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The Ruth Paine House Museum in Irving tells a little-known side story to the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. At first it might seem rather macabre to visit the house where the accused Lee Harvey Oswald spent his last night of freedom. But within these walls was also a compassionate woman caught in a horrible web.
Ruth and Michael Paine purchased the house off Story Road for $6,000 soon after it was built. By 1962, the couple were estranged but friendly. Ruth lived in the house with her two children. Ruth met Marina Oswald at a party in April 1963, and became friends with the Russian immigrant and her unemployed husband. For the next eight months the pregnant Mrs. Oswald and her daughter shared Ruth's two-bedroom house. Lee found a job at the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas. He usually stayed in a boarding house in Oak Cliff, but visited Marina on Nov. 21 to pick up "curtain rods." The next day a knock on Ruth's front door changed her life forever. She had offered a friend Quaker hospitality and was repaid with the international spotlight.
We know a lot about Ruth from news stories and her testimony. The house is remarkably re-created. The curators have also reconstructed the lives of the people, even using holograms to tell their stories in their own words.
"If only I had known there was a gun," Ruth testified. "Maybe I could have done something to stop him."
The Ruth Paine House Museum is owned by the City of Irving. Tours are weekdays at 10am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm starting from the visitors' center at 801 W. Irving Blvd.
Presented by The Austin Chronicle, November 17, 2017