My Visit To Dealey Plaza

If you are of a certain age you know exactly where you were on November 22, 1963. In my case, I was in Mrs. Rimpson’s first grade class at what was then named Park Street School in Asheboro, North Carolina. I still vaguely remember the teachers leaving the classrooms to congregate in the hall to discuss something of importance. We later learned that President John Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.

I spent a good part of last week in Dallas attending the Dallas Safari Club Convention. Looking out from my hotel room I saw a plaza and a six story brick building about a block and a half away. Then it hit me that this was Dealey Plaza and the building was the Texas School Book Depository. Before I left on Sunday I took some time to walk around the plaza and take a few pictures.

Dealey Plaza has two colonnades which are bisected by Main Street. The left colonnade has a statue of George Dealey who was the publisher of the Dallas Morning News and for whom the plaza is named. The right colonnade shown below is dedicated to the late President Kennedy. You can see the American flag in the background which is perpetually at half staff.

The map displayed below shows the layout of Dealey Plaza. The Kennedy motorcade approached the plaza on Main Street and then took a right turn on to Houston Street. Then it took a final hard left turn on Elm Street on which the Book Depository fronts.

This is behind the colonnade looking across to Elm Street and the infamous “Grassy Knoll”. It is infamous as many witnesses said they heard gun shots coming from there.

This is the Texas School Book Depository. There is now a museum in it.

The sixth floor window from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot is the square window on the far right. Why Oswald didn’t take the shot as the car turned on to Elm from Houston when it was almost stopped will never be known.

One thing that strikes a visitor to the location is that the distances involved are much smaller than the impression given by the many TV shows and films on the assassination.

The is what was named the Dal-Tex Building. The name stood for Dallas Textiles as it held offices for many small clothing wholesalers and manufacturers. New owners now have renamed it to 501 Elm Place. This building has figured in a number conspiracy theories on the assassination as the location of an alternative sniper.

One of the best examinations of the assassination in my opinion from a shooter’s perspective is actually a novel. The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter features his sniper protagonist Bob Lee Swagger. He is asked by a widow to investigate it as her late husband was murdered while working on a book about the assassination.

I read the book when it came out and just re-read it after getting home from Dallas. Having actually visited Dealey Plaza and walked the plaza, this made parts of the book come alive. If you have any interest in the Kennedy Assassination I highly recommend it. You can find the Kindle version here. Note, I do earn a commission on it.

Raufuss Mk 211

I first learned about the Raufuss Mk 211 .50 BMG cartridge in Stephen Hunter’s Night of Thunder. The book starts out with Bob Lee Swagger’s daughter Nikki pondering the meaning of a scrap of paper with the markings “k 2:11”. She is 24 and a new crime reporter for the Bristol TN/VA Courier-Herald. She had stumbled across it while on a story about meth. Unfortunately, it marked her as an assassin’s target as she was thought to know too much.

Lawrence Person just did an interesting post about this round at his BattleSwarm blog. He has assembled a series of videos showing just what the Raufuss Mk 211 will do to cars, engine blocks, glass, and ballistic gelatin.

He notes:

What happens when this round reaches out and touches something?

Bad things for the recipient. Let’s take a look.

It is worth a look.

Interesting Article On The .38 Super +P

I have a thing for the .38 Super and I blame author Stephen Hunter. If I remember correctly, Hunter introduced the .38 Super in his novel “Black Light” as the weapon used in the murder of Bob Lee Swagger’s father Earl. Hunter also talks about it in an article he did for the American Rifleman back in 2010.

Peter Fountain has an article out published yesterday in the American Rifleman on the .38 Super +P and why it should be considered for use in carry guns. He reviews the ballistics of a number of factory rounds as well as reviews two very nice iterations of pistols chambered for the .38 Super +P.

If you like the .38 Super, are considering getting a pistol chambered in .38 Super, or just wonder what all the fuss is about, I’d suggest reading Fountain’s article.

Stephen Hunter’s Ode to the .38 Super

Stephen Hunter has just written what I would term an ode to the .38 Super cartridge. His novels featuring the Swaggers have, in their own way, helped to build the mystique of the round. Whether it was the father Earl carrying one in “Havana” or the son Bob Lee using it in “Days of Thunder”,  you knew that Hunter had a soft spot for it.

the .38 Super represented one allure of gun culture that only occasionally gets acknowledged, and yet one that is absolutely fascinating and all but impenetrable to those who don’t feel the pull. That is, it has charisma; it has personality, pizzazz, and vividness. It’s out of the ordinary, beloved by some, aggressively non-generic and it carries information with it. It says—and we love to say this—“I have thought hard about these issues and come to a logical conclusion and made these sound decisions. I am not passive; I am active in deciding about my own defense.”

So it was ideally suited to a novelist’s purposes; it’s what we call a resonant fact, and it’s why my characters never just carry “a gun” but instead have thought about, chosen and most importantly express themselves in their world by virtue of the gun and caliber they chose. Someone once said, “Beware the man who owns only one gun; he probably knows how to use it.” I would append to that: “Beware the man who carries a .38 Super; he knows what he’s doing.”

He notes that two factors that have kept the .38 Super in production are pistol competitions and the vagaries of Mexican gun laws. The latter is the result of Mexican gun laws which forbid “military” calibers such as 9mm and .45 ACP from civilian use and the former was the result of how Col. Jeff Cooper wrote the rules defining a “major” caliber for competition.

Hunter examines the pluses and minuses of the cartridge. In the end it works for him.

Which leads me to what the gun represents today and for whom it’s good. There is one person in the world for whom it’s a best choice: me. That is because I love the M1911 platform for its reliability and its heritage. It’s like shaking hands with John Moses Browning, with Sam Colt looking on fondly.

He concludes his ode to the .38 Super by saying,

Understand and love it for what it is: a cult cartridge with a whiff of romantic history to it, as launched from the most American of platforms. It has a place on the shelf of the safe that began as a place on the shelf of the memory and the imagination. As Pike said to Dutch, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

So if you want to read about an interesting cartridge with a cult following and, as Hunter call its, “a whiff of romantic history”, go read this article. And while you are at it, go back and read his whole string of novels featuring Earl and Bob Lee Swagger. But be careful, you might end up like me and buy a 1911 in .38 Super.