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.
The rent at Mimi’s was $8 a week. He lived there almost six weeks, registered as O.H. Lee. Near the corner of Beckley and Zang, he would take a bus to his new job at the Texas School Book Depository and head home to the rooming house at night.
Hugh Slough, 64, who now lives in Duncanville, remembers his fellow tenant as “definitely a loner, a very small man, very nervous. He had very small movements. When he moved, I’d call him a fidgety-type person, very nervous and very high-strung. We didn’t see much of him.”
Mr. Slough remembers Oswald as popping out of his small room to watch the evening news, then “popping back in.” He remembers a male caller whom Oswald spoke to in a foreign language, which Mr. Slough later described to the FBI.