This september I visited New Orleans and Dallas. Walking around in these city’s makes a man hungry and thirsty. This is an enumeration of places to visit when in need for a beer or a burger. All places have a relation to key players of the events in November, 1963. Did you know The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge, Lee Harvey’s, Campisi’s, Henry’s Uptown Bar and Le Bon Temps Roule?
by PERRY VERMEULEN
The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge, Fort Worth
Near Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park, where Oswald was buried November 25, 1963, you can visit The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge (maps), named after Oswald’s nickname in his years as a Marine: Ozzie Rabbit. Every wall in the dark pub is filled with paintings and drawings related to the tragedy of fifty years ago: there are even some art pieces in which Oswald is depicted as a hero. “We like to shock a bit”, laughed barmaid Casey Weidmann. She posed for me in front of a large painting of the assassination of Oswald.
Lee Harvey’s, Dallas
South of Downtown Dallas, in Gould Street, I can recommend Lee Harvey’s (maps). Rebellious for its name, friendly for its people and atmosphere. This cosy pub has a large veranda with an outdoor bar and a large yard filled with picnic tables. “The controversial name caused some problems in the early years”, told bartender Howard Kelley. “We received some calls from protesting residents. Off course the events of 50 years ago are tragic, but I think we should embrace this dark chapter of our city and just continue with our lives.”
Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant, Dallas
In 1946, Carlo ‘Papa’ Campisi, a Sicilian immigrant, started a grocery store. Four years later he moved to a Mockingbird Lane location (maps) to take over the previous Egyptian Lounge. At the time there was not enough money to buy a new sign, so the original Egyptian sign was changed by removing lounge and adding restaurant. More than sixty years later, the sign is still visable at the very same spot. In the early sixties, Sam and Joseph Campisi, sons of Papa, where operating the business. The brothers were Dallas mobs, according to many sources. Josephs grandson David, the current owner, denies that fact – but the family still exploits decades of rumors that the family had mob connections. Many mob related photos and paintings are hanging on the walls of the restaurant. Why is this restaurant related to the Kennedy assassination? Jack Ruby was a regular and ate there the night before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby had close ties to the Campisi-brothers: within a week of Ruby’s murder of Oswald, Campisi visited Ruby at the Dallas County Jail. We ate good lasagne and got a private tour on request: a very nice gesture from manager Jimmy Evans. We saw the exclusive dining room in which friends of Campisi ate, drank and partied (photo with green tables). Impressive!
Henry’s Uptown Bar, New Orleans
Henry’s Uptown Bar (maps) is on 5101 Magazine Street since 1900, two blocks from where Lee Harvey Oswald lived during the summer of 1963. Older regulars can vividly recall Oswald’s erratic behavior when he frequented the establishment back in the days. Essayist Nathaniel Rich wrote: “In August of 1963, shortly after he was arrested for handing out ‘Fair Play for Cuba’ pamphlets on Canal Street, he showed up and asked the bartender – Henry – to turn the television to the news. Henry refused him: the TV was only for sports. Oswald stormed out in rage. Henry shrugged.” The bar is bigger now than it was in 1963. The walls are filled with nice artifacts, such as front pages of historical events. One thing didn’t change: people where watching games on the tv screens.
Le Bon Temps Roule, New Orleans
Le Bon Temps Roule (maps) is another bar on Magazine Street, claiming Oswald was a regular. Remarkable: a plague marks Oswald’s favorite corner stool. Did Oswald really visit this bar frequently? I have no idea, but the bar is optimally using the publicity. Do we know if Oswald was a frequent visitor of bars? He doesn’t seem like one in my eyes, being a loner with an empty wallet. Who knows the answer?