2: Getting to Know Lee Oswald and His Wife

I Am a Patsy! by George de Mohrenschildt

Early in the summer of 1962 the rumors spread out among the Russian speaking people of Dallas and Fort Worth of an unusual couple — the Oswalds. He was supposedly an ex–marine, an unfriendly and eccentric character, who had gone to Russia and brought back with him a Russian wife. He had lived in Minsk where I had spent my early childhood. And so I was curious to meet the couple and to find out what had happened to Minsk.

Marina Oswald in Forth Worth

Someone gave me Lee’s address and one afternoon a friend of mine, Colonel Lawrence Orloff and myself drove to Fort Worth, about 30 miles from Dallas. We drove over the dreary, sewage–smelling miles separating the two cities. Texas does have lovely open spaces, but here they were degraded and polluted. After some searching, we found a shack on Mercedes Street in a semi–industrial, slummy area, near Montgomery Ward.

I knocked and a tawdry but clean young woman opened the door. I introduced myself and the colonel, giving a reference the name of George Bouhe from whom I obtained the address. George was an elderly refugee, very friendly, the father superior of all the Russians in the Dallas Fort Worth Area. So this was Marina Oswald.

To Orlov she was beautiful not withstanding bad teeth and mousy blonde hair.

I did not find her very attractive although she had a certain charm and she spoke beautiful, melodious Russian, so different from the language used by us who anglicized our language and bastardized it by foreign intonations and words.

First Impressions of Lee Harvey Oswald

Marina offered us some sherry and said that Lee would be over soon. We spoke a little, fooling around; she had a pretty good sense of humour but the opinions she expressed seemed trite to me. And then entered Lee Harvey Oswald, who was to become so famous or so infamous. He wore overalls and clean workingman’s shoes. Only someone who had never met Lee could have called him insignificant. “There is something outstanding about this man,” I told myself. One could detect immediately a very sincere and forward man. Although he was average–looking, with no outstanding features and of medium size, he showed in his conversation all the elements of concentration, thought and toughness. This man had the courage of his convictions and did not hesitate to discuss them. I was glad to meet such a person and was carried away back to the days of my youth in Europe, where as students, we discussed world affairs and our own ideas over many beers and without caring about time.

Lee was looking tenderly from time to time at baby June. He loved her. We shook hands and left. Driving back the colonel mused: “she is so charming and young!”

“But I found the ex–marine so much more interesting,” I said. My friend, the retired air–force colonel, resented Lee, his offhandedness, his ironic smiles and especially his ferocious spirit in independence. All his sympathy went to Marina, the poor Russian refugee.

We spoke English first and then, somehow, we switched to Russian. Lee spoke it very well, only with a slight accent. Marina did not say very much. “Doesn’t your wife speak any English at all?” I asked Lee.

“No, and I don’t want her to know English. I want her to continue speaking her own language. Russian is beautiful and I don’t want to forget it.” And he added with deep conviction, “Russian literature is marvellous and the people I met in the Soviet Union were so warm and nice to me. Yes, I made many friends there,” he added thoughtfully.

“And how about the Soviet Government?” I asked anxiously.

“Well, that’s another story. The trouble with me I always look for an ideal which probably does not exist.”

“Maybe your friend does not understand Russian, said Lee looking at Colonel Orloff. “Let’s speak English then. You know I was a marine and have respect for the brass,” he smiled and added a few kind words to my friend.

And then it was time for us to go. “My wife speaks Russian also and she would like to spend some time with you Marina, and the baby of course,” I said.

“I would like to but it will depend on Lee,” she answered humbly.

“I am sure Lee will let you go and will come himself.” A bond of friendship was already formed between the two of us.