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Ruth Paine's former Texas house now a museum

  • Shirley Smith, capital improvement program coordinator for the city of Irving, Texas, left, and building inspector Lawrence Crow talk in the garage at the Ruth Paine House Museum, in Irving. In the background is a projection of an actor portraying Lee Harvey Oswald using a technique called Pepper's Ghost. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry)

Who could fault Ruth Paine for the ambivalence she felt upon returning to Texas for the opening of a museum within the little house in a Dallas suburb that she shared in 1963 with the family of Lee Harvey Oswald?

Santa Rosa resident Paine, 81, admits to having found herself “a little bit numb about the whole idea.”

After all, the retired teacher and school psychologist has known all this time that 50 years ago Thursday, Oswald once again accepted her hospitality at that house. And the following morning he used the rifle he'd hidden in her garage to kill President John F. Kennedy.

Ruth Paine House Museum

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Invited by the city of Irving, Texas, to come back to her former home on West 5th Street and see the museum that it has become, Paine steeled herself earlier this month, then planned the trip.

“I'm glad I went,” she said Tuesday. “I was more impressed than I expected to be.”

She thinks Irving succeeded in making the new Ruth Paine House Museum a “teaching tool” that recreates and preserves that portion of the lives of Lee and Marina Oswald in that house in the months before the assassination.

For portions of 1963, Paine shared the home with her friend and fellow mom, Marina Oswald. Lee Oswald came and went.

At this time a half century ago, he was staying during the workweek in a boardinghouse in Dallas and working the job that Paine helped him to secure at the city's School Book Depository. Paine and Oswald's wife didn't expect to see him until after work on Friday, Nov. 22, but he appeared at the Irving home the afternoon of the 21st.

Paine and the Warren Commission would conclude that he had learned JFK's motorcade would pass by the book depository on the 22nd, so he returned to Paine's house the afternoon prior to retrieve the rifle he had rolled up in a blanket in the garage. The commission ruled that Oswald fired the fatal shots from a book-depository window.

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