FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – John and Marcy Culliton remember the moment, nearly 47 years ago, when they heard President John F. Kennedy’s plane roar over their home, preparing to land in Fort Worth.
It was a great day: Camelot was coming to Cowtown.
Jim Marrs was also having a good time. He was a young college man, full of frolic, when he danced on the stage of a Dallas nightclub. The club owner chuckled, shook Marrs’ hand and introduced himself.
“I’m Jack Ruby.”
Days later, the world shook … President Kennedy was dead, felled on Nov. 22, 1963 by bullets fired in downtown Dallas. In the aftermath, the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, while in police custody and handcuffed, was shot and killed by someone the cops knew well – nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
It was only then that Marrs remembered what he had been told earlier, on the night he met the man. “I had some fraternity brothers who said, ‘Don’t mess with Jack Ruby … He’ll throw you down those stairs … if someone gets out of line,’” Marrs recalled.
While most Americans moved on, as years turned into decades, Marrs and the Cullitons, for completely different reasons, stayed unusually close to the vestiges of those awful November days in 1963.
“I lived across the street from the cemetery where Lee Harvey (Oswald) is buried. People would give my little boy a quarter to show them Lee Harvey’s grave,” Marcy Culliton said.
A journalism student at the North Texas State University (now UNT) in Denton at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, Marrs also continued to relive that day, embarking on a career of reporting about every detail surrounding the president’s death, as well as the shooting, the burial and the subsequent exhumation at Oswald’s grave.
Then a new twist in the saga appeared, presumably in 1997 or 1998, when a second, nearly identical headstone was placed only inches from Oswald’s marker. The inscription read: “Nick Beef.”
Neither the Cullitons nor Marrs – nor anyone else for that matter – seems to know who placed the newer headstone there. It is also a mystery over who Nick Beef is, or was, if such a person ever existed.
John and Marcy now live in Denton, but they continue to have questions about the mysteries buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, in far east Fort Worth.
“I wondered who Nick Beef was,” said John Culliton. “Nobody seemed to know.”
Marrs, despite his extensive research, is also baffled by the Beef marker. “The fact that the marker on Nick Beef’s grave is the same material and the same design, and is almost identical to the marker on Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave, is indeed curious,” he said.
With so little information available, about all that is known about the Nick Beef site is that it is an empty gravesite. A former cemetery official said there is no internment card on file for a person by that name.
The placement of the Nick Beef marker may have been someone’s effort to help visitors find Oswald’s grave, said Jerry Dealey, a tour guide who is well acquainted with JFK’s fatal visit to North Texas.
Dealey is a member of the family for which Dallas’ famous Dealey Plaza is named, and he routinely conducts tours connected with the assassination, including the motorcade route along the plaza and Oswald’s grave in Rose Hill. He said he has heard that a comedian or disc jockey, possibly living in the Northeast, knew cemetery officials would not give directions to Oswald’s grave, so he purchased the plot next to it, imploring his audience to instead ask for directions to Nick Beef’s burial site.
“Eventually, the cemetery caught on to that and will no longer give you directions to Nick Beef’s headstone either,” Dealey said.
Although they now live far away, the Cullitons still wonder about Nick Beef. And they will always remember, with no regret, the many years they lived near the bones of one of the most notorious accused assassins in history.
In fact, Marcy Culliton said she still feels sad when she thinks of the times she would look out her window and see Oswald’s mother, Marguerite, standing alone over her son’s simple headstone.
“She borrowed the water hose once to water his grave,” Marcy Culliton recalled. “Nothing was said about Lee.”
John Culliton added: “I never felt there was any problem with him being buried there. He needed to be buried somewhere.”
Oswald’s grave is just one of the stops on our Local’s JFK History Tour. Click here to read it–we even give you directions to the grave.