit was shot.

Tippit died near the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Street, in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas across the Trinity River from downtown.

Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit's patrol car, on E. 10th St, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963

Wikipedia caption to Warren Commission photo: Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit’s patrol car, on E. 10th St, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963 – now via Mary Farrell Foundation.

Dallas ISD’s Adamson High School is about two blocks away, to the northwest; the campus has been expanded to come within a block of the site.  The marker sits next to tennis courts recently installed by the district, in a small park cut out from the athletic complex.  Dallas ISD acquired many of the residences in the area.  Renovations in the past two years included closing part of 10th Street west of Patton.

A brighter though still-somber mood pervaded the marker’s dedication on November 20, 2012.  About 200 people gathered for the ceremony, including a lot of police officers and school officials.

Roy Appleton described it at a blog of the Dallas Morning News:

Brad Watson, a reporter for WFAA-TV, Channel 8, questioned the lack of recognition for Tippit in a broadcast two years ago. Michael Amonett, then president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, took up the cause, with help from Farris Rookstool III, a Kennedy assassination historian.

The school district provided the land. And the Texas Historical Foundation donated $5,000 to the project.

The crowd of about 200 people Tuesday included Tippit’s widow Marie; his children, Allan, Brenda and Curtis Tippit; his sister Joyce DeBord; other family members; and police officers past and present.

Standing and sitting under a cloudless sky, they watched members of the Adamson ROTC present the colors, heard the Dallas police choir sing God Bless America and listened while speakers praised the slain officer and his family.

Watson covered the ceremony for his station.  The ceremony might be noted for its lack of higher dignitaries; it was a working cop’s ceremony, with Dallas Police Chief David Brown being the top rank present.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 013  Marie Tippit answers questions, dedication of marker to her late husband, J. D. Tippit - photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Marie Tippit, officer Tippit’s widow, answered questions from a reporter Tuesday at the dedication of the marker to her husband. Photos by Ed Darrell except where noted.

2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in Dallas.  Proponents wanted to get the tribute to Officer Tippit installed in time for the anniversary year.  Particularly with the aid of scholars at the 6th Floor Museum, tourists and historians have been retracing routes taken that day 50 years ago, the parade route of President Kennedy from Love Field, with the emergency reroute to Parkland, and the route Oswald is thought to have used to flee after the shooting, from the Texas School Book Depository, through the bus station, across the Trinity River to his boarding house in Oak Cliff, and from there to the Texas Theater where he was captured.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 017 plaque honoring J. D. Tippit, photo by Ed Darrell

Plaque from the Texas Historical Commission explaining the history of the spot in Oak Cliff where Officer Tippit confronted suspected assassin Lee Oswald.

Particular striking in this history is the role played by ordinary citizens — Officer Tippit on his rounds, witnesses in the surrounding homes and the people who used Tippit’s radio to notify Dallas Police of Tippit’s shooting (in an era before cell phones, and probably before most local phone lines even had Touch Tone™ dialing), the alert salesman at the now-defunct Hardy’s shoe store, and the ticket seller at the Texas Theater who phoned police after Oswald stiffed the theater on a ticket price.

2012-11-20 Home and Tippitt Memorial 036 Street sign at 10th and Patton, site of confrontation between Lee Oswald and Officer Tippit - photo by Ed Darrell

Even the street signs and stop signs have been updated at 10th and Patton, the site of the new historical marker.

Hardy’s Shoe Store was a Quinceanera dress shop in 2011 and may have gone through other incarnations since 1963.   Assassination histories note that students playing hooky from W. H. Adamson or Sunset High Schools were in the Texas Theater when Oswald was arrested, though most of them ran out to avoid being questioned by police and outed for having skipped school.  Adamson’s campus is greatly expanded recently.

But for the intervention of ordinary citizens along the path, it is entirely conceivable that the assassin of the president of the United States might have gone undetected long enough to dispose of evidence that linked him to the crime, or escaped from the country.

My students over the past five years, all residents of Oak Cliff, knew very little about the Kennedy assassination, nor especially the links to Oak Cliff.  We need to do a better job as parents, teachers, newspapers, broadcast organizations, community associations and municipal government, in preserving and commemorating our local histories.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 019 Marie Tippit next to the memorial plaque to her husband, Officer J. D. Tippit

Marie Tippit standing next to the historical marker for her husband, J. D. Tippit, at the marker’s dedication, November 20, 2012.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 030 crowd devoid of dignitaries - Brad Watson at right

Other than the police chief and a couple of Dallas ISD board members, the crowd was pleasantly devoid of dignitaries; it’s a monument to a working man doing his job. WFAA Channel 8 reporter Brad Watson is the tallest man on the right; his reports several months ago spurred the action to carve out the memorial site from Dallas ISD-acquired land, greatly boosting the work to get a marker put up.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 037 Dallas Police cruiser 2012, at site of 1963 shooting - photo by Ed Darrell

History of technology: Compare this photograph of two Dallas police with the photo of Officer Tippit’s car earlier in this post. This squad car comes equipped with full-time dash-mounted cameras, instant radio and computer links; police also carry their own personal communication devices, such as the pink smartphone being used to photograph another officer. The car itself carries the phone number for emergency calls, and some carry the URL of the Dallas Police website. The traditional lights atop the car in Dallas have been updated to LEDs, which did not exist in 1963. How many other significant changes in technology can be found in these photos?

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 039 10th St at Patton, Oak Cliff, Texas, at Tippit ceremony 11-20-2012 - photo by Ed Darrell

Dallas school district construction changed much of the neighborhood over the past five years; note the absence of trees shading the street that were present in 1963; they may have been elms struck down by blight decades ago.  Compare this photo with the first photo in this post, taken about 16 months earlier.

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6th Floor Museum, Dallas — go see it

November 23, 2011

The 6th Floor Museum in Dallas presents in-depth studies of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963.

There’s a lot more to such a study than you might think.  It’s a relatively quick tour — you can view the museum’s displays and films in about two hours, comfortably, stopping to read exhibit cards and really analyze objects on display.  A couple of the films present a great deal of history quickly and well (Walter Cronkite narrates one).

One cannot avoid a great deal of history of the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War, and the start of the Vietnam conflict.  Kennedy’s administration covered only three years, but a very active and important three years in the 20th century.

Increasingly the 6th Floor Museum is a stop for researchers and scholars.  The recent addition of a good reading room for scholars is a great asset.

Curator Gary Mack offers a quick introduction in this video:

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Plan to spend three or four hours.  You’ll find the place very interesting.  After the museum, most likely you’ll want to spend some time exploring Dealey Plaza, the road where Kennedy’s car was when he was shot, and the famous grassy knoll.  It’s a part of downtown that is almost always filled with people in daylight in all but the absolute worst weather.  (Check out the EarthCam at Dealey Plaza.)

Old Red, the old Dallas County Courthouse, with its own museum, is just a half block away.


Teaching with original documents, at the 6th Floor Museum

July 29, 2011

6th Floor Museum Seminar - teachers in the Dallas Police Station, at Oswald's interrogation room

Teachers inspect the Dallas Police station, where accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was held. The door at left opens on the room where Oswald was interrogated by police. Panorama photo by Ed Darrell, use encouraged, with attribution; click for larger version

It’s been a good week of finding sources, for history issues across the spectrum, not just about the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

Certainly one of the highlights was a bus tour that carried us from Dallas’s Love Field airport, along the route of Kennedy’s motorcade, to Parkland Hospital, and then through Oak Cliff along the route accused assassin Lee Oswald is believed to have traveled after the assassination to his capture at the much restored Texas Theatre on Jefferson Boulevard.

In the photo above we discuss the actions of Dallas Police after Oswald’s capture.  This room is in the old homicide division of the old Dallas Police Station, a building still in use for municipal offices and being renovated after the police department moved to a newer building a few years ago.  The door at the left leads to the room where Oswald was questioned about his actions and his knowledge of the day’s events.

Oswald's interrogation room in the old Dallas Police Department - photo by Ed Darrell, 6th Floor Museum teachers seminar

Cops and their desks departed years ago, but Oswald's interrogation room holds a fascinating, film noir atmosphere; view from inside the room, as teachers discuss events of November 22, 1963, in the larger office outside. Photo by Ed Darrell; click for larger view


Last photos of President McKinley — who are those people?

July 25, 2010

Chamblee 54 carried this photo of President McKinley, the “last portrait” before his assassination the following day (there were other, later photos, but no later portraits).  The picture was taken on the afternoon of September 5, 1901, in Buffalo, New York.

The photo comes from the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress.  It was taken by Francis Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952).

I am curious:  Who are the other people in the photo, especially that tall guy?

Last portrait of President William McKinley

Last portrait of President William McKinley

To the left of the photo, the fellow peeking out from between the dignified-looking woman and the guy with the really droopy, white walrus moustache, is the president of the Buffalo Exposition, John Milburn.  Who is the woman?  Who is the guy with the white moustache?  Is there any chance the guy with the dark moustache to the right could be McKinley’s vice president, Theodore Roosevelt?  (We should be able to figure out where Roosevelt was that day.)  More likely, he’s George B. Cortelyou, later the first Secretary of Commerce and Labor.

People in the picture are:  Left to right: Mrs. John Miller Horton, Chairwoman of the Entertainment Committee of the Woman’s Board of Managers; John G. Milburn; Senor Asperoz, the Mexican Ambassador; the President; George B. Courtelyou, the President’s secretary; Col. John H. Bingham of the Government Board.

More, including a larger version of the photo, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Does this photograph show Teddy Roosevelt at Lincoln’s funeral procession?

February 22, 2010

1865 - Lincoln's funeral procession; Passing the (Cornelius) Roosevelt Mansion, sw corner 14th Street, Broadway, view looking North on Broadway

1865 – Lincoln’s funeral procession; Passing the (Cornelius) Roosevelt Mansion, sw corner 14th Street, Broadway, view looking North on Broadway – Flickr image from Stratis

See the house on the corner, at the left?  Look at the second story, at the window on the side of the house facing the camera.  Is that young Theodore Roosevelt watching Lincoln’s funeral procession?

Stratis, who posted this photo at Flickr, added the note at that window:

6 year old, Theodore Roosevelt watches Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession from an upstairs window of his grandfather, Cornelius Roosevelt’s mansion on Union Square with his younger brother Elliott and a friend.  Teddy lived at 28 East 20th Street.

Is that accurate?  Is that his grandfather’s house?  I assume that it is not 28 East 20th Street, which is where he was born and the house of his father.

A timeline of TR’s life said he watched the passing funeral entourage:

  • 1865  –  Watches Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession from an upstairs window of his grandfather’s house on Union Square, New York City. With him are his younger brother Elliott and a friend named Edith Kermit Carow.

Interesting intersection of history.  This would probably be the only meeting of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, though Teddy almost certainly knew Lincoln’s sole surviving son, Robert, pretty well.  Both were in Buffalo when William McKinley was assassinated; Robert Lincoln, having lived through his father’s assassination, and then been present at the assassinations of James Garfield and McKinley, declined an invitation to Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1905, not wishing to extend one of the oddest bad luck streaks ever imaginable.

Can you add details about the photo?

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Death of President William McKinley, September 14, 1901

September 15, 2009

On the Threshold, illustration from Harpers Weekly, September 14, 1901

"On the Threshold," illustration from Harper's Weekly, September 14, 1901

Teachers should be mining the “On This Day” feature at the New York Times, which usually features an historic cartoon or illustration from an antique Harper’s Weekly.  It is a favorite feature, to me.

Yesterday, it featured the illustration from Harper’s upon the death of President William McKinley, on September 14, 1901.

At the Threshold

Artist: William Allen Rogers

his post-dated cartoon was published as President William McKinley lay dying from an assassin’s bullet.  He had been shot on September 6, 1901, by anarchist Leon Czolgosz (pronounced chol-gosh) at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.  The president died on September 14.  Here, McKinley is led to the Hall of Martyrs by grief-stricken personifications of the North and South.  Between pillars topped by busts of the two previously slain presidents, Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield, the angel of death prepares to place a laurel wreath of honor upon McKinley’s head.  (Images related to Garfield’s assassination also showed a reconciled North and South.)

There is much more at the Times site.

Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, was present when McKinley was shot.  Accounts I have read but not confirmed say that Robert Lincoln had been invited to attend Ford’s Theatre with his father and mother, the night his father was shot.  As a member of President James Garfield’s cabinet, Robert Lincoln had been awaiting Garfield’s arrival at Union Station in Washington, D.C., when Garfield was shot.

And as a visitor in Buffalo, Robert Lincoln had as a matter of respect lined up to shake President William McKinley’s hand.

Astounding if true.  Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated.  Robert Lincoln was present for two of them, and close to the first assassination.  Where can we confirm or deny that story?

McKinley’s death catapulted the do-gooder, Theodore Roosevelt, into the presidency, probably to the great chagrin of corrupt Republican politicians who had hoped that by getting him nominated to the vice presidency they could get him out of New York politics.

The rest is history.


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