Dallas Mythbusters

Dallas Mythbusters

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Every city has its share of urban legends. Dallas, Texas, is cloaked in lore from one end of the spectrum to the other – from conspiracy theories surrounding the devastating assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the almost absurd controversy of a Neiman Marcus cookie recipe. As you can see, Dallas mythbusters abound. Whether you were born here, arrived later, or are just passing through, you are bound to hear one or more of the following Dallas urban legends. Do you have the discernment to tell fact from fiction?

Dallas Mythbuster # 1: The assassination of JFK was a conspiracy.

True or False? Unsubstantiated, but probably true

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 has left a lasting blemish on Dallas. This nation-changing event ironically occurred very near the place where the founding father of the city, John Neely Bryan, settled.

While the Warren Commission's report of 1964 proclaimed the assassination was the act of the lone, disturbed gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, it is estimated that over 75% of the general public still have their doubts. In fact, in 1976 the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) conducted a more thorough investigation, perusing documents and sources the Warren Commission did not consider, and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the culprit, but it was indeed probable that he acted within a conspiracy.

The members/organizations associated with the "probable" conspiracy were not identified in the HSCA report. In the early 1990s, legislation was passed that opened sealed records associated with the assassination. While these records revealed clandestine witnesses and spin-off investigations, they only served to further plant the seed of the conspiracy theory in the mind of the public.

The question remains -- which theory is most plausible? Take your pick from the CIA, FBI, Federal Reserve, American Mafia, Fidel Castro and/or the KGB as conspirators or co-conspirators. As time goes by, and many participants and witnesses to the assassination die, it is likely this Dallas urban myth will remain just that, albeit a multifaceted one!

Dallas Mythbuster #2: Dallas was the home of one of the nation's most famed criminal duos.

True or False? Both

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were born in Texas, but neither was born in Dallas. This is proof for one of the Dallas mythbusters. Their respective poor families emigrated into the working-class west Dallas area of the city very early in their lives, and this is purportedly where they met in 1930.

After more than two years on the run, committing numerous violent crimes including the heinous murders of several law enforcement officers, Bonnie and Clyde were shot down by the Texas Rangers at an ambush site in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in May of 1934. Although not born in Dallas, both were laid to rest within the city limits.

It is said that Bonnie, knowing she and Clyde would soon meet their end, told her mother not long before the ambush that she wanted to be buried next to Clyde. Her mother did not grant this wish.

Clyde Barrow is buried in west Dallas at Western Heights Cemetery and Bonnie Parker in north Dallas at Crown Hill Cemetery. Local high school pranksters so often removed the early tombstones of these infamous criminals during football season that the stones have now been encased in cement.

The Dallas Historical Society offers a tour of remaining buildings frequented by Bonnie and Clyde, as well as their respective resting places. You may also experience a little Dallas history, along with the thrill of this duo's rampage and ultimate demise, by viewing the 1967 movie, "Bonnie and Clyde," starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

Dallas Historical Society, Hall of State, Fair Park, 3939 Grand Ave, Dallas, Texas; 214-421-4500

Dallas Mythbuster #3: The "Lady of the Lake" ghost that haunts White Rock Lake is based on a true story.

True or False? False

Suppose you and a friend are driving down a tree-lined neighborhood street in northeast Dallas on a springtime night and come across a young woman beside the road frantically waving you down. The young woman is dressed formally, but dripping wet. She tells you she was involved in a boating accident on White Rock Lake, a popular, 1000-acre recreational lake located in the midst of the city. She tells you the others in the boat are safe, but she became separated from them.

While your passenger calls the police, the young woman, shivering cold and wet, begs you to drive her to her home only a few blocks away. You reluctantly oblige and allow her into your backseat. After all, you have a friend with you to be your witness if the police have a need for questions.

The young woman gives you directions to her parents' home and you proceed to drive her there. When you turn onto the street where she mentioned she lives, you notice your young passenger has become silent and is no longer responding to questions. As you pull over to the side of the street, you and your passenger turn to find the young woman has disappeared! However, where she sat remains a pool of water!

Allow me to conclude this segment by saying there are indeed a couple of police reports of despondent young women drowning in White Rock Lake. However, none of the officially reported drowning since the 1930s, when this legend supposedly began, supports the above tale. In fact, it is rumored the tale originated as a ploy to market the famous Dallas-based Neiman Marcus store. In early versions of the Dallas urban myth, the young woman was described as being dressed in a formal dress from "the store." (See Myth #5 below for more about Neiman's.)

Dallas Mythbuster #4: Three witches routinely worshiped among the Stemmons Towers office skyscrapers set along one of Dallas' busiest thoroughfares.

True or False: False

There was a Dallas urban legend in the 1960s and 70s that led many to believe witches roamed the streets of the city after midnight. The most famous location for their satanic worship ceremonies was between two tall skyscrapers called the Stemmons Towers.

The Stemmons Towers are located along Stemmons Freeway, a major thoroughfare of the city. Probably every high school kid in Dallas in the late 60s and early 70s took at least one midnight cruise by the buildings. These cruises were usually reserved for teen initiations into drill team, drama club, etc. To the unsuspecting youths, as their vehicle slowly entered the business property, there indeed seemed to be a coven of witches gathered at the site. However, in the daylight, the coven was revealed to be a group of three dark, human-sized monolithic sculptures! A mini Stonehenge, if you will.

The Dallas urban legend of the three witches ran so rampant in 1970 that the Dallas Morning News ran a scary story about the false coven, complete with eerie photos of the statues. Unfortunately, the modernistic statues no longer exist. The rumor is that the owner of Stemmons Towers, due to the disruptions caused by all the nocturnal tourists to the property (especially on weekends), removed them in the 1980s.

Stemmons Towers, 2700 North Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas; 214-688-1513

Dallas Mythbuster #5: Neiman Marcus charged a patron $250 for a chocolate chip cookie recipe.

True or False: False

This Dallas urban legend is circulated around the Internet from year to year. It also changes culprits depending upon the country of origin.

As the Dallas urban myth goes, a woman visits the downtown Neiman Marcus store and has lunch at their cafe. She enjoys a delicious cookie for dessert and proceeds to ask the waitress for the recipe. The waitress states she cannot provide the recipe as it is a secret. When the patron asks if she can purchase the recipe, the waitress replies, "Yes, for two-fifty." Several weeks later, when the woman receives her credit card bill, she discovers the recipe actually cost two hundred and fifty dollars and not two dollars and fifty cents.

In an attempt to gain revenge, the scorned woman posts the supposedly secret recipe on the Internet for everyone to read for free. This scam is one that goes around every year or so, but sometimes it is a different business that is slandered.

Neiman Marcus, 1618 Main St, Dallas, Texas; 75201; 214-741-6911

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