By W. Tracy Parnell ã 1998

When studying a serious topic such as the Kennedy Assassination, some levity is occasionally called for. Here are some trivia questions that could double as a study aid for beginners.

Q: When and where was Lee Harvey Oswald born?

A: Oswald was born October 18, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Q: Who were Oswald’s parents?

A: Robert Edward Lee Oswald and Marguerite Claverie Oswald. His father died of a heart attack 2 months before his birth.

Q: How many times was Oswald’s mother married?

A: Oswald’s mother, Marguerite, was married three times- to Edward John Pic, Robert Edward Lee Oswald, and Edwin A. Ekdahl.

Q: Did Oswald have any siblings?

A: Oswald had two brothers-an older half-brother, John Pic, and a full brother Robert Oswald, also older than Lee.

Q: How many schools did Oswald attend in his brief life?

A: Lee Harvey Oswald attended 12 different schools in Texas, Louisiana, and New York.

Q: From the time of his birth, until he entered the service, how many times did Oswald and his mother move?

A: 21.

Q: While living in New York City as a teen, what public facility did Oswald most enjoy visiting?

A: Oswald loved to visit the Bronx Zoo and was once picked up there by a truant officer after cutting classes.

Q: Was Oswald ever known to have a mental disorder?

A: In 1953 at the age of 14, Oswald was diagnosed with "personality pattern disturbance" by Dr. Renatus Hartogs, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Q: Did Oswald ever show communist tendencies during his youth?

A: Oswald expressed an interest in communism and was once expelled from a friend’s house when the friend’s father overheard his leftist rhetoric. His reading material included Das Kapital, and The Communist Manifesto.

Q: What branch of the military did Oswald serve in?

A: Oswald joined the United States Marines in October 1956 at the age of 17, using a false affidavit from his mother.

Q: Was Oswald considered to be a good shot with a rifle?

A: After 3 weeks training with an M-1 rifle, Oswald scored a 212, which earned him the designation "Sharpshooter".

Q: What was Oswald’s IQ?

A: At the age of 10, Oswald scored a 103 IQ. Several years later, he managed a 118 after being admitted to Youth House in New York.

Q: Where was Oswald’s first overseas station, and what was the significance attached to it?

A: In 1957, Oswald was sent to the Atsugi Air Station in Japan, which was the home of the U-2 spy plane. The plane gained international attention after Francis Gary Powers was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Q: Did Oswald ever shoot anyone before the assassination?

A: Oswald accidentally shot himself in the arm with a derringer while in the Marine Corps.

Q: What was Oswald’s job while stationed in Japan?

A: While stationed in Atsugi, Japan, Oswald worked as a Radar Operator.

Q: Was Oswald ever disciplined while in the service?

A: He was court-martialed twice, once for illegal possession of a weapon, and a second time after a barroom dispute with a superior officer.

Q: What learning disability was Oswald suspected of having?

A: Due to the many misspellings and transpositions in Oswald’s writings, it is believed he suffered from Dyslexia.

Q: What nicknames did Oswald pick up during his time in the military?

A: He was called "Ozzie Rabbit", after a popular cartoon character of the time. He was also called "Oswaldskovich" because of his leftist leanings, or less often "Bugs".

Q: What classic game of strategy did Oswald enjoy during his time in the Marine Corps?

A: He enjoyed a good game of chess, preferring to use the red chess pieces, an inference to his communist sympathies.

Q: What languages did Oswald show an interest in during his military years?

A: Russian and Spanish.

Q: Apart from his time in the military, did Oswald ever live in a foreign country?

A: Oswald became disenchanted with the American system and defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, where he lived for about two and a half years.

Q: Was Oswald ever hospitalized while in the Soviet Union?

A: After a half-hearted suicide attempt in which he cut his wrist after being told to leave the country, he was hospitalized for six days. He later had his adenoids removed, which required another brief stay.

Q: Who was Oswald’s wife and where did he meet her?

A: Oswald met Marina Prusakova at a local dance in Russia, and they were married April 30, 1961 in the Soviet city of Minsk.

Q: Did the Oswalds have any children?

A: They had two daughters, June and Rachel.

Q: What was Oswald’s occupation while in Minsk?

A: Oswald was a metalworker at the Belorussian Radio and Television factory.

Q: What well-known U.S. Senator did Oswald petition for help in returning to America?

A: Texas Senator John Tower, who later gained fame as an unsuccessful candidate for Secretary of Defense.

Q: What espionage evoking term was found in Oswald’s address book?

A: Micro-dots

Q: On similar note, what spy tome did friends observe on Oswald’s living room table?

A: How to be a Spy

Q: What leftist publications did Oswald subscribe to after his return to the United States?

A: The Militant and The Worker.

Q: What aliases was Oswald known to have used?

A: Alek J. Hidell and O. H. Lee, among others.

Q: Did Oswald ever attempt to assassinate a public figure prior to JFK?

A: On April 10, 1963, according to testimony from his wife and evidence found by authorities after the assassination, Oswald tried to kill General Edwin Walker, a prominent member of the John Birch Society. The bullet was deflected by a window pane, and police were never able to identify the assailant.

Q: What were the "Backyard Photos"?

A: A group of photographs taken near the Oswald home that show Lee holding a rifle and displaying leftist literature, the authenticity of which could prove or disprove many assassination theories.

Q: What Pro-Castro group did Oswald found a chapter of in the New Orleans area?

A: The Fair Play For Cuba Committee.

Q: What book proved to be an ironic addition to Oswald’s reading list?

A: Oswald, a prolific reader, is known to have read JFK’s Profiles in Courage.

Q: What assassination figure did Oswald beseech for help in reversing his "Undesirable" discharge from the Marine Corps?

A: John Connally was Secretary of the Navy when Oswald’s request was filed. On the day of the assassination, Connally, then Governor of Texas, was the second man wounded as he sat in front of JFK in that fateful Dallas limousine.

Q: What unlikely audience did Oswald choose to launch his foray into the world of public speaking?

A: Oswald spoke to a group of students training to be Jesuit Priests on the topic of "Contemporary Russia and the Practice of Communism".

Q: At what New Orleans street address, infamous in assassination lore, was Oswald suspected by some of interacting with the FBI, CIA, anti-Castro Cubans, and organized crime figures?

A: 544 Camp Street.

Q: Which ex-FBI agent is linked to Oswald by some theorists?

A: Guy Banister.

Q: Which eccentric pilot and self-appointed cancer researcher is sometimes linked to Oswald and various conspiracy theories?

A: David Ferrie.

Q: In what Louisiana town was an alleged sighting of Oswald, Banister, and Ferrie made?

A: Clinton

Q: What summer 1963 incident landed Oswald in jail overnight?

A: A scuffle with anti-Castro Cubans while he was handing out Fair Play for Cuba Committee literature earned Oswald a trip to the slammer.

Q: What New Orleans radio program provided Oswald an opportunity to debate anti-Castro Cubans?

A: "Conversation Carte Blanche" on station WDSU gave Oswald an opportunity to debate Carlos Bringuier, with whom he had previously scuffled and been arrested.

Q: What foreign city did Oswald visit by bus shortly before the assassination?

A: In late September and early October 1963, Oswald traveled to Mexico City in order to obtain a visa to travel to Cuba. He was unsuccessful and returned to the United States.

Q: What incident that occurred at about the same time as Oswald’s trip to Mexico City is considered to be proof of conspiracy by many theorists?

A: Sylvia Odio, an anti-Castro Cuban living in Dallas, claims to have been visited by three men, one of whom was Oswald, during this time period.

Q: Which employee of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City assisted Oswald in his efforts to obtain a visa?

A: Sylvia Duran, Secretary to the Cuban consul and an admitted Marxist, helped Oswald, and some say had a brief romantic encounter with him.

Q: At what infamous structure did Oswald find employment after a phone call to the manager from a well-meaning friend?

A: Oswald was able to secure employment at the Texas School Book Depository after a call to the manager by his friend, Ruth Paine.

Q: What was Oswald’s position and salary at the Depository?

A: Oswald earned $1.25 an hour as a shipping clerk.

Q: What was Oswald’s age at the time of the assassination?

A: Lee Harvey Oswald was 24 years old at the time of the JFK murder.

Q: Which FBI agent was involved in a famous incident concerning Oswald and a note?

A: James Hosty received a note from Oswald which allegedly contained a bomb threat against the FBI. The note was destroyed by Hosty on orders from his superior, J. Gordon Shanklin.

Q: When Oswald was observed carrying a long package to work on the morning of the assassination, what was his explanation as to its contents?

A: Oswald said the package contained curtain rods when queried by Buell Frazier, who gave him a ride to work that fateful day.

Q: What soft drink did Oswald have in his hand moments after the assassination?

A: Coca-Cola.

Q: How did Oswald make his escape from the assassination scene?

A: After taking the stairs down to the second floor where he was detained briefly by a policeman, Oswald is believed to have exited the front door. He then arrived at his rooming house by cab following an abortive attempt to ride the bus.

Q: Which policeman is Oswald suspected of murdering?

A: Eyewitness and physical evidence linked Oswald to the slaying of officer J. D. Tippit in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, about 45 minutes after the assassination.

Q: Where was Oswald captured after the two murders?

A: Oswald was observed entering the Texas Theater without paying and was captured there a short time later.

Q: What films were playing at the Texas Theater on the day Oswald was captured there?

A: Oswald briefly enjoyed the double feature "War is Hell" and "Cry of Battle".

Q: Who was responsible for beginning the interrogation of Oswald after his arrest?

A: Will Fritz, Dallas homicide captain, led the formal questioning of Oswald, which spanned twelve hours over three separate days.

Q: Whom did Oswald indicate he wanted as his defense attorney?

A: Oswald attempted to obtain the services of John Abt, a New York attorney prominent in left-wing causes. Oswald could not reach Abt, as he was at his retreat in Connecticut.

Q: Whose impromptu interrogation of Oswald delayed his transfer to the county jail and probably inadvertently led to his death?

A: Postal inspector Harry Holmes was asked to question Oswald by Captain Fritz, thereby delaying his departure for at least an hour. Ruby arrived at the jail basement by chance, just as Oswald was being led out, and certainly would have missed him if not for the off the cuff inquiry.

Q: Which two detectives were in custody of Oswald on the occasion of his abortive transfer to the Dallas County Jail?

A: Standing on either side of Oswald were Detectives James Leavelle and L. C. Graves.

Q: What man changed history when he pumped a single bullet into Oswald’s midsection?

A: Jack Ruby

Q: What Dallas district attorney was robbed of the chance to prosecute Oswald in what would have been the trial of the century, by Jack Ruby’s bullet?

A: Henry Wade.

Q: To what hospital was Oswald taken after being shot by Ruby?

A: Ironically, Oswald was taken to Parkland Memorial, where JFK had died just two days earlier.

Q: Where is Oswald’s final resting place?

A: Oswald was buried in Rose Hill cemetery in Fort Worth, Texas.


Primary Sources: Warren Commission Report; Case Closed by Gerald Posner.

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