A thoughtful time at JFK bar in Dallas on assassination anniversary

Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:06pm EST
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By Jon Herskovitz

DALLAS (Reuters) - Over chardonnay and bourbon, patrons in plush leather chairs at the Kennedy Room in Dallas talked on Friday of conspiracy theories and of a city repairing its reputation to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Many seeking to remember the occasion had sought out the JFK-themed bar, where a picture of the president and his wife hangs among shelves of liquor and a mantel above a fireplace holds volumes of books on his presidency.

Earlier in the day, Dallas, which had shunned official memorial of the November 22, 1963 assassination, held its first official commemoration - a decision widely praised among the dozen happy hour patrons at the wood-paneled bar.

"The legacy of the assassination has tied us to the event and it has also made Dallas a better place," said Michelle Newsome, an executive suites saleswoman at a local sports venue.

Dallas was a pariah city after the assassination in its Dealey Plaza but has since become a place of remembrance for the 1,000 days of the Kennedy presidency, a period described as a "Camelot" of youthful idealism.

"A new era dawned and another waned a half century ago when hope and hatred collided right here in Dallas," the city's mayor, Mike Rawlings said, at the memorial.

The Sixth Floor Museum, which focuses on the assassination and Kennedy's presidency, has become one of the city's largest tourist attractions.

"Honestly, there is nothing to celebrate about the anniversary," bartender Natchely Bosadas said as she poured happy hour drinks to contemplative patrons.   Continued...

Dallas police officer John La Pietra stands in the middle of Elm Street where President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963 as La Pietra and the crowd listen during ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Kennedy in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, November 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg