The JFK Assassination, pt. 15: Oswald’s personal effects

Items on Lee Oswald when he was arrested, copied exactly from the Dallas PD Property Clerk’s invoice dated 12/30/1963 (and numbered by me for convenience):

1. Eighty-seven cents in money (1 half dollar, 3 dimes, 1 nickel, and 2 pennies)
2. Thirteen dollars in money (1 five-dollar bill, 8 one dollar bills)
3. Dallas County bus transportation coupon or ticket for transfer dated Nov. 22, 1963
4. Marine Corps, silver color
5. Chrome color ID bracelet with expansion band with the inscription ‘Lee’
6. Brass key marked “Postoffice Department Do not Dup.” #1126
7. paycheck voucher from American Bakeries Company dated 8/22/60
8. top of a small cardboard box with “Cox’s Fort Worth” printed on top

Not mentioned are a .38 revolver or a wallet containing two IDs with different names, but I suppose these would have been taken separately, as evidence, rather than being stored with personal effects.

We know that after leaving the Texas Schoolbook Depository, Oswald’s next location was his boarding house, where he spent just a few minutes before leaving for the Texas Theatre, where he would be arrested. He’s known to have picked up a light jacket at the house, despite the warm weather. What else did he do there? He must have gathered up some of these items as well, unless he had taken them all to work, which is unlikely.

Items 1, 2, and 6 are pretty ordinary things to carry, so I’ll skip them. Item 3 is not necessarily very exciting. Roger Craig claimed that he saw Oswald leave Dealey Plaza in a station wagon, but Craig could have been wrong and/or Oswald could have been dropped off to catch a bus afterward, and in either case the bus ticket is perfectly natural.

Item 4 is interesting. The invoice lists it as given above, obviously incompletely. Is it a dog tag? A medal? Rank insignia of some kind? I suppose it would constitute some kind of evidence for Oswald’s having been in the Marine Corps, and possibly his identity. It’s also possible he generally kept this item on his person, but I think that’s less likely than that he picked it up. Item 5 could be further evidence of who he was, or it could have been everyday decoration; 5 is probably not worth the time here.

Item 7 is extremely interesting. It’s a paycheck voucher (pay stub) from three years earlier, an odd thing for anybody to be carrying around. It was especially odd for Oswald to have, as he was working at an electronics factory in the Soviet Union at that time, not for the American Bakeries Company. I wish there were more detail, but there isn’t, so let’s wonder a little. Did the pay stub have his name on it? That would clearly have been falsified. Was it a pay stub with no name? That would be odd, I think, but perhaps in the pre-computer age it wouldn’t have stood out. Unlikely, but maybe. Was it a pay stub with somebody else’s name on it? Whose name? What would that demonstrate? I don’t know why there hasn’t been more focus on the pay stub. Whoever’s name it was in, it clearly meant something. It’s too strange an item to have in the first place, much less to pick up, not to mean something.

Item 8 is strange as well. That’s the kind of thing one could have lying around at home, but you wouldn’t be likely to take it with you.

Keep in mind, Oswald went to his boarding house for just a few minutes and then left. Aside from a few everyday things, he intentionally picked up the odd assortment of items to take with him. But take where? The official story has him shooting Officer J.D. Tippit several blocks south and a few east of the boarding house, then heading southwest from there to the Texas Theatre.

I find the story that Oswald killed Tippit unconvincing, but assume for a moment it’s correct. If Oswald was heading east on E. 10th Street, where was he conveying these items?

Locations in Oak Cliff relevant to JFK assassination

In this map, the northernmost location at 1026 N. Beckley Ave is the boarding house. Note, by the way, that Oswald lived here during the week and spent weekends with his family at a different house in a different city in the Metroplex. I’d expect more of his belongings, other than the essentials, to be kept in Irving. These items were kept in his day-to-day residence.

The pinpointed location nearest the middle of the picture, on E. 10th Street by the corner with N. Patton Ave. is the approximate location of the Tippit murder. The location at the right of the picture, 223 S. Ewing Ave, is where Jack Ruby’s residence was at the time. Does this open up the possibility, however weakly, that these items would have had significance for Jack Ruby or somebody down the line from him? Reports that Ruby and Oswald knew each other prior to the assassination are inconclusive; if they knew each other, these items might be beside the point. If they didn’t know each other before the assassination, was he headed that way or was this merely coincidental? E. Jefferson Road heads back toward downtown Dallas, but it’s probably farther than he’d realistically have walked.

In the lower left corner of the picture, the right pinpoint is the Texas Theatre. A block west of that is the record store where Tippit made a frantic phone call, apparently without success, in the minutes before his death. I don’t think it’s particularly significant for present purposes, but I figured I’d include it. We know Oswald walked along the block from Zang Blvd towards the theater suspiciously, as if he were afraid of being followed, before entering. Now, a theater seems like a good place to hide, assuming you don’t draw everybody’s attention by acting suspiciously while you’re there—which all accounts say he did—but it may also be a good place to meet somebody surreptitiously—which witness accounts imply. Somebody for whom an old pay stub would have been significant?

Now, I already think Oswald (a) did not shoot Kennedy (or Tippit for that matter), (b) was involved in intelligence work, and (c) did not yet realize that he was to take the fall and was still trying to do his job. So this, to me, is weakly confirmatory evidence, another part of the crossword puzzle. I’m sure there are other ways to make it work, but perhaps I’m not clever or creative enough to think of them.

As a final note, the date is eight days after the assassination and six days after Oswald’s own murder. Whatever cover-up there might have been would have been well under way by this time, and it’s possible that this list is falsified. But I don’t know why some of these items would have been included if it weren’t true, so it seems true enough to be worth considering. A falsified list would have been falsified for a reason, and I can’t think of any good reasons why this would be the end product. In addition, the authorities don’t seem to have made any kind of fuss about the list, which I suspect they would have if it had been important to them.

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Author: rfmcelroyiii

Student and instructor of economics.

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