And so my JFK Project tour begins next week. I will start hunting down the people, places and things associated with the Kennedy assassination. I have been doing this locally for the last year, but now it is time to venture outside the Lone Star State (see Death by Holga Road Trip before Thanksgiving).
I have been planning for months the best way to travel the United States in search of long lost and forgotten history from the Kennedy assassination. I have scratched out several flight logs and even started a spreadsheet with times slated for arrival, airport, flight, rental car, driving, hunting, photographing, documenting and returning again.
The biggest problem, other than money, is the travel itself. Most of my destinations are short hops around the country, which requires a round trip flight and a rental car. Unfortunately, all of the stops on my tour are too far to drive in a week. America is really a big place when considering the driving distances between major cities.
Time is not on my side. I need to photograph my subjects by this summer to produce a book for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. And I still need to work my day job.
Where to Begin
Next week I am pulling a double. My family was already planning a vacation to Washington, D.C. for spring break. There I will be visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, the National Archives, the Capitol Building and many more locations (see Washington, D.C. Trip Planning).
In addition to visiting Washington, D.C., I am going to Kansas City for the day. I have booked the red-eye flight out of Dallas Love Field to Kansas City International Airport. I hope to find the grave of legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite. Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, removed his glasses, glanced at the clock and told the nation that President Kennedy had died.
Like I said, time is not on my side and I don’t know how much time it will take to fly to Kansas City, rent a car, find the grave of Cronkite and return home. I have a very liberal schedule that will give me about eight hours in Kansas City. I just hope I am not stuck in an airport reading my Kindle waiting on a return flight.
Other Short Trips
After Kansas City, my next day trip will be St. Louis. I won’t say who I’m hunting at that location until I have found my target. It’s best to keep that information in my photography vest pocket. Let’s just say the Pope will be happy.
There is one short car trip I can take to Camden, Arkansas. There I will find the grave of Dallas Police Officer Maurice N. McDonald. Officer McDonald arrested Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Theater. It is about a 8 hour round trip by car, which makes for a really long day, but well worth it. Who knows, I might just stop in Hope to visit President Clinton’s childhood home again.
My last short trip will be to Tampa, Florida. There I will find Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman. Agent Kellerman was in the front seat of the presidential limo with Kennedy.
The Long Haul
I want to get my short trips out of the way to clear my path for the really long trip that I will take this summer. My stops are as follows:
- Chicago, IL for Jack Ruby, Klein’s Sporting Goods and Lee Harvey Oswald’s original grave marker
- Dearborn, MI for President Kennedy’s limo at The Ford Museum
- Dayton, OH for Kennedy’s Air Force One at the National Museum of the USAF
- Waynesville, TN for Secret Service Agent William Greer, presidential limo driver
These four stops will probably take me the better part of a week. I’ll probably have to take in some unnecessary sight-seeing as I kill time between flights. I plan on linking each destination to the next so that I don’t waste time returning home after each trip. This will save me flight expense, but also cost me a hotel stay.
If I can fit it into my schedule and budget, I would love to add any of the following:
- Grand Rapids, MI for President Ford, member of the Warren Commission
- New Orleans, LA for Jim Garrison, Clay Shaw and other Oswald related haunts
Symbolism is Everything
In my own special way, I am trying to be symbolic whenever possible. For example, I have an Imperial Reflex camera that I bought off eBay. This is the same model camera Marina Oswald used to photograph Lee Harvey Oswald with the rifle and revolver at their Neely home. I plan on using it to photograph the house again.
With the same sentiment, I have decided all my flights should be out of Dallas Love Field, the place where Kennedy landed, the motorcade started and President Johnson was sworn-in by Judge Sarah Hughes. Flying out of Dallas Love Field means I will be taking Southwest Airlines all over the country.
I have also decided to use Hertz Rent-a-Car for each of my stops. I even signed up for a free year of Hertz Gold Rewards Plus, so that I can minimize time waiting in line. I’m using Hertz because at the time of Kennedy’s assassination there was a Hertz sign on top of the Texas School Book Depository. The billboard was also a clock and most historic photographs will show the time at 12:30 p.m. on the button.
I’m not quite sure who I’ll be using for hotel stays. I am considering Hilton Hotels & Resorts, because the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, the last place Kennedy stayed before the assassination, is now the Fort Worth Hilton.
I would love for Southwest, Hertz and Hilton to all pitch-in and help with my project. Or maybe Amazon.com can foot the whole bill, since I hope they will sell my book. If you know anyone who could help, please let me know.
That’s all my travel plans in a nutshell. I have never travel so much in all my life. I hope my quest is a success. I’ll keep you informed. Cheers.