IN November, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assisinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. This event holds importance for me because, as it turns out, I actually met Lee Harvey Oswald in that same year. Here's the complete story.
I attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama from 1962 to 1964. In the dormitory where I resided, there was a custom to have famous or interesting people come and talk to the students. These visits included authors, research scientists, athletes, or anyone with an interesting story to tell. A fellow by the name of Gene Murret had told our speakers committee that his cousin, Lee Oswald, would be passing through Mobile with his wife and would be intersted in talking to us. He had just reutrned from living in Russia, and came back to the U.S. with his new wife, Marina. So the speech was scheduled in about August of 1963.
I, of course, showed up for his speech that afternoon and found it interesting. He provided some details about his trip, but many in the audience were more interested in his purpose for going there. There are several key points I remember. When we would mistakingly ask him about being a "communist," he would correct us and say that he was a socialist; that communism is something that Russia had tried, but that it wasn't working. He blamed this attempt to practice Communism in its strictest form to explain the economic problems and poverty Russia was experiencing. Another interesting piece of information was that he would go out on weekends with Russian friends to hunt bear, and in doing that he became and excellent marksman.
It so happens that since this was an all male dormitory, in those days women were not allowed there. So a fellow from among our group, Bob Fitzpatrick, volunteered to stay with Marina in a reception area at the front of the building while Lee's talk was going on. peoples' lives. One selfish reason he had for doing this was based on the fact that he was majoring in languages, particularly Russian (he even subscribe to Pravda, the Russian newspaper). Thus he could practice his Russian with Marina and discuss life in Russia as she had lived it.)
Another interesting fact about this event is based on a custom we had. All talks by visiting speakers were tape-recorded for the benefit of students who could not make the live presentation; they could simply borrow the tape and listen to it privately. But it so happens this this was one of the few presentation where someone forgot to set up the tape recorder. Thus, there was no tape of Oswald made! IT was either forgotten or no one told the event coordinator to do it. We can only imagine what value this might have had to the FBI and the Warren Commission.
Of course, several months after that, Kennedy was assasinated, and when we saw that on TV. And when we saw that several in front of the TV said "Oh my God, he's the guy who visited us!"
A month or so later, Bob Fitzpatrick visited with everyone who had attended Oswald's talk and took notes on what they remembered. I think he said that he was going to submit that to the FBI. (See Bob's report to the FBI for more information.
In reading the Warren report and other doucuments, I've never seen this incident at Spring Hill College published in detail. There are some one-sentences reference to this visit in the Spring Hill on-line legacy and in links to who-is-Oswald sites.
I'm often asked about my thoughts on this incident; what did I think of Oswald? The particular remarks I remember were his saying that he didn't believe in communism as a viable approach, but he strongly believed in Socialism. A of course there's the remark about his shooting marksmanship. Finally, I got the impression that he was a very nervous and insecure man. He never smiled but in a subdued voice spit out lots of dry facts and information with no emotional inflection. My first impression was that he was too unstable and disorganized to commit that crime. And yet, I'm sure one could argue that a person with so much logic and so little emotion in his personality is the exact person who would be best at committing an assination like that of Kennedy's.
Several years ago my daughter was working on a project in an American Studies class where students were to find someone who could narrate an interesting event in U.S. history. So she interviewed me and I played narrator explaning my experiences at Spring Hill. She thoroughly documented my comments and presented them in class. Her presentation on this was a success and a great hit with the students.