JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

Grandfather of NBC4 Reporter Arranged Lee Harvey Oswald's Bus Ticket to Texas

Andrew Siff's grandfather, Martin Isaacs, worked in the NYC Department of Welfare

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    NEWSLETTERS

    My grandfather was a social worker at the New York City Department of Welfare when Lee Harvey Oswald walked into the office in Lower Manhattan and asked for a bus ticket to Texas. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Thursday, Nov 21, 2013)

    My grandfather was a social worker at the New York City Department of Welfare when Lee Harvey Oswald walked into the office in Lower Manhattan and asked for a bus ticket to Texas.

    Oswald had just returned to the U.S. from Russia with his wife and child, and he had no money.
    My grandfather, Martin Isaacs, helped him get the ticket, using city funds that would later be reimbursed by the federal government. Since Oswald was a U.S. citizen, born in Louisiana, this was called "repatriation."
    That was in June of 1962. Seventeen months later, Oswald killed President Kennedy in Dallas, 50 years ago Friday.
    My grandfather, who was 57 when he met Oswald, later told the Warren Commission investigating the assassination that Oswald seemed irate while he was dealing with him. 
    "He was insistent. He stomped around and simply would not accept the decision that this money would be forthcoming," he testified to the commission. "And as a rule we don't get this kind of reaction from the clients that we deal with."
    My mom, Joan Siff, recalled that when Oswald was pictured for the first time after the death of the president, her father said, "I've seen that man." She was 22 at the time.
    He told the Warren Commission that the name initially didn't mean anything to him -- but he was stricken when he saw Oswald's face.
    "It was after I had seen the picture on the screen and was horrified -- well, we were horrified without having seen that -- but the additional horror because it was somebody that you had actually met and helped to return to Texas."
    She remembers my father, who died in 1995 at age 91, keeping an upbeat approach to life, despite the realization that our family crossed paths with Oswald. 
    Oswald was just like so many people my grandfather helped in the welfare office. The vast majority were poor, needy and looking for a helping hand.
    "He had no money, no job and he needed public assistance," she said. 
    My family still marvels at this chance encounter that my grandfather never forgot.
    "What he said was, 'this is unreal, how could this be?'" my mom remembers. "After interviewing thousands of people and helping so many people, this is someone who committed a terrible crime -- killing our president." 

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