James Norwood Posted July 21, 2020 Share Posted July 21, 2020 (edited) This thread is dedicated to showing how an understanding of the two Oswalds has served to finally clarify what has heretofore been complete confusion in orthodox biographical profiles of Lee Harvey Oswald. The study of this topic unfolds a narrative that extends from shortly after the end of World War II through the day of the assassination of President Kennedy. The case is made in John Armstrong’s book Harvey and Lee and in extremely detailed essays on the website https://harveyandlee.net This thread invites contributions from those who have studied Harvey and Lee and discovered how the understanding of this topic advances our knowledge of the JFK assassination. For example, researcher Steve Thomas has compiled a fascinating list of 44 instances when LHO was identified as “Harvey Lee Oswald.” It may be that there is a plausible explanation for all 44 examples. But the only way to arrive at that conclusion is to study each example in the original context of its usage. By contrast, unfounded attacks on research into the two Oswalds have been made by untutored, opinionated posters on this forum who have clearly not studied the book or the articles. One user named Jeremy Bojczuk demonstrates his ignorance of the literature of the JFK assassination when he writes that Harvey and Lee “hasn’t [had] an impact with JFK assassination specialists even after more than two decades of promotion.” The exact opposite is true. In the groundbreaking publication of JFK and the Unspeakable, James W. Douglass brings his analysis of Oswald to a close with the two Oswalds who are apprehended in the Texas Theater, one Oswald taken out the front door and the second through the rear exit in the alleyway. Douglass's analysis closely follows the coverage of the Texas Theater of John Armstrong that was published five years prior to Douglass’s book. James DiEugenio, one of the most meticulous of JFK researchers, includes a chapter written by Armstrong in the invaluable book The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X, which DiEugenio co-edited with Lisa Pease, another exemplary scholar of the assassinations of the 1960s. The exceptional researcher Dick Russell includes a chapter in his book On the Trail of the JFK Assassins entitled “The Lingering ‘Double Oswald’ Mystery.” And it is impossible to fully appreciate Russell’s monumental study The Man Who Knew Too Much without a basic understanding of the two Oswalds. John Armstrong appears regularly on the programs of Len Osanic on Black Op Radio. Osanic produced one of the finest JFK documentary series at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination in his 50 Reasons for 50 Years episodes. This is only a short list of “specialists” who have recognized the significance of Harvey and Lee. The reality is not that Harvey and Lee has never gained traction over the past twenty years, but that the JFK assassination has been marginalized in the mainstream media and book publications to the degree that, with the passing of time, we are in danger of forgetting the significance of this turning point in our history. As a starting point for this thread, I have written a point-by-point rebuttal to a nearly incomprehensible critique of the evidence of Oswald having attended Stripling Junior High School written by a user named Mark Stevens. The link to Stevens’ critique is:http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/26639-the-stripling-episode-harvey-lee-a-critical-review/ The rebuttal appears below. ************James Norwood’s Point-By-Point Rebuttal of Mark Stevens, “The Stripling Episode - Harvey & Lee: A Critical Review” (1) Newspaper Coverage of Stripling: It is a fact that Stripling Junior High School was identified in newspapers as one of the schools attended by Lee Harvey Oswald. The critic attempts to discount this evidence and faults the reporters for not interviewing teachers and students to verify that Oswald actually attended classes at Stripling. But when Stripling was first mentioned in the papers in 1959, the focus was on a United States Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union. The reporters had no obligation to visit the schools to confirm Oswald’s status as a student. The schools he attended were facts surrounding the greater story of a local boy turned traitor. In his section on Frank Kudlaty, the critic returns to the newspaper evidence to speculate that “another possibility is that the local FBI was aware of newspaper articles referencing a Marine defector from Fort Worth who attended Stripling” and the article prompted the FBI to pay a visit to Stripling Junior High School to confiscate the school records. In other words, the newspaper evidence was credible enough for the FBI to lead them to Stripling, but not good enough for the critic to take seriously today. The critic has failed to offer any proof that the newspaper reporting about Stripling was erroneous. (2) Robert Oswald: Robert Oswald has been a notoriously unreliable eyewitness to history, as apparent in his pseudo biography Lee—A Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by His Brother Robert Oswald (1967). To both newspaper reporters and in his Warren Commission testimony, Robert mentions Stripling as a school attended by his younger brother. But in his book Lee, Robert studiously avoids mentioning Stripling, while identifying the names of other schools that his brother attended: Benbrook Elementary School, Ridglea West School, Junior High School No. 117 in the Bronx, Beauregard Junior High School, and Warren Easton High School in New Orleans. With no reference to Stripling, Robert moves on to Lee Harvey’s enlistment in the Marines on October 24, 1956. Robert’s pre-assassination statement that his younger brother attended Stripling, as well as his Warren Commission testimony sworn under oath, must be factored in to the complete body of Stripling evidence. The critic has failed to offer a plausible explanation for why Robert would identify Stripling on multiple occasions to the press and to the Warren Commission, then omit it in his book. (3) Videotaped Interview with Frank Kudlaty: Stripling Vice-Principal Kudlaty, a man of unimpeachable character, describes in the video interview the transaction he made with FBI agents when he surrendered the file on the student Lee Harvey Oswald that had been maintained in the school’s administrative office. The critic works up a tortured argument in the attempt to downplay the FBI’s visit to Stripling by suggesting that “on the morning after the assassination the FBI sent agents to all local schools in areas Oswald lived.” This astonishing statement begs the question of why, one day following the assassination of an American president, the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency would be expending this much effort to track down school records of the alleged assassin. Much time is spent by the critic in pure speculation on what might have been included in Oswald’s academic file, when Kudlaty admitted that he only had time to glance at the file before the agents arrived to collect it. It is obvious that the crucial information that the FBI wanted expunged from the documentary record was that Oswald had been enrolled in a public school in Fort Worth during the academic year 1954-55. Otherwise, why were the contents of the file never disclosed to the Warren Commission, and why did the file vanish from the historical record? It is unfortunate that in his zeal to undermine the testimony of Kudlaty, the critic is missing a golden opportunity to understand a key point about the JFK assassination, which is how the FBI was rewriting history in the days and weeks following the event. One salient point emerges from the testimony of Frank Kudlaty: he was called in to work on a Saturday morning to hand over to FBI agents the school records related to Lee Harvey Oswald, and the eyewitness has consistently maintained the same account over the years. The critic is unable to undermine that unassailable fact. Note: It takes a careful reading of the first 120 pages of Harvey and Lee to understand that, for years, Oswald was being intentionally moved around from school to school in order to create confusion and to avoid the exposure of two boys using the same name and attending different schools concurrently. During the period of 1954-56, there were three consecutive instances in which Oswald enrolled in a school, then suddenly dropped out. The goal of the constant moves was to keep the two boys separate and buy time until they reached the age when they could permanently drop out of school and enlist in the Marines. (4) Videotaped Interview with Fran Schubert: The critic attempts to undermine Fran Schubert’s description of Oswald as both “cocky” and “nondescript” from her experience of him as a fellow student at Stripling. Yet this paradoxical thinking is perfectly in keeping with the fragmentary impressions she would have retained of a student whom she had only passed in the halls and noticed occasionally on the playground. She confidently recalls the academic year 1954-55 as the time when she witnessed Oswald attending the school. She certainly may be forgiven for uncertainty about identifying the season in a state that does not have clearly defined winters, but she does note the time she remembers Oswald occurred in one of the colder months. In a more detailed conversation with John Armstrong than the short video interview, Schubert recalled seeing Oswald cross the street to go home for lunch: “The one thing I remember clearly was him walking home for lunch….it made me mad that he could go home for lunch and I couldn’t.” Living across the street from the school, young Oswald clearly had a perk that made the memory of him leaving the campus at lunchtime stand out in Schubert’s mind. The three main points recalled by Schubert are (a) Oswald was a fellow student at Stripling whom Schubert passed in the halls and saw on the playground; (b) the timeframe that Oswald attended Stripling was clearly identified as 1954-55 at a time when Schubert was in the eighth grade; and (c) Oswald would leave the school grounds at lunchtime to walk across the street to his home at 2220 Thomas Place. The critic fails to offer a persuasive rationale for why Schubert’s recall would be inaccurate on these three points.Note: The sources for the following eyewitness testimony of Doug Gann, Bobby Pitts, and Mark Summers are from interviews personally conducted by John Armstrong in the 1990s. Citations from the interviews appear in the book Harvey and Lee and are carefully documented in endnotes. Armstrong’s work product in conducting the interviews is documented in the massive Baylor University archive. Armstrong tape recorded all of the interviews and still retains the complete audio recordings of these interviews. (5) Doug Gann: Gann’s testimony complements that of Fran Schubert, and he recalls actually attending classes with Oswald at Stripling, possibly in the same home room. He also recalls shooting baskets on the courts after school. Like Schubert, he also recalls Oswald living across the street from the school. Inexplicably, the critic dismisses the entirety of Gann’s testimony with the blanket statement, “there does not appear to be any record of Gann’s statements.” The record is the interview he gave to John Armstrong! The critic then writes this extraordinary statement: “For me to state with good conscience that Gann saw Oswald, I would have to know how he made the distinction and identified the person as Oswald.” Here, the critic appears one step removed from stating that all eyewitness testimony is existentially invalid. If Gann took classes with Oswald and played basketball with him, it naturally follows that he knew the boy’s name and “identified the person as Oswald”! The fact remains that Doug Gann’s recall is precisely what one would expect from a short-lived acquaintance with a schoolmate with whom he shared classes and shot baskets. The critic has failed to offer any reasonable explanation for why Gann is not a bona fide eyewitness. (6) Bobby Pitts: Bobby Pitts’ testimony is important for two reasons: (a) he explicitly recalled Oswald living at 2220 Thomas Place and (2) he recalled the time frame as the academic year 1954-55. The critic challenges the veracity of Pitts’ testimony, arguing that because Pitts was not a student at Stripling at the time, “how did he know this was Oswald?” The answer is simple: Pitts resided next door to Oswald at 2224 Thomas Place. From his perspective as a neighbor, Pitts observed Oswald sanding on the porch at 2220 Thomas Place watching the group playing touch football. The critic continues to grasp for ways to undercut the testimony when he writes that “any person who resided in the rear apartment would not ‘hang out’ on the front porch of the apartment, which would be part of the front apartment.” But the critic has no knowledge of the layout of the duplex and whether or not the front porch may have been shared communally by the two tenants. Fran Schubert recalls the porch at 2220 Thomas Place as “large.” It could have just as easily been a place where both residents could “hang out.” The researcher should not be under the obligation to verify the use of a front porch by the tenants of that building; rather, he is only reporting what Pitts conveyed to him in the interview. Pitts’ testimony corroborates that of both Fran Schubert and Doug Gann with the clear and distinct recall of Oswald residing at 2220 Thomas Place. At the time, Pitts was not a student at Stripling, so he could not verify that Oswald was attending school there. But Schubert, Gann, and Kudlaty are eyewitnesses that do recall Oswald as a Stripling student. The critic has failed to demonstrate any flaws in Pitts’ basic recall of his experience. (7) Mark Summers: Summers was a gym instructor, math teacher, and war hero who began teaching at Stripling in September, 1950. He recalled that Oswald was a student in his class in the seventh grade. But, as the critic points out, this has to be inaccurate because Oswald would have been in the ninth grade in the academic year 1954. The critic has located an anomaly in Summers’ testimony, as apparent in John Armstrong’s typewritten notes on the Baylor site, which suggest that Summers also recalled teaching Robert Oswald for two years. On the face of it, this is impossible because Robert only attended Stripling for a single academic year (1948-49), which was one year before Summers began teaching there. In his written notes taken during the phone interview with Summers and prior to typing up the notes, the single point written by Armstrong was that Summers began teaching at Stripling in September, 1950 and that LHO was student in his seventh-grade class. The following is a screenshot of Armstrong’s written notes from the Baylor archive: I contacted John Armstrong for clarification, and he plans to review his written notes and the audio recording of the complete interview with Summers. In the interim, I made an attempt to contact Mark Summers myself to learn his story first-hand. I was able to reach a relative, who informed me that Summers had passed away in 1998. In his book Harvey and Lee, Armstrong devotes only three sentences to the testimony of Summers. Based on anomalies in the evidence and the passing of Mark Summers, it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions about whether Oswald was a student in one of Summers’ classes at Stripling. (8) Ricardo Galindo: In 1993, Armstrong was in touch with the principal of Stripling at the time, Ricardo Galindo, who indicated that it was “common knowledge” that Oswald had attended Stripling. By “common knowledge,” Galindo presumably means “word of mouth.” Because Galindo was not the principal at the time the school records were rounded up by the FBI, his testimony carries substantially less weight than that of Frank Kudlaty, who physically handled the records and recalls surrendering them to the FBI agents. It is not clear why Galindo’s testimony appears to be the capstone piece of the critic’s argument, when it is clearly a much smaller evidentiary piece of the puzzle than that of the eyewitnesses who knew Oswald first hand and recalled specific details about him.SUMMARY An objective critic should approach the Stripling evidence impartially, but the bias of Mark Stevens is apparent throughout his review of the evidence. Stevens uses the same approach to undermining the testimony of the Stripling eyewitnesses that has been used for decades by Warren Commission apologists to discredit “inconvenient” witnesses in Dealey Plaza who heard gunshots fired from behind the picket fence or to impugn the integrity of the medical staff at Parkland who almost universally recalled that President Kennedy had received bullet wounds from shots fired from in front of the limousine. Stevens offers a valid critique of the anomalies in the interview of Mark Summers. After I followed up with an interview of a relative and learned that Summers is deceased, I am unable to conclude decisively whether Oswald was a student in Summers’ class at Stripling. But, for all of the other eyewitness testimony, the evidentiary record is compelling precisely because it is what one would expect about a student who had spent only a couple of months at the school, prior to dropping out. The recall of shooting baskets, seeing Oswald sitting on a porch, passing him in the halls of the school, or watching him walk across the street to his home at lunchtime, are all examples of the precise kind of memories students would retain about a kid who had spent only a brief time at the school.CONCLUSION The most compelling Stripling evidence is (a) the testimony of the school administrator Frank Kudlaty who recalled surrendering the school records to the FBI and (b) that of a student, Fran Schubert, who recalled Oswald attending the school in 1954-55 and living across the street. In turn, the eyewitness testimony of Doug Gann and Bobby Pitts supports the videotaped interview of Fran Schubert. Taken together, the eyewitnesses corroborate one another in a way that allows the evidence to coalesce around three main points: (a) Lee Harvey Oswald attended Stripling Junior High School for a brief period; (b) the timeframe was the academic year 1954-55; and (c) he resided across the street from the school at 2220 Thomas Place. Newspaper coverage identifying Oswald as a Stripling student and the recall of Stripling by Robert Oswald in both newspapers and his Warren Commission testimony add more weight to a critical mass of evidence placing Lee Harvey Oswald in Forth Worth as a student at Stripling Junior High School for a brief period in 1954-55. Edited July 22, 2020 by James Norwood Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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