Oak Cliff was a prosperous community in Dallas during the 1960’s. Situated just west of downtown, across the Trinity River, it began in the early 1900’s as farm land that was developed into homes and shops. In the early 1960’s, I spent part of my early youth in Oak Cliff. Almost every Sunday or weekend was spent with my cousins in the Wynnewood area of Oak Cliff.
Attending the Boulder Church of Christ was mandatory for us kids, both mornings and evenings. Uncle Ben had done well for his family working at the printing shop. He had a nice brick home on Shady Glen lane with air conditioning, a big Chrysler and owned a rental apartment unit on Winnetka street. The big event of our week was going out to eat the only restaurant meal of the week, after church.
Usually Sunday lunches were at the El Chico, Kip’s Big Boy, Wyatt’s Cafeteria and other local establishments. Occasionally my Aunt LaVonne would have her famous pot roast in the oven when we came over Sunday morning. After church the whole house was permeating with the mouth watering aroma. I swear I’ve never tasted a better pot roast in my life. In the summer months, the church would usually have a big picnic at Kiest park. My sister Susan and I, along with my two cousins, had a blast playing horseshoes, softball, football, badminton with all the other church kids. My fondest memory of those church picnics in the sweltering heat, was pulling a ice cold Dr. Pepper out of the big gray circular metal ice coolers. It seemed everyone around Oak Cliff were having similar Sunday afternoon experiences. Well maybe not everyone…….
A young couple had moved into town. Lee H. Oswald, his wife Marina and new baby, June. Recently they moved to Fort Worth after Lee’s defection to Russia in 1959. They moved into Lee’s mother’s (Marguerite) home on June 14, 1962. Out of work, with a wife and kid, Oswald finds employment at the Louv-R-Pak division of the Leslie Welding company in Fort Worth. A little time later, they moved into Lee’s brother’s (Robert) home on Mercedes street in Fort Worth. Oswald, still fresh from his Russian experience in the summer of 1962, seeks out a Peter Paul Gregory, a Russian immigrant from Siberia who taught Russian at the Fort Worth public library. Oswald is interested to see if he could apply his Russian language skills as an interpreter or translator. Peter Paul Gregory and his son Paul Gregory, go to meet Lee and Marina at Robert Oswald’s house in Fort Worth. Lee develops a relationship with the son Paul Gregory and he starts to introduce him and Marina to the Russian émigré community at a dinner party at the Gregory home. (1) At that party the Oswald’s meet another Russian immigrant, George DeMohrenschildt. From that party, the Oswald’s get the encouragement to move to Dallas to be closer to the Russian émigré group. Marina and baby June move in with Elena Hall in Dallas. Lee quits his job at Louv-R-Pak and signs up with the Texas Unemployment Commission to seek a job in Dallas on October 9, 1962. Finally on October 12th, he starts work at Jagger-Chiles-Stovall (graphic arts company) at 525 Browder street in downtown Dallas. Meanwhile Oswald moves out of the Dallas downtown YMCA and finds an apartment on 602 Elsbeth in Oak Cliff. Marina and June move in with him, but then they later move just around the corner to 214 West Neely street, a two story converted duplex-home. The Oswald’s lived on the top unit. (2)
Previous to starting work at Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall, Oswald opens up a P.O Box at the downtown Dallas Post Office on Ervay Street on October 9, 1962. This is convenient for him because it is under a half mile away north of his employment. Things began to stabilize for Oswald as he settles into the family life and a steady job. Although the money wasn’t great, he at least begin to support his family.
It was probably at this juncture of his life, he was the happiest. He even reunites with his step brother John Pic at Robert’s house at Thanksgiving on the eerie date of November 22, 1962. Ironically it would be one year to the day that Robert will see his brother again, at the Dallas City Jail.
The Dallas Russian community are somewhat eager to help this young struggling family. George DeMohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne make a few trips to 214 West Neely to see them. However, most of the émigrés are quickly turned off by Oswald and his anti-social behavior. George DeMohrenschildt seemed to get along with the abrasive Oswald. Oswald looked up to him as a father like figure in his life. (3) Other friends donated clothes to Marina and little June. Meanwhile, 6-1/2 miles south of Neely street, while as I was playing with a train set at my cousin’s, Oswald was beginning to play with guns.
Take a good look at the above photo. Everyone has seen it a thousand times. However people tend to forget what Oswald is holding in his right hand. One is a copy of “The Worker” and the other is “The Militant”. The Worker was a weekly newspaper published on the east coast by American communist sympathizers. The Militant was also a weekly newspaper published by the American Socialists Workers Party (SWP). Oswald subscribed to these papers, and probably received them in his Dallas P.O. Box 2915. Generally both of these newspapers covered current world events, social injustice, civil rights and anything anti-capitalist in nature. The Militant was especially Anti-Kennedy and Pro-Castro. Just the kind of stuff Oswald, an avid reader of books and newspapers, would enjoy.
Oswald continued his life uneventful until a chance meeting at a party at the Dr, Everett Glover home in Dallas on February 22, 1963 (5). Glover, a friend of George DeMohrenschildt, introduced him to another oil geologist, Volkmar Schmidt of the Magnolia Oil Company (Mobil) in Dallas. Oswald was always happy to discuss one of his greatest heroes, Fidel Castro and his communist revolution in Cuba. (4) Not happy about the one-sided coverage about Cuba and Communism, Oswald relied on The Militant and The Worker for his news. The Cuban missile crisis had just occurred in October 1962, so Cuba was always front and center of the news. In an conversation with Schmidt, Oswald goes into his old routine about Cuba and Castro. He is livid with Kennedy trying to crush this tiny Caribbean nation of burgeoning communists. This conversation went on for awhile, but Schmidt, feeling Oswald’s anger, begins to steer him onto the subject of General Edwin Walker. A discussion ensues about General Walker and his anti-communist and racist leanings. The Oxford, Mississippi integration riots at Ole Miss occurred back on October 1, 1962. General Walker was arrested on orders of Robert and John Kennedy, for his part in instigating the uprising of white college kids and local supporters. The General is whisked away and held in a Federal detention center in Missouri. Slowly this talk of Walker began to sink into the radical brain of Oswald. According to Schmidt, he made references as Walker just another Nazi hell-bent on racial segregation and down on Castro communists. To top it all off, Walker lived right there in Dallas in a big Turtle Creek mansion. Though all this talk was non-intentional on Schmidt’s part, this is where he felt Oswald began to turn his anger from the Kennedy administration to General Edwin Walker. This is explained by Schmidt in the 1993 Frontline series program, “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald” and this telephone interview with William E. Kelly in 1995:
K: So do you think your conversation with Oswald about Walker may have instigated him to take a pot shot at him?
S: Yes, he did, and naturally it was a terrible responsibility, and for years when I drove past the underpass I literally had to cry because, you know. But I exonerate myself completely because I had the best intent, embarrassed Kennedy, and I certainly didn’t tell him to take a pot shot at him.
K: I didn’t think you told him to do it, just because you were talking to him about it…
S: I may have triggered it. Actually, a few days after I talked with him, he bought his weapons (6)
Indeed that’s what he did on March 12, 1963. Long before any talk of President Kennedy coming to Dallas, Oswald’s first motivation was to kill General Edwin Walker. That opportunity would come on April 10, 1963, at General Walker’s house on Turtle Creek Blvd. However something interesting to this case “may” have been overlooked, if not for an early researcher named Albert Newman.
This letter to the editor column was uncovered by Albert Newman in 1966. While in Dallas researching his upcoming JFK book, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: The Reasons Why, he contacted the local FBI office. In the above article, a “LH” writes in from Dallas. As Newman explains (verified by this author) this was the first and only time a “LH” wrote or was published in The Militant. There was only one other person from Dallas that wrote off and on, her name was Thelma Lucio. The FBI did a background check on Mrs. Lucio and found her to be an Irish immigrant (nee Smith) married to a Mexican-American veteran Eusebio Lucio. Mr. Lucio was in and out of veteran hospitals and even the Terrell State Hospital for mental reasons. (7) In the end, the Lucio’s were cleared of any possible involvement. Although one can only speculate here, but I believe there was a high probability that Oswald wrote that letter. If you factor in how many people were subscribing to The Militant from Dallas (slim) and how many “LH’s” there were in Dallas at that time, then things begin to get clearer.
To cap all this off, the above FBI document proves that Oswald had in his hand, in the backyard photo, the exact March 11, 1963 Militant newspaper with his possible “Letter to the Editor” in it. Was Oswald proud and grandstanding here? Very possible I would say……
Were those backyard photos faked? Not in my opinion, and here’s why. Those Dallas Police Detectives found two negatives of the backyard photos in Ruth Paine’s closet, in a cardboard shoe box. They developed one and Captain Fritz showed Oswald later that day on November 22nd. Oswald said it was faked with his head on somebody’s body. Conspiracy theorists jumped all over this and the photo with the line embedded in the chin area. You know something else Oswald denied? He denied ever living at 214 West Neely to Police Homicide chief, Will Fritz. Also did you know Marina had another photo hidden in her shoe when she came down to City Hall with Marguerite Oswald to visit her husband. Also she testified and never changed her story on taking those photos. In her Warren Commission testimony, she admits burning the photo hidden in her shoe.(4) I’m not sure why people can’t understand the clear logic here.
But the fake backyard photo story continues to this day.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations took this fake photo story very seriously in 1978. They hired their own panel of independent photo experts to take a look. Their conclusion, just like the Warren Commission they are 100% real. So for the doubters out there, here is a link to that HSCA finding. I suggest you read it in detail.
- Paul Gregory Testimony, Warren Report, Vol 2, page 337
- Time Line of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, by W. Tracy Parnell
- George DeMohrenschildt Testimony, Warren Report, Vol 5, pages 166-264
- Marina Oswald Testimony, Warren Report, Vol’s 1, 5
- Evertt Glover Testimony, Warren Report, Vol 10, page 1
- JFK CounterCoup Blog, Volkmar Schmidt telephone interview, January 1, 2008 by William E. Kelly
- FBI Airtel, August 2, 1966, SA Robert Gemberling, Mary Ferrell Website