Monday, March 14, 2011

And Then Harvey Rode Into The Trailer Park

“Harvey enters the duller reaches of the world, as if to add color to it by bringing forth sinister premonitions of future doom.”

William Henry Timmer has a childhood experience that while not too unusual at the time, though it would later become that. One summer day 1953 in an oil boom town of Stanley, North Dakota, a new kid showed up in his neighborhood. Scruffy, riding a beat-up bike with no chain guard, he hailed from New York and regaled Timmer and the other boys with stories of street gangs and razor fights. They were all impressed with this older, big city kid who went by the name of Harvey. Harvey Oswald.

But Timmer noticed there wasn't something quite right with this kid. He was older than the other boys in the neighborhood. Timmer saw that he carried with him Marxist literature. One odd thing was Harvey didn’t want to be seen by adults. When Timmer told Harvey and the other kids about some rabbits they had in a hutch and invited them all over to view them in his grandmother’s yard, Harvey came along till he saw Timmer’s mother appear out of their trailer. He then wheeled his bicycle around and rode off without saying a word or staying to see the rabbits.

Later, William Timmer reports, Harvey told him he was going to kill the president of the United States one day. When Timmer related this to his mother she told him not to ever associate with the boy again. He did not. Nor did he know where this boy lived, only that he came to their trailer park from somewhere south. He never saw Harvey after that summer or in the following years before they moved to Arizona in 1957.

Shortly after the assassination, Timmer’s mother, Mrs. Leslie Cole, sent him some newspaper clippings of Lee Oswald following his arrest for the murders asking him if this is the boy he met in Stanley ten years earlier. Timmer identified the man in the pictures as Harvey and his mother preceded to write President Lyndon Johnson a letter describing how her son met Oswald ten years earlier. This letter was forwarded to the Secret Service and from there to the FBI.

Both William Timmer and his mother were interviewed about this incident by the FBI. As with many controversial witnesses, they were never called to testify to the Warren Commission about this encounter with Harvey (Lee?) Oswald. Why? Conflicting records and timelines.

(FBI Special Agent, James Hosty, in his book Assignment: Oswald, tells of meeting Marguerite Oswald and asking her if she and Lee ever lived in South Dakota. She laughed it off, denying ever having lived there. Odd that Hosty got the wrong state in questioning her. It also shows how fast the ND story flashed around as Hosty’s question was posed just five days after the assassination.)

New York City, 1953
Marguerite Oswald moved herself and Lee New York for the purpose of being closer to her son form her first marriage, John Pic. All existing records indicate that Marguerite Oswald was employed for most of 1953 a various department and hosiery stores in New York. Meanwhile, Lee Oswald’s school records have him enrolled in PS #117 and later, PS #44. It was #117 that he was largely truant from, and court proceedings were launched to place Lee Oswald in The Youth House, a home for delinquent boys. Subsequent events had Oswald evaluated for the first and only time by a psychiatrist and interviewed by a probation officer.

The year of 1953 was filled with discrepancies in records and witness testimony. John Armstrong in his book, Harvey and Lee, documents in exhaustive detail the conflicting witness testimony and the disappearance of records pertaining to this and many other phases of Lee Oswald’s life. Take for example, Louise Robertson, who states she was employed by Marguerite Oswald as a housekeeper for six weeks to take care of their one bedroom apartment. Never mind the strangeness of hiring a maid for small apartment when Marguerite is supposed to impoverished, but Mrs. Robertson claims her employment ended as a result of Marguerite and Lee moving out of New York in the summer of 1953. However, the FBI obtain employment records from the Lady Orva Hosiery store which has Marguerite Oswald employed there from May to December of 1953. So she and Lee can’t be living in ND during this time, contradicting not only William Timmer and his mother, but Louise Robertson’s account of the Oswald’s leaving in the summer of that year.

This mess expands even larger than what I can describe here as there all kinds of strange happenings with all of this. John Armstrong documents how all of the family court records regarding Oswald in New York were placed in the FBI’s custody in December of 1963 by Judge Florence Kelley, for the sole purpose of being relayed to the Warren Commission. The FBI claims they were but only copies of the originals were sent. Subsequent attempts by later investigations, such as the ARRB (Assassination Records and Review Board) in the 1990’s, were unable to determine where the originals. No detailed list of the files has been found to make sure everything in Judge Kelley’s order was sent. And apparently something is missing because there are no report cards or school pictures from Oswald’s school days in New York.

So, all of Oswald’s school records are copies of the files and not originals. This is a common occurrence in the case. In fact, Armstrong goes on to state that all the records that the FBI turned over to the Warren Commission, regarding everything with Lee Oswald’s life were copies–never originals. Safe to say, find a copy of John Armstrong’s book to read the seemingly endless details on this and a lot more, as this pattern extends throughout Lee Oswald’s life.

Back To North Dakota
I found William Timmer and his mother’s account of what happened in ND in 1953 to have a ring of truth to it, despite the contradictions. After all, they are describing an Oswald we already know, complete with Marxist reading material. They are not publicity hounds seeking fame, nor did they ever try to make any money off their experiences. Besides that, there are quite a number of people that knew Oswald that report he hated being called Lee and preferred being called Harvey instead. All events like this, from assassinations to huge disasters like 9-11 reveal weird incidents with murky undercurrents. Spooky Harvey showing up in a way-out place like a trailer park in North Dakota carries with it a creepy, dislocated feeling. At least to me. This older kid hanging out with younger boys, playing the role of the tough guy, mouthing off about disquieting threats, builds to a collective whole. Harvey enters the duller reaches of the world, as if to add color to it by bringing forth sinister premonitions of future doom.

All of this has the hint of the doppelganger playing with us again. Either by a tease or just some higher-up agency manufacturing phony files to lead future investigators astray. Though this Harvey interlude has a tinge of the supernatural to it. Or maybe not that. Just sort of a borderline mysterious event with dubious meaning. Such as a few years ago when clowns were spotted around the country in vans offering children candy, bidding them to enter. Apparently, they never got any takers and then vanished from the American landscape. Just like Harvey did on his junky bike.

As former CIA director Richard Helms once said, “No one will ever know who or what Lee Harvey Oswald represented.” Maybe not, but somebody, somewhere, knows. Maybe that is why Marguerite cackled at Agent Hosty’s inquiry about living in South Dakota. Hey, you boys are so out of the loop you can’t even get the state right.

Armstrong, John, Harvey and Lee; Hosty, James, Assignment: Oswald