Writers on Kennedy

What we think about when we think about JFK

Joe Nick Patoski
Joe Nick Patoski

'How Many Shots?'

Writers on Kennedy

Lee Harvey Oswald attended my high school, Arlington Heights in Fort Worth, several years ahead of me, and Lee's mom, Marguerite Oswald, lived across the street from my junior high in 1963. I met her a few years later, when I accompanied my friend Don Crowell collecting on his newspaper route.

For three years in the early Nineties, I was involved with the Assassination Symposium on John F. Kennedy (ASK) staged by South by Southwest organizers in Dallas. I met Oswald's widow, Marina, hung out with journalists who covered the assassination, and drove guest speaker Norman Mailer back to DFW Airport. My one regret was not doing a book on the conspiratorial community. I did a story for Texas Monthly on the "Two Oswalds" theorist (a nice upper-middle-class Tulsa family man) and interviewed Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses (I asked everyone how many shots they heard – the answers ranged from two to seven). I have stood at the window of the Sixth Floor Museum, and there imagined shooting a .22 repeater rifle (the gun I had when I was a kid) three times, realizing a shooter could have plausibly hit his target from that vantage point. There were plenty of motives, means, and opportunities, and the political climate in Dallas was as rabidly right-wing as the current Tea Party movement is in Texas today.

Knowing what little I know, I'm convinced the person accused of the crime was the one who did the deed.


Joe Nick Patoski is author of The Dallas Cow­boys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America. He is working on a cultural history of modern Austin for the University of Texas Press.

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