Did He Have A Plan?
The death of an elderly person, sometimes with a big part or, in other cases, a tenuous or arcane link to history.
The occasional auction of an item, no matter how insignificant, that played a role on a day when the fates changed and we'd never be the same.
So it goes with the Kennedy assassination, an event who's major players have all but pretty much left us. We who remain are left to bid on the artifacts and wonder what really happened.
The latest bit of minutae put up for bid is the Dallas Checker cab that Lee Harvey Oswald rode in minutes after shooting President Kennedy to death from his sixth-floor perch in his workplace, the Texas School Book Depository. It went for $35,000 at a weekend auction and will be put on display at a museum just south of the state line at a museum near Rockford, Illinois. The same bidder also bought the ambulance that took the mortally wounded Oswald from the basement of the Dallas City Jail to Parkland Hospital two days after the JFK murder. The owner has a thing about that day, kinda like me. I like to talk about it. He likes to buy stuff.
My option is cheaper.
That said, the cab purchase brings to mind a couple of issues from the day Kennedy died. The taxi driver, William Whaley, is a bit of a cult figure among conspiracy buffs who are eager to point out how he "mysteriously" died two years after the assassination in a head-on car crash. How, they ask, could a veteran behind the wheel such as Whaley die in, of all things, a car crash? What secrets did he take to the grave, they wonder? Whaley is often listed among the 200 or so people who the grassy knoll types say died prematurely, suggesting that some mysterious force somewhere wanted all of these people out of the way before they could tell and, according to their take, spill the beans about the conspiracy that took out the president.
Suffice it to say Oswald didn't give Whaley a cab-side confession.
While I remain convinced that Oswald pulled the trigger that day, I'm fascinated by the fact that he had no apparent escape plan. There's no doubt Oswald went home the night before the assassination to pick up his mail-order rifle. It's obvious he took the disassembled weapon to work the following morning, the same weapon police would find near the sniper's nest after the Kennedy murder. Oswald had no escape plan after dropping the rifle between rows of boxes and heading downstairs in the seconds that followed. He wandered out of the warehouse undeterred, hopping aboard a city bus that was hopelessly stuck in traffic before opting for Whaley's taxi. Even then, when a woman stuck her head in the window after Oswald had gotten in, he was gracious enough to offer her the cab.
Not the actions of a man on the lamb, do ya think?
Oswald would complete his trip with Whaley, pick up a pistol at his boarding house, and bumble his way into the fatal shooting of a Dallas police officer and then his arrest in a movie theater. Oswald would be dead two days later, and he would take his secrets to the grave.
There is much we don't know about the sniper: his motives, the voices in his head that compelled him to do what he did. We know virtually everything about his life, yet giant holes remain between his ears.
The odd death, the occasional auction bring all those questions back to life more than four and a half decades later. The artifacts change hands and become tourist attractions.
There's no bidding your way to the answers.