©2022 By Legs McNeil
In honor of the CIA releasing 12,879 documents Thursday, December 16th, 2022 by the National Archives, and the 1,491 documents a year ago today– I present my chapter 34 from my book Tomorrow Is Canceled. Chapter 34 is entitled, “Something Is About To Pop,” about the apprehension of Lee Oswald inside the Texas Theater about an hour after President Kennedy was assassinated and about a half hour after Officer Tippet was murdered in front of his police car in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas.
I’ve been fooling around with a narrative oral history of the JFK assassination in my book Tomorrow Is Canceled, the title which was taken from a sign inside the beatnik club, “The Cellar,” in Fort Worth, Texas, where a number of Secret Service Agents drank Everclear until the sun came up the night before the assassination. I’ve been working on it for a number of years, using the transcripts from “The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy,” more commonly known as “The Warren Commission,” and “The 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations,” as well as books and documentaries.
Through my study of the assassination, my intent was not to discover if it was a conspiracy or not, but I believe I understand what happened with American Intelligence agencies in 1963 concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, and why the CIA and FBI withheld so many of their documents concerning Oswald– to save face, more than to reveal a smoking gun.
Though there is a smoking gun of sorts, and a vicious conspiracy.
According to Daniel Schorr article in the November 25, 1983, Washington Post, “On Sept. 7, 1963, [Fidel] Castro showed up unexpectedly at a Brazilian Embassy reception in Havana and launched into a tirade against President Kennedy and the CIA, accusing them of plotting his death. “Let Kennedy and his brother, Robert, watch out,” he said. “They, too, could become targets of assassination.”
In New Orleans, where Oswald was living, Harker’s story appeared at the top of Page 7 of the Times-Picayune of Sept. 9. It started this way:
HAVANA (AP)–Prime Minister Fidel Castro said Saturday night “United States leaders” would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba.
Bitterly denouncing what he called recent U.S.-prompted raids on Cuban territory, Castro said, “We are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders . . . they themselves will not be safe.”
It is not established that Oswald read the story, but his wife, Marina, later said that he was an avid reader of newspapers, including the Times-Picayune.
The story came at a time when Oswald, an admirer of Castro, was in a state of agitation and frustration. He had lost his job. He had been arrested in a scuffle while distributing pro-Castro leaflets. He had engaged in an angry debate on the radio, saying, “Cuba is the only revolutionary country in the world today.”
In the days after the publication of the Castro interview, events in Oswald’s life appeared to take a decisive turn. On Sept. 23 he sent his wife and child to stay with their friend, Ruth Payne, in Irving, Texas. On Sept. 26 he traveled by bus to Mexico City, telling a passenger he wanted to go to Cuba and see Castro.
It is my belief that Fidel Castro planted the idea of assassinating JFK in Oswald’s head, and that a Mexican National working inside the Cuban Consul by the name of Silvia Duran assisted Lee Oswald in his nefarious schemes, although she never admitted it. Ms. Duran did admit to an affair with Lee Oswald to a CIA informant, but later denied it.
According to CIA document 104-10422-10024, it reads, “We have by no means excluded the possibility of that other as of yet unknown persons may have been involved or even that other powers may have played a role.”
My Silvia Duran chapter is not yet completed, so instead I offer Chapter 34, “Something Is About To Pop” about the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Texas Theater……
Something Is About To Pop
[Texas Theater, Dallas, Texas—1:13 (CST) Nov. 22, 1963]
Johnny Brewer [Shoe Store Salesman]: We were listening to a transistor radio there in the store, just listening to a regular radio program, and they broke in with the bulletin that the President had been shot. And from then, that is all there was, and then they said a patrolman had been shot in Oak Cliff.
The Oak Cliff area is where my shoe store is located, and after I heard that the officer had been shot, I heard a siren coming down East Jefferson headed toward West Jefferson. I was in the store, behind the counter, and I looked up and out towards the street and the police cars, and saw a man enter the lobby of my store.
The man stood there with his back to the street. He was just standing there staring.
He was a little man, about 5’9″, and weighed about 150 pounds is all.
Mrs. Julia Postal [Box Office Ticket-taker]: My daughter had called me at the box office of the Texas Theater before we opened up and said the President getting shot was on the TV, so I then turned the little transistor radio on, right away, and of course it verified that the President had been shot. I was listening to KLIF, and they kept saying that Parkland Hospital hadn’t issued an official report, but that he had been removed from the operating table.
Just about the time we opened, my employer, John A. Callahan, had stayed and took the tickets, because we change pictures on Thursday. About this time, I heard the sirens, the police was racing back and forth, on Jefferson Boulevard, and then Mr. Callahan made the remark, “Something is about to pop.”
Johnny Brewer: The sirens were going away, I presume back to where the officer had been shot, and when they turned and left, the man looked over his shoulder and turned around and walked up West Jefferson towards the Texas Theatre.
The man just looked funny to me. His hair was sort of messed up and looked like he had been running, and he looked scared. So I walked out the front and watched him.
Mrs. Julia Postal: I was looking up, when the police cars passed, they made a tremendous noise, and this man ducked in as my boss went to get in his car.
The man ducked in to the outer part of the theater, just right around the corner.
Johnny Brewer: The man just turned and walked right straight in the theater. I could have seen him if he was buying a ticket, because the box office is flush with all the other buildings. But I knew that he hadn’t.
So I walked up to the theatre, to the box office and asked Mrs. Postal if she sold a ticket to a man who was wearing a brown shirt, and she said no, she hadn’t.
Mrs. Julia Postal: Just as I turned around, Johnny Brewer was standing there, and he asked me if the fellow that ducked in bought a ticket, and I said, “No; by golly, he didn’t,” and turned around expecting to see the man.
Johnny said he had been ducking in at his place of business, and he had gone by me, because I was facing west, and I said, “Go in and see if you can see him, there aren’t too much people in there….”
Johnny Brewer: I was going to go inside and ask the usher if he had seen him. So I walked in and Butch Burroughs was behind the candy counter. He operated the concession and takes tickets. He was behind the concession stand and I asked him if he had seen a man in a brown shirt of that description, matching that description, and he said he had been working behind the counter and hadn’t seen anybody.
Butch Burroughs [Usher]: I just failed to see him when he slipped in. I had a lot of stock candy to count, and had to put in the candy case for the coming night.
Mrs. Julia Postal: So Johnny came out and says, “Well, Butch didn’t see him,” and I says, “Well, he has to be there…”
So I told him to go back and check, we have exit doors, one behind the stage and one straight through, and asked him to check them, check the lounges because I knew he was in there. He just had to be.
Johnny Brewer: I asked Butch if he would come with me and show me where the exits were and we would check the exits. He asked me why and I told him that I thought the guy looked suspicious. First, we checked the front exit, and it hadn’t been opened. Then we walked down to the front of the theatre to the stage. And then we went back into the balcony and looked around but we couldn’t see anything. There weren’t many people in the theater, but it was dark and we couldn’t see how many people were in there.
Mrs. Julia Postal: I believe I sold twenty-four tickets, between fourteen and twenty-four. We had three prices; adults were 90 cents, a teenager with a card is fifty cents, and a child is thirty-five cents.
Johnny Brewer: There were fifteen or twenty people in the theater, at the most, upstairs and downstairs. I couldn’t see anything upstairs, so then we went down to the exit by the stage, and we heard a seat pop up, but couldn’t see anybody.
We went back upstairs and checked, and we came down and went back to the box office, and told Julia that we hadn’t seen him.
Mrs. Julia Postal: Johnny came back and said he hadn’t seen anything, although he had heard a seat pop up, like somebody getting out, but there was nobody around that area. So I told Johnny about the fact that the President was dead. By then, they came out and said that the President was officially dead on the radio.
I said, “I don’t know if this is the man they want, but he is running from them for some reason. I am going to call the police, and you and Butch go get on each of the exit doors and stay there.”
Butch Burroughs: I went to check the exit doors with the shoe salesman.
Johnny Brewer: Butch went to the front exit, and I went down by the stage to the back exit and stood there. Before the police there, they turned the house lights on, and I looked out from the curtains and saw the man.
Mrs. Julia Postal: I called the police and the officer wanted to know why I thought it was their man, and I said, “Well, I didn’t know, all I know is this man is running from them for some reason…”
The officer wanted to know why, and I told him because every time the sirens go by, he would duck, and I said, “Let me tell you what he looks like and you take it from there…”
And I explained that he had on this brown sports shirt and I couldn’t tell you what design it was, and he was medium height, ruddy looking to me …
He said, “Well, it fits the description.”
I said I hadn’t heard the description, and he said, “Thank you.”
Dallas Police Dispatcher: I have information that a suspect just went into the Texas Theater on West Jefferson… He’s supposed to be hiding in the balcony.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: After I was satisfied that this teenager that had run into the library didn’t fit the description, I went back to my squad car, put my shotgun back in the rack. Just as I got into the squad car, it was reported that a suspect was seen running into the Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson.
Hugh Aynesworth: I scrambled out to the street. Actually, this turned out to be a smart move. Within seconds I heard on an FBI radio car that a suspect had just run into the Texas Theater, about six or seven blocks up Jefferson Avenue. I didn’t see newsmen close by and I was hesitant to ask a carload of cops to ride with them, so I took off at a run.
Johnny Brewer: The man stood up and walked to the aisle to his right and then he turned around and walked back and sat down. I don’t know if he took the same seat he had been sitting in.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: When I got to the front of the theater there was several police cars already at the scene, and I surmised that officers were already inside the theater. So I decided to go to the rear, in the alley, and seal off the rear. I parked my squad car. I noticed there were three or four other officers standing outside with shotguns guarding the rear exits. There were three other officers at the rear door; Officer Hawkins, T. A. Hutson, and C. T. Walker.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: There were several officers around the back of the theatre, and myself, and McDonald, and Officer Hutson went in the back door.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: We walked into the rear exit door over the alley. And as we got inside the door, we were met by a man that was in civilian clothes, a suit, and he told us that the man that acted suspiciously as he ran into the theater was sitting downstairs in the orchestra seats, and not in the balcony. He was sitting at the rear of the theater alone.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: This boy told us that… he had changed seats several times, and he thought he was out there in the middle now.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: Officer Walker and I went to the exit curtains that is to the left of the movie screen. I looked into the audience. I saw the person that the shoe store salesman had pointed out to us. The lights were up, and the movie was playing at this time.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: I had my gun out. I had my gun out when I walked in the back of the theatre. McDonald and I walked across the stage, and he walked the farthest away.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: [The shoe store salesman] was pointing out the suspect to another officer with him on the right of the stage, just right of the movie screen. Well, after seeing him, I noticed the other people in the theater–there was approximately 10 or 15 other people seated throughout the theater. There were two men sitting in the center, about 10 rows from the front.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: As Mac went up to check people in certain rows, he knew he was looking for the suspect, cause the theater manager had pointed him out, but he did not immediately go to the suspect, he did ask people to the left of the suspect if they would get up and move, they moved, and he stepped in the row– he was in the row in front of Oswald, as he came up in front of Oswald …
Patrolman Nick McDonald: I stopped abruptly, and turned in and told him to get on his feet. He rose immediately, bringing up both hands. He got this hand about shoulder high, his left-hand shoulder high, and he got his right hand about breast high. He said, “Well, it is all over now.”
Patrolman Paul Bentley: As [Oswald] stood, he pulled a pistol out of his waist, actually to shoot McDonald, but as he pulled the pistol out, he hit McDonald….
Patrolman Nick McDonald: …this hand struck me between the eyes on the bridge of the nose. Knocking my cap off … whenever he knocked my hat off, any normal reaction was for me to go at him with this hand…. I went at him with this hand, and I believe I struck him on the face, but I don’t know where. And with my hand, that was on his hand over the pistol.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: That’s when McDonald punched Oswald….
Johnny Brewer: [Oswald] knocked McDonald down. McDonald fell against one of the seats. And then real quick, he was back up.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: Whenever I hit him, we both fell into the seats. While we were struggling around there, with this hand on the gun….
Patrolman Paul Bentley: …I immediately dove over two of those rows of seats– I did not know at the time– I dove over those seats– I hung my ankle in between the rows of seats, and in scuffling with Oswald, I pulled the ligaments in my right ankle… but by the time he hit Mac, both Mac and I grabbed for the pistol…
Johnny Brewer: I saw this gun come up– in Oswald’s hand, a gun up in the air.
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: …I saw a revolver come out, and McDonald was holding on to it with his right hand, and this gun was waving up toward the back of the seat…
Patrolman Nick McDonald: Now, as we fell into the seats, I called out, “I have got him,” and it felt like something had grazed across my hand. I felt movement there. And that was the only movement I felt. And I heard a snap…
Patrolman C.T. Walker: I heard it click. I turned around and the gun was still pointing at approximately a 45 angle. Be pointed slightly toward the screen….
Johnny Brewer: And somebody hollered, “He’s got a gun.”
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: At this time Officer C. T. Walker came up in the same row of seats that the struggle was taking place in and grabbed this person’s left hand and held it. McDonald was at this time simultaneously trying to hold this person’s right hand.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: Officer Hutson and I ran toward the back of Oswald and Hutson threw his arm around his neck, and I grabbed his left arm, and we threw him back over the seat.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: I believe the muzzle was toward me, because the sensation came across this way. To make a movement like that, it would have to be the cylinder or the hammer.
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: Sounded like the snap of a pistol, to me, when a pistol snaps. I could feel the hammer glide under my hand. The returning hammer made a dull, audible snapping sound as the firing pin struck the flesh of my left hand, between the thumb and forefinger. Bracing myself, I stood rigid, waiting for the bullet to penetrate my chest. But the bullet didn’t fire.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: [Oswald] had the pistol in his hand, he had it cocked, and he had pressed the hammer, but it so happens that one of us got our hand, our finger, our thumb in between the hammer and the firing pin that put slight attention on the shell and we saved MacDonald from being shot.
Patrolman Nick McDonald: When I jerked it free, I was down in the seats with him, with my head, some reason or other, I don’t know why, and when I brought the pistol out, it grazed me across the cheek here… about a 4-inch scratch just above the eye to just above the lip.
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: We had restrained him after the pistol was taken, but he was still resisting arrest, and we stood him up and I let go of his neck at this time and took hold of his right arm and attempted to bring it back behind him, and Officer Hawkins and Walker and myself attempted to handcuff him.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: He was fighting like a tiger.
Johnny Brewer: I saw fists flying and they were hitting him.
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: At this time Sgt. Jerry Hill came up and assisted as we were handcuffing.
Butch Burroughs: … when they brought him out [into the lobby], he was hollering and raising, “I demand my rights,” and all that… he seemed like he was mad at everybody.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: “Police Brutality! Police Brutality!” He hollered, “Police Brutality,” nobody hit him. I did come down on the side of Oswald, I scraped the side of his head… I had a little piece of his skin off his forehead on this ring here, but nobody, I never saw officers with shotguns, that he claimed was hit with shotgun butts, but he was not…. he was not hit with a shotgun butt, the only time he was hit or scraped was when I was grabbing to get a hold of the gun and came down on the side of him.
George Applin [Gas Station Attendant]: I seen one [Patrolman] strike him with a shotgun.
Johnny Brewer: As they were taking him out, he stopped and turned around and hollered, “I am not resisting arrest,” about twice. “I am not resisting arrest.”
Patrolman Nick McDonald: [I didn’t go with them outside], I was looking for my hat and flashlight.
Patrolman Thomas Hutson: Then Captain Westbrook came in and gave the order to get him out of here as fast as you can and don’t let anybody see him, and he was rushed out of the theatre.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: When we got Oswald out of the Theater, this is just before we got to the car, placed him in the car to bring him to City Hall, he was saying, “Ohhh those handcuffs are too tight!”
And I turned to Walker and I said, “Walker would you mind checking the handcuffs?”
And the reason I am smiling is because Walker said, “Paul, I just tightened them.”
Patrolman C.T. Walker: When we went out the front door, [Oswald] started hollering, “I protest this police brutality.” People out there were hollering, “Kill the S.O.B” “Let us have him. We want him.”
Patrolman Paul Bentley: [A] very large crowd had gathered there, along with quite a few police officers had congregated in front of the theater. The crowd was very disturbed over the assassination of the President.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: There was a plain car, police car out in front. The right door was open, and Bentley went in first, and Oswald come and then I. We sat in the back seat with him. Sgt. Jerry Hill in the front, and two more detectives that I don’t know who they were, that rode down, too. There were five officers and Oswald in the car.
Hugh Aynesworth [Reporter]: At least 200 people had arrived by then, and many were chanting, “Kill the son of a bitch!” “Let us have him…, We’ll kill him!”
One cop wiped tears from his face and ran around the corner toward the back of the theater. I felt like crying myself.
Det. Bob Carroll: …I was driving the car and I was trying to get [Oswald] from out there, down here as fast as we could.
Sgt. Gerry Hill: As [Det. Carroll] started to get in the car, he handed me a pistol, which he identified as the one that had been taken from the suspect in the theatre. I asked him was this his. He said, “No, it is the suspect’s….” ….he apparently had it in his belt, and as he started to sit down, he handed it to me. I was already in the car and seated….
Then I broke the gun open to see how many shells it contained and how many live rounds it had in it There were six in the chambers of the gun. One of them had an indention in the primer that appeared to be caused by the hammer. There were five others. All of the shells at this time had indentions. All of the shells appeared to have at one time or another scotch tape on them because in an area that would have been the width of a half inch strip of scotch tape, there was kind of a bit of lint and residue on the jacket of the shell. I can say that I marked all six of them.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: As we proceeded to City Hall, a dispatcher came on the radio and wanted to know who are suspect was. And I had his wallet in my hand and I took out different identifications, he had several different aliases, and they said, after I told them it was Lee Harvey Oswald, “bring him directly to Captain Fritz’s,” who’s in homicide; “he is the prime suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy and the wounding of Governor Connally.”
I turned to him and said, “Did you just kill our President?”
And he said, “I haven’t shot a damn person.”
And that’s the last thing he said to me.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: [Oswald] said, “I know my rights.” That is what he was saying, “I know my rights….” And we told him that the police officer… he was suspected in the murder of a police officer. And he said, “Police officer been killed?”
And nobody said nothing.
He said, “I hear they burn for murder.”
And I said, “You might find out.”
And [Oswald] said, “Well, they say it just takes a second to die.”
Detective Bob Carroll: [We went down to the City Hall and] when we got down in the basement and brought Oswald up, I was in front with everyone else surrounding him and we walked directly from the car to the elevator, got on the elevator and went up to the third floor to the homicide and robbery office and took him right into the homicide and robbery office and took him into one of our interrogation rooms, where we released him to the homicide and robbery office.
Captain Fritz: Oswald was arrested at 1:40 and I think he was taken to the city hall about 2:15…
Patrolman C.T. Walker: We took [Oswald] up the homicide and robbery bureau, and we went back there, and one of the detectives said put him in this room. I put him in the room, and he said, “Let the uniform officers stay with him.” And I went inside, and Oswald sat down, and he was handcuffed with his hands behind him. I sat down there, and I had his pistol, and he had a card in there with a picture of him and the name A. J. Hidell on it….
And I told him, “That is your real name, isn’t it?”
And he said, “No, that is not my real name.”
And I started talking to him and I asked him, I said, “Why did you kill the officer?”
And he just looked at me. And I said, “Did you kill the officer because you were scared of being arrested for something?”
And he said, “I am not ascared of anything. Do I look like I am scared now?”
No; he didn’t look like he was scared. He was calm. Not a bit nervous.
FBI Agent James Bookhout: ….one of the officers that brought [Oswald] in was Paul Bentley. He is a polygraph operator in the identification division of the Dallas Police Department, and Bentley was limping, and Oswald had one eye that was swollen and a scratch mark on his forehead.
Patrolman Paul Bentley: Captain Fritz was not there when we first brought [Oswald] in, and I sat down to make out a report at one of the desks, after I turned him over to Lieutenant Baker, and that’s when Inspector Putman came over and advised me that there was something wrong with my right ankle, and I looked down and it was swollen. I didn’t even realize it was swollen; I could hardly see the shoe it was swollen so bad.
Patrolman C.T. Walker: I was with [Oswald] from the time that he was arrested until the time the detectives took him over… When I got to the jail office and talk was going there that he was the suspect [in the assassination.] … I didn’t tie him in at that time with the actual killing of the President.
Lieutenant T.L. Baker: ….Lieutenant Knight of the I.D. bureau took [Oswald] out of the jail on the fifth floor and with the assistance of Sergeant Warren and one of the jailers brought him to the fourth floor where the I. D. bureau was located….
There in the presence of Sergeant Warren and this jailer, one of his assistants, he was processed through the I. D. bureau, which consists of taking his pictures and fingerprints and making up the different circulars that go to the FBI and so forth. When they had finished processing him, he returned him to the jail. Lieutenant Knight released him. He was placed back in the jail at 1:10.
Approximately 1:30 Sergeant Warren received a call from Chief Curry, advising him to bring him back to the identification bureau the same place, for arraignment. Sergeant Warren and the same jailer returned him to the I. D. bureau, where he was arraigned by Judge Johnston at approximately 1:35 a.m. This arraignment took approximately 10 minutes, and he was returned to the fifth-floor jail by Sergeant Warren at approximately 1:45 a.m.
INTRODUCTION TO MY COURSE:
ZEN AND THE ART OF THE NARRATIVE ORAL HISTORY
©2021-2022 by Legs McNeil (Based on the techniques developed by Legs McNeil)
Too long has the Oral History format been thought of as the bastard child of literature; assumed to be a “cut and paste” job for hack writers looking to make an easy buck. In other words, the bottom of the prose barrel. But when the art of the narrative oral history is mastered, it can transform the written spoken word by primary subjects—people who were in the room when the event occurred—into actually experiencing the event being described, with all the human emotion, even more so than the traditional omnipotent narrator.