That’s right. The 130-pound gray granite slab that marked the final resting place of one of U.S. history’s more notorious figures is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago, on the outskirts of Roscoe, Ill., best known perhaps as race car driver Danica Patrick’s hometown.
How the stone got there is a tale of thievery that also involves an electrician who made a startling discovery in a crawl space and a woman who isn’t saying much. Whether it remains in the museum may end up as a courtroom drama between Lensing and the owner of a legendary live music club.
The Oswald tombstone saga also underscores the unwavering interest in John F. Kennedy and the hot market for collectibles related to the 35th president.
With hundreds of Kennedy items displayed at his museum in rural Winnebago County, Lensing has tapped into that robust appetite, he said.
The name of his museum, Historic Auto Attractions, might not suggest the full range of exhibits, but it fits perfectly with Lensing’s main interest as a builder of racing car bodies.
The headstone, he said, is in one of the more popular sections of the museum, “Kennedy Day In Dallas.”
“Nobody ever wanted anything to do with it throughout all those years, until they found out the thing got sold,” said Lensing, 64. “So now, after 25-30 years . . . they all come out of the woodwork.”
David Card, owner of Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, which celebrated 35 years in the business this month, sees the a slightly different scenario.
“They screwed us out of it,” said Card, 72, who contends that the stone is part of his father’s estate. “And I want it back.”
The man who killed President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, was buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Fort Worth, Tex. His body was placed there after Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, a native Chicagoan, shot Oswald in a police escort two days after Kennedy’s death.
On the four-year anniversary of the assassination, a couple of high school pranksters stole the stone, which features Oswald’s name and the dates of his birth and death etched around a cross. Authorities found it in a park in Bartlesville, Okla., and returned it to Marguerite Oswald, the assassin’s mother.
Concerned that other thieves and vandals might strike, Marguerite Oswald tucked the stone in her Fort Worth home’s crawl space, David Card said. A few months after her death in 1981, Card’s father and stepmother bought the house.
About four years later, an electrician rooting around in the crawl space found the headstone. Fearful that someone might steal it, Card’s father and stepmother hauled the stone to the home of Mrs. Card’s sister, who later sent it to her son.