©2021 By Legs McNeil

About 10 days before the JFK Assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald delivered a note to the downtown Dallas FBI office threatening to blow it up, as well as the Dallas Police Headquarters, if they didn’t stop bothering his wife, Marina Oswald.

Apparently, FBI Agent James Hosty had been dropping by Ruth Paine’s house in Fort Worth, Texas, where Lee’s wife and their daughter June Oswald were staying. Lee took a room in Dallas, closer to his work at the Texas School Book Depository, and Lee only visited Marina and June on the weekends at Mrs. Paine’s house. Most of the time they were fighting, and Ruth didn’t want Lee living there because he was bathed in too many bad vibes.

Therefore, FBI Agent Hosty, who was in charge of keeping Lee and Marina Oswald under surveillance, kept bugging Marina at Ruth Paine’s place in Fort Worth to find out where Lee was living. The only problem was that Marina and Ruth had no idea where Lee was living, and when they called the phone number Lee had given them, the person on the other end said there was no one by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald staying there.

Lee had used an assumed name, either O.H. Lee or Alex Hiddel, when he gave his name to the landlord. Lee had a bunch of aliases and used them often. His favorite TV show growing up was “I Led Three Lives,” a series based on the life of a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the Communist Party on behalf of the FBI and wrote a best-selling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, ‘Communist,’ Counterspy (1952).

See, Lee had just returned from Mexico, where he was turned down for a travel visa to both Cuba and the Soviet Union, which was immediately known to the CIA, and he was so sensitive to the FBI’s constant interviews with him that he broke down in tears at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City and whined of FBI harassment.

And when Lee returned to the States, and was told by Ruth Paine the FBI had dropped by while he was in Mexico, Lee exploded in a fit of rage. Ruth responded by telling him, “What did you expect?”

It was a valid question, since this was the height of Cold War paranoia, and Marina’s uncle worked for Soviet intelligence.

But Lee, being the hothead he was, had his own logic and reasoning and decided to take it upon himself to straighten the matter out…


 [FBI Headquarters, Dallas to Irving, Texas – November 1963]

FBI Agent James Hosty: I was quite interested in determining the nature of [Lee’s] contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.

Ruth Paine: There was an interview a few days later, yes, interview to the extent that [Mr. Hosty] came to the door, walked in the door…

FBI Agent James Hosty: We went to the front porch. I rang the bell, talked to Mrs. Paine, at which time she advised me that Lee Oswald had been out to visit her, visit his wife, at her house over the weekend, but she had still not determined where he was living in Dallas, and she also made the remark that she considered him to be a very illogical person, that he had told her that weekend that he was a Trotskyite Communist….

I had another agent with me that day… Agent Gary S. Wilson. Agent Wilson was a brand new agent out of training school. And it is the custom to assign a new agent to work with an older agent for a period of 6 weeks. They work with different agents every day to observe what they are doing. This is the only reason he was with me, the only reason I had another man.

Ruth Paine: Hosty and I, and a second agent was with him, I don’t know the name, stood at the door of my home and talked briefly, as I have already described, about the address of Oswald in Dallas. Marina was in her room feeding the baby, or busy some way. She came in just as Hosty and I were closing the conversation, and I must say we were both surprised at her entering…

Marina Oswald: Lee had asked me that if an FBI agent were to call, that I note down his automobile license number, and I did that.

FBI Agent James Hosty: Ruth later learned from Marina that Lee gave her explicit instructions get my name and car tag number if and when I returned. When I did so on November 5, Marina quietly sneaked out of the house while Ruth was talking to me and wrote down my license plate number.

Ruth Paine: I thought that [Lee] was not very intelligent.

FBI Agent James Hosty: [Mrs. Paine] thought he was rather illogical, is the way she put it. She was a little more amused than anything else.

Marina Oswald: I had told them that I didn’t want them to visit us, because we wanted to live peacefully, and that this was disturbing to us.

FBI Agent James Hosty: I think there is some indication that my second visit out there agitated [Oswald] further, and I think this is based upon what Mrs. Paine and Marina had said that further agitated him.

Ruth Paine: [Lee] said, “They are trying to inhibit my activities,” and I said, “You passed [out] your pamphlets,” and could well have gone on to say what I thought, but I don’t believe I did go on to say that he could, and should, expect the FBI to be interested in him. He had gone to the Soviet Union, intended to become a citizen there, and come back. He had just better adjust himself to being of interest to them for years to come.

Lee Oswald: I am a communist and a worker, and I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves.

Ruth Paine: [Lee] told me that he had stopped at the downtown office of the FBI and tried to see the agents and left a note….

Nannie Lee Fenner [Dallas FBI Receptionist]: Mr. Oswald got off the elevator. From my desk I could see him clearly. My desk was right in the aisleway. He came to my desk and said, “H.A. Hosty, please.” And he had a wild look in his eye, and he was awful fidgety, and he had a 3x5n envelope in his hand. It was not sealed, and in it was a piece of paper approximately this size, and it was folded, and the bottom of the portion of the letter was visible the whole time he was standing there, waiting to see if H.A. Hosty was there….

I called Shreveport. She had called downstairs to see if he was in.

During this time, he kept taking the letter in and out of the envelope.

When I informed him H.A. Hosty was not in the office, he threw [the envelope] like that on my desk and said, “Well get this to him,” and turned and walked back to the elevator.

As the bottom portion of the letter was visible, I could not help read the last two lines.

The last two lines stated, “I will either blow up the Dallas Police Department and the FBI Office.”

Well, with that there, I considered it a threat so I then took the letter in my hand to see what was above that. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something about speaking to his wife and what he was going to do if they didn’t stop….

And to me, I classify him as having a dangerous look from his appearance and his actions. That is why I got up as I did…

So I immediately left my desk and took it into our Assistant Agent in charge, who was Mr. Kyle Clark… He said, “He’s a nut, forget it…”

I know, to me, it was a threat. To me. [So] I left it up to the discretion of a higher official than myself to make a decision. That is why I took it to Mr. Clark…

FBI Agent Ken Howe: My first knowledge that Oswald had allegedly been in the office and had left note for agent Hosty was in hearing Nan Fenner make that remark. It was either to me directly, or to someone else within my hearing, and that’s when I first learned of the fact that he had been in the office and had left a note for agent Hosty.

Nannie Lee Fenner: I walked back to my desk in order to keep an eye on the person who had delivered the letter, because as I said, he acted strange….

[Oswald] walked from my desk back to the elevator bank which was a short distance, and he looked over his back toward me. The reason I returned to my desk-I went into Mr. Clark’s desk and came back to keep an eye on him in case Mr. Clark said to detain him.

[Oswald] had not left the floor, no. He had left my desk…. [and] he knew I had seen [the note] and was looking at it… I took it to Mr. Clark and went back emptyhanded.

FBI Agent Ken Howe: I walked into Mr. Shanklin’s office with the note and in some fashion– I can’t remember my exact words- I explained to him what I had and where I had found it. And his reaction was that– don’t talk to me about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to hear anything about it….

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: I wouldn’t say that I never looked at it, but I had to rely upon someone else to give me a summary.

FBI Agent Ken Howe: Well, my impression at that stage was, of course, that he knew what I had, and for what reason– I don’t know– he didn’t want to discuss it with me.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: I would say I can’t conceive of any employee of the FBI having a statement that I am going to blow up the office without bringing it to my attention. I can’t conceive of anyone that would not want it handled because you are working there. This would be self-preservation…

Nannie Lee Fenner: It was [Oswald’s] eyes. His eyes and facial expression… I remember specifically. It was just a wild look like an animal that was wild, that had been tied and turned loose. [Yes, he was still there] because the elevators in that building were sleeping. They went up and down when they got ready.

Marina Oswald: Lee had told me that supposedly he had visited their office or their building. But I didn’t believe him. I thought that he was a brave rabbit.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: …If it had a threat in it. I think I would remember it. If it were just a note, I would probably have said that Mr. Howe could handle it in the normal course of events.

FBI Agent Ken Howe: Our principal in the investigation, of course, was the likelihood that because [Lee Oswald] had returned from Russia with a Russian wife, and had attempted to defect while he was in Russia, our principal concern at the time, I am sure, was to determine whether there might be any espionage feature to his return to the United States with his Russian bride.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: Nobody knows what was in Oswald’s mind.

Nannie Lee Fenner: [Mr. Clark] brought the letter back to me, to my desk… and said, “Forget it, give it to Hosty.” So I put it back, began to put it back, and one of the girls in the stenographic pool came back to my desk to go through the office to go to the steno pool. She wanted to know who the creep was in the hall, and I said, “Well, according to this, it is Lee Harvey Oswald,” because his name was signed on the letter. The name meant nothing to me.

She read the letter and walked on to her duties, and I presume I put the letter back in his envelope, put a routing slip on it, and put Hosty’s name on it, and put it to the side.

FBI Agent James Hosty: [I first saw the envelope when] it was handed to me by Mrs. Nannie Lee Fenner… at the reception desk… I read it… I believe it was handwritten.

It was quite short, no more than two paragraphs in length; and the first part of it stated that I had been interviewing his wife without his permission and I should not do this; he was upset about this. And the second part at the end he said that if I did not stop talking to his wife, he would take action against the FBI.

Nannie Lee Fenner: I would say [the handwriting] was equal to a fourth or fifth grade child’s writing, and it was very uneven on the paper …

FBI Agent James Hosty: I don’t recall a signature.

Nannie Lee Fenner: It was signed Lee Harvey Oswald. It was—I would classify it very illegible.

FBI Agent James Hosty: The only thing that [Mrs. Fenner] said was that she gave me the note, and was kind of laughing and thought it was amusing, and said something to the effect that some nut came by and left this for you.

Nannie Lee Fenner: [Mr. Hosty] said he was just a nut, and he walked off…

I could not help but see the last two lines. It was already flipped down. You could not help but read it…

Lee Oswald [Note]: Let this be a warning. I will blow up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department if you don’t stop bothering my wife.

FBI Agent James Hosty: It didn’t appear to be of any serious import. It appeared to be an innocuous type of complaint which, I might add, I get many of. This is not unusual.

Nannie Lee Fenner: Oh, I have had people come in and lay pistols and knives and stuff on my desk, and it didn’t alarm me. [The FBI] just said if you feel you need to, hit the buzzer. I could hit it very easily, and I have only had to hit it twice during my time as a receptionist… [The Agents] have done that on a couple of occasions. More than a couple.

I just picked up the phone and said, “Send an agent up front.”

The agent came up right away.

In neither of those times did they threaten me. There was just a small railing between my desk and the outer hall. The one time I rang the buzzer was when a man jumped over it.

An agent had already been up to talk to him and said he could not help; it was not in our jurisdiction. He walked back to the elevator and then came back and jumped over the railing.

The door was locked; I had locked it with the buzzer. He jumped over it.

Another time… A man of unsound mind came in. I knew he was of unsound mind. He had been there before. And I hit the buzzer, and agents came and got him. Those are the only two times that actually hit the buzzer because I wasn’t afraid. Never been afraid.

FBI Agent James Adams: I don’t think that the note would have necessarily been recorded until such time as [Mr. Hosty] took action on it and included it in the official files of the FBI. In other words, the receptionist would not record the note when she received it. She delivered it to the agent and he would normally include it in a communication, or he would send it to the chief clerk’s office, where it would be serialized into the files.

FBI Agent James Hosty: I looked at [the note]. It didn’t seem to have any need for any action at that time, so I put it in my workbox…

To my knowledge, I couldn’t say that anybody had seen it other than myself.

FBI Agent Ken Howe: I read the note…. I know it had something in it to the effect that whoever wrote it was disturbed to some extent because Hosty had been interviewing their wife or talking to their wife or something along that line; and I also have a vague recollection that there was something threatening in the note, something perhaps to the effect that, “Stop talking to my wife or else.” Now what the “or else” was, I can no longer specifically say.

Nannie Lee Fenner: There were only two other people who saw it, and to my knowledge, in my presence, no one else read the note, except us three; Mr. Clark, Helen May and myself in my presence, and Hosty read the letter in my presence.

FBI Agent Ken Howe: Our investigations in a good many cases are pretty well run by rules and regulations and instructions which we have in our manual and each agent knows those. They conduct their investigations in accordance with those rules and regulations.

Nannie Lee Fenner: No. [No records were ever kept at all].

FBI Agent James Adams: It was, in fact, a violation of firm rules that continue to exist in the FBI today– rules which required that the fact of Oswald’s visit and the text of his note be recorded in the files of the Dallas office and that they be reported to our headquarters…

FBI Agent James Hosty: On one occasion, [I did discuss it] with Mr. Shanklin. Several days later he asked me if I had, in effect, destroyed it, and I assured him I had. That was the last time I have any recollection of discussing it.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: I understand that, in one version of the story, I am supposed to have ordered the destruction of the note. I can state here and now that I gave no such order. I would never have, and certainly did not, order the destruction of the note.

FBI Agent James Hosty: The reason I didn’t [destroy the note] the second time is because it was obvious to me that the second item was highly pertinent. It confirmed Lee Oswald’s contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. Also because of Mr. Shanklin’s demeanor and temperament, it was obvious to me that he was verging on a nervous breakdown. He obviously didn’t know what he was saying. He was quite upset, and then, of course. my conversation with Mr. Odum following which he said the same thing, we decided that we would not follow the procedure here.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin: I don’t think I would have under any circumstances, ordered the note destroyed.

FBI Agent James Hosty: There no doubt in my mind [Shanklin] wished me to destroy it… [So] I took it into the washroom and flushed it down the drain.

FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin:  …if it had a threat in it, I think I would remember it. If it were just a note, would probably have said that Mr. Howe could handle it in the normal rouse of events. I never did take time to read every line in every report and everything.

I am doing the best that I can.

Nannie Lee Fenner: On Sunday, we were called back to work. I don’t remember the exact time, but it seems to me like it was midday. I went back to my desk and sometime during the course of the time I got there and before it was dark, Mr. [Kyle] Clark came out. of his office and he said, “You can forget about the Oswald note.”

That’s all he said. I don’t know why he said it…

That was the day after Oswald was shot…. he just told me to forget it, and I had already forgotten it, so why forget it again? Because it meant nothing to me.


For some curious reason Special FBI Agent Kyle Clark was never interviewed by any investigating body into the JFk assassination.

Attributions: All quotes from the House Committee on the Judiciary on Assassinations, 1975-1976 (HC), and The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, 1963 -1964more commonly known as the Warren Commission (WC).

Legs McNeil is the guy who named a movement, and then told the true story of how that movement came to be in PLEASE KILL ME; THE UNCENSORED ORAL HISTORY OF PUNK, among several other books.


©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.