Lee Harvey Oswald was my friend

From nearly the moment I met Lee Harvey Oswald, it seemed that he felt the world had sized him up wrong. He wasn’t much of a student, and the Marines overlooked his talent. But now his luck was changing. As virtually the only American living in Minsk, he became something of a celebrity in that provincial capital. Oswald assumed his experience as an American living in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War would be tremendously valuable, and he was already drafting a memoir. He kept a journal, which he labeled “Historic Diary.” When he, Marina and little June touched down at Love Field, on June 14, 1962, he greeted his brother Robert by asking where the reporters were.

A week and a half after his return, he went to the 15th floor of the Continental Life Building in downtown Fort Worth. Earlier that morning, my father, a successful petroleum engineer, received a call from a young man who wanted certification of fluency in Russian. Rather than tell him that there wasn’t much of a market for a Russian translator in 1960s Texas, my father, who fled Siberia during the civil war, welcomed the chance to meet this fellow Russian speaker in person. He told him to come in for a meeting.

Around 11 a.m., with the temperature climbing into the 90s, a slight, 22-year-old Oswald arrived, drenched with sweat and wearing a wool suit. My father asked Oswald to translate passages from a Russian book he chose at random, and he was surprised at how well the young man performed. …