If you haven’t attended any of the Living History Series programs at The Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza, then you’ve been missing out. For the past few years, and especially leading up to the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, The Sixth Floor Museum has consistently out done themselves at each event. And the program later today is no exception.
Today’s Living History Series program at 2 p.m. features Buell Frazier, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository and acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald. Frazier lived down the street from Ruth Paine, who was providing a home to Marina Oswald and children. Marina and Lee were separated at the time, but Lee would still spend weekends at the Paine house in Irving. Since Lee did not drive or own a car, he rode with Frazier on Friday evenings and Monday mornings.
On Thursday, November 21, 1963, Oswald rode with Frazier to the Paine house. His visit was a surprise to Marina, who testified that Lee asked her to reconcile with him. She turned him down. The next morning, Friday, November 22, 1963, Oswald rode to work with Frazier. Oswald had a long, brown-paper package. Oswald said it was curtain rods for his room at his boarding house in Oak Cliff.
I am very much looking forward to meeting Buell Frazier. I am sure he has some insights into the character and behavior of Oswald.
I am fortunate to be a reporter and photographer. This gets me into a lot of interesting events and I get to meet a lot of famous people. But in the case of the Living History Series at The Sixth Floor Museum, I have met some very historic people.
My most recent brush with history was meeting Major William F. Lee (May 11, 2013), who was part of President Kennedy’s Death Watch. Major Lee was one of several officers who stood watch over the president’s coffin at both the White House and U.S. Capitol. As an added bonus, I also met Lt. Donald Sawtelle at the same event. He was one of the enlisted men standing watch.
Last November, the museum presented a panel discussion, “Oswald Has Been Shot!” – Memories from November 24, 1963 (November 10, 2012). The panel included Gary DeLaune, Bob Huffaker, Robert Jackson, Det. James Leavelle and Fred Rheinstein. The panel was moderated by WFAA news anchor Gloria Campos. I have had the pleasure to meet photographer Jackson and Det. Leavelle on several occasions. Det. Leavelle was handcuffed to Oswald when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters. Jackson won the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph that made Det. Leavelle the most famous Texas lawman.
The most entertaining event was A Conversation and Book Signing with Chris Matthews (May 29, 2012). The event was moderated by KERA reporter Lee Cullum. Matthews has just written Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Matthews was very affable and his book had great insights to the Kennedy political machine. Of all the book signing lines, his may have taken the longest. Matthews personally talked with almost everyone at the event.
I have met Secret Service Agent Clint Hill twice, the last time at a discussion and book signing for Mrs. Kennedy and Me (April 19, 2012). Of all the historic figures who come to The Sixth Floor Museum, Agent Hill seems like the most reluctant. Agent Hill was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent and is seen in the Zapruder film climbing on the back of the presidential limo. As with all Secret Service agents on the Kennedy detail, Hill is still holding on to the pain of that day in Dallas and the fond memories of the First Lady.
The biggest Living History Series event was A Conversation with Stephen King (November 10, 2011). The event was so big that it was held at the Majestic Theater and moderated by KERA reporter Lee Cullum. Fortunately for me, King did a press conference prior to the program. I got to ask one of my favorite authors questions about his book, 11.22.63: A Novel, and the Kennedy assassination.
Living History Series
My intention for this post was not to brag about who I have met, but to encourage you to meet these historic people. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, and most of the key players have passed or are about to pass. I sincerely hope that Det. Leavelle and photographer Robert Jackson are with us for a long time to come. But the reality is that they will not.
Looking forward, there are several interesting Living History Series programs on the horizon. I am especially excited to see Parkland Hospital – Trauma Room One Reunion featuring Dr. Ronald C. Jones and Dr. Robert N. McClelland on September 24.
Living History Schedule
- July 13 at 2 p.m. – Buell Wesley Frazier, who drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work on November 22, 1963
- August 24 at 2 p.m. – Dr. Thomas McConnell, medical officer of the day on November 22, 1963
- September 13 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Walter Mears, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter
- September 24 at 7 p.m. – Parkland Hospital – Trauma Room One Reunion
- October 12 at 2 p.m. – Ferd Kaufman, Associated Press photographer
- November 9 at 2 p.m. – Bill and Gayle Newman, closest witnesses to the Kennedy assassination
- December 6 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Kari-Mette Pigmans, Pan Am stewardess aboard White House press plane
And if that isn’t enough, keep in mind that The Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in early 2014.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to view a larger image. All images were taken by Mr. Holga unless otherwise noted.