Published 10:29 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My dad always said that if you get a plant off to a good start, it’s half the battle. But give it a poor start due to cold weather, pests or disease, and it seems to affect the rest of the plant’s life.


He was born Oct. 18, 1939, in New Orleans. His father had a fatal heart attack two months before his birth, leaving his mother to raise him and his two older brothers alone. He was named Lee, after his deceased father.

The family temporarily lived off insurance proceeds, moving from place to place, eventually to an apartment. When his mother, Marguerite, acquired work, Lee was left to an aunt who could give him little time as she had five children of her own. For a few weeks he was left with a neighbor in the same complex who said Lee was a bad, unmanageable child who threw his toy gun at her. The family moved again.

At the age of 3, his mother placed him in the Bethlehem Children’s Home, where he resided for 13 months.

In January 1944, when Lee was 5, his mother withdrew him from the home and decided to marry a new suitor, in spite of a tumultuous courtship. Less than a year later they were separated over charges of infidelity. Marguerite took her three young boys and moved to Covington, La. Lee was enrolled in the first grade but did poorly and repeated. Marguerite and her husband reconciled and the family moved again, to Fort Worth, Texas. Lee was enrolled in Clayton Public School but was removed again due to unrest at home.

When Lee was 9, his mother and stepfather divorced amid charges of physical and emotional abuse. Once more, the family moved. Marguerite got a job at a department store and left the three boys home alone. They moved again and Lee attended school, his IQ being recorded at 103 in the fourth grade. It was said he tended to stay to himself.

At 13, during a visit with relatives, Lee threatened an adult relative with a knife and hit his mother during the altercation. At 14, he attended school less frequently. He was picked up for truancy and referred to the courts, as his mother said she had lost control. A social worker stated his mother worked 7 to 7 and Lee was left to fend for himself. “You got the feeling of a kid nobody gave a damn about. He was just floating in the world with no emotional resources at all.”

Nine years later, at the age of 23, Lee ordered a 6.5 mm Carcano rifle from Klein’s Sporting Goods. In October of that year, he was hired by building superintendent Roy Truly.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald climbed to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and fired three shots, killing the 35th president of the United States.

Perhaps my father was right.