THE POSTMARK ON OSWALD'S ENVELOPE
(COMMISSION EXHIBIT 773)




Over the years, many JFK conspiracy theorists have suggested that a certain envelope (seen in Warren Commission Exhibit No. 773) that was mailed by Lee Harvey Oswald to Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago, which contained an order form for the rifle that Oswald ultimately used to kill President Kennedy, is a piece of fake evidence, which was forged by unknown conspirators either before or after the assassination of JFK in order to frame Oswald for the murder of the President.

The conspiracy theorists who make that unproven claim often point to a particular number -- "12" -- which appears right after the words "Dallas, Tex." in the postmark stamped on the envelope.

The conspiracists have for years maintained that the "12" we see in the Dallas postmark means that the envelope was physically mailed within a specific postal zone in the city of Dallas ("Zone 12"). And since Zone 12 is not the zone where Oswald was located when he purchased the money order he mailed to Klein's for the rifle (he purchased it at the Main Post Office in Dallas), the conspiracy theorists therefore believe that there's something rotten in the state of Denmark (and Texas) when it comes to that money order and the envelope it was mailed in.

But information from a variety of sources has reached me recently (in the summer and fall of 2012) which casts a whole new light (and meaning) on that controversial number "12" that we see in the postmark.

A forum discussion follows......

EducationForum.com


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

I recently received a very interesting e-mail from a person I have corresponded with a few times in the past. This mail concerns the topic of the postmark that was stamped on the envelope that Lee Harvey Oswald mailed to Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago in March of 1963, which was an envelope that contained Oswald's order form for the rifle which he eventually used to kill JFK in November.

Since receiving this message on July 6, 2012, I've been hoping to receive a follow-up mail from this individual regarding the "absolute confirmation" he speaks of in his e-mail message, but thus far I have not received any additional correspondence from him.

But since this matter concerning the envelope's postmark and Oswald's order form for the rifle has been a topic of considerable interest to many conspiracy theorists over the years, I thought I'd share this apparently "new" information regarding the postmark.


Quoting from e-mail message dated 7/6/2012, 2:12:12 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time:


Hi David,

Some months ago you very kindly helped me with a question that I had about the postmark on CE-773 - the envelope in which Oswald posted his coupon for the rifle.

After a long (and intermittent) search, I think that I may have come up with an answer - and it conflicts with the claims made by those who maintain that the number ‘12’ denotes a distant part of Dallas.

I’ve been told by a group of postmark collectors and historians (in the USA) that the number ‘12’ which appears on the franking/cancellation mark does not indicate where the item was posted. It merely indicates that the letter was franked through the number 12 machine at the processing plant, which was, in 1963, within the terminal annex building where Oswald actually bought the money order!

No mysterious journey required, it would seem.

I have also been advised that the time-stamp shown on the franking, 10:30, does not mean that it was posted at that time. It simply means that the letter was in the mailbox when the scheduled 10:30 collection was made.

The only thing that can be said for sure is that the letter was posted at some time before the timestamp shows. It could have been one minute, one hour, two hours, three hours, etc.

I’m currently seeking absolute confirmation of these matters from the USPS historians and archivists. If you’d like me to contact you again, when I’ve got the confirmations, I’ll be delighted to let you know.

Regards,
Barry [Ryder]



==============================


MARK KNIGHT SAID:

My dad worked as a clerk for the local post office, and I can confirm one of the comments made by DVP's "source." The time of the postmark does NOT indicate what time the letter arrived at the postal facility; it simply signifies that it was at least 10:30 am when the envelope went through the cancelling machine.

The envelope may have been deposited in a drop box, possibly the day or evening before. So there was no requirement to believe that Oswald went to the counter at the post office, handed the envelope to the clerk, and the clerk cancelled the envelope at the moment he/she received it.


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Yes, Mark, I think that point is all too obvious, because just common sense alone would indicate to everyone that the 10:30 mark on Oswald's envelope certainly doesn't mean he dropped it in a mailbox at precisely 10:30 AM. It just means he mailed it sometime before 10:30.

The key point, however, in the e-mail that I provided is the part about the "12" marked on the envelope.

Another point is this (which may not be important at all, but it suddenly popped into my head after looking at the stamped postmark on CE773 once again):

You'll notice that the "12" is stamped AFTER the word "Tex." [Texas] on the envelope, instead of being placed between the city and the state.

Normally, the postal zone number is placed between the name of the city and the state, such as the way Oswald himself wrote out the address on the envelope he mailed to Klein's -- he wrote "Chicago 6, Ill.", which is also the way the Chicago address appears in the Klein's ad that is seen in CE773.

Whether or not it's significant that the number "12" appears after both the city and state in the CE773 postmark, I really have no idea. But it suddenly struck me today that the city and state portion of the postmark isn't written the normal way you see an address written out in the "pre-zip code" days (if, that is, the "12" indicates a specific postal zone within the city of Dallas, Texas).


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

I received the following e-mail on August 5th, 2012:

[Quoting from e-mail message:]

Hi again David,

The 'definitive' reply that I was hoping for has turned out to be rather 'inconclusive', unfortunately.

Here is the full text of the email that I've just received:

"Barry,
I have been asked to look into your question regarding the significance of the number “12” inside the cancellation from March 12, 1963 in Dallas TX.

My initial thought also was that this was a zone number used in larger cities before the widespread adoption of ZIP Code. But the information you obtained from the Postmark Collectors Club has given me pause to reconsider.

The idea that the "12" identifies a specific cancelling machine is entirely plausible, but thus far I have been unable to confirm or deny that theory. I spoke with Evan Kalish from the Postmark Collectors Club about this and his opinion is based on anecdotal knowledge of the club's members. I have no reason to doubt their expertise, but I have been unable to corroborate that with any reference materials in our files.

Since this question is bound to come up again, it would be of great value if we could cite an authoritative source. In the meanwhile, I shall continue to scour our files for documentation on this question.

I am sorry that I was unable to provide the information you requested.

STEVE KOCHERSPERGER
SR. RESEARCH ANALYST, POSTAL HISTORY
475 L'ENFANT PLAZA SW RM 2P400
WASHINGTON DC 20260-0012"

Not quite what I'd hoped for, but good enough to show that the 'district 12' notion cannot be supported.

Regards,
Barry


[End e-mail message.]


==============================


TOM SCULLY SAID:

David, in the interest of letting the chips fall where they may, it appears the postmark was a machine cancel and the franking machine was a Model D30 sold by International Postal Supply Co. of Pennsylvania, according to this reference.

There is an expert in Irving, TX, Michael M. Ludeman, who can probably provide much more info.


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Thanks, Tom.

So it looks like we have one more conspiracy theory we can throw in the trash, because there now seems to be ample reason to conclude that the "12" seen in the postmark in CE773 (the envelope Lee Harvey Oswald mailed to Klein's in March of 1963) has nothing at all to do with any specific postal zone in the city of Dallas, Texas.

And if my e-mail source is correct, the number "12" cancelling/franking machine was located right there at the Main Post Office in Dallas in 1963, which makes perfect sense, of course, since that was the place where we know Oswald bought his $21.45 money order that he sent to Klein's on 3/12/63.

It's nice to know that there are "geeks" in virtually all categories of life -- even "Postmark Geeks" who belong to the Post Mark Collectors Club.

I just now (on August 5, 2012) posted messages on the Facebook pages for the Post Mark Collectors Club and the Machine Cancel Society, asking this question:

"General question to anyone who can help out with the following question regarding a specific marking on a 1963 Dallas, Texas, postmark --- What does the number "12" signify in the postmark pictured here (right after the words "Dallas, Tex.")? Thank you for any help you can provide." -- DVP

I'll bet I get a response within a few hours. We'll see.


==============================


JAMES DiEUGENIO SAID:

If you look in [John] Armstrong's book, on the CD, he actually has the map the post office used in order to divide up the city into geographical postal zones preceding the advent of zip codes. This was not nearly as precise as zip codes, but it did help sort the mail.

The problem is that the nearest post office to JCS [Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall] was not zone 12 but zone 1.

DVP realizes what a serious problem this is for him. Which is why he is squirming around like a fish on sand to find a way out of it.


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

In actuality, the "12" that is seen on Oswald's envelope has never been a "serious problem" at all. It has always been a piece of insignificant chaff that conspiracy-happy people like Jim DiEugenio love to prop up as meaningful in some fashion. But, as we can now see, there is reason to believe that it's not meaningful or significant at all.

The bottom-line is (and always has been):

Lee Harvey Oswald's handwriting is all over every document associated with his 1963 rifle purchase -- including the envelope with the "12" on it, the Klein's order form for the rifle, and the money order that Oswald purchased and filled out in his own writing at the Main Post Office in Dallas on March 12th, 1963.

And we also know that that exact envelope and order form were received by Klein's in Chicago on March 13, 1963. The microfilmed record (CE773) of the envelope and order form, plus the Klein's internal order form (with the date
"Mar-13-63" stamped at the top of it), prove for all time that Lee Oswald ordered, paid for, and was shipped Mannlicher-Carcano rifle number C2766 in
March of 1963.

DiEugenio, however, thinks ALL of that paperwork is fake and phony. All of it. And that notion is just too silly for any reasonable person to even begin to believe.




==============================


JAMES DiEUGENIO SAID:

Cancellation machine number, when in fact there is a map of the city at that time with corresponding postal zone numbers?


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China (or Dallas)?

Just because a map exists that shows postal zone codes for Dallas, that fact means that the "12" on Oswald's envelope HAS to be a postal zone code?

That's daffy.


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

On August 5, 2012, I received this reply on Facebook from a member of the "Post Mark Collectors Club". Conspiracy mongers like Mr. DiEugenio can spit all over this reply and ignore it if he/they wish to do so (and Jim no doubt will), but here it is anyway:

[Facebook Quote On:]

"The answer is less exciting than some had hoped -- it just means that it was cancelled at machine 12 where they cancelled the mail in Dallas. It's not a zone code or anything."

[/Quote Off]

I'm still waiting for a reply from the group known as the "Machine Cancel Society". The description of that particular organization includes the following blurb on their Facebook page:

"We are a philatelic organization of 300+ postal historians studying machine applied postmarks and the companies that invented those machines.

Mission:

Increase the dissemination of information related to Machine Cancels.

Company Overview:

We are a group of stamp collectors, located throughout the world, interested in the postal history of machine applied postmarks. These include American, Universal, International, Doremus, Barry, Barr-Fyke, Time Cummins, Krag, Bickerdyke, Perfection, Leavitt and any other machine applied postmarks."


If anyone in the world should know what the "12" means on CE773, it's probably someone who belongs to the organization described above.





==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

I also posted this Facebook message and additional question, in replying to the person who supplied me the answer shown above from the "Post Mark Collectors Club". The name of the person who sent that message is not revealed on their Facebook message page:

Thank you for your timely response.

Also: Is there any sort of USPS manual that exists online that describes (in official USPS terms) what the numbers indicate on postmarks? If so, could you direct me to such a webpage?

Thank you.
David Von Pein



==============================


SOMEONE FROM THE "POST MARK
COLLECTORS CLUB" SAID:


Hmmm, I don't know about a manual. This information comes from the collective knowledge of obsessive postmark collectors. I will say that discussing postmarks or places with some of us is like playing Scrabble against someone who's memorized the dictionary!

If I get any more info, I'll let you know.



==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

As I predicted, it didn't take long to get some responses on Facebook to my question about the "12" on the postmark. On the evening of August 5, 2012, I got this additional response from a member of the "Machine Cancel Society":

[Facebook Quote On:]

"The 12 is the machine number that canceled the envelope. Larger post offices have multiple machines to cancel their mail, so they number the machines and sometimes the machine number appears in the postmark, and sometimes it appears in the killer bars."

[/Quote Off]

Anybody still think the "12" in the CE773 postmark represents a Dallas postal zone?


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Another thing that suggests that the "12" in the CE773 postmark doesn't represent a postal code within the city of Dallas is demonstrated by the two Dallas, Texas, postmarks from the late 1960s pictured below, which both show a combination of a number and letter after the words "Dallas, Tex." on the postmark.

The 1967 postmark has "3B" following the Dallas notation; while the 1968 postmark example has "1B" stamped on it.

So, unless Dallas had postal zones labeled with a mixture of numbers and letters (which I've never seen before), then those markings seen in these postmarks can't represent postal zones.




==============================


GARY MACK SAID:

Oswald ordered a Carcano, got one, let others see it, had himself photographed with it, used it to try to kill someone but failed, then used it again to kill and injure. That's what history says and no amount of whining and question asking [by conspiracy theorists] changes any aspect of that. There is simply no significant evidence that has changed that history, at least so far.


==============================


IN A RELATED DISCUSSION CONCERNING LEE HARVEY OSWALD'S RIFLE PURCHASE, DAVID JOSEPHS SAID:

An open letter to Gary Mack and DVP:

Are you going to now try and say that the HIDELL ORDER was the only one in which a rifle serial # and VC # were written? That Klein's would not keep track of who bought what, when and where? As they did on the HIDELL ORDER?

Are you claiming that you've NEVER SEEN ANOTHER KLEIN'S order…EVER?


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Why on Earth would the FBI care about other orders in the Klein's files other than the paperwork connected with the purchase of one particular rifle with the serial number C2766 on it (which was purchased by Oswald, of course)?

That's the only gun purchase the FBI was looking for -- the one with C2766 attached to it. And that's because they knew that the JFK murder weapon was a gun with "C2766" on it. Any other Klein's order was useless and immaterial to the FBI's investigation. Isn't this obvious?

You, David Josephs, are merely concentrating on all the wrong things (again), in order to make Oswald blameless.

Of course there were many other order forms in the Klein's files that looked similar to Waldman #7. But none of those other orders had the serial number "C2766" written on them, and therefore none of those many other Klein's orders had any bearing whatsoever on the JFK murder case.

So why in the world would those other forms for non-Oswald gun purchases be propped up in any FBI report, or the Warren Report, or anyplace else (outside a forum like this one, which is filled with kooks like David Josephs and Jim DiEugenio who look for excuses 24/7 to exonerate a guilty double-murderer)?




==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Nothing DiEugenio spouted in this forum post means a darn thing.

He quotes some guy who lived in "Detroit 39", and thus this is supposed to have some connection to the "12" on the Dallas postmark that is seen in CE773?

Jim has taken up residence in Rod Serling's Zone again, I see.

Also notice how Jimbo has totally ignored the two responses I received from members of organizations who would certainly be in a BETTER position than almost anyone on this forum to know what the numbers mean on old postmarks (the "Post Mark Collectors Club" and the "Machine Cancel Society", the latter of which, incredibly, actually does exist).

Let me repeat those two responses for Jimbo to totally ignore once again:

"It just means that it was cancelled at machine 12 where they cancelled the mail in Dallas. It's not a zone code or anything."

~~~~~~~

"The 12 is the machine number that canceled the envelope. Larger post offices have multiple machines to cancel their mail, so they number the machines and sometimes the machine number appears in the postmark, and sometimes it appears in the killer bars."



==============================


FOLLOW-UP E-MAIL CONVERSATIONS:


Subject: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/8/2012 (10:39:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: Bob Swanson


-----------------------------

Hi Bob,

I have a question that you can probably answer regarding a certain number that appears within a Dallas, Texas, postmark from the year 1963:

What does the number "12" mean that is stamped just after the words "Dallas, Tex." in this postmark?

Thank you for any help.

Regards,
David Von Pein


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/9/2012 (10:53:04 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Bob Swanson
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

Those are "zones". The numbered zones helped to break down large cities for easier handling. These zones were replaced by the ZIP code system in the 1960's. ZIP stood for "Zone Improvement Plan".

By the way, some later machine cancellations had the ZIP code in the dial.

Hope this helps.

Bob Swanson


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/9/2012 (11:21:44 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: Bob Swanson


-----------------------------

Thanks for the reply, Bob.

But now I'm not sure what to believe regarding this matter, because recently I also posed that same question about the 1963 postmark to two members of the "Machine Cancel Society" and the "Post Mark Collectors Club", and they each told me that the "12" in the Dallas postmark represented the number on the cancellation machine at the post office. They claimed it was not a "zone" code. Here are the direct quotes from those two people I contacted via Facebook:

"It just means that it was cancelled at machine 12 where they cancelled the mail in Dallas. It's not a zone code or anything."

~~~~~~~

"The 12 is the machine number that canceled the envelope. Larger post offices have multiple machines to cancel their mail, so they number the machines and sometimes the machine number appears in the postmark, and sometimes it appears in the killer bars."


[End Quotes.]

But you say it is a zone code. I'm confused.

If you can provide any further clarification on this issue, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Regards,
David Von Pein


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/9/2012 (11:54:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Bob Swanson
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

I would be the third person in the Machine Cancel Society that you contacted, and am not an expert on every machine type there is. However, I do know that zone numbers appeared in the dials of machine[s] in larger cities in the US, once the zone system was established.

That said, I will not even try to dispute with other members of the Society, given their much greater knowledge on the subject of particular machines.

Machine numbers do appear with certain models. Much more modern machine cancellations most definitely have a machine number incorporated into the postmark, primarily as a way for the postal service to account for the number of impressions made by the machines, machine malfunctions, and the expected machine locations.

You might consider asking your question on the Facebook page for the Machine Cancel Society, and see what kind of discussion is created. Also, there are other postal discussion groups on the internet with other folks who make detailed study of cancels and machines. I will be happy, as I said, to defer to the judgement of other MCS members with more experience than I.

Sorry that you have received conflicting information, but that is part of the fun of postal history. Not everyone has the perfect answer all the time, and we are all learning all the time.

Regards,

Bob Swanson


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/10/2012 (12:26:46 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: Bob Swanson


-----------------------------

Hi again Bob,

Thank you for your quick and detailed response to my inquiry. Your information is very helpful.

Along the same lines, I have another related question concerning Dallas, Texas, postmarks:

In the two Dallas postmarks pictured below from 1967 and 1968 (which was after the five-digit Zip Codes came into existence), there is a number/letter combination shown on each of these postmarks in just about the same place where the "12" is located in the 1963 postmark that I linked to you in my earlier e-mail. Do you know what the "3B" and "1B" marks on these postmarks signify? They surely can't be Dallas postal zones, can they? Could they be machine numbers? ....



Addendum:

This whole issue about the "12" in the Dallas postmark has never really been a big deal to me, personally. But...I've recently become a bit more interested in the meaning of that "12" in the postmark since I received an e-mail from someone who initially informed me that he had been in contact with members of the Post Mark Collectors Club and they told him the same thing that I was told in the two previously-mentioned quotes -- i.e., that the "12" signified a machine number and not a postal zone.

I want to again thank you for your valuable assistance. You have been very helpful, and if you should come across any further information (or perhaps even some kind of "official" confirmation as to the meaning of the "12" in the postmark), please drop me an e-mail to let me know.

Best Regards,
David Von Pein

[Bob Swanson's "Postal History" Website]


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/10/2012 (2:03:07 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Bob Swanson
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

I am more certain that those you describe are machine numbers. I don't have all the history in front of me (and have not really studied it as much as other machines), but a new set of machine types were installed in that time period. Those machines were used for a long time, and I recall seeing information in the "Machine Cancel Forum" about such machine numbers in the dial.

Way back in the early 20th century, machine numbers were put in the killer bars (especially Internationals and Time-Cummins).


==============================


Subject: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (1:11:59 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: A.J. Savakis, Mike Ellingson, and Bill Barlow Jr.


-----------------------------

I have recently been in touch with Bob Swanson of your organization (the "Machine Cancel Society") regarding the significance and meaning of a particular number that appears in a postmark on an envelope that was mailed in Dallas, Texas, in March of 1963. Bob suggested that I contact a few of the study group leaders listed on your website for more information about the postmark. So that's what I am doing now.

The postmark in question is related to a piece of evidence in the investigation of President John F. Kennedy's assassination back in 1963.

In the postmark [shown] below, just after the words "Dallas, Tex.", the number "12" is seen. Can you tell me what that "12" means in this Dallas postmark?:



Thank you for any information you can provide about the meaning of that number.

Regards,
David Von Pein


==============================


Subject: RE: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (10:27:30 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Bill Barlow
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

Dear Mr. Von Pein,

As noted on the MCS web site, my expertise in cancellations is with American Postal Machines Company machines, which went out of service a quarter of a century earlier than 1963.

There is no question that machine numbers and letters have been used in postal markings. There is also no question that zone numbers have been used in postal markings. The number in the dial is probably not something that is part of the machine specification, but rather something that was determined by the postal authorities at the time in Dallas.

If those authorities or their records are not available now, then the only way to answer the question would be to accumulate a large number of postmarks from Dallas from the period, compare the dial numbers with return addresses, and find a pattern.

It may also be possible to get records of the placement of cancelling machines in Dallas at the time. As cancelling machines became larger, more sophisticated and more expensive, the cancellation process was centralized. Such records would certainly have existed either in Washington DC or in Dallas or both. Whether they still exist or are available I cannot say.

In any event, I do not have the resources to provide answers through either of these approaches.

I wish you luck with your further research.

Bill Barlow


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (10:16:26 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: A.J. Savakis
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

Wow!

The purpose of the "12" is to distinguish the mail from any other machine that cancelled mail from Dallas. Each post office uses these methods to track workers assigned to cancelling, to distinguish mail from one station from another, to identify the machine that applied the cancel, and the list goes on.

The round postmark with the month/day/year and Dallas is called a dial by machine cancel collectors. I have seen it referred to as a 'ring' by the US Post Office. Regardless of what you call it, it is an engraved metal die with a postmark engraved on it.

Your 1963 machine cancel is produced by an International machine, probably a Model Flier (but it could be a Model M). But regardless if the machine is a Model Flier or Model M, it would use the same dial and both are electrically operated.

Your particular postmark die has the year engraved along with the city-state information. There are holes in the back of the metal die, for inserting the month, day and time. In your 1963 dial, the year is engraved and so is the number 12. They are not replaceable. Each year the dial would have to be replaced. You could not change the year on this particular model of dial.

There is no central official list of how these machines were assigned, let alone the dial information. As collectors, we seek out this information and enter it into our databank.

I looked in my collection --- and being an Ohio collector --- I have very little by way of Texas covers and found none using an International dial with 12 engraved. I had a friend in California who generously shared his databank, and I can report he too had no 12 engraved International dial for Dallas during that period of time (1940s to 1970s).

I have a number of Cleveland, Ohio, cancels. The dials engraved with a single digit are common. The double digit engraved dials on the other hand are not common. At least for Cleveland, we believe they were assigned to small branches.

Since the addressee used a post office box as a return address, you might want to start by finding the post office or branch that had this set of numbers. It might well be a machine used at this location.

I am sorry I could not be more helpful.

I would appreciate knowing the significance of the post card. It might jog me to search another place for you.

Besides copying this to Bob Swanson, I am copying this to Richard Small who is both a history buff and [has] access to other machine cancel databanks.

Thank you for sharing this.

A J Savakis
Warren OH


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (11:55:30 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: A.J. Savakis


-----------------------------

A.J.,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

To put it very simply, you are saying that the "12" in the postmark dial is, in fact, very likely the number of a cancel machine, and it is not a "postal zone code" for the city of Dallas, Texas.

Is that correct?

Regards,
David Von Pein


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (2:42:20 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: A.J. Savakis
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

Hello David,

It could be a postal zone OR a machine number OR a dial given to a specific postal worker to work a machine OR represents a special tour of processing mail at a special point OR any other representation decided by the Dallas postal authorities. I can't rule it out. I can't say it is true.

I know that Boston, from a book published by the Machine Cancel Society, had 80 stations with an assigned number. If you find a Boston cancel from that era, you can match the number in the cancel with a station. Bart Billings was able to connect the numbers with the numbers in the postmarks for Boston.

I do have an Official Postal Guide for the 1960s, but found one on line from 1922 through Google. It is too big to attach with my email. The Dallas post offices are located at page 558. Dallas has listed a Station 12. But that doesn't prove a connection between the number in the dial and the station.

I understand the importance of establishing or not establishing a connection. I just wish I could give you the answer.

Alex

A J Savakis


==============================


Subject: Re: Question About A 1963 Dallas Postmark
Date: 8/11/2012 (3:13:13 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: David Von Pein
To: A.J. Savakis


-----------------------------

Thanks again, Alex.

I will say this -- Two of your associates at the Machine Cancel Society and the Post Mark Collectors Club seem to be pretty definite about the answer, because I recently received two very unambiguous messages from two (unknown) persons from those organizations (via their Facebook pages) that read as follows concerning the "12" in the Dallas postmark:

"It just means that it was cancelled at machine 12 where they cancelled the mail in Dallas. It's not a zone code or anything."

~~~~~~~

"The 12 is the machine number that canceled the envelope. Larger post offices have multiple machines to cancel their mail, so they number the machines and sometimes the machine number appears in the postmark, and sometimes it appears in the killer bars."



==============================


Subject: Postmarks
Date: 8/13/2012 (10:46:05 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Jean Davison
To: David Von Pein


-----------------------------

Hi David,

You may have these already, but here's a reference to a “machine number 9A” Chicago postmark (first paragraph) in an unrelated case.

And one of Oswald’s envelopes which you probably have.

Regards,
Jean


==============================


DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Thank you, Jean.

The Oswald envelope that Jean Davison linked to (Arnold Johnson Exhibit No. 7) shows the number "2B" in the postmark after the words "Dallas, Tex.". It was postmarked on November 1, 1963, which was the exact same day Oswald rented that particular Dallas P.O. Box (#6225):



So it seems quite clear that machine numbers were, indeed, being stamped on some postmarks in Dallas, Texas, in the calendar year of 1963.

One thing, however, that might go in the direction of the "12" on Oswald's rifle-order envelope (CE773) being a postal zone code after all is the fact that the "12" is facing the same direction as the letters in "Dallas, Tex." (as if the "12" could be a continuation of the "Dallas, Tex." location), whereas in the Dallas postmarks that have a number/letter combination stamped on them (like "3B" and "2B"), those markings are facing the other way, opposite the way that "Dallas, Tex." is engraved on the postmark.

Whether or not that "upside down" fact regarding the number/letter codes is significant at all in determining the meaning of such markings, I haven't the foggiest idea. But I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. [Also see the related link HERE.]

In the unrelated case that Jean pointed out in her August 13, 2012, e-mail, it seems clear that at least one other big city in the USA (Chicago) was stamping machine numbers on some of its postmarks too:




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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Just for good measure, I'll offer up one more 1968 postmark example that I discovered recently, which shows another one of the "number and letter" combination markings -- "4A" -- after the "Dallas, Tx." stamp (click to enlarge):




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DON PEARSON OF THE "MACHINE CANCEL SOCIETY" SAID:

Interesting. I had not read that part of the conspiracy. I think the more interesting part is the cancel. ;-)) A Pitney Bowes, I think.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

But what does the "12" in the postmark mean, Don? That's the key question. Any thoughts?


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A MEMBER OF THE "MACHINE CANCEL SOCIETY" SAID:

The 12 just means that this piece of mail was canceled on machine #12 in the main post office -- or main handling office for sorting mail, if that is somewhere other than the main post office building.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

On October 15, 2012, while attempting to acquire still more information about the "12" that appears in the postmark on Oswald's envelope, I sought the opinion of a man with whom I recently became "friends" at Facebook, Jimmy Orr, who not only has a great interest in the JFK assassination, but who is also, coincidentally, a supervisor for the United States Postal Service. Here is my conversation with Mr. Orr:


Hi Jimmy,

I just noticed that you are a Manager/Supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service, which is an occupation that comes in mighty handy when discussing the topic at the link provided in this post. And since you're also interested in the JFK assassination, you would be the perfect person to add your USPS expertise to this topic. I've had several people from the "Post Mark Collectors Club" and the "Machine Cancel Society" chime in with their views, but there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer (yet). Here's the discussion.

David Von Pein
October 15, 2012


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JIMMY ORR SAID:

At first glance, David . . . the postmark seems to be of a Model G flyer, of which we still use one in Greenville [South Carolina] to this day. An electric machine, it probably dates to the 1930's, but is still useful to cancel heavy, non-automation pieces.

There would have been absolutely NO local zone classification for cancellations in 1963, as there are absolutely none to date on this equipment. The number 12, most assuredly, would have indicated a machine number at the processing plant in Dallas. Nothing more, nothing less. I have been with USPS for 29 years now. Nothing on a postmark other than city, state, and zip code has EVER indicated an origination.

[The] MPO [Main Post Office] in Dallas would have typically had a large workroom area with multiple flyer machines in 1963. It is also quite probable that they had as many as twelve mechanized Mark II cancellation machines. The dies would be nearly identical and would merely indicate the machine number. I believe, firmly, that no conclusion can be drawn about the origin of the letter within the Dallas community by observing the postmark.

Also David, the time of 10:30 [which is also stamped on Commission Exhibit 773] would indicate the 'clearance' time for delivery. Anything before 10:30 would constitute next day service. That which was received later would not. There would have been ABSOLUTELY no changing of the dies to reflect what time the letter was received . . . with the letter volume of 1963 as compared to today's internet generation . . . the notion is ludicrous . . . cancellations in Dallas at the time were probably upwards of 300,000 letters per day.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Thank you very much, Jimmy. The information you have provided is very helpful indeed. And doubly so, considering it comes from a 29-year veteran of the United States Postal Service. I very much appreciate your valuable assistance on this matter.


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DAVID VON PEIN ADDED:

Hi again Jimmy [Orr],

I'd like to get a clarification if I could about this statement you made earlier. You said:

"There would have been absolutely NO local zone classification for cancellations in 1963. .... I have been with USPS for 29 years now. Nothing on a postmark other than city, state, and zip code has EVER indicated an origination."

I'm curious to know how you know for a fact that "there would have been absolutely NO local zone classification for cancellations in 1963"? Since you started working for the USPS in 1983, which was years after Zip Codes came into existence, it's obvious that you would have never seen any postmark with a "Postal Zone" code attached to it in these last 29 years.

I'll also point you to the following quote from a Mr. A.J. Savakis of the "Machine Cancel Society":

"It [the "12" on Oswald's envelope] could be a postal zone OR a machine number OR a dial given to a specific postal worker to work a machine OR represents a special tour of processing mail at a special point OR any other representation decided by the Dallas postal authorities. I can't rule it out."

So, Mr. Savakis seems to think that the "12" in the 1963 Dallas postmark could be a postal zone after all. I'm just trying to pin down a definitive answer on this matter, if that's possible to do. But, as you can see, there are some disagreements--even among people who belong to organizations specializing in all things relating to postmarks.

Any further observations or information you can provide would be, as always, appreciated.

Thanks.

DVP


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JIMMY ORR SAID:

David,

True that I have managed a USPS cancellation unit for more years now than I care to remember and it is true that my remarks were made in good faith.

In the very beginning I was accustomed to the exact equipment that would have been used in Dallas in 1963, and I had folks in my unit who were 'veterans' of that postal era. None of the above precludes the possibility that my reasoning might be erroneous. I firmly believe that I am right, but I will do a little investigating of my own now and get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely, J.


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JIMMY ORR ADDED:

Just a further note:

My hometown of Greenville [South Carolina] has zip codes that were established when zip first came into existence in the 1960's. The codes denote sub-stations in Greenville. Station A, Station B, Parkplace, Federal Station, Berea Branch, etc.

When the carriers assigned to each of these stations return in the afternoon, everything is consolidated and trucked to the Sectional Center Facility, or SCF, as it was known for most of my years and those previous to my tenure. In this facility (such as in downtown Dallas) the whole was 'cancelled' in one large workfloor space and trayed for manual or machine distribution. It is extremely unlikely to me that this particular mailpiece could have ever been traced back to a certain municipal or surburban area of Dallas once it was dropped in the mailbox.

By contrast, as much as things have changed, I think they still tend to stay the same; somewhat. I have four automated advanced facer canceller machines running to date in Greenville, and by the postal indicia stamp killer bars, I cannot tell you where in Greenville the piece was mailed from, but I can tell you which one of my machines cancelled the stamp.

It is my professional opinion that the number 12 designates either a mechanized flyer or perhaps even the more advanced mechanical canceller, the Mark II. There is nothing logical to me that would assign the number to a point of origination or to a particular postal operator. It just doesn't make any sense to me. However, as I said, we are onto something here, and I will investigate it further, for my own peace of mind.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Thanks very much, Jimmy.


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JIMMY ORR SAID:

David, to cut to the chase . . . it IS my professional opinion that the letter was cancelled at the Dallas Main Post Office. The number 12 merely indicates a Model G flyer (much like a Singer sewing machine) or a Mark II unit at the Main Office.

I cannot tell you where it was dropped into a mail slot, could have been downtown or might have been in Oak Cliff. Delivery zones are for delivery, there is no such designation for collections. Few living souls actually realize what 100,000 letters look like, much less how the tooth-fairy sorts them all out. Dallas City was by 1963 shipping everything to the SCF. It would not have been practical, nor plausable to run a cancellation unit in every nook and cranny of the city and suburbs.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

There is no doubt (per Dallas Postal Inspector Harry D. Holmes' Warren Commission testimony) that Oswald purchased the $21.45 money order for his mail-order rifle at the Main Post Office in Dallas. That's evidently an ironclad fact. Therefore, it stands to reason that he dropped it in the mail while he was right there inside the post office on March 12, 1963 (which is the date on the money order and on the postmark).

The two main "Post Office"-related arguments that conspiracy theorists have made over the years relating to this particular envelope and mail-order transaction are:

1.) If the "12" on the envelope represents postal zone #12 for the city of Dallas, which apparently was located miles from the Main Post Office, then why did Oswald walk miles out of his way to mail the letter when he could have mailed it right there at the Main Post Office? But this argument is pretty much debunked by these words written by Jimmy Orr: "I cannot tell you where it was dropped into a mail slot, could have been downtown or might have been in Oak Cliff. Delivery zones are for delivery, there is no such designation for collections."

2.) How did Oswald's letter get all the way to Chicago in just 24 hours? It was stamped with a "10:30 AM" postmark on 3/12/63, and Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago received it and processed the order for the mail-order rifle the very
next day (per Waldman Exhibit No. 7, which plainly shows a stamped date of
"Mar. 13, '63" at the top of that internal Klein's invoice).

You, Jimmy, being in the postal industry for so many years, can probably also provide some good information concerning that second argument made by the conspiracy theorists.

I have no doubt whatsoever in my own mind that Oswald's letter did, in fact, reach Chicago from Dallas in just one day--departing Dallas on the morning of March 12, and arriving in Klein's hands in Chicago sometime on March 13. Every scrap of evidence indicates it DID happen that way. We must also consider the fact that Oswald mailed the letter via Air Mail too. Wouldn't that have sped things up quite a bit (circa 1963)?

Jimmy, in your experience, in general, how long does it take an air mail letter to go from Dallas, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois (provided the letter was mailed no later than 10:30 AM local Dallas time)?


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JIMMY ORR SAID:

I regret that I disappoint you, David. But when you try to ascertain who mailed their boss a letter bomb or a sack of shit via USPS you might understand the frustration.

I worked in local law enforcement for eight years prior to my postal career. It is no small wonder to me that the mystery of the 'anthrax' letters has never been solved, nor the ricin incident at my own facility in Greenville and at the White House.

Terms such as Cancellation, Processing, Origin, and Delivery are as different as night and day in the postal world. It is a complex network.

I certainly believe that Oswald bought the money order at the Dallas Terminal Annex Facility. I firmly believe that he mailed the envelope there and that the same was cancelled there perhaps by an antiquated flyer given the mystic number 12.

Conspiracy's argument that a delivery zone designation constitutes a point of origin makes no goddamned sense to me. The Zip Code was implemented in 1963 as a delivery device. While in modern perspective it is used in conjunction with indicia to indicate origin, I have as yet to find such to be the case in a historical perspective. In short, they either printed the goddamned town or station name on the cancellation die or not . . . . Hence, what does Dallas, Tex mean to you ? :)


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Hi again Jimmy O.,

When did I ever give you the impression that I am "disappointed" in you regarding this matter, Jimmy? Quite the contrary. I greatly appreciate the time you've taken to explain a lot of this USPS stuff. Each post you've made concerning this topic has been quite valuable.

In point of fact, though, all of this talk about the "12" on Oswald's envelope is relatively unimportant in the larger scheme of things relating to the JFK assassination, because the physical evidence proves, beyond all reasonable doubt, that Lee Harvey Oswald positively did mail that money order and rifle coupon to Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago on 3/12/63. And the evidence further proves, beyond all doubt, that Klein's received that exact envelope in the mail by March 13, 1963.

But the loony conspiracy theorists aren't satisfied at all with PHYSICAL evidence all over the place that proves, for all time, that Oswald ordered, paid for, and was shipped Carcano rifle #C2766. The conspiracists want to pretend that ALL of the documents associated with that rifle purchase are phony and fraudulent. That's how bad it is in the JFK "research community". Pretty soon, I imagine they'll have Jack Ruby actually ordering the gun instead of "Hidell"/Oswald, and they'll have Ruby planting it on the sixth floor too.

I'll ask this question again, since you might have missed it the first time:

Jimmy Orr, in your experience, in general, how long does it take an air mail letter to go from Dallas, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois (provided the letter was mailed no later than 10:30 AM local Dallas time)?

Thanks.


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JIMMY ORR SAID:

David,

Cancelled in Dallas by 10:30 AM and flown to Chicago that afternoon. Arrival for mail processing at a Chicago General Mail Facility during the early morning hours of the 13th and on the street for delivery to Klein's that same day. Makes perfect sense considering the volumes handled in 1963.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Thank you again, Jimmy. That's exactly what I hoped to hear from you regarding the next-day delivery.


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DAVID VON PEIN LATER ADDED:

Sometimes sources of information can come from the funniest places. Such as
this audio clip (also embedded below) from an episode of Groucho Marx's quiz show "You Bet Your Life". Groucho is interviewing a contestant who works for a helicopter Air Mail service in Los Angeles. The contestant is talking about how it's possible to mail a letter in California "tonight" and have that letter arrive in New York "tomorrow morning".

And keep in mind that the date of this Groucho Marx show is January 9, 1952, which is 11 years before Lee Harvey Oswald had his mail travel the 802 miles from Dallas to Chicago, which is many fewer miles than the California-to-New York journey discussed during the Groucho excerpt. And it's also SIX YEARS before jet aircraft became a commonplace mode of transportation in the United States.

So the next-day mail service being discussed in this 1952 Groucho clip was certainly being accomplished via slower, propeller-driven aircraft and helicopters (when compared to the type of faster air mail service that was very likely being utilized when Oswald sent his order form to Klein's Sporting Goods in the year 1963).

Funny, isn't it? The places you can find useful information. :-)





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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

A related topic for Jimmy Orr once again (regarding the application forms filled out by Lee Harvey Oswald for Dallas Post Office Box No. 2915):

Any thoughts, Jimmy O., about the controversy discussed in the article linked below? ....

LEE HARVEY OSWALD'S
POST OFFICE BOX APPLICATIONS



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JIMMY ORR SAID:

The subject of whether Hidell was on the [post office box] application or not is irrelevant. Post Office Window Clerks do not reference applications when delivering parcels across the counter. Not even by today's security standards.

If Oswald was required to sign for the delivery, he simply produced a DD-217 bearing the name ALEK JAMES HIDELL. We are talking about a moment in time when there was no such thing as a picture ID, and a driver's license was little more than an engraved metal dog tag. My first law enforcement credentials in South Carolina during the mid 1970's did not bear a photograph.

The handwriting analysis performed is sufficient alone to indicate him as to the box rental and the order of the rifle. Also, the interpretation of Postal Regulation varies from office to office. There is generally no prescribed enforcement, not then, and not now.


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GREG PARKER SAID:

None of this proves Oswald purchased any weapons.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Right, Greg. That fact was proven in 1963-1964, via the handwriting of Oswald's on the various documents.

I thought you would have realized that by this time.


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GREG PARKER SAID:

Nevertheless, I for one am happy to be rid of all false beliefs in this fiasco of an investigation.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

It's only a "fiasco" for the conspiracy theorists (and mainly because of the conspiracy theorists). It was really a very good investigation, with the authorities acquiring all the major facts within hours of Oswald's arrest, proving Oswald committed two murders before anybody's head hit the pillow on the night of November 22nd.

The investigators didn't need to investigate utter silliness like the "12" on Oswald's envelope. That's a game played only by conspiracy-happy clowns (the ones who most certainly have an "ax to grind"). And look how far it got them. Noplace. Just as it had to be, because other facts tell us that Oswald did order, pay for, and receive Rifle C2766, with or without that "12" on that envelope.


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GREG PARKER SAID:

What I realize is that there is no hard evidence that the rifle was ever in the Paine garage.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Dead wrong. Marina saw the rifle inside the blanket while it was being stored in Ruth Paine's garage. Is she supposedly lying here? Or do you want to believe that the rifle Marina saw in the garage was some OTHER rifle besides Carcano #C2766?:

J. LEE RANKIN. Did you ever check to see whether the rifle was in the blanket?

MARINA OSWALD. I never checked to see that. There was only once that I was interested in finding out what was in that blanket, and I saw that it was a rifle.

Mr. RANKIN. When was that?

Mrs. OSWALD. About a week after I came from New Orleans.

Mr. RANKIN. And then you found that the rifle was in the blanket, did you?

Mrs. OSWALD. Yes, I saw the wooden part of it, the wooden stock.


[1 H 52-53]


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GREG PARKER SAID:

The rifle in the Backyard Photos is not the same rifle.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

How many more centuries will this myth persist?

Why on Earth do you doubt the following determinations made by the HSCA's Photographic Panel?:

"The panel detects no evidence of fakery in any of the backyard picture materials." [6 HSCA 146]

"A comparison of identifying marks that exist on the rifle as shown in photographs today with marks shown on the rifle in photographs taken in 1963 indicates both that the rifle in the Archives is the same weapon that Oswald is shown holding in the backyard picture and the same weapon, found by Dallas police, that appears in various postassassination photographs." [6 HSCA 66]

More lies from the evil Government, Greg? Come on. What sensible person could possibly believe that the House Select Committee, fourteen years after the Warren Commission disbanded, would have had any reason whatsoever to want tell one lie after another about the murder of President Kennedy (such as the above conclusions concerning Oswald's rifle)?

And it's particularly silly to believe that the HSCA was involved in some kind of whitewash or cover-up, since that Committee DID conclude that a conspiracy probably did exist in JFK's murder.


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GREG PARKER SAID:

[There is no hard evidence] that this rifle [Carcano No. C2766] was ever fired on Nov 22.


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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

You must be joking about this one, Greg. And the reason you must be joking is because CE567 and CE569 exist in the evidence pile connected to JFK's assassination.

Do you really think the authorities fired a bullet through Oswald's Carcano rifle, making sure the bullet was banged up pretty badly (but not badly enough to prohibit a positive ballistics match to Oswald's rifle), and then they pretended that they found two large fragments from that manufactured missile in the front seat of the Presidential limousine?

You surely realize how utterly ridiculous the above argument sounds.

Sure, a conspiracy theorist can ramble on and on about "planted" or "fraudulent" evidence. But is it truly reasonable to believe in the kind of mass manufacturing of "Oswald Did It" evidence in this case (covering TWO separate murders [including Tippit's] and covering multiple law enforcement agencies--Dallas Police, FBI, and Secret Service)? Or do you think just ONE of those agencies managed to manufacture all of the stuff that screams "Oswald's Guilty" in this particular case?


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MUCH LATER, IN NOVEMBER 2015,
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:


I'll also add this....

Even if that "12" seen in the postmark in CE773 is a postal zone code, I don't see why that couldn't simply mean that after Oswald dropped the letter into a mail slot right there at the Main Post Office in Dallas on 3/12/63 (which I can only assume he must have done since he bought the money order right there in the same building that same morning), the post office stamped the letter SOMEWHERE ELSE, in some OTHER postal zone (#12).

The mail DOES move around a lot. It's constantly moving from one location to another for sorting, etc.

So why does the "12" (even if it was a postal zone designation) HAVE to mean Oswald walked many blocks (or miles?) out of his way to mail his letter to Klein's?

And even if the post office branch where Oswald bought the money order was the "Main" branch (which I think it was), would that HAVE to mean that every letter mailed there HAD to get STAMPED right there in that building too? I'm not sure it does mean any such thing.

Perhaps the postal facility where Oswald's letter was sorted and postmarked was located in some other part of Dallas, and was sent there (to "Zone 12", if the "12" does, indeed, represent a "postal zone", which it might represent; I can't say it doesn't with 100% certainty), instead of being sorted and postmarked right there at the Main Post Office.

It's more food for thought anyway.


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