Is this Marina Oswald Porter? The voice on the other end of the phone was unmistakable in its accent. "I'm not Marina Oswald Porter anymore," she said. "Just Mrs. Porter. I resigned yesterday."
On Sunday, Marina Oswald Porter buried her first husband--for the second time. They hauled Lee Harvey Oswald out of his grave of 18 years, subjected him to a battery of dental examinations, declared him to be who he was, packed him in a bag and a casket and put him back into the earth. Sunup to sundown.
"I'm not thinking about it anymore," his widow said today. She added: "The facts were established yesterday."
If it were only true. But Marina Oswald Porter can assume a new identity no more easily than a nation can exorcise the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy from its consciousness. Eighteen years after he was gunned down, Kennedy is still a big story, and nowhere more than in Dallas, which has been trying to live down the killing since the instant it happened.
Perhaps that led to the journalistic outpouring that occurred here. The Dallas Morning News today ran eight stories and an enormous color photograph of the exhumation and autopsy of Lee Harvey Oswald. The Dallas Times-Herald ran seven stories, numerous photos--including one of the hearse bearing Oswald driving past the Texas School Book Depository building from which he fired the shots that killed the president--and one column. Only the column suggested the ghoulishness of Sunday's events.
The Dallas newspapers and television stations got wind of the exhumation only hours before it was to begin. They mobilized instantly, with reporters trooping over the fence at Rose Hill Burial Park in Fort Worth. Helicopters were chartered to circle the site. Special security guards were hired to keep watch on the scene. One guard muttered, "This is the first time I've ever been hired to guard a dead man."
Porter did not get out of the car at the cemetery. She said she was afraid for her safety--and didn't want to get in the way. "I didn't want to stick out like a sore thumb," she said.
After Oswald's body had been taken to Baylor University Hospital, the grave diggers lined up in front of the hole in the ground to have their pictures taken for posterity. One of them jumped into the hole and waved up at the camera.
Porter had the autopsy recorded on videotape, in the event there are questions. But she said today she plans to destroy the tape, perhaps in a month. Meanwhile, everyone else is searching for pictures of Oswald's remains. One of the papers got a call from someone who had supposedly taken a picture and wanted money for it. No deal was made.
The conspiracy theories were not reburied with Oswald on Sunday afternoon. One of the stories in the Morning News alluded to the possibility that Oswald's body had been secretly exhumed by the federal government years ago.
"We are aware of more than 300 printed conspiracy theories," said John Sissom, who runs the privately operated John F. Kennedy Museum across the street from the Texas School Book Depository building.
The autopsy on Oswald put to rest just one theory, that Kennedy had been killed by a Soviet agent posing as Oswald and that it was the Russian who had been killed two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. It was a theory propagated by British lawyer and author Michael Eddowes. On Sunday, Eddowes said he was surprised but not disappointed by the autopsy. Today he was in seclusion, exhausted.
Hal Monk, one of Eddowes' lawyers, said he did not think the autopsy ended the supposition on Eddowes' part that there was more to the assassination than "a lonely, frustrated individual named Lee Harvey Oswald."
Tourists troop in steady streams to the small museum memorializing the assassination. For most it is the first stop on their tour of Dallas. There is a short slide show depicting the assassination, along with a mock-up of the city of Dallas. A stream of lights traces the path the presidential motorcade took that Friday morning in November, 1963, moving eerily along the display like a flickering centipede. The images are so vivid that it is as if it happened yesterday. Which may explain why what did happen yesterday was treated as it was.