Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where were YOU?

I was in gradeschool on November 22, 1963 when a tragic historic event occurred on this spot in Dallas.

It was when I was walking home from school that day that my next door neighbor told me that President Kennedy had been assassinated. President Kennedy was the first president I was aware of as a kid.

Last November, we watched a couple specials on the 50th anniversary of the assassination President Kennedy and with that fresh in memory, Brion suggested we go downtown to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which houses the spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have shot the president. It's now the Dallas County Administration Building, but back then it was the Texas School Book Depository.

Here's a picture of the 7-story building taken from the spot in the road where President Kennedy was shot (yes, I took this picture from the middle of the road).

The museum was okay, but didn't include anything I hadn't seen in a documentary or read online or in books. It also wasn't very well laid out, with small groups of people crowding in small areas of the museum. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum.

Still, it was good to see where things were located after having read about them. Here I am, sitting in the grassy knoll.

When I was in school, all the way through college, I really hated reading about history. That's changed over the years. So, this was a cool outing on a warm Texas day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

George W. Bush Presidential Library

While in Dallas, Brion and I went to the third presidential library and museum in Texas. It's on the lovely campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU).

The gifts from various countries to the American people were nicely displayed.

There's the usual biography information.

The exhibit about the tragedy we call 9/11 was especially well done. The girder in the middle of the exhibit is from one of the twin towers. On the wall surrounding it, the names of those who died that day as a result of the terrorist actions are carved into the wall.

A special, temporary exhibit of 30 of the former president's paintings was what I enjoyed most. A short film preceded it where George and Laura Bush talked about the paintings and some the people depicted in them.

Some of the portraits were surrounded by photographs of the person depicted as well as some artifacts related to that person. This is a portrait of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, the first elected female head of state in Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

That's it for Presidential Libraries for a while.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LBJ Presidential Library and Austin Capitol

We drove on to Austin and visited the LBJ Presidential library. On one of the walls inside, there were these sculptured pictures. They're about 10 feet in height, I would guess.

Here's a closeup of LBJ. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see more detail.

There was an animatron of LBJ speaking, using recordings of his voice.

The exhibit on the war in Vietnam was extensive.

There was a special exhibit about influential people in the 1960's. Though I spent a good bit of time in that exhibit, I didn't take any pictures. Sometimes I just forget I even have a camera, I guess. You can read about the exhibit here.

Throughout the museum are phones that you can pick up and hear recorded conversations that LBJ had. These were pretty unique.

Yes, this is a recreation of the Oval Office as it looked during the LBJ administration.

While in Austin, we also visited the state Capitol. This is a beautiful building, inside and out.

It was pretty crowded when we were there, so I didn't get pictures in the rotunda. We went on a tour and though we didn't see the House of Representatives Chamber, we did get to see the Senate Chamber.

I've only ever visited 2 state Capitols and after this one, I think I'll visit more in the future.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

San Antonio

What's a trip to San Antonio without checking out the Alamo? Though I'd been here before, it was more than 30 years ago, so I thought I'd revisit it. You can read about the battle of the Alamo here.

It's been more than 30 years since I'd been to the Riverwalk as well, so we took a stroll down there and even did a boat ride.

There's a little theater along the riverwalk where the stage is on one side of the river and the amphitheater seating is on the other side. Here's a shot taken from the top of the amphitheater.

Driving around Texas this time of year is a treat in some places where the bluebonnets are in bloom. There were many other flowers along the highways, but bluebonnets were all I got pictures of one day.

More updates of Texas coming soon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

George H. W. Bush Presidential Library

Brion and I drove up to College Station to check out the George H W Bush Presidential Library.

It's on the Texas A&M campus in a lovely setting. Outside there are a couple sculptures.

There's a pond behind the library where you can go fishing, if you like. You don't even need a fishing license, but it's catch and release only.

Inside, there's the usual history with pictures and video documenting the life of the former president.

I thought this was cool - a picture of George with Babe Ruth.

Presidents and first ladies receive many gifts from foreign dignitaries. They are allowed to use these gifts while the president is in office, but once he has moved on, the gifts go to libraries and museums because they are the property of the American people.

There's a replica of the Laurel Lodge office at Camp David.

And a replica of part of the Oval Office. 

There was a special exhibit on Offshore Drilling. This was appropriate given that George Bush was in the oil industry and also because Texas A&M has a decent Petroleum Engineering department. There were diagrams and models of offshore oil rigs, videos and sample equipment.

I was especially interested in going to College Station because I hadn't been there since I graduated from Texas A&M more than 30 years ago. Great school! Check out this article about Texas A&M written by someone who attended a football game there as a fan of the opposing team.
The Greatest Fans of the Greatest Fans

All that said, I hardly recognized the place, it had grown so much! I hope the traditions remain intact.