Casa Mañana is presenting Oswald: The Actual Interrogation by Dennis Richard from Nov. 9 – Nov. 17. This compelling performance examines the history and events surrounding the 48 hours that Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of the Dallas Police Department after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Leading up to the performance, we will be spotlighting individuals with a tie to those 48 hours in history.
Journalism legend Bob Schieffer was a night police reporter at the time of JFK’s assassination. When Kennedy was shot, Schieffer was asleep after working until 3 a.m. that morning. Schieffer’s brother woke him and told him the news. Schieffer quickly dressed and went to the newspaper, which he described as being “complete bedlam.”
Schieffer’s assignment that day was to hang back and answer the phones while many of the other staff reporters went out to cover the story
A woman called in and asked Schieffer for a ride to Dallas. Schieffer responded by saying, “Lady, the President has been shot, and we are not a taxi service.” The response from the other end of the line was, “I think the person they’ve arrested is my son.” It was Marguerite Claverie, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, and Schieffer instinctively responded, “Where do you live?”
Schieffer contacted Star-Telegram Auto Editor Bill Foster and asked him to drive. The two of them went to Oswald’s mother’s home on the west side of Fort Worth, and when they pulled up, they saw a little woman with gray hair standing on the curb
She got in the backseat with Schieffer, and he interviewed her on the way over. “She was a lunatic. Obsessed with money. She talked about how she would starve to death and how nobody would feel sorry for her and everybody would just feel sorry for his wife,” Schieffer says. “I remember her asking me, ‘Do you think they’d pay me to give an interview?’”
When they reached the police station in Dallas, Schieffer took Oswald’s mother into the police station. “If people didn’t ask, we never told them who we were. I used to wear a snap-brim hat so I’d look like a detective,” Schieffer says.
Schieffer walked up to the first uniformed officer he saw and said that he was the one who brought Oswald’s mother over. Assuming that he was a detective, they put Schieffer and Oswald’s mother in a little office at the station. He would go out into the hallway, gather up information and then use the phone in that office to report back to the newspaper.
Oswald’s mother wanted to see her son. Schieffer asked the chief of homicide if she was allowed to see Oswald. At that point, they all went into a holding room, and Schieffer remembers thinking, “I’m going to get to see this guy.” But before Schieffer had a chance to see Oswald, an FBI agent asked him who he was and if he was a reporter. At that time, the agent told Schieffer, “I don’t ever want to see you again.”
After Schieffer’s exclusive encounter with Oswald’s mother, he doesn’t remember anyone treating him differently around the newspaper. Oswald’s mother lived out her days selling her son’s clothing and belongings.