Friday, November 22, 2013

Family History / World History

Guest contribution from Helen Wenzel Moss

It was sometime in the 1960's Mama told me the story of how our family knew the Oswald family. She said we knew the family through Christ Lutheran Church. The father was an insurance collector who came by our house on Independence Street in the late 1930's to collect payments on an insurance policy bi-weekly or monthly, as was the practice during those times. Mama said he was a very nice, pleasant man. Unfortunately he died very suddenly from a heart attack about two months before his second son was born. The Oswald mother, Marguerite, was in hardship from the loss of his income and with children to support. When the youngest son was a few years old, she put the children in the Bethlehem Children's home. Christ-Bethlehem Lutheran School was on the Bethlehem property. My sisters Faith and Judith, and brother Bruce attended school there at the time. Judith went to school with an older son of Marguerite Oswald.

Mama never thought of the Oswalds again until late in 1963. In 1963 Mama worked for the National Bank of Commerce at 210 Baronne Street (at the corner of Common Street) in New Orleans’ Central Business District. Uncle Fritz was manager of Jefferson Hardware Store at 4209 Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. After work, Mama would walk the three blocks to the corner of Camp Street and Common Street. She would wait there in front of the old New Orleans International Trade Mart building. Uncle Fritz would drive downriver and pick her up to go home in Gentilly.

While Mama waited there, she noticed a young man handing out flyers. It was not unusual for people to hand out flyers in New Orleans at this time for all sorts of causes. She mostly studied him because there was something familiar about the way he looked. She felt like she knew him but couldn't quit place him. When the news came out that Lee Harvey Oswald had handed out pro-Castro flyers on the corner of Camp and Common Streets in summer of 1963, Mama realized why the young man had looked so familiar. He looked very much like his father did when he was her insurance man.

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