Oswald Down the Stretch

How do we define Lee Oswald’s mood and temperament as his day of destiny approached. What is going through his mind? How would you summarize his psychological makeup and condition if you choose one word?

I will choose the word foreboding.

Lee seems to know his inescapable destiny – and can do little about it.

He would like to escape his predicament, yet cannot. Duty calls. Like a good soldier, he moves forward, hoping for the best, but knowing somehow that the worst is the only possible outcome.

He is trapped within the game he chose to play, the only game that gave him value in his life. He is Herbert Philbrick, taking out the commies; and John F. Kennedy in his mind is a commie.

He has read enough to know that soldiers must fall if the battle for freedom is to be won.

He is ready to fall if need be, but like any solider he is scared and has doubts.

Maybe, he thinks, there is another way. Maybe he can find that other way.

And so, working backwards with a little information we have, Lee Oswald doesn’t sleep much the night before his day of destiny. He falls asleep, at 5 AM, and awakes at 7 AM.

He leaves all his money, $1701, on the dresser along with his wedding ring, which he almost never removes.

He kisses the kids goodbye, but does not kiss Marina goodbye.

What does this mean? Is Lee dissing Marina? Maybe, but it could be that Lee didn’t want Marina to wake up and see his ring there. Perhaps he wanted to avoid the emotion of it all. There was nothing that could be done anyway.

On the other hand, maybe Marina was awake with Lee right to the very minute he left the house. Maybe Marina and Ruth were consoling him. Certainly Ruth Paine was smart enough to calculate what might happen. She wasn’t stupid. We’re pretty damn sure she was working for intelligence services later in her career; it’s a good bet she was working for intelligence in Irving.

What Lee is communicating to me is inevitability. He’s resigned himself to whatever happens.

Perhaps this is why he spent so much time playing with Junie the night before. Perhaps this is why he played with the other kids in the neighborhood so freely and happily. This is what Buell Frazier noted. Lee knew all too well that children are fundamentally happy creatures, not encumbered with their parent’s harsh tendency to judge. Kids were a safe zone for Lee Oswald.

And so he played with them whenever he got the chance, not only because he knew that his time on Earth was limited but because he wanted you to see what he felt the powers would not want you to see: a three dimensional human being, instead of a lone-nut assassin.

Lee Oswald was not a stupid guy, nor was he a loser. You’re not a loser if you have expertly fooled everyone into thinking you are a commie nut job when you are not.

Surely Lee would have speculated about his role in this mission. I don’t think Lee was just reading when he was in his room at 1026 Beckley. Reading was important to him, of course, but I believe thinking is what he really liked to do. I imagine that he liked lying on the bed looking at the ceiling thinking about the cosmos and how everything fit together. Anyone who questions God and religion is a true philosopher, and Lee certainly was that.

Did Lee pray to God in his final days? Did he cry out to God for deliverance?

Maybe we can answer that question by examining his actions earlier in the month.

Moving backward in time we see that Oswald was at the Sports Drome on 11/16/63, just 6 days before his date with destiny. Young Sterling Wood noticed Oswald in the booth next to him as he was shooting. I’ve gone over this in some detail here and here. I don’t want to relive old memories.

It makes sense that Buell Frazier drove him to the Sports Drome on 11/16/63, and that LHO indeed was there. But why? Why would a man who was going to shoot the President, and who obviously had intention of evading the police (because he did), advertise his presence so openly? If your goal is to get away with it, why not practice in private? Buell Frazier, or whoever drove him there, has a car; you obviously have a rifle; so why not drive out into the country where no one cane see you?

Why advertise yourself unless your intention is to be noticed?

That might precisely be Lee Oswald’s motive in attending the Sports Drome on that day.

Earlier in the day on 11/16/63, Lee Oswald was spotted by Hubert Morrow downtown. Hubert Morrow worked at Allright Parking System on 1208 Commerce Street. He states that Lee Oswald inquired about a job at Allright Parking. He wanted to know if you could see all of Dallas from the top of the parking garage. The DPD felt that Morrow’s sighting was credible. Gus Russo states that Lee Oswald was carrying a rifle that day; although there is no report of a rifle in the DPD’s report on Hubert Morrow.

Why would Lee Oswald apply for a job at Allright Parking in order to shoot the President when he had a pretty good spot at the TBSD? Given that he was part of a conspiracy, given that the site was already fixed in stone, why would he apply for a job somewhere else in order to shoot the President? Why would he not use an alias as he did at his boarding house? He would only use his real name and apply there if he was trying to call attention to himself. Now, if he wasn’t planning to go through with it, he could’ve spilled the beans at any time. He could have shut the entire operation down.

Why would he call attention to himself? What is he trying to communicate?

Is he saying to us: “Look here. Something isn’t right here. I can’t talk about what I’m doing, but I want you to ask questions about what I’m doing. Does it make sense to you that I would overtly practice in public with a rifle if I were planning to get away with the assassination? Why would I go looking for another venue to assassinate the President when I already had the best seat in town? Besides 1208 Commerce is on the wrong side (south side) of Commerce to get a shot at JFK if he comes down Main.”

Maybe James Hosty has the answers.

James Hosty is the FBI agent who was inquiring about Marina in early November while Lee was away at work. Hosty was more concerned about Marina than Lee. Hosty, like others, thought Marina might be a spy. Good thinking; maybe she is.

Hosty had visited Marina around November 1 and November 5. Apparently upset that Hosty was bothering his wife, Oswald, on his spare time, walked over to the FBI building and left a note in order to scare Hosty off.

Hosty later destroyed the note upon the orders of his boss and gave his innocent summary of what the note stated. His secretary, however, gave a different story. His secretary, Nannie Lee Fenner, stated that the note went something like this:

Let this be a warning. I will blow up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department if you don’t stop bothering my wife.

Lee Harvey Oswald

I believe Nannie Lee Fenner. She has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by making this statement, plus the Warren Commission chose to downplay her statement.

Given the veracity of her statement, one would have to wonder why Lee Oswald would write himself a one-way ticket to jail by writing a note such as this. Was Oswald impetuous? Can we attribute his actions to his immaturity and rash behavior? This is unlikely as Oswald does not have a consistent daily behavioral pattern of going off on people. One could easily see Jack Ruby writing such an extreme note, but Lee Oswald? Such behavior is at odds with LHO’s cool demeanor during and after his arrest.

Perhaps Oswald wrote the note for the express purpose of being arrested a la Richard Nagell. Short of that, perhaps he again desired to communicate a message to those of us in the future: “Look here; I’m not that stupid. Something is not right here. Save me from my destiny if you can; but please think twice.”

Why does Hosty destroy the note? Okay, why does his boss, Gordon Shanklin, tell him to destroy the note? Given that the FBI knows that this man works in a building close to the Presidents impending parade route, why would the FBI not address the substance of this note?

Oswald was dismissed as a nut, and the note was buried.

Less is known of Oswald’s doings in October.

On October 10th shortly after arriving in Dallas, Oswald is walking downtown around the Baker Hotel on Commerce and Akard Street. He runs into an exchange student from Ecuador, Cristobal Espinosa. They begin to talk on friendly terms about Dallas and Ecuador. Oswald talks about which clubs have the best shows, and he is curious as to what life would be like for an American in Ecuador. Espinosa writes Oswald’s name down on a notepad. I’m not sure why Oswald would know anything about the best shows in town unless he is secretly living the Goodfellas life. Nor are we sure which type of show he is talking about. Is he talking about the kind of show that Jack Ruby would put on at the Carousel Club? Well, the Carousel club is only a one minute walk away to Dealey Plaza, and Espinosa says that he and Oswald walked for four or five blocks.

These events summarize what little we know of Lee Oswald during the month of October and November. There were other incidents such as him attending the Edwin Walker speech with Michael Paine, and him having visited a furniture store with Marina and the kids in early November. There were also less credible sightings.

These principal events are as follows:

  • Lee leaving his wedding ring and entire fortune of $170.
  • Lee spending extra time with Junie.
  • Lee playing with kids in the neighborhood.
  • Lee visiting the Sports Drome.
  • Lee visiting the Allright Parking garage to look for a job and presumably a high place from which to shoot a rifle.
  • Lee threatening the FBI.
  • Lee walking downtown, wondering about life as an American in Latin America

The five traditional stages of grief are (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance.

Surely Lee Oswald knew his life was beginning to close down. I will argue that as he was tooling around South Texas in early October looking for a job at KOPY and KBOP, he was in denial. He fleetingly dreamed of a different life there. By the time he settled back in Dallas, denial was morphing over to anger at which point he threatened the FBI. A week later, denial has transitioned to bargaining at Allright Parking and the Sports Drome; at these venues, he is coming to accept his destiny. Staying in one’s room and not socializing can be a form of depression. 1026 Beckley, with a host of single men, is usually fodder for the politically motivated Oswald. Under normal circumstances one would expect him to be out there in the common area articulating his communist philosophy to everyone – but not if one is depressed. Ultimately LHO comes to full acceptance of his fate in the early morning hours of 11/22/63.

This is the narrative that makes sense.

But it doesn’t answer my question: Did Oswald ask God for deliverance?

What do you think?

He was certainly crying out to someone.


  1. The $170 that Oswald leaves on Marina’s dresser might not sound like much today, but it went a lot further back in 1963. For example, a McDonald’s hamburger cost $.15 in 1963. French fries cost equally $.10, and Coke cost $.10. Given the total cost of $.35 as compared to the seven or eight dollars you pay today, let’s multiply a factor of 20 times the $170 to arrive at $3400. That’s a lot of dough for the average bloke.

Copyright 2022 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved

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