What I most wanted from the old textbook depository in Dallas was to stand where Lee Harvey Oswald had stood. Not that I could ever see things through his eyes. But I wanted to see what he saw.
But the window and the boxes where he propped his rifle were encased in a plexiglass barricade, and I had to be satisfied seeing Dealey Plaza from an adjacent window. An X is painted on the street below at the spot where John F. Kennedy's open car was passing when Oswald shot and killed the president.
Since the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza opened in the old Texas Schoolbook Depository in 1989, 6 million people have visited it. I imagine that that spot before the window was the one spot where every one of those people wanted to stand. The floor is the original floor from 1901, and had to be protected, said Deborah Marine, spokeswoman for the museum. And there is the matter of the boxes, positioned to match police photographs taken immediately after the shooting. Unprotected, they would have been moved by visitors, she said.
''We do have a bank of windows adjacent where people can get a very good sense of the scene,'' she said.
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True. But those windows lack the symbolism of the one that now stands behind plexiglass, and I have to wonder if protecting that symbolism and its power wasn't also a factor.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza houses more than 22,000 documents, photos, videos and artifacts related to the shooting and the investigations that followed. In the next week, the museum will launch a redesigned website (www.jfk.org) making many of those materials -- including the Zapruder film -- available online for the first time.
This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.