Spent the better part of the morning virtually touring Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois, where, per Roadside America's rave, "the fireplace mantle on which President Truman signed the order to bomb Hiroshima is only a few feet from a pickup truck used on Sanford and Son" and "Colonel Klink's uniform shares a wall with Hitler's staff car." Even virtually, and Wayne Lensing's museum is closed till spring, you can get lost in the joint; it puts the pop in pop culture.
For our purposes this morning we'll visit the Lee Harvey Oswald Display, which contains, among other things, a chair from the Texas Theater, the uniform of the officer (Nick McDonald) who arrested Oswald there, the honest-to-God Klein's Sporting Goods Catalog from which "A. Hidell" ordered his Carcano rifle ... and Oswald's original tombstone, stolen from Rose Hill Cemetery by two teens from Oklahoma on November 22, 1967. Quite the hodgepodge.
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As the museum website explains, and this is the part of the story no one disputes, the tombstone was retrieved and returned Marguerite Oswald, Lee's mom, who hid it beneath her Fort Worth home. And there is stayed, till, writes Lensing:
[Marguerite's] home got resold and some time passed before the new owners discovered it. In 2009 the husband passed away and the widow decided to donate it to Historic Auto Attractions which displays one of the largest collections of Kennedy Artifacts in the world. So the stone is now part of our collection for all to see.
But the story's proving much more complicated than that. Turns out, someone here wants the tombstone back -- none other than David Card, namesake and owner of Poor David's Pub, whose father and stepmother bought Marguerite's house in '81 and discovered the grim keepsake beneath the house a few years later. As Steve Blow noted in The News a few weeks ago, "After its rediscovery, Card's parents hauled the stone to his aunt's house in Fort Worth for safekeeping."
But in time, that side of the family died off; the sole survivor is cousin Johnny Ragan's wife Holly. And according to Lensing in this morning's Rockford Register Star in Illinois, she reached out to him through Unfair Park's across-the-street neighbor Heritage Auctions. Says Lensing, he came to Dallas "and worked out a deal, inspected it and brought it back here." Only, David Card and stepsister Cleo Lowe say it wasn't Holly's to sell, and they want it back -- in part because Card wants to put it in, oh, the Sixth Floor Museum. Says he: "This isn't a crank pursuit of a quirky item. It's a serious pursuit of a historical artifact." Forthcoming, sooner than later: The Lawsuit Over Lee Harvey Oswald's Tombstone.