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.
generally, whether she expected what we would now call “closure” from the Warren Report, Ruth answers, “I expected more than was achieved”—which is putting it mildly. For those disinclined to believe the assassination could have been committed by a “lone nut,” the Report was a giant false bridge from crime to conclusion that they refused to cross. But it was a wonderful span nonetheless, available for disassembly into a million girders and rivets, all of which could be jerry-rigged into a new
conclusions, in spite of the evidence.” Ruth speaks of her today with evident emotion, as one more curious casualty of the Kennedy assassination: “You have to understand, I think her life came apart. You know any of the further history? I believe her daughter was struck as a pedestrian and killed, and I think she saw it as part of a plot . . . and then her marriage fell apart. I think the husband was tired of her having a single notion. So I think she stopped . . . Anyway, I thought it was very
made up in holiness what it lacked in oral comprehension. I know that Ruth, sitting next to me, her eyes closed, is hardly at rest. In 1953, she wrote an essay that described the active peacefulness she experienced at Meeting: There I discover and extend a contact with that which I call God. There, occasionally, spontaneous poetry flows through me, without beginning or end; the beauty of life sings in my heart. Sometimes I will see a new direction to my life, or discover an answer to a
problem that has been troubling me. In Meeting I reach out from within me to the people around, come to know and understand them, to love them. All these things happen elsewhere, but they happen more in Meeting. The chief anxiety of the less-involved visitor is that his stomach will growl amidst others’ silent meditation. Only a few people rise to break the stillness and share their thoughts. One young man talks charmingly about how bad he was at a recent video game that entailed a lot of
Forbes legacy was similarly daunting. On Naushon Island, “around the walls of the dining room . . . are forebears, engravings. And my grandfather’s generation—Uncle Cam was one of the brothers—were remarkable people, and I totally gave up on trying to equal them . . . I didn’t feel myself a direct example of them. But they set the picture for me—what one does, or should look for, what one should strive for in life. Chip off the old block in a certain sense, even though I don’t feel I register on