JFK: Oswald's Coffin and A Secret Service Agent's Book
First, Lee Harvey Oswald's original wooden coffin was sold at auction for $87,469.
According to the LA Times,
Oswald's body was exhumed from Fort Worth's Rose Hill Memorial Park on Oct. 4, 1981, to resolve a dispute between his widow, Marina Oswald, and his brother, Robert Oswald. They had argued over a conspiracy theory that alleged that Kennedy's killer was actually a look-alike Russian agent who had taken Lee Harvey Oswald's place.
Dental records and other physical features proved that Oswald was indeed in the grave. But the coffin, damaged by water, was replaced with a new one before his remains were reburied.
Funeral home owner Allen Baumgardner, who had assisted in the original embalming of Oswald, kept the old casket, along with an erroneous death certificate and the 1963 funeral home log book. On Page 525 are the details of the original $573.50 mortuary fee and $135 cemetery plot. Oswald's coffin cost $300, and the leaky vault that enclosed it was $200.
And Gerald Blaine, a formet Secret Service officer who was a part of JFK's security detail, has just written a new book about his experiences before and after the assassination. In The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence, he and other agents take the *shocking* viewpoint that Oswald was the only shooter, and acted alone. We live in a strange world where that is considered the radical concept.
From an article in the Contra Costa Times:
Blaine, 84, said he went years without talking about JFK's death -- not even to his family.
"I didn't want to bother the family," he said, "and I didn't know how to deal with it. I found out that was consistent with every agent who worked for President Kennedy. Not one of them talked about it."
Blaine is certain that Lee Harvey Oswald worked alone. His marksmanship skills were more than adequate, and he perfectly fit an assassin's profile.
"He had psychiatric problems when he was a young man," Blaine said. "He had problems in military service and problems holding down a job. He even had a problem when he tried to defect, and he had a marriage that failed.
"Also, about a month or two before taking a shot at the president, he took a shot at a general in Texas. The bullet just missed, but it was traced back to Oswald's rifle."
Kennedy was shot while riding in an open-top car -- a president rides only in bulletproof vehicles today, Blaine said -- but that was in keeping with his personality. He wanted to see and be seen by the people.
The fateful Dallas appearance marked the last of several southern stops, including Tampa, Fla., San Antonio and Houston. Earlier in the trip, Secret Service agents rode on the back of the presidential limousine, which likely would have obstructed Oswald's aim. Kennedy stopped that.
"The president told us, 'I've got to use my political style, and my political style is to be among the people, to greet them and have them be able to see me,' " Blaine said.
The assassination still torments the former agent, but what makes matters worse is what he regards as misrepresentation of what he knows to be true.
"How many of you saw the movie 'JFK'?" he asked, referencing a film that reinforced conspiracy theories. "Unfortunately for our youth, that seems to be their history book.
"An article last month in USA Today said 82 percent of young people between 18 and 29 believe that President Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy. "
He said he has no illusions of transforming the doubters, but he hopes his book, which includes input from fellow agents, will at least put facts on the table.
"If we make history out of the wild stories," he said, "you'll never trust history again." Blaine said he knows the truth about what happened in Dallas. He's had to live with it for 47 years.