top of page
  • Matt Crumpton

Ep 30: Young Oswald (Part 2)



EPISODE 30 – Young Oswald (Part 2)

 

In the last episode, we covered the numerous schools that Lee Harvey Oswald attended from 1st grade through 8th grade. We also talked about several instances of the records not lining up or making sense. For example, the 7408 Ewing address listed for Oswald at Benbrook Common School two years before the Oswald’s lived there, the allegations of Oswald being in North Dakota in the Summer of 1953, and, most notably, the Beauregard report card showing that Oswald attended 89 days of Junior High School in New Orleans in the fall of 1953, when we know that Oswald was still living in New York and attending PS 44 at the time.  

 

I’m not sure what those evidentiary anomalies mean. But, you have to admit, those things I just mentioned don’t seem to add up.

 

In this episode, we continue looking at the upbringing of Lee Harvey Oswald; this time, focusing on 1954, when Oswald was in the middle of his eighth grade year at Beauregard, until Oswald dropped out of high school. We’ll look at Oswald’s job at Dolly Shoe, confusion over Oswald’s address in New Orleans, the conflicting evidence about Oswald attending Stripling Junior High School in Fort Worth, when he was supposed to be at Beauregard in New Orleans, and whether Oswald knew David Ferrie from his time in the Civil Air Patrol.

 

Return To New Orleans

 

According to the Warren Report, Marguerite and Lee Oswald left New York to return to New Orleans in January 1954, which conflicts with the Beauregard Junior High School report card in the Warren Report volumes that shows Oswald attended 89 days of school at Beauregard in the Fall of 1953.[1] But, let’s put that aside for now.

 

Regardless of what happened in the Fall of 53, we know for sure that Oswald was attending Beauregard during the Spring Semester of 1954 for the second half of 8th grade.

 

When Marguerite and Lee arrived in New Orleans in January, they stayed for 2 weeks at 809 French Street where Marguerite’s sister, Lillian Murret, lived. Marguerite and Lee then moved into 1454 St. Mary’s, which was an apartment building owned by Marguerite’s friend of 20 years – Myrtle Evans.[2] The Oswald’s lived at this apartment from mid January 1954 until November of 1954, when they moved next door to 1452 St. Mary’s for cheaper rent.[3]

 

Oswald was enrolled in classes at Beauregard shortly after he returned to New Orleans. Myra DaRouse was a gym teacher - and was Oswald’s homeroom teacher for Spring Semester of 8th grade in 1954. Here’s DaRouse talking about her interactions with Oswald:

 

“I held my roll call in the cafeteria on a stage in the basement. Sometime after Christmas, I got a new student. It turns out, his name was Lee Harvey Oswald. I never called him Lee Harvey Oswald, because he told me not to call him Lee. He wanted to be called Harvey.[4]

 

DaRouse got to know Oswald from being his homeroom teacher. She also remembers seeing him in the morning before school, waiting on the front steps for the school doors to be unlocked. She said that the only person she ever saw Oswald hang out with was Ed Voebel, who DaRouse often saw riding bikes after school with Oswald.[5]

 

DaRouse specifically remembers an incident related to an upright piano that fell on Oswald.

 

“On one occasion when we were practicing basketball in the school yard, Ed Voebel runs out and says, ‘Ms. DaRouse come inside quick! The other PE teacher and I went to the basement, and there on the floor was Harvey with an upright piano that had fallen. His legs from about the waist down was under the piano.”[6]

 

DaRouse and the other teacher helped Ed Voebel lift the piano off of Oswald. She then asked if he was okay. He said yes, but DaRouse wanted to call his mom just to be safe. Oswald said his mom was at work and asked not to call her.[7]

 

“Well, ya know this happened at school and you can’t be too careful, so I told our principal Mr. McMurta and asked him what she should do. He said to take him to Monte Lepre Clinic. They examined him and said it was fine. It was getting dark and it was a little after 5:00. So, I didn’t want him going home by himself and I asked him where he lived and he said he lived on Exchange Alley down by the river.  So I drove him down and it was really a disgusting place and I was awful glad I didn’t live there.”[8]

           

We just heard DaRouse say that she gave Oswald a ride home to Exchange Alley at some time during Spring Semester of 1954. So, that’s sometime before school was out. But, we know that during Spring Semester 1954, Oswald lived at 1454 St. Mary’s where Marguerite’s friend, Myrtle Evans, was their landlord - until they moved next door to 1452 St. Mary’s in November 1954. This is consistent with Warren Commission Exhibit 1963, which is a timeline of Oswald’s addresses. Exchange Alley - where Oswald was dropped  off by his teacher - and St Mary’s are two miles apart. So what is going on here? Is Myra DaRouse just wrong about where she dropped off Oswald.

 

DaRouse didn’t speak to the Warren Commission. But, she was interviewed by the FBI. The report says the interview was on April 2, 1964. But, DaRouse claims the FBI actually interviewed her on the Monday after the assassination.[9]

 

One more discrepancy in the record that was pointed out by Myra DaRouse is the room number listed for Oswald’s homeroom class on his report card for the Spring of 54.  DaRouse says that her homeroom was in the cafeteria, which was in the basement. But, Oswald’s report cards in the National Archives say “Lee Oswald, grade 8, Homeroom 303.”[10] Maybe this is just another report card anomaly that doesn’t really matter. But, DaRouse’s homeroom was in the cafeteria – not on the third floor, which is where room 303 was located.[11] So, why does Oswald’s report card say something different?

 

Did Oswald go to Stripling Junior High?

 

Oswald completed 8th grade at Beauregard Junior High in New Orleans. He started 9th grade at Beauregard in the Fall of 1954.[12] But, there is a decent amount of evidence that points to Oswald going to Stripling Junior High School in Fort Worth at the beginning of 9th grade in the Fall of 1954 when he was supposed to be enrolled at Beauregard in New Orleans.

 

So, what kind of evidence are we talking about here? The starting point is the Warren Commission testimony of Lee’s brother, Robert Oswald. Robert told the Commission in 1964 that Lee went to Stripling Junior High School. Years earlier he was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star Telegram after Lee defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and when Lee came back to America in 1962. In both of those interviews, Robert Oswald is consistent that Lee went to Stripling Junior High in Fort Worth.[13]

 

Now, to be clear, Robert Oswald tells the Commission that Lee went to Stripling for 7th grade during the 1951-52 school year.[14] But, we know that Lee lived in New York for 7th grade, attending two different schools and spending time in Youth House for Truancy. He most definitely was not in Fort Worth. It would be easy to say that Robert Oswald just has the years mixed up and -  who cares? But the problem is that Robert was steadfast in his insistence that Lee went to Stripling. Also, Robert’s statement to the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1962 was that Lee attended Stripling QUOTE “about a year before he enlisted in the marines.”[15] So, that tends to support a later timeline, closer to Oswald’s Freshman or Sophomore year of high school. To be clear, the official story is that Lee Harvey Oswald never attended Stripling at all.

 

In 1993, in an attempt to follow up on Robert Oswald’s testimony, author John Armstrong got in touch with then-Stripling principal Ricardo Galindo to see if there was any truth to Robert Oswald’s consistent claims about Lee going to Stripling.[16] Principal Gallindo said that it was common knowledge that Oswald had attended Stripling. Armstrong then followed up and attempted to find anyone who would have attended school with Oswald.

 

He was eventually introduced to Frank Kudlaty, who was the vice principal of Stripling Junior High School in 1963. When asked if Oswald attended Stripling, Kudlaty said yes. Armstrong asked him how he knew this for sure, at which point, Kudlaty said, “Because I gave his Stripling records to the FBI.”

 

Here’s Kudlaty talking about that interaction:

 

“The Saturday morning following the Kennedy Assassination, I received a call at home, I lived at 4225 Kurzon at that time, from my principal, telling me to go to school, go to the records files, and get Lee Harvey Oswald’s records and that someone from the FBI would be there to pick them up. That’s exactly what I did. I went to school, got the records, got his files. I did open them and look at them, kind of in a cursory way.

 

The only thing I can recall is that he didn’t attend there a full year. I put it back in a brown envelope and left it on my desk and waited 10 or 15 minutes, perhaps longer. Two gentlemen came in and showed me identification that they were FBI agents. They thanked me and they left. Then, I locked the doors and went home.[17]

 

Kudlaty says that the report card in the Oswald file only had grades for the first six weeks of school. He is sure that the period of time Oswald attended would have been in the Fall because of where the scores were written on the report card. Oswald had not stayed long enough to complete an additional report card.[18]

 

Kudlaty says that the FBI agents did not give him a receipt or leave any copies of the documents. They took everything.[19] Assuming Kudlaty is telling the truth, the files were likely destroyed or remain classified today because they are not in the National Archives.[20]

           

A lot of this story comes down to Kudlaty’s credibility. But Frank Kudlaty, isn’t just any school administrator. He went on to become the superintendent of schools for Waco, Texas.[21] So, I would think he was a fairly sharp guy.

 

If Kudlaty is right, the obvious question is “how did the FBI know to go to Stripling so soon - especially in light of all of the different schools Oswald went to - and why was it so important for the FBI to secure Oswald’s middle school records the next morning after the assassination - for a school where Oswald attended for just a few weeks? 

 

Do we have anything else in support of Kudlaty’s claim about Oswald attending Stripling? Franzetta Schubert told Armstrong that when she was in the 8th grade at Stripling, she saw Oswald at the school. She didn’t have any classes with him, but she remembered that she was jealous that he got to walk home for lunch everyday because he lived across the street from the basketball courts, right next to the school. She says she only saw him during the colder part of the 1954-55 school year at Stripling.[22]

 

Another former Stripling student, Doug Gann, also claims that Oswald went to school there. Gann said Oswald would shoot hoops after school on the school basketball court across the street from where Oswald lived.[23]

 

Bobby Pitts lived at 2224 Thomas Place, next door to 2220 Thomas Place, which is the house Franzetta Schubert said Oswald would walk to during lunch each day. Pitts said that Oswald would stand on the porch outside and watch when Pitts and the other neighborhood kids played touch football.[24]

 

In summary, we have Kudlaty, Schubert, Gann, and Pitts all on the record stating that Oswald attended Stripling. And remember, we got down this road in the first place because Robert Oswald said on three different occasions that Lee went to Stripling. We can rule out the Warren Commission just missing this part of Oswald’s biography because there were 0 absences recorded on Oswald’s report card at Beauregard Junior High for the Fall of 1954.[25] So, Oswald was at Beauregard. He couldn’t have been at Beauregard and Stripling at the same time.

 

One explanation is that Kudlaty, Schubert, Gann, and Pitts, just wanted a taste of the spotlight. They saw an opportunity to make something up about Oswald and ran with it. It’s hard for me to believe that because they really had nothing to gain and their stories match up – especially the part about Oswald having a house very close to the school across from the basketball courts.

 

Dolly Shoe Full Time v. Lee In School

 

We don’t know for sure whether Oswald went to Stripling Junior High. But, we do know that he was back in New Orleans in early 1955.

 

From Oswald’s Beauregard report card, it appears that he was attending school full time during Spring Semester of 9th grade in 1955.[26] Lee also picked up a new job during Spring Semester of 1955, working at Dolly Shoe Store in New Orleans.

 

Actually, Oswald’s mother got a job working at Dolly Shoe first, starting in early February 1955.[27] Then, she successfully lobbied her boss to hire Lee, who began to work there on March 16, 1955. His job was to put the shoes back and keep the inventory organized after customers tried them on if they didn’t buy them.[28] It turns out that Lee wasn’t great at doing that job and he just hung out in the stock room. He didn’t really contribute to the store. So, eventually, Oswald was fired by Manager Maury Goodman around noon on Tuesday April 12, 1955.[29]

 

According to the Warren Commission, Oswald worked at Dolly Shoe QUOTE “mostly on Saturdays, for about 10 weeks in 1955.”[30] The only other information in the Warren Commission volumes about Dolly Shoe is Commission Exhibit 1951, which is the W4 form for both Marguerite Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald.[31]What’s interesting about this document is that the address noted is 126 Exchange Place and the date is February 5, 1955.

 

We know this 126 Exchange Place address from where Myra DaRouse claims she dropped off Oswald in 8thgrade after he had been cleared by the local doctors when a piano fell on his legs at School in the Spring of 1954. But, Commission Exhibit 1963 says that the Oswald’s actually moved in to 126 Exchange Place around May of 1955 – about a year later.[32] If the Warren Report is correct and Myra DaRouse is wrong, then why is Exchange Place listed on the W4 form for Dolly Shoe three months before the Warren Commission says Oswald is supposed to be living there?

 

I also have no idea why Oswald’s W4 was dated the same day as when his mother started work in February of 1955, when Oswald didn’t start until a month later. Maybe Marguerite was just really confident that she would be able to get a job at Dolly Shoe for Lee, so she went ahead and filled out the form for him at the same time? Who knows.

 

Another question about Dolly Shoe is when exactly would Oswald have had any time to work there, if he was attending school full time? The Warren Commission, relying on an FBI report about Maury Goodman, said that he worked mostly on Saturdays and sometimes a day or two during the week, but strictly part-time.[33] But, Maury Goodman told researcher John Armstrong something different in a recorded 1995 interview. He said that Oswald worked QUOTE “during the day and sometimes on weekends.”[34]

 

Oswald was fired at noon on Tuesday, April 12.[35] This raises the question of why would Oswald be at work at noon on a Tuesday when he was going to school full time at Beauregard?

 

Oswald’s school – Beauregard Junior High – was 4 miles away from Dolly Shoe Store. He got out of school at 4:30 each afternoon. But, Dolly Shoe closed at 5:45 during the week. So, Oswald would have had to travel the four miles from school, which would have easily been doable by bus. But, by the time he would show up, he would only have about an hour to work before the store closed.[36] Oswald’s Beauregard records show that he had zero full-day absences from March 16 through April 30, 1955.[37]

 

And Ed Voebel, who was probably Oswald’s closest friend – having known him since he had the piano dropped on his legs in 8th grade - said that he didn’t know anything about Oswald ever working at Dolly Shoe.[38] If Oswald worked there, he didn’t mention it to Voebel.[39]

 

I don’t know what’s going on here. But, the W4 from Marguerite and Lee lists them both living at an address where the Warren Report says they didn’t live until three months later. And it’s not clear that Lee could have worked at Dolly Shoe and also attended school full-time - not missing any full days. But from the record, it looks like he did both.

 

Civil Air Patrol

 

In June of 1955, a classmate of Oswald – Fred O’Sullivan - invited them to join the Civil Air Patrol, also called the CAP.[40] The CAP was in 1955 - and is still today - a non-profit auxiliary of the United States Air Force. It provides training to 12 to 21 year olds who are interested in a future in aviation, the military, or both. The CAP isn’t all training. They actually make an impact by flying humanitarian missions in natural disasters, as well as search and rescue missions.[41]

 

Oswald began attending CAP meetings at Lakefront Airport in June of 1955. On July 27, he switched to different CAP Squadron at Moisant Airport because it was closer to his house. Lee’s friend, Ed Voebel, joined the Moisant Squadron with him a few weeks later.[42]

 

This is where we have the first appearance of one of the most colorful characters in the JFK Assassination – David Ferrie. You may remember Ferrie as the guy who had alopecia which caused him to lose all of his hair and led him to draw some very distinct looking eyebrows that were not real. According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Ferrie was the personal pilot for mafia kingpin Carlos Marcello who brought him back to the United States after Marcello had been deported to Guatemala by attorney general Robert Kennedy.[43] Ferrie is a very interesting guy who was connected to anti-castro Cubans, and other notorious figures like Guy Bannister. New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison would go on to allege that Ferrie was one of the men responsible for the murder of President Kennedy.

 

We’ll take a closer look at David Ferrie when we get to Oswald’s time in New Orleans in the Summer of 1963. As it pertains to the Summer of 1955, the question with David Ferrie and Lee Oswald is whether or not they knew one another from their time together in the Civil Air Patrol.

 

Fred O’Sullivan, who gave Oswald the invite to the CAP, says David Ferrie left the Lakefront Squadron to move to Moisant at around the same time Oswald did.[44] Colin Hamer attended 10-12 meetings of the CAP where Oswald was present. He knew Oswald and Voebel. He said that the CAP meetings were at the Eastern Airlines hangar at Moisant airport. They met on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons and David Ferrie was always present when Oswald was present.[45]

 

Ed Voebel said Oswald was in the CAP for two or three, maybe four drills. He remembered that Oswald attended a party Ferrie put on after he earned his stripes.[46] Jerry Paradis was a former instructor at Lakefront CAP who said Oswald attended 10 or 15 meetings when Ferrie was the instructor. He said of Oswald and Ferrie knowing each other, QUOTE “I am not saying that they may have been together. I am saying it is a certainty.”[47]

 

Thomas Lewis Clark worked for David Ferrie at his gas station on Veteran’s Highway. Clark says that Ferrie told him he had been Oswald’s instructor in the CAP.[48] John Irion[49] was in the CAP at the same time as Oswald and Voebel in 1955. He said that their Squadron was led by David Ferrie - bringing the total number of people who have knowledge of Oswald being in the Civil Air Patrol with David Ferrie to at least six.

 

The question of whether Ferrie knew Oswald was decided once and for all by a photograph that PBS Frontline obtained from Oswald’s fellow CAP member, John Ciravallo. The picture shows Oswald and Ferrie together at the same cookout with other CAP members – proving definitively that what these six witnesses said was true: in the Summer of 1955 – Lee Harvey Oswald DID know David Ferrie.

 

NEXT TIME ON SOLVING JFK: We’ll look sorting through the details of Oswald’s childhood leading up to when he joined the marines.

 

 

 


[1] Warren Report at 383.

[2] Warren Commission Testimony of Myrtle Evans, WCH Vol 8, p 45.

[3] Id. at 56, 57.

[4] John Armstrong, Harvey & Lee Interviews at 27:00 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3DPRGMo7Ug

[5] Armstrong at 85.

[6] Harvey & Lee Interviews at 30:00

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 31:00

[9] FBI Report by Donald Steinmeyer dated April 13, 1964, available at 54-01; Armstrong at 83.

[10] Document Available in Armstrong’s Harvey & Lee, at p87, CD-ROM, Folder 54-08.

[11] Id.

[12] Warren Report, p 679.

[13] “Passport Turned In At Moscow,” Fort Worth Star Telegram, 10/29/59, Ft, Worth Press 11/1/59, p3; “Ex Marine Reported On Way Back From Russia,” Fort Worth Star Telegram, 6/8/62.

[14] Warren Commission Testimony of Robert Oswald, https://www.jfk-assassination.net/russ/testimony/oswald_r.htm

[15] Fort Worth Star Telegram as reported to FBI, Available in Armstrong, Harvey & Lee, CD-ROM, Folder 54-17.

[16] Id. at 97.

[17] Harvey & Lee Interviews at 2:25.

[18] Id. at 7:00.

[19] Armstrong at 99.

[20] Id. at 100.

[21] “Jim Hensley Named WISD Superintendent,” The Waco Citizen, 6/13/86, p2.

[22] Armstrong at 101.

[23] Id. at 103.

[24] Id. at 102-103.

[25] Available in Armstrong, Harvey & Lee, CD-ROM, Folder 54-22.

[26] Report Card of Lee Harvey Oswald at Beauregard Junior High School, Warren Commission Vol. 22, p 817

[27] CE 1951, p 3

[28] Armstrong at 112.

[29] Id. (Tape recorded interview between Louis Marzialle and John Armstrong)

[30] Warren Report at 679.

[31] Commission Exhibit 1951.

[33] CE 2238

[34] Armstrong at 110. (Tape recorded interview between Maury Goodman and John Armstrong)

[35] Id. at 111.

[36] Id at 111-112.

[37] CE 1413

[38] Id. at 115.

[39] Id. (Voebel verified that Oswald lived at 126 Exchange Place in June of 1955 because he recalled meeting Lee to play pool at the pool hall under Lee’s apartment at 126 Exchange.)

[40] Id. at 122.

[42] Armstrong at 122. (Anthony Atzenhoffer was also in the CAP. He called roll. He remembered Oswald from the CAP and identified him in the CAP picnic photo. John Ciravalo remembered that Oswald was in the CAP long enough to have a uniform.)

[43] House Select Committee on Assassinations – Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 112

[44] Armstrong at 122.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] HSCA Interview of Jerry Paradis

[48] Armstrong at 125.

[49] Id. at 123-124. (Irion also said that he continued with the CAP through 1958, at which point Ferrie trained his squadron on how to operate as an autonomous and self sustaining rescue and combat unit in Cuba. Irion said that the cadets were trained with rifles that were supplied by the CIA and distributed to them by Sergio Arcacha Smith.)

53 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page