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Oswald in Aliceland?

A Tale of Two Days: A Tale of Two Oswalds

 

by Chris W. Courtwright

Presented to JFK Lancer's *November in Dallas* Conference on November 21, 1997

 

-- From Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

 

The issue of imposture surrounding Oswald's activities in Mexico City has, of course, been analyzed at great length. Researchers have made great strides in using documents declassified by the 1992 law to gain some new perspectives from within the confusing hall of mirrors reflecting Oswald's actual activities versus those attributed to him in Mexico City. The equally troubling incidents involving a second Oswald's having been seen behaving in a violent or erratic manner in and around Dallas in the days and weeks immediately preceding the assassination also have been well documented. And now a number of declassified FBI documents suggest that the distance in both time and geography between possible Oswald impersonation incidents in Mexico City and Dallas may be far shorter than had been previously believed. The sum of these documents viewed together raises the intriguing possibility of a second Oswald or of Oswald's having been impersonated in southern Texas immediately after his departure from Mexico in early October. The implications of such a possibility can perhaps cast some new light upon the events in Mexico City and provide further evidence that Oswald and his identity may have somehow been at the vortex of a complicated web of intersecting and overlapping intelligence operations in the weeks and months leading up to the assassination. But trying to piece together his activities -- let alone what may have been going through his mind -- during this critical period immediately after the door to Cuba has supposedly just been slammed in his face, becomes all the more complicated once one recognizes that the south Texas incidents represent only a fraction of the Oswald sighting reports during the first week of October, none of which match up with the official Warren Commission timeline.

 

Alice, Texas

Among the myriad of Oswald sighting reports which do not fit in with the official timeline handed down by the Warren Commission is one which actually hit the Associated Press wire on November 28, 1963. Just days after being interviewed by the FBI, a radio station manager in Alice, Texas, told the AP that Oswald on the afternoon of Friday, October 4, had driven up to the station in a battered 1953 model car to inquire about a job. It also turns out that our job seeker had appeared at the station the previous evening, on Thursday, October 3, at about 6 p.m., and was told he needed to return the next day to speak to the manager. (1) Upon returning on Friday, Oswald was said to have left a woman and a two-year old girl in the car and refused an offer to bring them inside the station with the explanation that, *She doesn't speak any English.* (2)

What KOPY station manager Sonny Stewart and traffic manager Robert Janca told the FBI during their interview on November 25 was that the job seeker, whom they described as identical to Oswald, said that he had just come from Mexico and had spotted the station while traveling north on Highway 281. Stewart also wrote down the man's name as *Lee Oswald* and apparently was able to produce his notes after the assassination. (3) Stewart and Janca described Oswald as unshaven and wearing blue jeans. They had reported this episode to the FBI after recognizing photographs of Oswald over the assassination weekend. After being informed that KOPY did not have any openings, our *Oswald* then asked about other radio stations in the area. Stewart and Janca told him he might want to check stations located in Pleasanton and Sinton. He seemed especially interested in the station in Pleasanton and was last spotted by the KOPY employees driving north on Highway 281 toward Pleasanton. (4) Additional published reports have the men placing the time of the interview in the early afternoon -- at about 1:30 pm. (5)

Stewart was so sure after the assassination that he had been talking to the real Oswald, he contacted the FBI on Saturday the 23rd. He later told the AP, *The first time I saw Oswald's picture on TV, I recognized him. It was like a song you can't remember the name. When it finally hit me who it was, I almost fell on the floor.*

Making matters even more interesting was a second Oswald sighting report in Alice which surfaced. Leo Sepulveda and M.E. Pope, mechanics at the Hill Machinery Company (located in Alice) told the FBI that sometime in October a man they believed was Oswald came in over the lunch hour to fill out an employment application. Sepulveda remembered specifically that the name used was *Oswald*, and Pope remembered a reference to the USMC on the application. The FBI (in early December) proceeded to search the Alice trash dump in hopes of finding the application but soon discovered that the trash from October had long since been burned. Pope recalled that he had seen a woman sitting in the car, which he described as an old model Plymouth or Chevrolet sedan. He said he recalled the man as being about 30 years old, 5'8" and weighing about 150 to 155 pounds. After seeing pictures of Oswald in the newspaper, he was convinced that Oswald and the job seeker were one and the same. (6)

A third possible Oswald sighting in Alice without a specific date has him hustling into the Hub City Glass Company -- apparently by himself -- to ask for directions to the bus station. The traveler said he was headed for Dallas and was worried that he would be getting there *late* even if he got on a bus which was leaving immediately. After the assassination and before any of the other Alice reports surfaced, the glass worker who gave directions saw Oswald in custody on television and insisted he was the man who had been clamoring to catch the bus back to Dallas. (7)

 

Remembering that the boys at the Alice radio station sent their Oswald north on Highway 281 toward Pleasanton, we next find that the owner of radio station KBOP in Pleasanton, Dr. Ben Parker, recalled that sometime in the afternoon one day in early October, a man whose name he could not recall came in and said that he was driving through Pleasanton looking for a job. The man was described by Parker as about 5'7" or 5'8" and in his mid twenties with sandy hair and of a *rather dirty appearance.* He told the FBI on November 26 that he had seen Oswald on TV and thought this man could have been Oswald. Parker did not have a job for this fellow and did not see the car to notice if anyone else was in it. Parker's wife also remembered getting a phone call from the man before he stopped by the station. (8)

NBC tracked down a second Pleasanton sighting, locating a gas station attendant who remembered that a man resembling Oswald had stopped for gas and had a woman and child in the car with him. The woman was unable to speak English, according to the attendant, and spoke only a foreign language. The driver asked the attendant for the location of a telephone (perhaps to call Mrs. Parker at KBOP?) and obtained two dollars in change. (9)

So we can begin to construct a timeline on our map under which our erstwhile *Oswald* may have moved up Highway 281 from Alice to Pleasanton on Friday, October 4. But backing up to Thursday evening, October 3, another report suggests that the same *Oswald* may have been in Freer, Texas, located to the west of Alice on Highway 44.

 

Freer, Texas

On November 28, the owner of the B. F. Cafe in Freer called and advised the FBI that a waitress (whose name remains redacted) had seen Oswald in Freer on October 3. In her November 29 FBI interview, the waitress said that at 6:30 or 7 pm on Thursday, October 3, a man she thought was identical to Oswald, a woman resembling Marina, one child age 2-4, and one small baby estimated to be two weeks old came into the cafe. Our *Oswald* inquired about work in the area and was told that there was a plant in Freer which would be opening up in November. He asked how far it was to San Antonio and was surprised to learn it was over 100 miles. The couple thought to be the *Oswalds* stayed about 30 minutes and conversed in a foreign language over pie and coffee, according to the waitress. She said that the woman said, *Thank you* and *Goodbye* in a broken accent. The wife was described as being blond with near shoulder-length hair, 24 years old, 110 pounds, and as acting as though she were afraid of the man. The man wore blue jeans and a dirty white t-shirt and had several days' growth of beard and was driving an old gray car believed to be a 1952 or 1953 Dodge or Plymouth sedan. The waitress in the cafe was sure the date was October 3 because she remembers having to look on a calendar to give the date to this man she later thought was Oswald. (10)

It may also be worthy to recall at this point that an Oswald had been seen in at 6 pm on the same evening, making his initial inquiry at KOPY in Alice. It is not out of the realm of possibility that this was the same man who was dining in Freer, located 35 miles to the west, about an hour later.

Two other area sightings possibly involving this family-man Oswald where the date cannot be so precisely pinpointed are also worthy of mention.

 

A Corpus Christi attorney, Ellis Brown, told the FBI on November 29 that his wife had seen pictures of Oswald on TV and in the newspapers and felt certain that she had seen him at the Atlantic Mills Shopping Mall in Corpus Christi in early October. The man she saw had a wife and small baby with him and was looking at clothing. The woman with this Oswald had a European look about her and was conversing with the man in a foreign language which was not French, Spanish, or German (all of which were spoken by Brown's wife). These *Oswalds* all departed the mall in an old model car, according to Brown's wife. The FBI declined to interview her personally. (11)

 

On November 27, a Hertz employee at the San Antonio International Airport, Martha Doyle, told the FBI that sometime in October a man and woman whom she believed were the Oswalds came to her counter with a baby one evening between 8 and 9 p.m. Her Oswald said he had been driving a friend's car but now wanted to rent one. Doyle said that the man and woman appeared *unkempt* and thought that they were possibly unemployed, though the man said that he was in the publishing business. Since this Oswald did not have any credit cards, Doyle refused to rent him a car. Doyle said that the man was maybe 27 years old, 5'8", 145 to 150 pounds with light colored but not blonde hair, and was wearing a white shirt which had turned grey. She said that the woman was smiling all the time but said nothing, was about 27 years old, 5'5", 125 pounds, had black hair, two upper front teeth slightly chipped and was wearing a stained brown dress. She added that the woman appeared to her to be a foreigner, mainly because of the manner of dress. All Doyle could remember about the baby was that she thought it was somewhere between 4 and 11 months old and was sucking on a pacifier. Doyle had seen pictures of Oswald and his wife on television after the assassination before reporting the incident to the FBI. She said that she thought the people were identical to the Oswalds because of the physical resemblance and because she had *never encountered people of this type before at the airport.*

A corroborating statement was offered by an employee at the National Rent-A-Car counter, Joan Dunsmore, who also remembered the incident because the man kept playing with the baby by taking the pacifier in and out of its mouth. (12)And finally, we have another area sighting on October 5 involving a man (later) identified as Oswald, this time without family in tow.

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