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The Neely St. Mysteries

This website will publish in instalments draft versions of an article in which I explore the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was telling the truth when he told Dallas Police that he had never lived at 214 West Neely St., Dallas. The research is being made available on the Internet in the hope of eliciting from interested readers further information about the phase of Oswald's life when he is supposed to have been living at Neely St.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

We don’t know very much about what Oswald told Dallas Police from the moment he began being interrogated by Dallas Police on Friday, November 22, 1963, until he was murdered by Jack Ruby two days later. For reasons which have never been satifactorily explained, his words were neither recorded on tape nor taken down by a professional stenographer. But we do know a handful of things that he said with reasonable certainty. These are the words which were summarized or paraphrased in notes taken by persons present during his interviews. Among the words that can reliably be attributed to Oswald after the assassination is that the backyard photographs were fakes, that he had never lived at 214 West Neely St, Dallas - where the photos were taken - and that he did not own a rifle. Although it is easy to see why he should have wished to deny owning a rifle or having posed for the backyard photos - since both were to some extent incriminating - that he also denied having lived at Neely St. is a much more difficult matter to explain.
Oswald told his interrogators not once but twice that he had never lived there. Then, when it was pointed out that certain friends of his had told police that they had visited him there, he assured the police that they were mistaken. The tendency to disassociate himself from Neely St. - at the cost of contradicting the statements of others - is one of the central mysteries of Oswald’s case. After all, the mere fact that he had lived at Neely St. did not incriminate him. All he needed to do was claim that the photos on which his head had subsequently been pasted must have been taken before or after he had lived at that address or while he was absent from the house. While many researchers have tried to determine whether the backyard photos are authentic, very few have taken an interest in whether Oswald had lived at Neely St in March and April 1963 or, if he can be proved that he had, what his motives could have been for denying it.
The possibility that Oswald never lived at Neely St. has to be taken seriously. After all, if he really had lived there, there would be so many sources to refute him that the effort would have been wasted. The lie would have been instantly confounded by the testimony of his wife Marina, other individuals who had known him during this period (e.g., Ruth Paine and George DeMohrenschildt), as well as the managers or owners of the apartment itself. There also would have been documentary evidence, such as letters posted to the address and utility bills.
An initial circumstance in favour of Oswald's veracity is the fact that in March 1963, ‘a prominent Memphis attorney named Daniel Thomas McGown reported to the FBI, [that] a letter arrived at the Carousel Club addressed to Jake Rubenstein’ (i.e., Jack Ruby). It bore the return address: Lee Oswald, 1106 Diceman Avenue, Dallas, Texas. Although Oswald is not otherwise known to have used this address (which actually exists), this report, if accurate, provides compelling evidence that he was living in another part of Dallas at the time when the presumption is that he was living in Neely St. (The only question that would need to be resolved, then, is why Oswald did not give Ruby his mailbox address, the address he was using on all his other correspondence at the time.)
One of the striking results of my research about this aspect of the assassination is how very little evidence there is that Oswald ever lived in Neely St. Almost in its entirety, the evidence comes from his wife Marina, Ruth and Michael Paine, and George and Jeanne DeMohrenschildt - all persons who arguably performed a role, unconsciously or otherwise, in setting him up as the patsy in the assassination or incriminating him in the eyes of the public afterwards. In no case does the evidence of these individuals withstand scrutiny. However, before examining information deriving from these five, I want to look at two others who apparently had something to do with Oswald during the Neely St. period. These are the owner of the Neely St. property, a certain Mr George, and FBI Special Agent James P. Hosty.

Mr George

The most reliable person to look to for evidence that someone has resided at a particular address is surely the owner of the premises themselves. According to an affidavit taken in Dallas on June 12, 1964, the apartment duplex at 212/214 West Neely St belonged to an M. Waldo George. Mr George, who gave his address as 6769 Inverness Street, Dallas, identified himself as office manager of the Tucker Manning Insurance Company. According to the affidavit, Oswald approached his wife about the upstairs apartment (214 West Neely St) on the basis of a ‘For Rent’ sign that he had seen erected in the front yard. Mr George took one month’s rent ($60) from Oswald on March 2, 1963, spoke with the Oswalds briefly a few days’ later, and then accepted a further month’s rent from Oswald on April 3. This was the third and final occasion on which Mr George encountered Oswald. Mr George says that he didn’t managed to visit Neely St. again until a few days after the next instalment of rent was due on May 2. But when he turned up at the house (around May 4 or 5, one presumes), the apartment was already vacant - the Oswalds had gone, apparently without so much as leaving a forwarding address.
Unfortunately, M. Waldo George was never interviewed by the Warren Commission (WC). Unlike the couple who rented to the Oswalds at Apartment 2, 604 Elsbeth St., Dallas, Mr and Mrs Mahlon F. Tobias, both of whom were interviewed at some length, Mr George got off lightly with a one-page statement. Nor did Mr George furnish the WC with receipts to prove that he had rented to Oswald, receipts which probably ought to have been included among the WC exhibits. Nor did the WC interview Mrs M. Waldo George, the person Oswald spoke to initially about the room (although we don’t know whether she spoke to him personally or just took a phone call from him). The Commission did not even interview Mr and Mrs George B. Gray, the couple who, according to Mr George, lived in the downstairs apartment from the Oswalds (212 West Neely St), although they had shared the building with the Oswalds for seven weeks.
According to a report dated December 11, 1963, which summarized research into Oswald’s residences undertaken since November 26, an unidentified Secret Service agent personally interviewed an F.M. George living at 6769 Inverness Lane with regard to Oswald’s rental of the Neely St. apartment (WC Hearings XIV: CE 2189, p. 8). On the basis of the information he gave the Secret Service investigator, F.M. George was clearly the same individual as the M. Waldo George of the 1964 affidavit. According to the Secret Service report, Mr George showed the agent the rental receipts. However, the receipts were apparently not handed over to the Secret Service agent either to keep or makes copies of.
In addition to showing that the F.M. George of December 1963 had evolved into M. Waldo George by June 1964, the Secret Service report contains a piece of information that conflicts with the June 1964 affidavit - that Oswald had phoned him about renting the apartment on the basis of the sign he had seen on the lawn. In the affidavit, George states that Oswald initially approached Mrs George. One possibility that has to be considered is that when the Secret Service called to interview him in late 1963, Mr George had to provide a story to explain how Oswald initially contacted him about renting the apartment that did not include Mrs George, perhaps to avoid the circumstance that the Secret Service would want to interview her as well. In the June 1964 affidavit, however, there is not simply more information about Oswald, there is also suddenly a Mrs George.
Admittedly, the discrepancies between the two documents are slight: between December 1963 and June 1964 F.M. George became M. Waldo George, Inverness Lane (which exists) turned into Inverness Street (which does not), and Mrs George, who initially does not warrant a mention, becomes Oswald’s initial contact regarding the apartment. That ‘M. Waldo’ most likely was Mr. George’s name seems suggested by a memo written by FBI Special Agent James P. Hosty on May 28, 1963 - the earliest reference I can find to Mr George – which refers to him as ‘M.W’ George. In the memo, Hosty recorded that ‘The owner of subjects [i.e., the Oswalds’] former residence at 214 Neely, Dallas, M.W. George, will be interviewed for information regarding subjects.’
However, in another FBI document – one dated December 17, 1963, or just six days after the Secret Service document that records his name as F.W. George - someone called ‘Jim W. George’ identified himself as the owner of 214 Neely St. (WC Hearings XXVI: CE 3010). This means that in three of the four references to the owner of the Neely St. duplex found in the Warren Commission’s 26 volumes Mr. George has a different name. The Secret Service document and two FBI documents are supposed to record information about the exact same individual who, in his June 1964 affidavit, described himself as M. Waldo George. Such inconsistencies are not easily explained as errors. The possibility has to be considered that each time a record was made up that referred to Mr George, someone was simply making his name or initials up on the spot.
The question inevitably arises as to whether Mr George existed or was just a figment of the Warren Commission paper trail linking Oswald to the Neely St. apartment. Not only did Mr George have three different names, he has also avoided being discovered by the press or independent investigators. I have also failed to turn up evidence for the existence of the Tucker Manning Insurance Company, the firm for which he allegedly worked. Although proof of its existence would neither confirm Mr George’s existence nor his claim to have been its officer manager, the existence of the Company would seem a modest circumstance in favour of Mr George’s existence. The Company apparently does not exist today - a fact which might seem suspicious. After all, while most individuals come and go without leaving many public traces of their existence behind, this would seem much less likely to occur in relation to an insurance company. The very function of such a company presupposes continuity. No one buys insurance unless they can be sure that their insurer will still be around when they need it.
Even more problematic is the fact that the WC did not interview Mr George B. Gray. If the WC’s lack of interest in speaking to M. Waldo George can be explained away by the fact that he had had only limited contact (one phone call and three brief personal encounters) with Oswald, it is harder to explain its lack of interest in Gray or his wife. As I have already mentioned, the Grays are supposed to have lived in the same building as the Oswalds for seven weeks. It is important to note that this was not just any seven weeks. In the official account of his life, Oswald’s residency at Neely St. is the crucial phase in the history of his alleged penchant for political assassination. This is the time when, according to the Warren Report, he acquired a rifle and a pistol, posed with the weapons for the infamous backyard photos, attempted to kill homegrown fascist General Edwin Walker, and thought of making an attempt on the life of Richard Nixon. ‘Lee had rented the Neely Street apartment for a purpose, and he did not think that he would be there long,’ wrote Priscilla Johnson Macmillan, alluding to Oswald’s guntoting activities during those event-filled seven weeks.
The house in Neely St, in short, is the house in which Oswald is supposed to have evolved from an alcoholic wife beater - which is the image of him associated with his previous Elsbeth St. address - to full-blown political assassin. As the WC was exceptionally interested in this phase of Oswald’s life - it was mainly after reports that associated him with a rifle - it seems extremely strange that the WC interviewed neither the Georges or the Grays. Both parties would been have been able to provide information about Oswald’s movements and behaviour in that crucial phase of his life, such as whether he drove a car, while the Grays might have even spied him posing for the camera with a rifle and pistol.
It is abundantly clear, then, that the Grays would have been an important source of information about Oswald’s behaviour in this period. According to his June 1964 affidavit, sometime in early April the Grays told Mr George that ‘the man in the apartment upstairs was beating his wife’ - evidence that would have been useful as corroboration of what the Tobiases told the WC about Oswald’s conduct in Elsbeth St. On the other hand, the idea of interviewing the Grays seems to have occurred to the Secret Service. But most people who are sceptical of the seriousness of its investigation of the assassination will not be surprised to learn that Mr George was unable to put the Secret Service in contact with the Oswalds’ former co-tenants. According to the Secret Service report, ‘The Gray family has now moved and Mr. George does not know where they moved to.’ (It is striking that Mr George’s tenants do not move out so much as vanish on him.) To my knowledge, the Grays have never surfaced to be interviewed by either by the media or assassination researchers. Although they surely had a story that would have interested the press (e.g., ‘We shared a house with JFK’s killer!’) and the experience would probably have provided enough material for a small book, the Grays have apparently vanished into history.
By way of concluding this section, it is worth noting that the existence of three individuals - Mrs George and Mr and Mrs Gray - depends entirely upon the statements of M. Waldo (F.M. or Jim. W.) George. However, Mr. George is a shadowy figure who himself may not have existed, at least under that name. Until the existence of Mr. George and/or Mr. and Mrs. George B. Gray can be corroborated by evidence from sources other than those that ended up in the Warren Commission volumes, it is hard not to at least consider the possibility that Oswald was telling the truth when he claimed never to have lived at Neely St. After all, nothing is known for certain about either the man from whom he allegedly rented the apartment or the couple who are supposed to have lived downstairs during that critical seven week period.

Footnotes:



posted by Carl  # 7:38 PM
The ongoing research is being made available on the Internet in the hope of eliciting from interested readers further information about the phase of Oswald's life when he is supposed to have been living at Neely St. In time, the website may expand to cover other aspects of Oswald's life in this mysterious period, including the infamous, and certainly spurious, backyard photographs, and the nature of his alleged involvement in the April 1963 attempt to shoot General Edwin Walker.

Readers are asked to bear in mind that this is research in progress conducted on the basis of publicly available sources by a researcher who is not in a financial position to undertake research in the United States. This means that claims will be made which could easily be verified or disproven by persons living in Dallas or with better access to original sources of information. Anyone who is in a position to ADD to my stock of information about Oswald in this period (basically, March and April 1963) is welcome to email me. My address is cwernerhoff@yahoo.com

posted by Carl  # 7:17 PM

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