She remembers Katie Gage, a live-in maid who was “so wonderful,” she seemed more like a second grandma than hired help.
She remembers the dapper gentleman who brought his daughter to the house on weekends, giving Ms. Hall a treasured playmate. It was the time of her life, one shared happily with two excitable younger brothers.
Tenants would come and go, some staying days or weeks, others 15 to 20 years. Some were so lonely that the occupants of the rooming house were the only family they knew. Mimi was endlessly caring for such souls, prompting her granddaughter to feel that “Mimi treated strangers more like family ... than she treated family.”
Most of the renters were kind, sweet even, including one who came to the house in 1963. One of the nicest and easily the most innocuous, he, of all people, left a lasting imprint on history.
His name? Lee Harvey Oswald.
There aren’t many people left to tell the story of the red-roofed house on North Beckley Avenue. Ms. Hall’s grandmother is deceased; her brothers died as young men.
Her mother, Fay Puckett, 82, Gladys Johnson’s daughter, is legally blind, nearly deaf and recently suffered a broken hip.
But for Ms. Hall, now 53, her perspective on the house where family history and national history became forever entwined is clearer these days than it ever has been.
She was 11 in 1963. She, her brothers and her mom lived six blocks from the rooming house, near the corner of Lancaster and Colorado. Ms. Puckett was divorced, so the children spent much of their time with Mimi, who served as their after-school day-care provider.
On Oct. 14, 1963, her grandmother rented a room to a young former Marine who’d returned to the U.S. in 1962 after defecting to the Soviet Union. His Russian wife was living in Irving with a friend, while he searched for work in Dallas.