ALL OUR LIVES—our beliefs, our government, our history—changed that day [“The Assassination at 35,” November 1998]. I was thirteen when President Kennedy was killed, and I have always believed it was a conspiracy. After this issue, I don’t.
A PRISTINE PRIMER. Remarkable writing, editing, and photo selection. Case closed.
DESPITE OSWALD’S MEANS and motives, I will never be convinced, because of (1) a “magic bullet,” (2) nearly two thirds of the witnesses misinterpreting the direction of the gunfire, (3) doctors not knowing an entry wound from an exit wound, and (4) a below-average shooter accurately hitting a moving target multiple times within six to eight seconds.
IN “THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES,” you say that David Lifton wrote The Texas Connection. However, the author is Craig I. Zirbel. David Lifton wrote Best Evidence.
Robert M. Schwartz
Editor’s Note: Texas Monthly regrets the error.
FINALLY MR. CURTIS BRINGS a little sanity to the debate over who killed John F. Kennedy [“The Lone Gunman”]. Not since Gerald Posner’s brilliant Case Closed has common sense prevailed over the suspension of disbelief we have suffered through since 1963. Mr. Posner and Mr. Curtis are truly courageous writers. It is not always easy to look at clear evidence and conclude that someone is just a murderer—believe me, I know. I’m the author of A Sniper in the Tower: The Charles Whitman Murders.
Gary M. Lavergne
MR. CURTIS IS ON THE MARK in regard to the psychological need of much of the public for a less mundane and, in some peculiar sense, less threatening version of the murder that involves a yet-undiscovered conspiracy. Given the solid physical case for Lee Harvey Oswald as the sole actor, the almost aching need for a conspiracy is, in many ways, the more interesting story.
MR. CURTIS TELLS THE READER of Oswald’s powerful Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, but fails to inform us of its legendary inaccuracy, tremendous recoil, and the questionable ability of its alleged handler, Oswald himself. Also left out is the fact that the print found on the weapon was almost nondetectable when processed by the FBI. As to the incriminating pictures of Oswald holding a rifle, Marina Oswald has changed her story several times as to whether she took these photos. And the writing on the back of one of the photos has never been identified as Oswald’s.
Steven S. Airheart
I HAVE FIRED BOTH THE MANNLICHER-Carcano rifle and carbine in the past and found them sadly lacking in accuracy. Also, because of the design of the action, a telescopic sight has to be mounted on the side of the receiver rather than directly on top, which is, at best, a rather clumsy installation. Shortly after the assassination, some shooting publications stated that FBI tests showed that although the scope had been mounted, it had not been zeroed in. I, as well as others familiar with various firearms, have always questioned this ancient clunk as the weapon of choice for a serious sniper.
Roy W. Myer
THE TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF Homes and Services for the Aging (TAHSA), with 175 nonprofit member nursing facilities, retirement communities, and assisted-living facilities, has long been an advocate for quality care and accountability for nursing home providers [“Home Away From Home,” by Skip Hollandsworth, November 1998]. We applaud Mr. Hollandsworth for pointing out a problem we have tried to draw attention to for years: the flat-rate Medicaid reimbursement system that rewards providers who spend less on staffing, food, and medical supplies, all of which are vital to care.
Most states have payment systems that provide some reasonable relationship between the dollars paid to a facility and the amount the facility actually spends on the critical components of resident care. In Texas the financial rewards are skewed to favor the provider who cuts costs the most, including those costs that directly translate into good care. Under this system, all dollars not spent are kept as profit. TAHSA supports a proposal by Senator Bill Ratliff that would direct more resources to staffing and other critical care areas while assuring that these dollars are actually spent on the care of the residents.
There is also a need to identify chronically poor providers and to address the “compliance game” that seems to allow them to continue to operate. The Texas Department of Human Services should focus on providers with a history of deficiencies in critical quality areas and inspect historically poor performers more frequently. Too often both good and bad nursing homes are lumped together. This not only is an inefficient use of time and resources but also diminishes the morale of staff in quality facilities that are providing excellent care.
Sandy Derrow, President
The Texas Association of Homes and Services For The Aging
WOODY KERN, “THE NURSING HOME Tycoon,” lives in a castle paid for by taxpayers while the elderly, sick, and dying suffer. My wish for Kern is that he grows old and has to spend many years in a nursing home operated like his!
Food for Thought
I READ YOUR ARTICLE “WILD TURKEY,” with the Thanksgiving menu planned, and thought it would be fun for our family dinner [November 1998]. I made copies of the recipes, assigned them to family members and waited for the flack to start. Sure enough, the first person asked, “What about our favorite salad?” And on and on it went. I assured them that we would return to our family favorites at Christmas. As dinnertime approached and the beautiful dishes materialized, the amazed guest were impressed with their own handiwork and the new information they had gained in the preparation of the food. It was fun and we thank you.
JASON COHEN’S EXCELLENT ESSAY on Dan Jenkins wheeled me back to the days I coached basketball and played baseball at Texas A&M in the early fifties [Books: “Grumpy Old Man,” November 1998]. Dan covered southwest sports in those days and I had the privilege of knowing him as a player and a coach. One name missing from Cohen’s piece was Jerre Todd’s. He was a member of the group of “new journalists”ensconced at the old Fort Worth Press who showed me the long-lasting benefits of draft beer and bean soup at the Clover Club in Fort Worth.