Mrs. Paine's Garage: and the Murder of John F. Kennedy
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Nearly forty years have passed since Ruth Hyde Paine, a Quaker housewife in suburban Dallas, offered shelter and assistance to a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. For nine months in 1963, Mrs. Paine was so deeply involved in the Oswalds' lives that she eventually became one of the Warren Com-
mission's most important witnesses.
Mrs. Paine's Garage is the tragic story of a well-intentioned woman who found Oswald the job that put him six floors above Dealey Plaza--into which, on November 22, he fired a rifle he'd kept hidden inside Mrs. Paine's house. But this is also a tale of survival and resiliency: the story of a devout, open-hearted woman who weathered a whirlwind of investigation, suspicion, and betrayal, and who refused to allow her enmeshment in the calamity of that November to crush her own life.
Thomas Mallon gives us a disturbing account of generosity and secrets, of suppressed memories and tragic might-have-beens, of coincidences more eerie than conspiracy theory. His book is unlike any other work that has been published on the murder of President Kennedy.
to get very far with it. As topics go, Michael would later concede the peculiarity of this one, “unless you believe in extrasensory perception,” the way his stepfather Arthur Young did. The TV camera lost sight of the President’s motorcade after its departure from Love Field. There would be nothing much to see until Kennedy’s 12:30 speech at the Trade Mart, and so, during the gap, Ruth went into the kitchen to prepare lunch. Once again, she left the television on. When the bulletin came, her
calibrated reactions. If the seizure of Ruth’s 78-rpm folk-dance records made little sense, her complaint—that she needed them for a class next weekend—might have seemed, had there been even a moment to reflect, wildly moot. When an officer ordered that she and Marina get ready to go with the police, Ruth remembers preparing “to walk around the house to where the babysitters were,” to hire them for the rest of the afternoon. “I started out the door, and one of the officers started with me, and I
some of those errands, have Michael to watch the house. If she was about to lose Marina—first to Life magazine and then the authorities—Ruth was regaining her husband. Michael stood ready to move back in, for the sake of solidarity during such a dangerous time, and for an immediate, practical reason: his landlady wanted him out of the Villa Fontaine apartments in Grand Prairie. Knowing his connection to the assassin, the other residents, he remembers, “were outraged that I should continue to live
principal witness (Ruth Paine’s testimony occupies more pages than anyone else’s) would also be the most precise and morally interesting person to come before it. Ruth prepared for her appearance before the Commission by translating, from Russian back into English, the drafts of her letters to Marina. Then, in mid-March of ’64, she traveled to Washington with Michael and her mother. Checked into a “very nice elderly hotel” with a view of the Washington Monument, she stayed up late the night
(derived from Tamarin, the name for a guide that came to her in a dream) and believes in a goddess movement that’s a part of Wicca. “I sometimes call it Nouveau Witch,” says Ruth, “but not in her hearing!” She describes her daughter’s belief system as an odd complement to her own: It attempts to recognize “the power of women, and the hidden, the occult—which I consider different from mysticism . . . she’s interested in the realities that are unseen.” With a certain relief, she notes that Marin