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The Oswald family at the Furniture Mart, a rifle scope installation in November 1963, and why it matters: a sale of the rifle before the assassination

Greg Doudna

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5 hours ago, Denny Zartman said:

They can answer it, they just don't want to.

Over the past ten years I've had the opportunity to discuss the JFK assassination on other websites, and there are invariably half a dozen folks with extensive experience with rifles and target shooting chiming in with their opinions on how it was an easy shot from the sixth window, how Oswald was actually good with a rifle, ect.

But when I point out that Oswald had no other rifle ammunition or rifle cleaning equipment among his possessions and ask if that's the usual state of affairs with themselves or their rifle enthusiast friends, there's never any reply at all. Now, maybe I've walked between the raindrops and just by chance every person whom I've asked has been unable to reply for unrelated reasons, but let's get real.

If Oswald was practicing with his rifle on a regular basis he would have rifle ammunition and rifle cleaning equipment among his possessions. Instead he's apparently assembling and disassembling and maintaining his rifle with only a dime, and that he was practicing target shooting regularly without ever cleaning or even oiling down his rifle, and was literally down to his last four rifle bullets that morning.

This is such an excellent point Denny: the missing ammunition or cleaning equipment among Oswald's possessions in Nov 1963. Of course the full searches of his belongings in Ruth Paine's garage, and at the rooming house in Oak Cliff, is evidence at that point of time. It is hypothetically possible, for example, that if he had had any cleaning equipment he could have conveyed that to a buyer of the rifle at the time of conveying the rifle, as part of the package (same with any remaining ammunition). But what this is not consistent with is Oswald himself as active shooter of the Carcano from the sixth floor on Nov 22.

I just did a search in Bugliosi's massive tome, Reclaiming History, the most exhaustive argument for Oswald as killer of JFK in the universe, to see how Bugliosi addresses this. I checked his two chapters, "Ownership and Possession of the Rifle Found on the Sixth Floor" (pp. 789-804) and "Identification of the Murder Weapon" (pp. 805-844), as well as the descriptive index subheadings under the listings "Mannlicher-Carcano" and "Oswald, Lee Harvey", and found nothing of Bugliosi addressing the point (of how having no ammunition or rifle cleaning supplies among his belongings is consistent with Oswald being the 6th floor shooter of the Carcano). Bugliosi addresses nearly everything else under the sun, why not that relevant question? Now it is possible that Bugliosi does address it somewhere and I missed it, especially if he took up that point in a footnote (I have the 1612 pp paper volume but do not have access to the CD with another 958 pages of footnotes). But when you cite and agree with Karl Hilliard that "no one has ever been able to answer that one", that provisionally appears to be true for even Bugliosi. (I have not checked Posner, and obviously have not checked all of Bugliosi either, only tried to find it in Bugliosi the best I could.)

Flip de Mey, whose two books I have mentioned earlier, has a strong discussion of this among other points concerning the rifle and the various component parts of the argument that Oswald was the shooter from the 6th floor that day. In fact, for what it is worth to anyone reading here, the Flip de Mey chapters in those two books relating to the rifle, Oswald, and the TSBD and the physical evidence thereof strike me as as compelling and clearly presented as to be capable of changing the mind of a serious objective adherent to the Warren Commission lone-nut interpretation. (Not all chapters of de Mey are of equal weight, nor do I agree with every conclusion, and there are occasional factual misstatements along the way the sign of a serious researcher working alone and erring, but I have not personally seen elsewhere the argument for Oswald's innocence from being the shooter of the Carcano on the 6th floor so clearly and convincingly reasoned and developed. Despite the strength of de Mey's argumentation, his first book received only a few reviews, and his second one I have not seen any.) On the current points at issue (the quotes below are without the footnotes):

"2. Did Oswald buy bullets? The believers do not deny that Oswald had only four bullets. These are the three bullets he allegedly used in the attack, and the fourth unused bullet that remained in the rifle. The investigators found not a single additional bullet in Oswald's belongings, or even packaging that could have contained bullets. Four bullets or a hundred bullets make little difference for the believers. It seems quite logical to them that Oswald was aware that he could not target the president five times, and therefore only took four bullets with him. But not a single bullet could be found anywhere, either at Oswald's home or with his belongings in the garage of Ruth Paine. Marina stated that 'she had never seen any ammunition around the houses in which they had lived.' Her statement to the FBI on December 17, 1963, is even clearer: 'Oswald did not have any ammunition for the rifle to her knowledge in either Dallas or New Orleans, and he did not speak about buying ammunition.' But that's odd, because bullets are sold per dozen, or per hundred. One of the two stores that sold bullets purchased them for 45 dollars per thousand. Even Oswald was not so stingy that he would save on a bullet that cost a few cents. The 6.5 mm caliber is relatively common as such, but only bullets that have been produced in Italy can be used for the Carcano. The cartridge clip was not supplied with the gun, and Oswald must therefore have purchased it somewhere. The Commission realized that this was, once more, a problem. They were well aware that the weapon was delivered without a cartridge clip, but still kept this possibility open, and wrote: 'The rifle was probably sold without cartrdige clip.' The word probably says it all. If the cartridge clip had indeed been sold together with the weapon, the Commission would, of course, have known this, and would also have had this on record. They questioned the salesmen who sold the weapon, and could simply have asked the question. The question of where Oswald had purchased the reasonably common cartridge clip was, in fact, the least of our concerns. But where had he purchased the four bullets--or actually five if he had indeed taken a shot at General Walker on April 10, 1963? This question proved difficult, or even impossible, to answer. Intensive investigation revealed that only two gun stores in the Dallas neighborhood sold Carcano bullets. Both stores had sole proprietors, and the proprietors were always present when the store was open. They were both convinced that they never sold a bullet to Oswald. No Carcano bullets were sold in the gun store in Irving where a certain 'Oswald' allegedly had the sight adjusted. It is possible that Oswald had only four bullets, but it does seem quite unlikely. And this improbability is added to the improbability of the replies to the other questions. 

"3. Did Oswald practice with the weapon? The Commission asked gun expert Simmons whether 'a marksman who is less than a highly skilled marksman' could be capable of a shot with the required accuracy under those conditions. The army expert replied: 'Obviously considerable experience would have to be in one's background to do so. And with this weapon, I think also considerable experience with this weapon, because of the amount of effort required to work the bolt.' So you absolutely need 'considerable experience' to match the performance of the sniper with the Carcano at Dealey Plaza. About three years after his fairly decent results with an M16 in January 1957, Marine Oswald achieved a score just one point above the absolute minimum. He barely touched a weapon in the next four years. Although he was a member of a hunting club in Russia, and owned a rifle, his wife, Marina, scornfully said that hunting in Russia usually means that you catch a bottle of vodka. These hunts were therefore mainly a get-together for men, and hunting was ancillary. After his return to the United States, Oswald also never practiced to improve his poor marksmanship level of 1959. According to the official story, the weapon was stored in Ruth Paine's garage during the last two months before the attack. Ruth, who provided accommodation to Marina, never saw Oswald with this weapon. She never even saw him practice with it. As a fervent opponent of firearms, Ruth Paine would certainly have noticed. According to an FBI statement of December 3, 1963, Marina also never saw her husband practice with the rifle: 'Marina said she had never seen Oswald practice with the rifle or any other firearm and he had never told her that he was going to practice with his rifle or any other firearm.' In a later statement, on December 17, Marina repeated her point of view: 'She cannot recall that he ever practiced firing the rifle either in New Orleans or in Dallas.' She also never saw Oswald take the weapon with him when he left the house in New Orleans. She never saw him handling the rifle, not even to clean it. The only device for which Oswald was trying to improve his skills at the time was a typewriter, and that did not seem to be going too smoothly either. Oswald and mechanical devices were not a good combination; he couldn't even drive a car [sic]. Despite the above two clear statements of December 3 and 17, Marina said the following in her questioning before the Commission on February 3, 1964: 'I think that he went once or twice. I didn't actually see him take the rifle, but I knew that he was practicing [...] He told me.' Marina had a good reason to change her statement: 'I said before I had never seen it before. But I think you understand. I want to help you.' It is pathetic to see how the Commission Counsel rushed to her aid: 'She says she was not sworn in before. But now inasmuch as she is sworn in, she is going to tell the truth.' On February 22, 1964, Marina proved that even her sworn truth still left room for improvement. The FBI asked her the same question for the fourth time, and she was finally satisfied to record: 'He had his rifle wrapped up in a raincoat and told Marina he was going to practice firing with the rifle. She said the police would get him. He replied he was going anyway and it was none of her business. He did not say where he was going to practice firing the rifle, other than he was going to a vacant spot.' 

"In its final report, the HSCA put the responsibility for the lies entirely in the hands of Marina: 'She gave incomplete and inconsistent statements at various times to the Secret Service, the FBI and the Commission.' But that is not entirely fair: the FBI also bears a lot of the responsibility for this. Marina unilaterally changed her statements in the direction the FBI wanted. In February, Marina no longer feared that she would be extradited to the Soviet Union if she did not cooperate sufficiently with the investigation. She no longer adapted her statement in her own interest. It was the FBI that put her under pressure. Ultimately, it makes little difference. Even if Marina did speak the truth in her final statement, Oswald only practiced with the rifle in the house in Neely Street. The couple lived there for seven weeks, from March 2. The rifle was shipped to Oswald at the Hidell post office box on March 20. Oswald moved to New Orleans on April 24. Marina stated that the rifle would then have traveled in her luggage to Ruth Paine's garage in Irving. It remains possible that the weapon was disassembled and traveled to New Orleans in one of Oswald's NAVY duffel bags, but there are no witnesses who ever saw Oswald practice with a gun in New Orleans. So, at best, Marina only confirmed that Oswald allegedly practiced very sporadically with the rifle for a period of four weeks, seven months before the attack. In any case, Oswald was only near the weapon in the weekends in the last ten weeks before the attack. Besides, where would he have practiced? Practicing with a weapon is prohibited in Dallas. A storekeeper stated that it occasionally happened that someone came to practice with a weapon in a particular deserted spot along the highway. In Ruth's community, Irving, there were 46 people who lived near places were someone could potentially practice with a gun. All of them were questioned, but no one had seen Oswald or noticed anything that could be an indication of shooting practice. There was a flash of hope that someone had found two empty boxes of 6.5 mm bullets, but it turned out they were not Carcano bullets. The Report of investigation of possible target practice by Lee Harvey Oswald section amounts to no more than eighteen pages in the entire FBI report containing 971 pages. This is how meager the findings on the possible practice sessions of Oswald were. Oswald therefore did not practice with the weapon in the months prior to the attack (. . .) Oswald therefore never practiced intensively with the Carcano, and that certainly plays a role in his chances of hitting the target twice in 5.5 seconds on November 22. Lattimer highlights that practicing was particularly important in terms of getting used to the stiff bolt: 'It must be emphasized that a leisure period of repeated manipulation and dry firing was essential for acquiring the proficiency demonstrated by the assassin.' But there is no evidence at all regarding any such practice." (Flip de Mey, the Lee Harvey Oswald Files, 51-57)

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Posted (edited)

Here I add some further comments and details.

The mental breakdown of Yates

That refrigeration mechanic Ralph Yates, gainfully employed family man and of sound mind on Nov 21, picked up a hitchhiker who was carrying a package and spoke of shooting Kennedy from a tall building, on the morning of Nov 21, is a fact, verified from his coworker having been told about that by Yates before the assassination. After the assassination, Yates immediately phoned in and told what he knew, despite how bizarre it came across and sounded. Whether Yates called directly to FBI or called the Dallas Police Department and was referred to FBI, it was FBI who interviewed him and took his story. Then Yates went crazy in a sudden and dramatic way and was institutionalized. Yates knew he was going crazy and pleaded with the FBI agents days later to have his prescription pills checked in a lab--Yates believed something about his medication was wrong

As extreme as this sounds, I consider what happened to Yates--which has effectively forever discredited his testimony not only to the Warren Commission and HSCA investigators but to conspiracy theory researchers as well--suspicious, with the possibility that it was inflicted on Yates and did not come about through natural mechanisms. It is true Yates had family history (genetic disposition) for mental illness. On the other hand Yates had no prior medical diagnosis of mental illness in his life before his dramatic mental breakdown a couple of weeks after he went to the FBI with his extraordinary story just telling the facts of what he saw Nov 21. This is not proof but I will set forth my reasons for not considering this an idle or frivolous consideration either.

Six items converge. First, that his hitchhiker was not made up. Second, the extraordinary coincidence (except it was not coincidence, because they connect) that the timing and location of when Yates picked up that hitchhiker correlates with a highly unusual but independently-credibly witnessed establishment of Oswald present that morning at a location on Beckley Avenue at a time Oswald should be expected to have been at work.  

Third, the key element of the hitchhiker carrying what Yates recalled as a rifle-sized package and being dropped off at Elm and Houston, right next to the TSBD, both associates this event with the assassination (focusing on the TSBD the next day), but also makes so little apparent sense in a normal assassination. An assassin hitchhiking to carry a rifle to the scene of the next day's shooting? And talking freely to his driver about speculation on routes of the president and how easy it would be for someone to shoot him from a building? I see only two realistic possibilities: one is Yates' story was just made up (what most people think), and the other is that this was an intentional intended creation of a single witness from a citizen at random, who would incriminate Oswald. For reasons previously given I think the second is what was going on, not the first. 

Fourth, the hypothesis of an intentional incrimination of someone else (Oswald) by that hitchhiker also corresponds to what other factors emerge that whereas Oswald was being made into a "patsy", it was via the connection of the rifle to Oswald, and not originally to have him necessarily implicated as the shooter, or a shooter. The tentative reconstruction I am pursuing is that Oswald did not know the rifle was in the building on Nov 22, was not a shooter, took no particular unusual actions that day to avoid being seen, and responded as he did (taking flight and evasiveness) not because he had shot from his rifle but because he realized he had been set up. This reconstruction is in keeping with the original idea being only to incriminate Oswald (due to his USSR/Cuba/leftist associations) in a conspiracy for the assassination. That police and FBI quickly found it possible to interpret all the shots as coming from the sixth floor Carcano and to reconstruct Oswald as that sixth-floor shooter, I am reconstructing as opportunistic and accidental. 

Fifth, once the story changed quickly from an original idea of a false-flag conspiracy done by Castro, as there are some grounds to suppose was an original attempt, to the LBJ/Hoover Oswald-alone lone-shooter (and USSR or Cuban accusation and casus bellus stopped), then the Ralph Yates hitchhiker story sticks out like a sore thumb. Especially if it was not planned that the hitchhiker be mistakenly identified as Oswald himself, by Yates. There was not only no usefulness to the Ralph Yates story, but the story was positively dissonant to the narrative that quickly was formed into the familiar narrative. 

But what to do about it? Do nothing, and there is a common citizen, a gainfully employed family man, no sign that he was lying or making it up intentionally, living in Dallas and who could give interviews etc. and etc. This could not be made to go away by simply his death, for the story would still be there. The only way to make that story go away, or fail to gain traction in the first place, was to discredit it. The most obvious way this could be accomplished would be to have Yates go crazy, such that no one would believe him.

And sixth, the missing piece--even with the first five points it still seemed a stretch to me that Yates' mental breakdown was maliciously induced--is this from testimony of CIA official John Hart, concerning the problem faced by CIA of what to do with Soviet defector Nosenko. CIA had held him off the books as a prisoner and mistreated him, and now Nosenko was a hot potato. John Hart to HSCA:

Mr. Hart. (. . .) He [Bagley] was talking about the problems which were faced by the fact that a deadline had been given the organization to resolve the case. Mr. Helms had given them a deadline. As I have previously said, he believed that there would be "devastating consequences" if this man [Nosenko] were set free. What he wrote was, "To liquidate and insofar as possible to clean up traces of a situation in which CIA could be accused of illegally holding Nosenko." Then he [Bagley] summed up a number of "alternative actions" which included--and I start with number five simply because the first four were unimportant. "Number five, liquidate the man; number six, render him incapable of giving coherent story (special dose of drug, et cetera). Possible aim, commitment to loony bin." Some of the words are abbreviated, but I am reading them out in full for clarity. "Number seven, commitment to loony bin without making him nuts."

Mr. Dodd. The word "disposal," was that the word "liquidation" you were talking about?

Mr. Hart. I am drawing the conclusion that disposal may have been a generalized word which covered inter alia these three alternatives.

Mr. Dodd. There is not any question about what the word liquidate means, though, is there?

Mr. Hart. No, sir.

(https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=3351#relPageId=146&search=john_hart drug)

(Tennent H. "Pete" Bagley, deputy head of the CIA's Soviet division, while acknowledging he had written the notes, explained he was only thinking of options which were never carried out, therefore had not done anything actually wrong.)

I think this is what may have happened to Ralph Yates, who spent years thereafter in a mental hospital, his story discredited. More effectively than if he had had an accidental or non-accidental death. 

The FBI agents did not do that, and would have had nothing to do with that. (James Douglass in insinuating the FBI agents did it was off-base on that, accusing innocent persons.)

Of course the CIA is not supposed to be involved in domestic operations, particularly on US citizens.

Is it plausible that CIA officers could carry out the assassination of JFK?

A senior retired CIA officer in good standing, former station chief in Moscow and who taught aspiring CIA academics at Harvard, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, thinks the JFK assassination involved CIA officer-run operations done domestically on US soil involving US citizens. Mowatt-Larssen in 2019:

"'How can you get away with a really elaborate but very simple plan of deception, to end up in a palce where the president is dead and it is blamed on someone else, other than the people who perpetrated it?' he asked (. . .) It is not paranoid craziness to think Oswald was manipulated by CIA officers, Mowatt-Larssen says (. . .) A third CIA operative--not Moore, not de Mohrenschildt--would have made the pitch to Oswald, according to Mowatt-Larssen (. . .) 'I got chills when I heard Oswald say, "I'm a patsy,"' Mowatt-Larssen recounted. 'That famous clip. I think I know what he meant... He knew he had been set up and he knew he was abandoned.'" (https://jfkfacts.org/cia-tradecraft-jfks-assassination-the-making-of-a-patsy/

Operations are often carried out by CIA officers with no records, not a trace of written record, of CIA involvement according to Mowatt-Larssen:

"[Mowatt-Larssen] said a small group of rogue CIA personnel could have done it and there would be no records of their actions, adding that was the case with several operations he was involved with, no records, not a hint of his actions." (https://www.swtimes.com/story/news/crime/2020/05/25/are-there-cia-connections-to-lee-oswald-part-1/113744782/)

And if done professionally it would look indistinguishable from a lone gunman:

"[It] would be indistinguishable from a lone gunman to the extent the operation was planned and carried out flawlessly by experts (operations officers) in the craft of intelligence. (. . .) Mowatt-Larssen noted that like many of his own operations, there would be no record of any of this in CIA documentation."

And the CIA would not disclose its knowledge of these operations:

"Mowatt-Larssen ends with this note: even if the CIA, as an organization, got wind of all this there is no way they would come forward because it would mean the end of the CIA."

Mowatt-Larssen said the Agency is good at perception management and cites the Warren Commission narrative of Oswald as a possible case in point:

"The agency's professionalism in perception management should not be underestimated he said (. . .) What this retired spy wants you to believe is this: The Warren Commission's narrative of Lee Harvey Oswald, the lone gunman, may well be a CIA cover story, a media legend generated by 'experts in he craft of intelligence.' The purpose to conceal a conspiracy to kill the liberal president."

Mowatt-Larssen has the credibility to establish that it is not unthinkable that the CIA could have been in the background of domestic operations involving US citizens in 1963. While not knowing the mechanisms or how it was done, Ralph Yates may have been a victim of such an operation. He tried to do the right thing. He told what he knew truthfully to the best of his ability. He suddenly thereafter rapidly mentally went to pieces, convinced that tampering in his prescription medication was causing it, causing changes in him that he had never experienced before in his life. Ralph Yates thought he was being helpful that day when he picked up a hitchhiker in Oak Cliff carrying a package and going downtown to Dealey Plaza. Ralph Yates may be one of the saddest and least-recognized citizen heroes of the JFK assassination.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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2 hours ago, David Boylan said:


I believe that Mowatt-Larssen threw out a name as a possibility - Jake Esterline, as an Ops officer. He did say it would be a small group out of JMWAVE and possibly the DCD (Domestic Contacts Division.)

I know. I find more of interest Mowatt-Larssen's broad-brush descriptions from an operational point of view, rather than speculations concerning individual names. From his insider's point of view--with as much experience and gravitas as anyone to be credible--he is saying it is very possible the JFK assassination came about as a result of the same kind of compartmentalized operations from the same agency that successfully ran countless successful assassination plots on high-profile targets in foreign countries. Mowatt-Larssen thinks of a similar kind of JFK assassination operation--which he says could be carried out by as few as four CIA officers running their operatives--as "rogue" and that if it was known elsewhere in the Agency it was covered up and a convenient fictional story given for public consumption. I suggest that that construction of "rogue" CIA officers--concerted and successful operational action carried out by CIA officers working with other CIA officers (in Mowatt-Larssen's construction)--is difficult to distinguish conceptually from "non-rogue" operations carried out and covered up by the Agency, if one thinks about it. I think a simple rule can be followed: if an operation wreaking death and havoc is carried out by agents of an intelligence agency, it is prima facie legitimate to speak of those operations as carried out by that intelligence agency.

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Greg, as someone who has researched and written basically about what Mowatt-Larssen has described for some three decades now myself, I would offer the following just as personal observations. 

First, I find it unhelpful to paint with broad brushes so just using the term CIA conspiracy leaves me as much as unfulfilled as referring to a Mafia conspiracy, a right wing conspiracy, a Deep Sate conspiracy, an Deep British world domination conspiracy or any of half a dozen more "conspiracies".   It just doesn't help me understand the crime at a level of detail I can describe well enough to test.  On the other hand Mowatt-Larssen's "rogue operators" concept does so I'm personally happier with that approach as a research tool.

Second, actually we know a good bit about true "CIA assassinations" which were conducted and actually documented inside the Agency.  They do show up in internal records, had to be funded and operationalized down a chain of command - and sometimes it was actually challenging and messy to do so, what we now understand about the efforts to eliminate Lemumba shows the CIA all over the board with half a dozen insiders and outsiders involved.  What Mowatt-Larssen describes starts further down the chain, can be hidden within regular budgets and does not get into the reporting channels - I wrote about operations like that in my book In Denial.

But to get back to Yates,  we do have enough detail to understand how the FBI closed out leads they didn't want to follow, usually by bringing in the concept of mental problems or mental impairment (we have several instances of that in the JFK conspiracy), quite literally to the point of driving some individuals into  depression and exacerbating medical problems they already had.  It was a standard FBI practice in writing off troublesome leads.

As to the CIA, certainly we know some officers, specifically in Staff D, had access to a variety of mind altering chemicals which were created for the use in interrogations, and for dirtier work in destabilizing targets just short of assassination. There is anecdotal information such drugs might have been used with Jack Ruby and I write about that in SWHT,  slipping drugs to Yates is possible  if that was really necessary - but I'm not sure it was if he was already having some psychological issues. 

But to actually explore whether it was pressure vs. drugs, you need to cut to a lower level of detail, you need scenarios involving names, departments, access, authorities, etc.  And you need to do one other thing which is decide whether the dismissal of the lead/witness was an extension of the actual conspiracy, part of the Bureau or Agency cover up of their own dirty laundry related to Oswald or part of a national security suppression operation coming down from the White House. 

Of course you can start with all three and reverse engineer it which is what I generally do, but I recommend examining each scenario if you are serious about any giving lead/witness and that includes Yates.  I think it might be worth the effort since the Yates incident very likely tells us something about the operational aspects of the attack in Dallas but also exposes how the dozens of loose ends that emerged from it failed to expose the conspiracy itself.



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Posted (edited)

Thanks Larry for the incisive comments which clarify issues and make sense.

I need to think a bit and will return on Yates. Here I want to back up and present some timeline reconstruction developments from a couple of weeks earlier.

Date of the Oswald visit to the FBI office (the "Hosty note"): Nov 5-8

It seems most published timelines have this dated wrong, dating this incident to ca. Tue Nov 12 or Wed Nov 13. This derives from Hosty's backward estimated dating of it which evidently came from Hosty's memory rather than written documentation. "Approximately one week or ten days prior to November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald appeared at the reception desk in the Dallas [FBI] field office and asked to see Special Agent Hosty" (Church Committee, Final Report [1976], V, appendix B, 96). "Oswald had sent me an angry, unsigned note just ten days before [10 days before Nov 22]" (Hosty, Assignment: Oswald [1996]). 

That dating cannot be correct, because Ruth Paine testified that on the weekend of Nov 9-11, when Oswald was at her home, Oswald told her he had gone to the FBI office. Oswald was not back to Ruth Paine's place again until Nov 21, the night before the assassination. The Oswald Hosty visit, which followed visits of Hosty to Marina of Nov 1 and 5, therefore occurred during the week ending Fri Nov 8, and can have occurred no later than Fri Nov 8.

Ruth Paine, Warren Commission testimony: "He told me that he had stopped at the downtown office of the FBI and tried to see the agents and left a note. And my impression of it is that this notice irritated... he left the note saying what he thought."

Ruth Paine, July 1964 Redbook article: "Oswald told me he had tried to contact the Agent, although we learned after the assassination from the FBI [Odum] that he had lied about this [sic!]"

It was not the night of Nov 21 that Oswald told Ruth Paine that. It was the weekend of Nov 8-11, meaning it occurred before Oswald's arrival to Irving Friday evening Nov 8. The date will have been between Wed Nov 6 and Fri Nov 8, one of those three days. The FBI office was located on Commerce Street, and Oswald would have walked there during his lunch break from work at the Texas School Book Depository.

Oswald is known to have checked out a book from the Dallas main public library, The Shark and the Sardines, on Wed Nov 6. The Dallas main public library also at that time was located on Commerce Street (1954 Commerce St., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Dallas_Central_Library). Of course Oswald could have walked twice on two separate days that week to Commerce Street on his lunch break. However, if both of those Commerce Street events occurred the same day, the Oswald Hosty FBI office visit also would be Wed Nov 6.

Saturday morning Nov 2: Oswald in downtown Dallas (Southland Parking Garage; Downtown Lincoln-Mercury)

Previously it has been established that the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury visit of Oswald test-driving a car occurred Saturday morning, Nov 2. The Warren Commission had it Sat Nov 9 based on what Bogard said the date was, which was impossible according to Ruth Paine's testimony that Oswald was with her and Marina all that day. However another salesman dated it firmly to Nov 2 (http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/W Disk/Wilson Eugene/Item 01.pdf). Ruth Paine said there was one Saturday when Lee had come out later than normal, which would be the only possible time an Oswald visit to a car dealership could have occurred, and that was Sat Nov. 2. Marina also remembered that there was one Saturday morning when Lee came out late, because he told her he was applying for another job that morning, which although Marina did not remember an exact date is also compatible with Sat Nov 2. That Sat Nov 2 was the date of the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury customer visit, and that that customer visit cannot have been Sat Nov 9 or Sat 16 whoever the customer was, I showed was further confirmed by the weather for Fort Worth those days (data unavailable for Dallas): the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury salesmen said it had rained and the roads were slick that day, but Nov 9 and Nov 16 there was zero rain in Fort Worth those entire days, whereas on Nov 2 in Fort Worth it rained at 9 am.

It now emerges to me that the Southland Hotel Garage claimed Oswald sighting should be identified as Oswald, and dated Sat Nov 2. The Dallas Police Department and FBI interviews are here: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10108#relPageId=5&search=morrow_allright parking. Previously I thought that was a mistaken identification. However if it was Sat Nov 2, Oswald was in downtown Dallas anyway (the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury visit). Further, the clothing description of the would-be applicant at the Southland Hotel Garage, and the would-be car purchaser at the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury, agree, as well as independently remembered as having used the name "Oswald" in each case. That the person inquiring about a job at the Southland Hotel Garage that morning was Oswald and not someone else is based on this (FBI interview, 1/25/64):

 "Hubert Anderson Morrow, Jr. ... had been employed at the Southland Hotel Garage (Allrght Parking System), 1208 Commerce Street, Dallas, Texas ... Morrow advised that shortly after Lee Harvey Oswald was allegedly killed by Jack Ruby, he observed a photograph of Oswald in the paper and on television and recalled that a person who strongly resembled Oswald, and whom he believed to be identical, came to the Southland Hotel Garage early one morning about two weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in answer to an ad for help to work at the garage. He said he wrote the name of this man down on a pad of paper and put it down, 'Lee Harvey Osburn', and the individual said, 'No, my name is Oswald'. He said he did not keep the paper and it had been thrown away with the trash. He said that he recalled this man asked hm how tall the building was and if it had a good view of Dallas and he recalled that this man had a 'Dallas Morning News' newspaper under his arm, was dressed in a football-type sweatshirt and blue jeans. He said this man left the name which he recalled to be Oswald, but no address, and waited around about 45 minutes or one hour and departed, about 7:30 or 7:50 AM, but was not interviewed."

The clothing is of interest, for if this occurred the same Saturday morning--Nov 2--as the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury visit, and they were both Oswald, the witnesses' independent memory of the clothing should be the same. As it turns out, that is the case. A different interview of Morrow by Detective Carroll of DPD of 1/27/64--two days after the FBI interview quoted above--has this:

"Mr. Morrow stated that at the time subject was applying for employment he was dressed in a dirty white T shirt and blue jeans, and was carrying a newspaper, and that it was during the early morning hours..."

White T-shirt and blue jeans. Now to the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury witnesses. Frank Pizzo, Warren Commission testimony (10, 347):

Mr. Pizzo. I got to thinking about it and I looked at him [Oswald on television] and he looked familiar to me, and at that time I could have sworn it was him, because I remember a man in a T-shirt. I don't mean the open T-shirt but a full T-shirt.

Mr. Jenner. Like the kind you wore in the Marines?

Mr. Pizzo. Well, it wasn't green, but that type--the full T-shirt with a sleeve.

Mr. Jenner. About a half sleeve?

Mr. Pizzo. Yes.

None of the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury witnesses speak of Oswald's pants, which at the Southland Hotel Garage were remembered as blue jeans. Although Oswald was not known to wear blue jeans to work at the TSBD (consistent with Sat Nov 2 Oswald is not at work), found among Oswald's possessions was "C230, Pair of blue jeans" (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=9945#relPageId=140). 

The timing of the Southland Hotel Garage visit of Oswald received various estimates (Morrow 1/23/64: 'approximately six or seven days prior to the assassination"; Simpson 2/1/64 [hearsay from Morrow], "about a week or two prior to the assassination"]; Morrow 1/25/64: "about two weeks before the assassination"; DPD Chief Curry 1/24/64 [hearsay from Morrow]: "five or six days prior to the assassination"; Montgomery 1/25/64 [fellow employee, hearsay from Morrow]: "about a week before the President was assassinated"). However the earliest report of a time estimate is this hearsay from Morrow reported by Simpson to Carroll of DPD:

"Bob K. Carroll, Detective, Dallas Police Department, advised on January 27, 1964, that he received information on December 1, 1963, from Johnny Simpson, who is employed at the Simon Parking Garage at Field and Jackson Streets, Dallas, that Lee Harvey Oswald had applied for a job at the Southland Hotel Garage, a branch of the Allright Parking System at 1208 Commerce Street, Dallas, about two or three weeks prior to the assassination of President Kennedy."

Note how early this first information of this story emerged, stemming from Morrow: Dec 1. This Dec 1 information (hearsay from Morrow) dates Oswald at that parking garage "two or three weeks prior to the assassination", which would be Nov 1-8, in agreement with Sat Nov 2.

Therefore the witness identifications match; the clothing matches; the Saturday morning Oswald arrived late to Irving matches; the earliest report of the timeline matches; and the two events in proximity both in downtown Dallas match. Therefore I conclude it was Oswald in both cases, and there is no conflict to the timeline and testimony of Ruth Paine.

As to how Oswald got out to Irving that Saturday: he would take a bus to Irving and then walk from the Irving bus station to the home of Ruth Paine, similar to how he got there on Oct 4 the day after he returned to Dallas from Mexico City. On Oct 4 he took a bus from Dallas to Irving and then got a ride to Ruth's house. Although I have not verified the location of the bus station in Irving in 1963, the location of Ruth Paine's house is only about one mile from the "Downtown Heritage District" according to current maps. If the bus station was located around there in 1963, it would be no problem for Oswald to walk from the bus station to the Ruth Paine house, arriving mid-day Sat Nov 2.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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20 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

It was the weekend of Nov 8-11, meaning it occurred before Oswald's arrival to Irving Friday evening Nov 8. The date will have been between Wed Nov 6 and Fri Nov 8, one of those three days. The FBI office was located on Commerce Street, and Oswald would have walked there during his lunch break from work at the Texas School Book Depository.

Oswald is known to have checked out a book from the Dallas main public library, The Shark and the Sardines, on Wed Nov 6. The Dallas main public library also at that time was located on Commerce Street (1954 Commerce St., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Dallas_Central_Library). Of course Oswald could have walked twice on two separate days that week to Commerce Street on his lunch break. However, if both of those Commerce Street events occurred the same day, the Oswald Hosty FBI office visit also would be Wed Nov 6.

From the Parnell time line---



November 11, 1963: LHO spends Veteran's Day at the Paine home.

November 12, 1963: LHO delivers a note to the FBI building addressed to Hosty warning



If it helps...the FBI was/is? located on the 9th-11th floor in the Federal building-1114 Commerce. That was at least a 7-8 block walk from the TSBD. The old library was also on Commerce but a good mile [20 minute walk] east of the TSBD across from old city hall.


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1 hour ago, Karl Hilliard said:

From the Parnell time line---

If it helps...the FBI was/is? located on the 9th-11th floor in the Federal building-1114 Commerce. That was at least a 7-8 block walk from the TSBD. The old library was also on Commerce but a good mile [20 minute walk] east of the TSBD across from old city hall.

Hi Karl--yes the Parnell time line has the Oswald Hosty note visit Nov 12, as do all major reference sources, deriving that from Hosty's memory (the Hosty note visit of Oswald only first came to light in the mid-1970s). I am saying that is mistaken by a few days, for reasons given. I gave my reason why it had to have preceded rather than postdated the weekend of Nov 9-11, and therefore occurred Nov 6-8. That reason has nothing to do with the library visit. But It is also known that Oswald was on Commerce at the old main library building on Nov 6, as a separate matter of fact. And as you bring out, Oswald would have passed the Federal Building with the FBI offices (Hosty) either coming or going on Commerce walking from the Texas School Book Depository to the library. Since both of the Commerce St. destinations would have been rather long round-trip walks on a 45-minute lunch hour (yet the Nov 6 presence of Oswald at the main library on Commerce is a matter of library record), it would make very good sense that both of these Commerce Street visits of Oswald, independently established as Nov 6 and Nov 6-8, occurred on Nov 6. 

I also think there may have been some understanding with Oswald's immediate boss, Shelley, and Truly, that Oswald could be gone or take a longer lunch break than usual without penalty from time to time without questions asked.

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Further evidence Oswald was in downtown Dallas (not Irving) on Saturday morning, Nov 2, 1963

I have argued above and I think established that Saturday Nov 2 was the date of Oswald at the Southland Parking Garage and Oswald at the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury--the Saturday Marina said she remembered Lee arrived late to Irving one Saturday because he told her he was applying for another job.

All of that was before becoming aware of this document which confirms Oswald was in downtown Dallas that Saturday. From Dallas postal inspector Harry Holmes to the Postal Inspection Service, Dec 3, 1963:

"His [Oswald's] current post office box was 6225 located in the Terminal Annex post office just one block from where he was employed. The fact that this box existed was brought to light by the alertness of a postal employee in the box rental section who, after hearing early broadcasts of the apprehension of Lee H. Oswald, recalled that he had recently rented a box to a person by that name and upon checking his box rental applications, he did determine that this box had been rented to Lee H. Oswald on November 2, 1963, and promptly furnished this information to me and it was passed on to the Secret Service."

(Report of Harry Holmes, Malcom Blunt Archive, "USPS--Rifle order--Kleins Chicago--A. Hidell 1964", p. 31, quoted in Tom Gram, "Rethinking Oswald's Mail" [Jan 2022], reference at fn cviii, https://gregrparker.com/rethinking-oswalds-mail/)

The post office box rental would be done in person at the counter. Oswald combined at least three activities in downtown Dallas that Saturday morning, the third being the opening of PO Box 6225 at the Terminal Annex post office, before going to Irving that day. 

UPDATE 2/7/22: It is possible Oswald turned in the paperwork for the PO box in person at the Terminal Annex post office on Fri Nov 1, near his workplace (TSBD), with processing of the paperwork done and dated Sat Nov 2 at the post office, such that this item in itself may not require Oswald's physical presence there on Saturday.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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  • 4 weeks later...

The meaning of Oswald's words that Roger Craig heard in Fritz's office: Oswald was referring to his driving Ruth Paine's car on Nov 11

From deputy sheriff Roger Craig's manuscript, When They Kill a President (written 1971), (https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/WTKaP.html), this familiar passage which has received much discussion and attention.

"Later that afternoon I received word of the suspect’s arrest and the fact that he was suspected of being involved in the President’s death. I immediately thought of the man running down the grassy knoll. I made a telephone call to Capt. Will Fritz and gave him the description of the man I had seen and Fritz said, “that sounds like the suspect we have. Can you come up and take a look at him?”

"I arrived at Capt. Fritz office shortly after 4:30 p.m. I was met by Agent Bookhout from the F.B.I., who took my name and place of employment. The door to Capt. Fritz’ personal office was open and the blinds on the windows were closed, so that one had to look through the doorway in order to see into the room. I looked through the open door at the request of Capt. Fritz and identified the man who I saw running down the grassy knoll and enter the Rambler station wagon—and it WAS Lee Harvey Oswald. 

"Fritz and I entered his private office together. He told Oswald, “This man (pointing to me) saw you leave.” At which time the suspect replied, “I told you people I did.” Fritz, apparently trying to console Oswald, said, “Take it easy, son—we’re just trying to find out what happened.” Fritz then said, “What about the car?” Oswald replied, leaning forward on Fritz’ desk, “That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine—don’t try to drag her into this.” Sitting back in his chair, Oswald said very disgustedly and very low, “Everybody will know who I am now.” 

"At this time Capt. Fritz ushered me from his office, thanking me. I walked away saddened but relieved that it was the end of the day and I could go home"

Analysis: Roger Craig's story of seeing the man run from the direction of the TSBD to the station wagon was true; Marvin C. Robinson of Oak Cliff was driving immediately behind that station wagon on Elm Street and witnessed it stop and pick up the same man Roger Craig saw. However, contrary to what Roger Craig thought, it was not Lee Harvey Oswald and the station wagon was not Ruth Paine's. No connection between those two vehicles.

I have long puzzled over what Roger Craig reported hearing in Fritz's office from Oswald. I have suspected that Roger Craig heard real words of Oswald but did not understand their meaning or sense, but nevertheless the actual words of Oswald come through. Oswald's words make no sense in terms of Nov 22, for Oswald had nothing whatsoever to do with that Rambler Nash station wagon which stopped in front of the TSBD to make a pickup of someone about ten minutes after Oswald had left the TSBD on foot and took the bus and cab to Oak Cliff.

But I have suspected that there is meaning in Oswald's words based on some confusion in Oswald's mind concerning the question asked, or in Roger Craig's hearing of the exchange, one or the other. For I now see that whereas Roger Craig thought Oswald was responding to a question about the Nash Rambler of that dayOswald is answering in continuation of a line of questioning which had been taking place before Roger Craig arrived.

Oswald had been questioned by Capt. Fritz about information that Fritz has received that Oswald had a rifle sighted at the Irving Sports Shop. Roger Craig walked in in the midst of that happening in Fritz's office. Roger Craig did not know that prior context. 

Fritz tells Oswald, "This man saw you leave"

Oswald responds in terms of the questioning about the Irving Sports Shop, thinking the reference is to a witness who saw him that day: "I told you people I did".

Roger Craig's memory of Oswald's words may be shaped by Roger Craig's assumption that Oswald is referring to leaving the TSBD. Again, this account of what Oswald said is hearsay from a 1971 witness memory in a case in which the witness does not know context. For all we know Fritz might have said something like, "This man saw you get in a car" remembered by Roger Craig as "This man saw you leave" whereas Oswald misunderstands the question as referring to a witness having seen him driving a car in Irving that day of Nov 11.

Oswald: "I told you people I did."

Fritz: "What about the car?" 

Oswald responds concerning his driving Ruth Paine's car the day of the Furniture Mart and Irving Sports Shop, in continuity with a line of questioning between Fritz and Oswald before Roger Craig's arrival.

Oswald: "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine--don't try to drag her into this."

Oswald drove Ruth Paine's car, her BelAir station wagon, on Mon Nov 11. Oswald drove Ruth Paine's car, with Marina and their child and baby with him, without Ruth Paine's knowledge or permission that day. Oswald quite rightly is attempting to keep Ruth Paine out of Fritz's line of fire in the police investigation, explaining that although it was Ruth Paine's car he had driven, Ruth Paine had nothing to do with it, nothing to do with his visit to the Irving Sports Shop to get work done on a rifle. 

Frtiz knew of Oswald's visit to the Irving Sports Shop with a rifle, by 4:30 pm Friday (the time Roger Craig entered Fritz's office and heard the brief exchange without knowledge of prior context). Oswald answers with respect to that because Fritz was actively questioning him about that at the time Roger Craig made his appearance.

How did Fritz know that about Oswald that early?

On the basis of information put out by the Dallas police, it is known that the Dallas police--Fritz--supposedly received a report later that weekend from sources which never have been clear--telling of Oswald having a rifle sighted at a sports shop in Irving, with information sufficient to identify the exact sports shop where that occurred. Supposedly anonymous, never-explained phone calls into the Dallas police later that weekend were said to be the source of that information.

Here is a better explanation: Fritz learned on Friday afternoon about Oswald getting the rifle sighted at a sports shop in Irving. But the means by which that had been learned could not be disclosed. (The usual reason for information being classified, it would reveal sources and methods.) Therefore the BS story that police learned later that weekend of Oswald and his rifle at the Irving Sports Shop because some unknown, unnamed, never-identified citizen phoned it in. When that was an alternative story for public consumption to cover for the real explanation of the real fact that Fritz had learned of it Friday afternoon. 

What was the true source of information to Dallas police concerning Oswald and his rifle sighting in Irving that could not be disclosed, calling for concealment in the form of the "anonymous phone caller" substitute explanation?

When Oswald conveyed the rifle to another party in Oak Cliff on the morning of Thu Nov 21--per reconstruction which has been independently developed here-- Oswald could have told the person to whom he was conveying the rifle at that time, how the rifle's scope had been reinstalled and sighted by a gunsmith (as part of explanation that the rifle was in good condition, as good as new), and could have told where he had it done, or said it had been done in Irving. That is, Oswald himself could be the source of that information to the person obtaining the rifle from Oswald. (And curiously, the original Dallas police reporting of the so-called anonymous phone caller telling of Oswald sighting a rifle at a sports shop in Irving said mistakenly that that sighting had occurred the day before the assassination, Nov 21. When that was the day Oswald conveyed the rifle, not when he had it sighted which was Nov 11. A curious coincidence in the DPD's earliest written notes reporting on that.) In this pathway by which Dallas police learned of Oswald at the sports shop in Irving, the person to whom Oswald told that on Thu Nov 21 in turn was the actual source of information, whether directly or through additional mediating persons, to the Dallas police. (Note also that officer Tippit was physically present at the Dobbs House in Oak Cliff at the same time Oswald was there ca. 10 am Thu Nov 21 at the time and context in which Oswald conveyed the rifle, though there is no witness report of seeing Tippit talk to or outwardly showing signs of knowing Oswald.)

A second possible pathway of information (or maybe the same?) concerning Oswald at the sports shop in Irving getting to Fritz by 4:30 pm Friday could be related to a visit to Fritz's office that afternoon of Treasury ATF agent Frank Ellsworth, who was involved in undercover work investigating illegal arms transfers by extremist right-wing groups. Ellsworth went to Fritz's office when Oswald was there and what transpired or was said behind the closed door of Fritz's office on that occasion, with the three of them inside--Fritz, Ellsworth, and Oswald--is not known. There is no report, no mention of that in any reporting, no mention of that in any Warren Commission testimony, even telling of the existence of Ellsworth's presence with Fritz and Oswald that day. It would not be known to have happened at all if Ellsworth had not spoken of it years later. 

Independently, there is a report of witness claim that Fritz privately suggesting that Oswald did, in fact, tell Fritz that he, Oswald, was working as an informant for some agency. The below is my transcription from handwritten interview notes of Harrison Livingstone of someone, screenshot posted by Robin Finn here: https://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/27614-leading-arguments-oswald-was-innocentguilty-of-personally-shootingkilling-jfk/page/3/#comments:

"He told the Warren Commission he had kept no notes, but was not asked why. The wife of one of Fritz' best friends recently told researchers that Fritz had secretly recorded his Oswald interrogations... The tapes are supposedly safe. She added that Fritz was afraid for the safety of his family and relatves, and that Oswald had admitted being a member of the intelligence community." 

And yet nothing of any admission or claim of Oswald to being an informant for an agency appears in any of the written reports of the Oswald interrogations. 

Which raises a question: is there any record in any of the written reports of the Oswald questioning--of Fritz, Bookhout, Hosty, Holmes--or in the testimony to the Warren Commission--of anyone having asked Oswald if he worked for any US agency, and what Oswald might have answered?

Not that I know of. Yet I think it can be said with approximately 100% certainty that he would have been asked, if he did not voluntarily tell Fritz before being asked. And yet there is no record of his being asked or record of his answer if he was, no record of that topic ever having come up in the questioning in any of the reports.

From ATF agent Ellsworth's later account, Fritz called him to come over to Fritz's office in the Dallas police station on Friday afternoon. As Ellsworth later explained it, the reason for Fritz's request was something about taking a look at the rifle and seeing if he recognized it from ATF's undercover investigation of illegal firearms. That is Ellsworth's later explanation. If that was all there was to it, why would there have been no record or mention made of Ellsworth's visit? Why no record from Fritz as to what Ellsworth was asked and what Ellsworth answered?

Could it be Oswald was an informant for ATF and Ellsworth was Oswald's contact? And that Ellsworth could have been the source of information to Fritz on Friday afternoon that Oswald had had the rifle sighted at a sports shop in Irving? The timeline fits--Ellsworth's visit to Fritz's office and encounter with Oswald occurred that same afternoon as when Roger Craig came by and heard the snippet of Fritz exchange with Oswald.

Roger Craig misunderstood what he heard from Oswald in Fritz's office, like coming into a conversation which has already been happening. Oswald had a reason for acknowledgement that it was Ruth Paine's car while insisting that Ruth Paine be kept out of it because she had nothing to do with it--this was Oswald referring to Ruth Paine's car which he (Oswald) had driven to get the rifle scope installed and sighted. 

The reason Oswald referred to Ruth Paine's station wagon therefore had to do with Oswald at the sports shop in Irving on Nov 11, and nothing to do with the Nash Rambler station wagon of a different color which picked up a passenger in front of the TSBD at about 12:45 pm on Nov 22. 

I am not aware that this interpretation of those words of Oswald has been proposed before now in explanation of what Roger Craig heard that day. (If this reconstruction has been previously proposed I would appreciate knowing so as to give proper acknowledgement.)

But to me, it now makes sense of what has long seemed nonsensical. We can now realize that Roger Craig heard and remembered some true words of Oswald but without Roger Craig correctly understanding the meaning of what he heard. But in light of what we can know now, like a glow of recognition we can piece together what may actually have been going on in that exchange--a glimpse of reference to Oswald and the sports shop in Irving.

And then Oswald's final words of that exchange according to Roger Craig:

Oswald: "Everybody will know who I am now."

This last line has already been recognized to read well not as a statement of megalomania, but a statement of regret, that a cover is being blown. That is how Roger Craig interpreted the tone of Oswald as he remembered Oswald saying that. By the present analysis that is a correct interpretation: the reference is to a cover being blown. 

Long story short: what Roger Craig heard Oswald say that day was corroboration from Oswald himself alluding to his having driven Ruth Paine's car on Monday Nov 11 to the Furniture Mart and then the Irving Sports Shop. It further supports the analysis and reconstruction developed in this thread. 

There is no other good explanation for Oswald's reference to Ruth Paine's station wagon that day.

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