Growing up with Lee Harvey Oswald

This is a beautifully written account by Paul Gregory of what it’s like to discover an acquaintance has become the most infamous man in America:

Hours after the Kennedy assassination, my parents and I experienced the shared horror of realizing that the Lee Oswald we knew, the one who had been in our house and sat at our dinner table, was the same man who had just been accused of killing the president. The Secret Service first knocked on my parents’ door at 3 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 23, 1963. The following day, just 45 minutes after my father hung up with Marguerite, an agent named Mike Howard picked him up and drove him to a Howard Johnson’s on the Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike, where they met Robert Oswald, Lee’s brother. As the family’s translator of choice, my father was now part of the plan to get the Oswald women out of the dingy hotel room and into a safe house that Robert had arranged at his in-law’s farm, north of the city, so Marina could be questioned.

A little later in the piece:

On a typical lesson evening, I would show up around 6:30, when Lee got home from his welder’s job. We would climb into my yellow Buick and drive by department stores or Montgomery Ward, and I’d bring them back home by 10. These were lean times for the Oswalds, but they weren’t without hope. During a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Oswald exuded an air of optimism. He was back in America with a beautiful wife and an adorable daughter; his life ahead promised more study and a possible university degree; a publisher would surely understand the value of his memoir, and he could use it as a platform to further the socialist causes in which he believed. Marina would understand what kind of man he really was.

But over the course of those months, it became harder for him to convince her of his exceptionalism. Early that summer, Lee brought home a catalog and class schedule from Texas Christian University, and we eventually decided to drive to the T.C.U. campus so Lee could talk to a school official. He dressed for the occasion, as I remember it, in dark slacks and a white shirt, but when we arrived, he motioned for Marina and me to wait at a distance while he had a whispered consultation with the woman at a desk. They spoke for a while, but when Lee rejoined us, he was sullen and quiet. (At the time, I didn’t realize he hadn’t graduated from high school.) On other nights, the Oswalds would walk down the aisles of the inexpensive Leonard Brothers department store and whisper intently beside the produce section before a final selection was made. Lee, who controlled the budget, would then haggle over prices, particularly with meat. (He often did so, almost humorously, with a smile on his face.) We usually left with only one bag of groceries, which kept the Oswalds going for a week.

Read the full article here.

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Growing up with Lee Harvey Oswald