jfk & fort worth | day 11 | 2106 miles

july 11th, 2015 | 2 hours ahead

Bang. Bang. On Friday November 22nd, 2015, at 12:30 pm, John F. Kennedy was shot twice — one in the neck and once in the head — by a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. America was shocked. My grandpa was watching live TV as it happened, and he said that even though the tv stations wouldn’t say anything, the force with which his body was hit was indicative of his fate.

In the historical district of Dallas known as the west-end, a memorial recognizing his death was constructed. It was designed to be a cenotaph, representing the freedom of his spirit.

Only one day later, the second thing that my grandpa insisted on doing this trip was fast approaching. I think my grandpa has always been secretly drawn to western apparel; the first time this secret side surfaced was at my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary at a photo booth. He took this hilarious picture in a cowboy hat, and my mom and I could not look at it without cracking up. Just a few short years later, he was on the road with George and purchased a full set of cowboy apparel — complete with boots, hat, and belt. He loved these boots, so he wore them all the time.

I always noticed them when he wore them, so I always brought attention to them, and he seemed to like that. Ultimately, he got the idea that I really liked these boots and that I should get a pair despite the outrageous distance and price. He would always joke that we should make a trip down to Fort Worth to get a pair. Well, it just so happens that we made it down there, so the time came that the boot purchase would have to happen.

To be honest, I thought it was a bit impractical. I mean, where would I wear cowboy boots in the bay area, but we went anyway, and it was pretty amazing. Fort worth is an old western town based around one main street called E Exchange Street, along which are a bunch of saloons, stores, and stock yards. We saw big horn bulls, tipped back old foamy beer, and patrolled the streets like sheriffs.

Here’s the boot store:

It occurred to me that these boots were going to be the souvenir I most cherished from this trip. They were my connection to Texas, the old west, and my grandpa. They were the result of my grandpa’s eccentric personality and desire to please; they ultimately led us half-way across the country to be in those two chairs right there, and so we sat there — resolute — in our manly cowboy boots smiling to the camera that would preserve that moment forever. Maybe he was onto something when he insisted that I get a pair.

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