A Surprising Birthday Celebration
Friday, October 18, was Lee Harvey Oswald’s birthday. He would have been 80 years old. About 75 people gathered to remember Oswald at Le Bon Temps Rouler in the 4800 block of Magazine. Oswald and his family lived at 4907 Magazine in the summer of ’63. There’s a small silver plaque in front of the second seat from the far end of the bar, “Lee Oswald sat here.”
Lee Harvey Oswald would be 80 now. As a freshman in high school, I stuffed envelopes for Kennedy in 1960; sat on freezing bleachers at his Inaugural Parade in ’61. History class, November 22. I went to Kennedy’s funeral. Then I moved on.
My generation, The Assassination Generation, was well represented at Le Bon Ton. Many there on Friday night, though, couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15 when Kennedy was shot. One fellow was 7. His parents were Republicans and horrified. Democrat parents cried.
This was a birthday celebration complete with a cake with Oswald’s picture in the frosting. We were here to remember Lee Harvey Oswald. “A fine intelligence officer”, according to Kris Milliken. Milliken was the master of ceremonies. His TrineDay publishes two books which detail Oswald, his associates, and their activities in New Orleans in the summer of ’63.
Truth or Fiction
From a turned around bar stool, Ed Haslam recounted Oswald’s bio as we crowded around to hear. Early life in New Orleans; Marine Corps career, defection to Russia, dishonorable discharge, return to Texas, job at a photographic reproduction company there, his return to New Orleans in late April of 1963. And, finally, Oswald’s return to Dallas in September.
Haslam published the book Mary, Ferrie and The Monkey Virus in 1995. His father had cried for the first time in his son’s presence when he learned of the murder of Dr. Mary Sherman in July 1963. Sherman was a world renown cancer researcher, orthopedic surgeon and colleague. She’s the “Mary” of the title.
Over the next 30 years, bits and pieces of a story began to emerge: a monkey virus, a secret research project in New Orleans in the summer of ’63; an even more secret bioweapon project; and a cast of characters including: Dr. Mary, anti-Castro Cubans, the Mafia, right wing anti-Communist militants, the FBI, the CIA, one of New Orleans’ most eminent citizens, a nuclear particle accelerator guarded by Marines, and Lee Harvey Oswald. His evidence was compelling but circumstantial. He needed a witness.
A Private Struggle
Enter Judyth Vary Baker, the witness. She took the stage amidst applause. Judyth has been coming to New Orleans to celebrate Lee Oswald’s birthday for a half dozen years now. A tiny woman, she’ll be 74 in May. Her’s is a long story about a brief time, the New Orleans Summer of 1963. Me and Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald. That’s it in a nutshell. She has been publicly championing Oswald for at least two decades. “It hasn’t been easy. Moving every 90 days,” she shared. For more than three decades before that she hid in plain site.
Her’s is an ‘I want to believe it story’. Judyth fits all of Haslam’s puzzle pieces together. It all makes sense, fantastic as it is. If only she had more ‘corroboration’ and didn’t have a small army of internet debunkers constantly pointing that out.
But for tonight let’s believe her. It’s Lee’s birthday. A fine intelligence officer and a good soldier. And, in his own words, “A patsy”. We all sang happy birthday to Lee. Judyth cut and served the cake. In a brief silent moment at the end of the evening I sat down next to her. She turned toward me. She doesn’t know me, but she put her hand on my arm. We just looked at each other. And she just smiled. Fatigue and, perhaps, a couple of cocktails. 56 years is a long time to carry the torch for Lee Harvey Oswald.
David Feldman, one of New Orleans’ extraordinary storytellers, has spent most of his adult life pursuing the truth behind the Oswald/JFK Conspiracy. The story is not in Dallas, it’s here in New Orleans. Next time in town join David and The Savvy Native on our Lee Harvey Oswald And The JFK Conspiracy: Assassin or Patsy? Tour as we trace Lee’s steps growing-up in New Orleans and during the months and weeks leading-up to the assassination.
Expedia Review Aug 21, 2019
5 of 5
“David is a great tour guide, he has thoroughly researched his subject and leaves no stone unturned in uncovering the truth…I recently took the Dallas 6th Floor school Book depository building tour and this tour in New Orleans just tops-off the experience!!”
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