Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Roberto Clemente: A tribute to a proud Puerto Rican

"I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all I had to give."
- Roberto Clemente

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Roberto Clemente.  On the evening of December 31st, 1972, Roberto lost his life in a plane crash while en route to Nicaragua in Central America.  Shortly after takeoff from San Juan International Airport, his DC-7 plane slammed into the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.  All five people aboard the aircraft were killed, including the crew of three, Roberto Clemente and another passenger.

The wreckage of the plane was not found until the next day when divers located part of the fuselage.  A corpse removed from the site of the crash was identified as the pilot, Jerry Hill of Miami, Florida.  Although U.S. coast guard rescue and recovery teams searched the area for almost two weeks, Clemente's body was never found.

During the baseball offseason, Roberto had frequently involved himself in charity work in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries.  On the day of his death, the 38-year-old was delivering some much-needed aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.  This is indicative of the kind of man he was and the high quality of his character.  Clemente was more than a professional baseball player. He was a true humanitarian.

If Roberto Clemente were alive today, he would be thrilled that his Pittsburgh Pirates won a berth in post-season play last season for the first time since 1992.   He would have cheered them on enthusiastically.  After all, Clemente's number was 21 and it's only fitting that the Pirate's finally reached the playoffs after a 21-year drought.

Roberto Clemente was born August 18, 1934 in the San Anton barrio of Carolina, Puerto Rico.  He was the youngest of eight children raised by Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker.  Lusia, who was left a widow by her first husband, had already borne three children (two sons and a daughter) before marrying Roberto's father.  Her five children by Melchor included three sons - Matino, Andres and Osvaldo - and a daughter, Ana Iris, who died at the age of five after her dress accidentally caught fire.  Melchor was a foreman on a sugarcane plantation and Luisa was a laundress and a cook.

As a child, Clemente displayed great athletic prowess in track and field.  During his first year at Vizcarondo High School in Carolina, 14-year-old Roberto played softball with men on the Sello Rojo team.  At 16, he joined a team in Puerto Rico's highly competitive amateur league called Ferdinand Juncos. Although his mother hoped that he would pursue a career in engineering, young Roberto had other ideas. His passion was baseball and his education would have to be put on hold.  Before he had even completed high school, he was offered a professional baseball contract.with the Santurce Cangrejeros (“Crabbers”), a winter league franchise in the Puerto Rico Baseball League.  During his first season with the Crabbers, the teenager spent a great deal of time sitting on the bench.  By his second season, however, he had become a starting player and the team’s leadoff hitter with a batting average of .288.

Roberto was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1952.  He played for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, the Montreal Royals, for one season, as did Jackie Robinson before him.   Clemente spent the 1954 season in Canada with the Royals of the International League.  His season in Montreal was rather disappointing because he was not given much playing time and was used as a bench player.  It seems the Dodgers tried to conceal his talent from other teams.

In an article entitled "Roberto Clemente's Entry into Organized Baseball: Was He Hidden in Montreal?" (2006 The National Pastime, published by the Society for American Baseball Research), author Stew Thornley states that "What has been written about Clemente in Montreal contains an assertion that the Dodgers and Royals tried to hide him - that is, play him very little so that other teams wouldn’t notice him. The claim was expressed by Clemente at least as early as 1962 in an article by Howard Cohn in Sport magazine.  'Clemente, on the other hand, felt - and still does - that the Royals kept him out of the regular lineup so big-league teams would think him a weak prospect and ignore him in the post-season draft for which he’d be available as a bonus player if he weren’t elevated to the Brooklyn roster,' wrote Cohn."

Roberto Clemente playing for Montreal Royals

The Dodgers' tactics didn't work.  Roberto was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League in the 1954 MLB  rookie draft.  He then signed with the Pirates for a reported salary of $5,000 as well as a bonus of $10,000, later admitting that at the time, he didn't even know where Pittsburgh was located.   The young slugger, however, soon became acquainted with the city, and he spent his entire major league career there.  Clemente played 18 seasons for the Pirates from 1955 to 1972.  The immensely gifted right fielder is arguably the greatest Hispanic player of all time.

Roberto played his first major league game on April 17, 1955 at the age of 20, in the opening game of a double header against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He recorded a single against the Dodgers during the first game, hitting 1-for-4 at the plate and scoring a run.  During the second game, he hit 2-for-4 with a double and a run.  The Pirates lost both games by scores of 10-3 and 3-2, respectively.

Roberto's rookie season was difficult in many ways as he tried to adjust to life in a new city and communicate in a non-Spanish speaking environment.  He faced discrimination due to his mixed African ancestry and his difficulty with the English language.  During mid-season, Clemente was involved in car accident caused by a drunk driver and was forced to miss some games due to a lower back injury. Nevertheless, he finished his rookie season with a .255 batting average in 124 games.

A proud Latino, Roberto clearly disliked being called "Bobby" or "Bob."  In his book Roberto Clemente: The Great One, author Bruce Markusen describes the Puerto Rican's attitude:

Clemente did not appreciate another practice of the media.  Some writers and broadcasters insisted on calling him "Bob" or "Bobby."  Several teammates used similar names in addressing or referring to him.  Even most of his baseball cards listed him as  trend that continued as late as 1969.  Clemente did not encourage such Americanization of his given name, a disrespectful practice that occurred mostly during the late fifties and early sixties.  He said, 'My name is Roberto Clemente,' not 'Bobby Clemente' or 'Robby Clemente.'  My name is 'Roberto Clemente." 

According  to Markusen, if Clemente's teammates insisted on assigning him a nickname, "Roberto preferred that they call him "Momen," an untranslatable Spanish moniker that he had acquired as a youngster."

1959 Topps baseball card

After the 1958 season, Clemente joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.  For the next six months, he engaged in active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina and Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.  He served in the Marines until 1964 and was admitted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

On November 14, 1964, Roberto married Vera Cristina Zabala at San Fernando Church in Carolina. The couple had three children: Roberto Jr., Luis Roberto and Enrique Roberto.  Here's how Vera remembered her first date with the baseball legend.

The morning [he asked me on our first date], I was at my desk, and suddenly, he took me by surprise, and then I accepted the invitation. When I hanged up… I said, oh my god, just what have I done. I mean, I just had said yes. And then I felt worried. Then, at lunch day, I don’t know how people found out at the bank… they did not let me work that morning. At noon, they all just walked outside, everyone, auditors and all the executives. To try to take a look at him… I walked outside, on time. And we went for lunch.

Clemente's major league statistics are quite impressive.  His career batting average was 3.17.  He recorded 3,000 hits, 240 home runs and 1,305 RBIs.  He also played on two World Series championship teams - the 1960 Pirates and the 1971 Pirates.  In 1960, he was the first Hispanic to win a World Series as a starting player. In 1971, he was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the October Classic, becoming the first Latino to earn the honour.  He batted a remarkable .414 in that World Series (between the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles) and he hit safely in all 7 games.

Clemente was a great defensive outfielder with a strong, accurate throwing arm. How good was his throwing arm?  As former major league catcher and sportscaster, Tim McCarver, put it, some right fielders have rifles for arms but Clemente had a howitzer.

Roberto Clemente's last major league appearance took place on October 3, 1972 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  His Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated by the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series and eliminated from World Series competition.  In late November, Clemente managed the Puerto Rican team that competed in the Amateur World Series that was held in Managua, Nicaragua's largest city and its capital.  The Puerto Ricans finished fifth out of the 16 teams in the tournament.

On December 23, 1972, Managua was devastated by a massive earthquake. Roberto immediately began organizing emergency relief flights to the ravaged capital.  Unfortunately, corrupt officials of the Nicaraguan government interfered with the first three flights and the aid was never delivered to the victims of the disaster.  Roberto, however, was so determined that the supplies would actually reach the earthquake survivors that he decided to accompany a fourth flight himself.

Why did the baseball star's plane crash?  A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation later determined that the four-engine Douglas DC-7 Clemente charted for his New Year's Eve mission of mercy had a record of mechanical problems.  It was also greatly overloaded and lacked a qualified co-pilot and flight engineer.

A month after Roberto's death, journalist William Grimsley visited the "House on the Hill," the Clemente family's Spanish-style home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Grimsley interviewed Roberto's widow, Vera, and she showed him her late husband's trophy room in the basement.  It contained hundreds of silver and bronze awards and walls full of plaques. Vera explained that "Roberto was proud of his trophies - not so much because of himself but because of the recognition he thought it brought Puerto Rico and Latin players."

In 1973, Robert Clemente was inducted posthumously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York.  He was selected by 92.per cent of the voters on the first ballot and became the first Latin American to be enshrined in the Hall   He was only the second Hall of Fame member (the first being the great Lou Gehrig in 1939) for whom the mandatory five-year waiting period was disregarded. That same year, Major League Baseball established an award in Roberto's honour.  The award is given to the player who best exemplifies Clemente's humanitarianism and sportsmanship ideals.

According to an Encyclopedia Britannica, Latin Americans have played in the major leagues since the 19th century.  At the beginning of the 2000 season, of some 1,200 players in the major leagues, 169 (about 15 per cent) were from Latin America. There were also many players U.S.-born baseball professionals of Latin descent.  Now, in the 21st century, Hispanic players are more numerous and more dominant than ever before.  At the beginning of the 2013 Major League Baseball Season, MLB officials informed Fox News Latino that 27.1 per cent of its players are of  “Hispanic background."  It was Clemente who blazed the trail for Latin players.  He was the first Latino baseball superstar.

Roberto Clemente's wish has come true.  He is remembered as a great ballplayer and also as a man who gave all he had to give.  In the words of Puerto Rican broadcaster Luis R. Mayoral, here is what Clemente's legacy means to his compatriots.

In Puerto Rico, we remember Roberto Clemente as a national hero, an outstanding humanitarian, an inspiration for the needy as well as a man who was able to solve the human, social and political challenges that life presented to him.  He gave Puerto Rico a sense of identity, new concepts as to hope and respect, and above all, his biggest legacy is that he is still an inspiration 33 years after his death.


* When Roberto Clemente joined the Pitttsburgh Pirates at the beginning of the 1955 season, his original uniform number was 13.  At the time, Pittsburgh's centre fielder, Earl Smith, wore number 21.  When Smith left the team in April 1955, Clemente claimed that number and wore it for the rest of his baseball career.  He selected 21 because it is the number of letters in his full name - Roberto Clemente Walker.  On April 6, 1973, Clemente's number 21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

* Clemente received 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his excellent play in right field.  He shares the record of 12 Gold Gloves with the great Willie Mays.

* On July 25, 1956, Roberto Clemente became the first (and only player to date) to hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam.  He accomplished this feat in a 9-8 Pittsburgh Pirate victory over the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* Clemente was named to the National League All-star team 12 times (1960-1972) and made 14 All-star appearances.  In 1960, 1961 and 1962, he participated in both of the two All-star games that were played during those years.

* Roberto was the National League's batting champion four times (1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967).  In 1966, he was chosen the NL's MVP, the first Latino to win that award.

* Clemente had exactly 3,000 hits in his major league career. On September 30, 1972, he  recorded his 3,000th and final major league hit at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.against the New York Mets.  It was a double off pitcher Jon Matlack.

* Clemente had a reputation for being  a hypochondriac. When he was hurt, he let it be known, an uncommon practice during his playing days.  Yet, despite a severe back injury in 1954, an arm injury in 1959, and an attack of malaria in 1965,  Roberto played 140 or more games in eight consecutive seasons from 1960 to 1967.

* In a 2002 interview for the ESPN documentary series SportsCentury,Vera Clemente revealed that her husband had told her several times time that he thought he would die at a young age. Just before Roberto's death, some members of his family had a premonitions about him. According to writer William Grimsley, on the night Roberto Clemente died, seven-year-old Roberto Jr. told his maternal grandfather that "Daddy is leaving for Nicaragua, but he is not coming back." Clemente's own father, Melchor, had a similar eerie premonition. He claimed he had a dream that he saw the plane crash and his son go down with it."

- Joanne

2014: The Year Ahead

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” 

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

- Neil Gaiman, English author, born 1960




February 9, 1964 marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Fab Four arrived in New York City on February 7 amid great fanfare and much anticipation from their fans.  They performed on the Sullivan show for three consecutive Sundays in February of 1964.  CBS has announced that it will broadcast a two-hour tribute to The Beatles on February 9, 2014.  This TV special will feature footage of the Beatles' legendary performance 50 years to the air it originally aired.


2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of The First World War (1914-1918).  The hostilities began on July 28, 1914 when Austria-Hungary officially declared war on Serbia.  This declaration of war occurred exactly one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Their assassin, Gavrilo Princip, was a young Bosnian-Serb who belonged to a group called the Black Hand, a Slavic nationalist movement advocating a union of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria


On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces landed on the beaches along the coast of Normandy, France in World War II.  It was the greatest seaborne invasion in history.  The code name for the Battle of Normandy was Operation Overlord.  The Allied land forces that saw combat on D-Day came from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.  Free French forces and Polish forces also participated after the assault.  In addition, there were minor contingents from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands and Norway.

On June 6, 1944, a date known ever since as D-Day, a mighty armada crossed a narrow strip of sea from England to Normandy, France, and cracked the Nazi grip on western Europe.

- Encylopedia Britannica

Note: D-Day is a military term for the day a combat attack is set to occur.


2014 is the Year of the Horse.  The Chinese year 4712 begins on January 31, 2014.


Ontario Municipal Elections will be held on Monday, October 27, 2014.  Voters in the province of Ontario will elect mayors, councillors, school board trustees and all other elected officials in all of the province's municipalities.

New Brunswick Election:  The province of New Brunswick will go to the polls for provincial elections on Monday, September 22, 2014.

The Calgary Stampede will be held from July 4 to July 13, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta.

150th Anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference

Delegates at the Charlottetown Conference of 1864

From September 1-9, 1864, representatives of the colonies of British North America met in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to discuss Canadian Confederation.  Most of the conference took place at Province House, which now houses the legislative assembly of the province of Prince Edward Island.


60 years ago, on September 9, 1954, Toronto-born Marilyn Bell, became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario.  She swam the chilly waters from Youngstown, New York to Toronto, Ontario (a distance of about 51.5 km or 32 miles)  in 20 hours and 58 minutes. The 16-year-old became Canada's sweetheart.

In 1955, Marilyn swam the  English Channel, becoming the youngest person to do so.  The next year, she swam the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Pacific Coast, from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria British Columbia.

Marilyn Bell retired from marathon swimming in 1956.  On September 28, 1957, she  married American Joe Di Lascio, a lifeguard from Atlantic City, New Jersey..  The couple settled in New Jersey and raised four children.  Joe passed away in September of 2007.  Marilyn is now 76 years old and resides in Southampton, New Jersey.


The 102nd Grey Cup, the championship of Canadian professional football, will take place on November 30, 2014 at B.C. Place in Vancouver, British Columbia.

50th anniversary of famed Canadian-bred Northern Dancer's victory in the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 1964.  In June of that same year, he won the most celebrated thoroughbred horse race in Canada, the Queen's Plate.  To date, Northern Dancer is the only horse to have won both races.  He also won the second jewel of the American Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing, the Preakness Stakes and finished third in the third jewel, the Belmont Stakes.  Northern Dancer became the most successful sire of the 20th century and died on November 16, 1990.

Northern Dancer

United States

Congressional elections will be held in the United States on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senates, will be contested in these midterm elections.  There will also be elections involving 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (excluding Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia), and four territorial legislatures along with many state and local races.

50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964:  On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that banned major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women.  It forbid unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by public facilities.


The National Hockey League Winter Classic will be played outdoors on January 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The game will feature the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Super Bowl XLVIII will take place on February 2, 2014 at the MetLife Sports Complex in East 
Rutherford, New Jersey.

The 140th running of The Kentucky Derby will be held at venerable Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, May 3, 2014..  The Run for the Roses always takes place on the first Saturday in May and it is the first jewel in the Anerican Triple Crown of Horse Racing.

The Kenucky Derby and the famous twin spires of Churchill Downs

                                                                                      Courtesy: Kentuckytourism.com

The 85th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be hosted by the Minnesota Twins.  It will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.  It will be the first Midsummer Classic to take place in the city of Minneapolis since 1985 and the first ever All-Star Game at Target Field.

The 2014 Masters Tournament of golf will take place from Wednesday April 9, 2014 to Sunday, April 13, 2014 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.


In 1964, there were two highly anticipated boxing matches between Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston.  The first bout took place on February 25, 1964 in Miami Beach Florida.  Liston was WBC heavyweight champion, having defeated Floyd Patterson.  Clay was declared the winner of the first bout by a technical knockout.

The second bout occurred in Lewiston, Maine on May 25, 1965 before less than 2,500 fans at the Central Maine Youth Center.  During the first round, Liston fell to the canvas and Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner.  Few of the people in attendance saw Ali deliver the knockout punch.  Nevertheless, referee Jersey Joe Walcott stopped the fight and awarded Ali a first-round knockout victory.

The United Kingdom

The Scottish Independence Referendum: On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the Scottish Government will hold a referendum on the issue of independence from the United Kingdom.  The question put forth in the referendum will be "Should Scotland be an independent country?"


The Wimbleton Tennis Championships - To take place in London, England at the All England Lawn Tennis Cllub from June 23 until July 6, 2014.

The 2014 British Open Championship golf tournament will be hosted by the Royal Liverpool Golf Club from July 13 to July 20, 2014.  The Royal Liverpool is located at the seaside town of Hoylake, on Merseyside, England.


A general election for the 16th Lok Sab (House of the People), the lower house of the Parliament of India, will take place on May 31, 2014.


On September 14, 2014, general election will be held in Sweden to the Riksdag, the national legislative assembly and to county councils and municipal assemblies.  The Riksdag is the supreme decision-making body in the Kingdom of Sweden.

South Africa

There will be a general election in South Africa, to be held sometime between April and July 2014 for a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province.  


Federal elections are scheduled to take place in Belgium on May 25, 2014.  All members of the Chamber of Representatives will be elected.


General elections will take place in Brazil on October 5, 2014.  The President, the National Congress, state governors and state legislatures will be elected.  In the event that no candidate receives no more than 50 per cent of the vote in the presidential and gubernatorial elections, there will be a run-off on October 26, 2014.

International Sporting Events

The 2014 Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, Russia from February 7 to February 23.

Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  This great soccer (football) event will be held from June 12 until July 13, 2014.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. from July 23 to August 3, 2014.

Entertainment Awards

The 86th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  This year, the Oscars ceremony will occur a week later than usual due to the Winter Olympics.

The 56th Grammy Awards are scheduled for January 26, 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

The 2014 EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at London's Royal Opera House.

The 2014 Tony Awards for Broadway achievement will take on Sunday, June 8, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Famous People Born in 1964


Michelle Obama, U.S. First Lady, born January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Sandra Bullock, American actress, born July 26, 1964 in Arlington, Virginia, USA

Nicolas Cage, American actor, born January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, California, USA

Courtney Cox, American actress, born June 15, 1964 in Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Lenny Kravitz, American singer and songwriter, born May 26, 1964 in New York City, USA

Keanu Reeves, Canadian actor, born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon

Rob Lowe, American actor, born March 17, 1964 in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Melissa Gilbert, American actress, born May 8, 1964 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Prince Edward of Britain, Earl of Wessex, born March 10, 1964 in London, England, UK

Russell Crowe, Australian-raised New Zealand actor, born April 7, 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand

Sarah Palin, American politician and commentator, born February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho, USA

Diana Krall, Canadian jazz musician, born November 16, 1964 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Matt Dillon, American actor and film director, born February 18, 1964 in New Rochelle, New York, USA

Trisha Yearwood, American country musician, born on September 19, 1964 in Monticello, Georgia, USA

Boris Johnson, British-American Mayor of London, England, born June 19, 1964 in New York City, USA

Barry Bonds, American ex-professional baseball player, born July 24, 1964 in Riverside, California, USA

Juliette Binoche, French actress, born March 9, 1964 in Paris France


Paul Bernardo, convicted Canadian serial killer, born August 27, 1964 in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada,

- Joanne

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Joanne's Journal: December 25, 2013

Edition No. 14


"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1-3

Let there be light!  What a powerful phrase!  In Latin, it's fiat lux.  

"Light" has several dictionary definitions.  One definition, according to the Merrim-Webster, is "the form of energy that makes it possible to see things; the brightness produced by the sun, fire, a lamp, etc."  Another meaning is "a spiritual illumination."  This involves inner light, enlightenment and truth.  That is the kind of enlightenment meant in the opening words of the Book of Genesis.  

Light is not only central to Christmas and Christianity.  It is also central to Judaism.  The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is known as The Festival of Lights.  The ancient Hindu festival of Diwali is also called "The Festival of Lights."  Indeed , the lighting of candles has great spiritual significance for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and followers of other faiths.

On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 entered the orbit of the Moon.  That Christmas Eve, its three astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, appeared in a live television broadcast and displayed pictures of the Earth and the Moon as seen from their spacecraft.  Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell stated, ""The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."   The astronauts concluded their broadcast by taking turns reading from the opening passage of Genesis. Commander Frank Borman signed off with these words, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

Light has been very much on my mind this Christmas.  Here in Toronto, thousands of people have been without electricity and heat due to a terrible ice storm.  Although hydro was restored at my home on December 23rd, many others in the Toronto area remain in the cold and the dark.  Last summer, our city experienced blackouts and flooding due to an extremely heavy rainfall.  The weather, however, was warm and no one had to shiver in the dark.  This ice storm has caused great discomfort to the elderly and the disabled in our city and in other areas in Canada and the United States.

There is a clear weather pattern around the world.  Extreme weather conditions are becoming  a fact of life in the 21st century.  Just read the headlines.  In 2013, there have been floods, ice storms, snow in Jerusalem. There was also a snowfall in Cairo, Egypt, it's first in 112 years.  How much more evidence is needed that climate change is here and that it's hitting closer to home than ever before.  Some people in Toronto see power blackouts as becoming a regular occurrence and are making sure they are prepared when it happens again.

My Christmas wish is that more of us will "see the light" about climate change.



ROSE:  To the hydro workers who continue to toil diligently during this Christmas season to restore electricity after a catastrophic ice storm hit parts of Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the United States.

:  To Pope Francis for emphasizing the importance of social justice and for expressing his dismay at the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.  His concern for the poor and the marginalized and his criticism of unregulated capitalism is not "pure Marxism," as far-right commentator Rush Limbaugh has stated.  What the Pope has been saying is at the very core of the Christian gospel.  Remember "Blessed are the poor . . ."

Pope Francis

Attribution: presidencia.gov.ar


The Sermon on the Mount does not describe the poor as welfare bums who are too lazy to work (Please take note, neo-conservative Christians).  Placing regulations on capitalism is not the equivalent of communism.  The Rush Limbaughs of this world do not get it!  They do not understand that unfettered capitalism is the cause of much suffering and abject poverty.  The "greed is good" mentality caused the Great Recession and untold misery in 2008



THORN:  To Canada Post for eliminating home delivery so sneakily just before the Christmas break without public consultation and for such a steep increase in the price of stamps.

THORN: To the Canadian media, especially in Ontario, for a lack of concern for Ontario's horse racing industry.  Thousands of worker in the industry have lost their jobs.  I can't think of one daily newspaper that showed any great concern for the plight of these workers or the plight of horse breeders in the province. What about the plight of the city of Fort Erie, Ontario and the possible loss of the Fort Erie Racetrack?

In particular, I am disappointed in the Toronto Star's coverage of horse racing.  Many Torontonians remember the late great Star sportswriter Jim Proudfoot.  Jim was a great racing fan and often wrote about the sport.  The last Star sports columnist who has shown any interest and concern about horse racing is Dave Perkins.  He retired recently.

Several years ago, when I was working in the Star's library, I asked a Star sportswriter why the largest paper in Canada provided such little coverage of horse racing.  He replied, "There isn't enough interest."   Well, doesn't the media create that interest by the amount of  publicity it gives to various sports and sporting events?  No wonder horse racing is in trouble when the media in Canada won't talk about it.  I don't hear much discussion about racing on sports radio stations such as Sportsnet The Fan 590.

As for animal rights groups and animal lovers, why have they remained so silent about about the possibility of horses having to be destroyed in this province?  One hears a great deal of concern for dolphins, baby seals and elephants.  Why not horses?

THORN: To North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for the absolute brutality of his regime.  Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed this month in a purge.  According to the United Nations, North Korea's 24 million people commonly experience food shortages.  U.S. President Barack Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, recently spoke of the North Korean government's "low regard for human life."


What starts with "T", is full of "T", and ends with "T"?


A teapot



With the egotistical attitude of so many pro athletes, it's refreshing to see a baseball player with the class of Roy Halladay.  Halladay, 36, recently retired from professional baseball due to back and shoulder problems. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is one of the few major league pitchers to have won the award in both the American League (with the Toronto Blue Jays) and the National League (with the Philadelphia Phillies).  On May 29, 2010, the right hander pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Florida Marlins.  On October 6, 2010, he pitched a no-hitter for Philadelphia against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.  It was only the second no-hitter in Major League Baseball postseason play after Don Larson's in the 1956 World Series.

 "Doc" Hallday, as he was nicknamed by the late Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek, signed a ceremonial one-day ceremonial contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in order to retire with his original team.  During his tenure as a Blue Jay, Halladay ran a program called "Doc's Box," a luxury suite for the use of ill children from the Hospital for Sick Children.  He funded the program himself.  His wife Brandy hosted it.  Brandy also organized many of Roy's charitable activities such as hospital visits and fundraising.

Wouldn't it be great for pro baseball to return to Montreal?  The Expos are gone but certainly not forgotten. How about a Montreal franchise in the American League?  This could spark a tremendous rivalry between the Blue Jays and the new Montreal team.  Perhaps, if the Tampa Bay Rays don't survive, they could relocate north.

An organization called the Montreal Baseball Project  is working diligently to bring about the second coming of baseball to the city.  The group's stated goal, as described on its official website, is "to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal."  It points out that with a metropolitan area population of almost 4 million, Montreal remains the largest North American city without a MLB team.

The Expos left Montreal in 2004 and became the Washington Nationals.  The arrival of the Nationals marked the fifth time a Major League Baseball team has attempted to succeed in Washington, D.C.  There have been several versions of the Washington Senators.

  • The Washington,Senators (1891-1899) played in the American Association and the National League
  • The Washington Senators (1901-1960) are now the Minnesota Twins
  • The Washington Senators (1912) competed in the short-lived United States Baseball League
  • The Washington Senators (1960-1971) are now the Texas Rangers

If Washington has been given all those chances, then surely Montreal deserves at least a second chance.

Note that the founder and president of the Montreal Baseball Project is former Expos outfielder/ first baseman Warren Cromartie.  Cromartie, 60, played more than a thousand games for the Expos from 1974 to 1983.

CFL Football

Canadian football fans welcome the return of an Ottawa franchise to the CFL - the Ottawa Redblacks.  The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.will return to the Western Division where they belong.  Once the new Ottawa team is settled into the league, attention will be focussed on two other important matters.  The first is to create more interest in the Toronto Argonauts in Canada's largest city.  Not enough people in Toronto appreciate the Argos or the fact that the team was established in 1873 and is the oldest existing professional sports team in North America that still calls itself by its original name.  Some Toronto fans are snobby and look down upon the CFL. They think only the NFL is good enough for Toronto and that the Argonauts are preventing the city from obtaining an NFL franchise.  The truth is that the Argos have been playing much better than the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Blue Jays.  They won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 and they went as far as the Eastern Division Final this year.  Not only that, but the Double Blue have a record 16 Grey Cup championships to their credit.  Compare that to the Blue Jays, who have not made the playoffs since 1993, and the Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.  In addition, the Argos are not owned by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the least fan friendly professional sports organization in North America.  Don't even get me started on the ridiculously high price of Leaf tickets!

The Toronto Argonauts also need a new stadium.  The former SkyDome, however, has one major benefit; a retractable roof to protect fans from the cold and the rain.

The second major matter for the CFL to consider is an eventual fifth team in the Eastern Division so that tthe league will consist of ten teams, five in each division.  It would be great to have a franchise in the Maritimes (most likely Moncton, New Brunswick) or in Quebec City.  A group has been trying for quite awhile to launch a team called the Atlantic Schooners.  As for Quebec City, football is very popular there with the success of the Rouge et Or from Laval University.  If the stadium at Laval were expanded, it could support a CFL team.

- Joanne

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The changes at Canada Post: What they mean for Canadians

With the reduction in the volume of  "snail mail" and a severe loss of revenue, changes at Canada Post became inevitable. Unfortunately, this country's postal service is facing a massive deficit of one billion dollars by 2020.  The use of email and the Internet is, of course, greatly responsible for the crown corporation's woes. What should be deeply disturbing to Canadians, however, is the sudden and sneaky manner in which the changes were made.  It is also unsettling is that ordinary Canadians were not consulted.  These changes were foisted upon the public quickly and unilaterally, one day after the House of Commons adjourned for the Christmas break.  That's quite a coincidence, isn't it?  Surely the Harper government was not trying to avoid debating the issue in the House of Commons, particularly after being raked in coals by the opposition over the Senate scandal?  No, it couldn't be that, could it?

As Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau commented on the timing of the announcement, it was "a demonstration of a tremendous level of cynicism."  He said that more vigorous discussion was required before axing such "an important service" as home postal delivery.  “If this happens, it would be the end of an era for Canada Post,” union president Denis Lemelin declared.  "We recognize that Canada Post needs to change, but this is not the way," he remarked.

Nevertheless, on December 11, 2013, Canada Post announced that the following changes will be implemented:

* Door-to-door mail delivery will be phased out over the next five years, beginning in mid-2014. About one-third of Canadian households (over five million people) will be affected.  Rural households will not be affected. (It's worth noting that a great deal of Conservative support comes from rural areas).  Door-to-door delivery will be replaced by community mailboxes.  (Our cities are gong to be littered with community mailboxes.  Gee, won't they make Canada's urban landscape look more attractive?) 

* The price of stamp will increase from 63 cents to 85 cents for bulk purchases or $1 for individual stamps.  The increase will come into effect on March 31, 2014.

*  Canada Post plans to scale down its labour force by between 6,000 and 8,000 workers.  It maintains that this can be done by attrition since approximately 15,000 employees are poised to retire in the coming years.  (It's difficult to believe that no jobs will be lost.)

From a purely business point of view, these changes seem to make sense.  According to David Stewart Patterson, a Conference Board of Canada executive who predicted this spring that Canada Post could lose almost $1 billion annually if it didn't make operating changes, this new business plan will achieve "very significant results" with regard to Canada Post's fiscal stability.

Not surprisingly, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt also defended the move by Canada Post.  She stated, "The Government of Canada supports Canada Post in its efforts to protect taxpayers, while modernizing its business and aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians." (As if the choices of Canadians were ever really considered or that they were even consulted about the matter.)

Canada Post seems to have acted prudently if you believe, as the Harper government does, that government should be run like a business and that profitability is the bottom line.  The problem is that government actions affect real flesh and blood people.  The actions of crown corporations such as Canada Post also affect real human beings.

The elimination of door-to door postal delivery and the increase in the cost of stamps will have the most impact on elderly, disabled and lower income Canadians, particularly in the winter months. Isn't that always the way?  The most vulnerable and the most marginalized are always hurt more severely by misguided cost-cutting measures.  Laurie Beachell, national co-ordinator for the Council of Canadians expressed her concerns when she stated, "This will seriously disadvantage people with disabilities.   Couple that with access issues and climate issues, it will further isolate people, making them dependent on family and friends to pick up their mail."  As NDP MP Olivia Chow put it, "These job-killing and service-cutting measures will isolate seniors, the poor and the disabled living in urban areas."  She also said, "You don't save a business by cutting services, driving away customers and raising costs."

Small business is also going to be hurt by Canada Post's plans.  The increase in the price of stamps will be too burdensome for many small businesses to survive and many will go bankrupt. The high cost of stamps with also further discourage people from using the postal service and Canada Post will lose even more money until the day that it will be no longer be sustainable.

Why are such stringent measures being adopted so quickly without proposing alternatives?  Why can't the Canadian postal service be modified and modernized without gutting the whole operation and eliminating all door-to-door service?  Here's the reason why. This is Stephen Harper's Canada.  It's leaner and meaner and it's losing  its sense of community. The ultra-conservative creed is "everyone out for themselves."  People with low incomes are viewed as lazy welfare bums and the gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps widening into an ever-larger chasm. Stable employment is a thing of the past for the majority of Canadians. Many of the jobs available are contract or temporary jobs with few benefits and without the security of a pension.  More and more social programs are being cut every day.  More and more children are being drawn into the cycle of poverty in a nation rich with resources.

When did you last hear a Canadian politician make a strong statement about fighting poverty, protecting the environment or dealing with the problems of unemployment.  Which leader has had the courage to talk frankly about these issues?  Which leader has the gumption to say that sometimes higher taxes are necessary provided that the money is spent responsibly?  Why are conservative zealots being allowed to set the agenda?  What has happened to more moderate voices?  Do Canadians need to be reminded that Stephen Harper's Conservative party is not the more reasonable and compassionate Progressive Conservative Party of John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark and yes, Brian Mulroney.  Mulroney showed concern for the environment and he was a leader in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.  Stephen Harper's Conservatives can be described as The Tea Party North or the Tea Party of Canada.

Who has the courage to strongly challenge the Harper government's priorities?  Who will tell Harper that tackling the deficit is not more important than creating jobs for the unemployed?  Who will tell him that it is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' money to build more prisons in order to demonstrate a commitment to law and order?  It hasn't worked in the United States and it won't work here.  Who will tell him that it is better to concentrate on preventing poverty and crime than suffering the huge human, social and financial costs associated with poverty and crime?

For over six years, the Harper government has been chipping away, slyly and stealthily at our social fabric. It's been happening bit by bit so that this country is becoming unrecognizable.  Now we are about to lose door-to-door postal service.  Why must this happen?  Why must we become the only industrialized nation to allow this to occur with such little complaint and so little indignation?  Where is our backbone?  Why do we just accept this with bland resignation.  Why are we not bombarding our MPs with emails?

This is my warning to my fellow Canadians.  Our country is being transformed by a government that received only 40 per cent of the popular vote.  60 percent of those who bothered to vote did not vote Conservative. Where are those 60 percent?  I lament for this great nation!  I lament for what we have lost and what may never be regained, at least until Stephen Harper's government is voted out of office.


- Joanne

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Are watches and wall clocks going the way of the dinosaur?

"She touches her wrist where her watch used to be, her fingers lost without time to hold on to.”
- Jenny Hubbard, American novelist and playwright
From Paper Covers Rock

"If you were to ask me the best time of day to fall in love, I'd say "Now."  But you'd also have to remember to factor in the fact that my watch is eleven minutes fast."
- Jarod Kintz, American author, born March 5, 1982
From This Book is Not for Sale

I really like timepieces - watches, clocks, hourglasses, sundials, you name it.  That is why I am quite dismayed that they seem to be going out of fashion.  Many people these day, particularly teens and 20-somethings, do not wear a wristwatch.  They don't find it necessary because they can check the time on their smart phones and other wireless devices.  Some children do not even know how to tell time on an analogue clock because they are only familiar with digital ones.  They regard analogue clocks as relics from a bygone era along with such items as black and white television and handwritten letters.

As for wall clocks, they too seem to be falling out of favour.  I went to a major department store here in Toronto and was informed that they do not have any wall clocks for sale.  I was advised that there isn't a market for them.  Given these trends, how can one expect anyone to be interested in horology, the study of mechanical time-keeping devices.  It appears that horologists will become as difficult to find as as  typewriter repairmen.  Like typewriters, clocks may gradually disappear from our homes because there are few left with the skills to repair them and few places to buy new ones.

Well, I can't turn back the hands of time, as the old adage goes.  Nevertheless, I will continue to wear my wristwatch and glance at my kitchen clock.  By the way, I am sometimes asked for the time from people who don't wear a watch and have left their cell phones elsewhere or can't be bothered to retrieve their phones from their purses.

There's something romantic and sentimental about watches, especially engraved ones.  Parents pass them along to their children.  How can that be replaced by clocks on a smart phone.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not a Luddite by any means.  I know too well that technological progress can't be halted.  I am, however, also aware of what we will lose if wristwatches and grandfather clocks are banished to museums.

I'll leave the last word to the great author and humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910) who lived well before the digital age.

"Time and tide wait for no man.  A pompous and self-satisfied proverb, and was true for a billion years; but in our day of electric wires and water-ballast we turn it around: Man waits not for time nor tide."

- Joanne

Do you wear a wristwatch?
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Monday, December 2, 2013

What happened to Lee Harvey Oswald's wife, Marina, and their children?

Fifty years have passed since Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating John F. Kennedy, was shot to death by Jack Ruby.  At 11:21 on a Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, Oswald was being led through the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters on his way to a transfer to the county jail.  Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner and two-bit mobster, burst from the crowd and shot Oswald in the chest.  Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, the same hospital where President Kennedy had passed away two days earlier, and he died there at 1:07 p.m.  His shooting was witnessed by millions of shocked viewers who were watching the transfer on television.

Many are surprised to learn that Lee Harvey Oswald (born October 18, 1939) was only 24 years old when he died (I've always thought he looked older than that).  Oswald was also a married man with a 22-year-old Russian wife and two very young children.  In March of 1961, he met Marina Prusakova (born July 17, 1941) at a dance in the city of Minsk in Belarus, then a Soviet Republic.  Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, had defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959. Marina, a 19-year-old from Molotovsk (now known as Severodvinsk) in western Russia, had come to Minsk to live at the home of her aunt and uncle, Valentina and Ilya Prusakov, while studying pharmacology. When she met Lee, she was employed as a pharmacist at a hospital.

Marina and Lee wed on April 30, 1961 at the home of Uncle Ilya who worked for Soviet intelligence (He was employed by the MVD, the Ministry of Internal Affairs).  Marina gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named June Lee Oswald, on February 15, 1962.  In June of that same year, Oswald returned to the United States with his family and settled in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where his mother, Marguerite, and brother Robert (Bob) lived.  Marina was shy and she spoke little English at that time.

In May of 1963, the family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, Lee's birthplace.  In September, they returned to Dallas where Oswald found employment with the Texas Book Depository.  He began working there on October 16, 1963. Four days later, on October 20th, the couple's second daughter, Audrey Marina Rachel Oswald (known as Rachel), was born. Rachel was barely a month old when her father apparently shot JFK from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository.

Prior to that fateful November day in Dallas, Marina was estranged from Lee.  She and the children lived at the home of her friend Ruth Paine in the suburb of Irving, Texas in Dallas County. Ruth, who had been studying Russian for several years, had recently divorced her husband, Michael.  Marina assisted Ruth with housework and Lee visited on weekends.  It was Ruth who had informed him about the job at the Texas Book Depository.

On the Thursday night before the assassination, Lee made an unannounced visit to the Paine home in an attempt to reconcile with Marina.  He stayed the night but his attempt at a reconciliation with his wife did not succeed. The following morning, November 22, 1963, Lee headed for work at the Texas Book Depository, leaving his wedding ring in a cup on a dresser and $170 in one of its drawers.

After the Kennedy assassination and the subsequent arrest of her husband, Marina was placed under Secret Service protection.  She remained under protection until the completion of her testimony before the Warren Commission's investigation into JFK's death.  As a key witness, she made four appearances before the commission and said she thought her husband was guilty of shooting Kennedy.  In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and was not involved in a conspiracy.

In Marina's fist television interview after the murder of her husband, the young widow talked with KRLD-TV in Dallas. When asked whether she believed Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the President, she replied, "I don't want to believe, but I have too much facts and facts tell me that Lee shot Kennedy."  She stated that she wished to remain in Texas and had no plans to return to Russia.

Marina during her firs interview after Oswald's death

In 1965, Marina married Kenneth Jess Porter, a twice-divorced electronics technician.  According to a June 24, 1973 article in the Reading Eagle, a daily Pennsylvania newspaper, Ken started his own business as the operator of a bar soon after they wed.  When that didn't pan out, he reportedly turned to repairing sewing machines.  Now 75, Ken Porter is also a former drag car racer.  At the time the 1973 article was written, he and Marina were living in "a red brick home with a shingle roof " in Richardson, Texas, an inner suburb of Dallas. Since the mid-1970s, however, the couple have resided in a ranch style home in Rockwall, Texas, (northeast of Dallas).  Their 47-year-old son, Mark Porter, lives in East Texas.

Marina retired from her job at a now-defunct Army Navy Surplus store where she was employed for over 20 years.  It was located in the Uptown section of Dallas, not far from where John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Marina with husband Ken Porter in 1983 NBC interview

It was not until 1989 that Marina became a naturalized citizen of the United States.  Now 72 years old, and a grandmother, she has lived a quiet life in recent years.  Last month, the Daily Mail. a British tabloid, published the first photos of Marina seen in over 20 years.  In the photograph and videos, she and her husband are seen leaving a Walmart store near their home in suburban Dallas. According to a November, 2, 2013 article by Lizzie Parry and Damien Gaylea (appearing on the website of another British newspaper, the Daily Mail), Marina is said to be "convinced that her phones are still tapped by the. Secret Service and lives in fear of being targeted and killed by spooks herself."

Over the years, Marina has changed her mind about Oswald's culpability.  In 1977, she announced at a press conference that "I believe that Lee acted alone in this murder and shot the President, ironically a man whom he respected and admired."  By 1988, however, she spoke of a conspiracy in  the following statement to Ladies Home Journal.

I'm not saying that Lee is innocent, that he didn't know about the conspiracy or was not a part of it, but I am saying he's not necessarily guilty of murder.  At first I thought Jack Ruby was swayed by passion; all of America was grieving.  But later, we found that he had connections with the underworld.  Now I think Lee was killed to keep his mouth shut.

Marina also told Ladies Home Journal that she believed Oswald "worked for the American government." She questioned why Lee had been given instruction in the Russian language while he was in the Marines.  Do you think that is usual, that an ordinary soldier is taught Russian?" she asked rhetorically.  She also pointed out that "he got in and out of Russia quite easily, and he got me out quite easily."

In an open letter to John Tunheim, Chairman of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board (dated April 19, 1996), Marina wrote the following:

The time for the Review Board to obtain and release the most important documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy is running out.  At the time of the assassination of this great president whom I loved, I was misled by the "evidence" presented to me by government authorities and I assisted in the conviction of Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin.  From the new information now available, I am now convinced that he was an FBI informant and believe that he did not kill President Kennedy.

The previously mentioned 2013 Daily Mail piece by Lizzie Parry and Damien Gaylee, quotes Marina's friend, documentary film maker Keya Morgan, as saying that Marina "now believes her husband was set up to take the fall for conspirators in the CIA and Mafia."


* Rachel Oswald, (known as Rachel Porter) recently turned 50 years old.  When she was 28, she was interviewed by David Lifton, author of the 1981 bestseller Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.  At the time of the interview, Rachel was a single woman, living in Texas and studying to be a nurse.  She had come to believe that her father was a victim and that he was framed for the Kennedy assassination.

My whole outlook on life has changed just by hearing that there's evidence that completely exonerates this man of the crime of killing the president.  Now I'm not saying that he is not involved. I believe he's involved or else why would he be there?  But I don't know. I really believe, though, that he didn't kill the president. And my whole life has been plagued by this idea that my father is the murderer of one of the most loved person in the world.  And if he's not responsible for that, then that means a great part of the burden that I have to carry is gone.

* Rachel's Soviet-born sister, June Oswald Porter, now 51, took the name of her stepfather upon entering public school.  June's marriage ended in 1992.and she is the mother of two sons in their early 20s. In a 1995 New York Times Magazine interview with Steve Salerno, she described the time she was told about her father and the assassination.

Something had come up where Mom had old boxes of letters out.  People sent us money following the assassination, because Mom was young with two small children and didn't speak the language. Somehow those boxes came down and she was reading, and I guess she felt it was time to tell us.  She sat us down with my stepfather, and started to explain who our father was - that it wasn't Kenneth - and who Lee was and what he had done.  I just remember crying a lot because Mom was crying. 

* Lee Harvey Oswald's wedding ring was put up for auction this past October.  His gold wedding band, with a mini hammer and sickle engraved on the inside of it, was purchased in the then-Soviet city of Minsk, Belarus in 1961.  It was sold for $108,000 to a Texan who wishes to remain anonymous.

Seized by the Secret Service after the Kennedy assassination, Oswald's ring was eventually returned to Marina's lawyer and remained in his files until 2004.  It was one of many items linked to John F. Kennedy that were auctioned by R.R. Auction in Boston. The gold band was accompanied by a hand-written letter from Marina (dated May 5, 2013) stating that "At this time in my life I don't wish to have Lee's ring in my possession because symbolically I want to let go of my past that's connecting with Nov. 22, 1963." It is no surprise, then, that Marina turned down requests for interviews as the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approached. She rejected large amounts of money to appear on television. Still, the paparazzi (especially the British tabloids) stalked her and made it difficult for her to bury her past.

* Robert Oswald, 79, Lee's older brother, is a retired salesman, living in Wichita Falls, Texas.  In a 1993 interview with PBS's Frontline, he said that he is convinced that his brother was solely responsible the Kennedy assassination.

There is no question in my mind that Lee was responsible for the three shots fired, two of the shots hitting the president and killing him. There is no question in my mind that he also shot Officer Tippit. How can you explain one without the other?  (About 15 minutes after the assassination of President Kennedy, Officer J.D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Department was shot and killed after confronting a man who fit the description of a suspect in the Kennedy murder (slim white male, 1.78 m. tall (5 ft. 10 in.), 68 kg. (150 pounds) at autopsy).  Oswald was later arrested by police after behaving suspiciously while sneaking into the Texas Theatre, a movie house, without purchasing a ticket).

Robert Oswald also told Frontline that "the facts are there. … What do you do with his rifle?  What do you do with his pistol?  What do you do with his general opportunity?  What do you do with his actions? To me, you can’t reach but one conclusion. There’s hard physical evidence there. True, no one saw him actually pull the trigger on the president but … his presence in the building was there. What he did after he left the building is known: bus ride, taxi ride, boardinghouse, pick up the pistol, leave, shoot the police officer. Five or six eyewitnesses there. You can’t set that aside just because he is saying, “I’m a patsy.” I’d love to do that, but you cannot. …"


Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?
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- Joanne