Saturday, December 4th, 2010
First there’s this story about the coffin Lee Harvey Oswald was buried in being put up for sale. Allen Baumgardner was an assistant to the embalming of Oswald’s body at the Miller Funeral Home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was buried on November 25, 1963.
In 1975, lawyer, restaurateur and true crime author Michael Eddowes published a book that claimed that the man who killed Kennedy was a Russian assassin look-alike who had been substituted for the real Lee Harvey Oswald after the latter’s defection to the Soviet Union. Eddowes tried to get county officials to exhume Oswald’s body, running into a variety of obstacles. Finally in 1980 he persuaded Oswald’s wife Marina to authorize the exhumation privately. Robert Oswald, Lee’s brother, was not amused and got a restraining order to stop the exhumation. They went back and forth in court for a year, but Marina ultimately won and on the 4th of October 1981, Oswald was exhumed.
The examination confirmed his identity, and the funeral home, now owned by Baumgardner, gave Marina a new casket in exchange for the badly decayed original. Baumgardner kept the original.
“We placed Lee in a new casket, and I just brought that one back to the funeral home,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve had it all these years.”
He also kept the original embalming equipment and paperwork.
“I just think it’s time to do something with all that stuff,” the soft-spoken funeral director said. “I just felt like I’m 68 years old, I think this would be a good time to go ahead and see if anybody is interested in it.”
The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, a museum on the 6th and 7th floors of the Texas School Book Depository focusing on the assassination, will not be among the bidders. The auction is being held online and over the phone even as I type. The bidding is now at $15,863, but the reserve has not yet been met. The auction closes on December 16, so you still have time to score you a historical assassin coffin, if you’re in the market.
Also for sale at the same auction is Lee Harvey Oswald’s original death certificate, signed by his brother Robert as next of kin and the funeral director Paul Groody. When the Justice of the Peace brought it to the county registrar’s office he wrote “Shot by Jack Rubenstein” in the “Describe How Injury Occurred” field. However, since Jack Ruby hadn’t been convicted yet, he couldn’t legally be listed as the killer in the official document. The Justice crossed out the Jack Rubenstein line, then he decided to just fill in a new form to file with the county and kept the original.
But wait, there’s more! How would you like a section of the leather seat President Kennedy and the First Lady were sitting on when his brains were blown out? It’s a center section complete with visible blood stains and everything.
[White House Technical Service Rep. F. Vaughn] Ferguson, whose involvement with the limousine before and after the shooting is well-documented, writes in part: “…The leather is from the automobile in which John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, was assassinated in on November 22, 1963…Four days after the assassination the White House upholsterer and I removed this leather at the White House. The light blue leather is from the center of the rear seat…The spots on the leather are the dried blood of our beloved President John F. Kennedy.”