I’d heard the ugly rumor many times before I moved here: “Dallas? Dallas is a dull town.”

Now who perpetuates that kind of talk? Sure, Dallas is no Manhattan; Commerce Street is no Champs-Elysées. But Dallas is no duller than Phoenix, say, or Atlanta or Kansas City or Cincinnati. From whence does this nasty notion come? I think I know now.

The ad in the Yellow Pages caught my eye. “See Dallas. Famous guided tour of fabulous Dallas . . . climate controlled coaches . . . See world renowned landmarks from spacious highback arm rest seats of deep foam rubber . . . lush soft carpeting . . . see magnificent homes . . . Cotton Bowl . . . and much more.” And here I’ve been living in Dallas for months, oblivious to world renowned landmarks. Sure, why not? A lark. I’ll take a sightseeing tour of my new home.

It’s a hot summer afternoon when, $5 bill in hand, I board the bus in front of the downtown Sheraton. Despite the fact that the temperature is hovering at 100, I have 15 travel companions: four wives of men attending the big Fish and Tackle convention; two women in straw hats from Upper Michigan; two Japanese tourists complete with cameras; a golden-tanned man and woman from California; an elderly couple (he is proudly wearing a new felt cowboy hat and hand-tooled leather belt with his doubleknit and white loafers); a man with two cameras and one trailing wife; and a lady with an Instamatic.

“Are we going to see where Kennedy was shot?” asks one of the women from Upper Michigan.

“Yes, ma’am,” says our tour guide, whose name is Dean. Dean is a native of Bonham, Texas. Dean looks like a man from Bonham, Texas. I like Dean immediately. He has a smooth, ageless rural face.

The tour begins with downtown Dallas and an upward look at the Southland Life Insurance building. “Dallas,” says Dean, “has more than 300 insurance companies.” We pass near the First Baptist Church. “The world’s largest congregation,” says Dean.

“Are we close to where Kennedy was shot?” asks the woman from Upper Michigan.

“Up there,” says Dean, “you’ll see the Flying Red Horse above the Mobil Building. Each side of that horse weighs 3,000 pounds apiece. There’s two horses,” Dean chuckles, “to let you know that Dallas is not a one-horse town.” Dean, we discover, has his own special brand of humor.

Dean points out all of the big banks and faithfully recites the assets of each. “What’s the property tax structure in Dallas?” asks the man with two cameras.

“Is this where Kennedy was shot?” asks the lady from Upper Michigan.

“Over here’s the Municipal Building,” Dean continues, “right there is where Jack Ruby double parked his car before he went in and shot Lee Harvey Oswald.” Upper Michigan appears duly impressed.

And then to Dealey Plaza. San Francisco has the Golden Gate, New York has the Statue of Liberty, St. Louis has the Arch. Dallas has a grassy knoll, a book depository, and an underpass. The bus is silent, necks are craned, as Dean reverently lowers his voice, “. . . and at 1:35 p.m., the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, expired at Parkland Hospital.” Dean pulls onto the freeway.

Into the World Trade Center. “They speak 22 different languages in there. But we only speak one around here,” Dean grins. “Texan.” About the Market Center: “Six buildings on 125 acres,” explains Dean. “And 6,000 free parking spaces.” The lady with the Instamatic gets a terrific shot of the 6,000 free parking spaces. “And there are nine market center motels across from the market center.” Dean points out the gleaming Zale building. “There are 80 glass buildings in the Metroplex,” says Dean.

The coach turns east into Highland Park: “They don’t have no factories, they don’t have no warehouses, they don’t have no nothin’. But these people here, they own Dallas.” Dean pauses. “Highland Park is the Hollywood of Texas.” On past SMU (“The Yale of the Southwest”). We stop to gawk at the former Harding Lawrence mansion.

Dean is rolling now. “Just a little Texas shack,” he says. Past 3525 Turtle Creek. “Many wealthy people live there,” says Dean, “and no bus drivers.”

“Oh,” Dean remembers, “Texas holds the record for skin cancer.”

There is more. We pass the Dr Pepper Co. And Dean tells us all about North-Park: “I start off out there and walk through Neiman-Marcus and I end up about a mile away and do my shopping at Woolsworth. But I’ve got good taste,” he grins.

And on to Fair Park, where they made the movie State Fair, which reminds Dean that Bonnie and Clyde started here too. “They were in the banking business,” says Dean, “but they didn’t do much depositing – just withdrawals.”

And some 2? hours after it began,the coach pulls into the Sheraton. Thetwo Japanese tourists have not even removed their lens caps. But right now,somewhere, the Lady with the Insta-matic is showing off her snapshots tothe folks back home: “. . . and here’sa picture of some Dallas parkingspaces …”


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