“With me he spoke very freely and he complained that with other people he couldn’t … they wouldn’t talk about political subjects. He would talk about nothing else.”
In interviews and in testimony before the Warren Commission, Paine described Oswald as a lonely man who seemed to like very few people. But in their conversations Oswald never revealed hostility toward Kennedy.
“I expressed my appreciation of President Kennedy and he didn’t ever argue with me on that point,” Paine said in an interview.
In a 2013 essay he titled, “My Experience with Lee Harvey Oswald,” Paine recalled that Oswald once declared emphatically that “change only comes through violence.”
“I’d also heard him say that President Kennedy was the best president he had in his lifetime. Looking back on what happened, these two statements seem impossibly contradictory … how could a man want to kill a president whom he thought was the best president he’d had in his lifetime?”
Though Michael Paine remained no more than an acquaintance to the Oswalds, Ruth took Marina Oswald under her wing and tried to be helpful to her struggling family.
Ruth, who became a key witness to the Warren Commission, has said she was hoping to bring a degree of stability to the Oswalds when, in the fall of 1963, she told Lee Oswald about a job opening she’d heard of — at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.
Oswald was hired. He rented a room near the job. In late September, Marina accepted an invitation by Ruth to live with her and her children in Irving, about a 20-minute drive from Dallas.
Ruth Paine allowed the Oswalds to store most of their belongings in her garage. For weeks while working at the book depository, Lee Oswald, who had no car or drivers license, hitched a ride to Ruth’s house after work on Fridays, then spent the weekend there with his family.
It surprised Ruth Paine when Oswald appeared at her home unannounced on a Thursday — Nov. 21, 1963. Later that night, she walked into the garage and found the light was on, causing her to wonder who’d been in there.
When she arose the next morning, Lee Oswald was already up and gone. He’d left a coffee cup in the kitchen sink.
At 12:30 that afternoon, gunshots killed JFK as he sat beside his wife, Jacqueline, in the back of a Lincoln Continental convertible just after the presidential motorcade passed by the book depository.
It would soon dawn on the Paines that Lee Harvey Oswald had hidden his scoped, bolt-action rifle in Ruth’s garage.
In the 9,400-word “My Experience with Lee Harvey Oswald,” Michael Paine wrote that he believed the assassin acted alone and decided only shortly before Nov. 22, 1963, to do something that would make himself infamous.
“The nation would remember him as the one who had shot the president of the strongest capitalist nation of the world,” Paine wrote. “He wanted to be important — not inconsequential. He would be in the history books now, and that is what he wanted.”
Both of the Paines testified before the Warren Commission in 1964, Ruth more extensively because of her nearly yearlong friendship with Marina Oswald and her many encounters with Marina’s controlling husband.