Ruth and Michael Paine's Mystery Vehicle
by Carol Hewett, Esq.
For years before his apparent suicide, Dallas County Sheriff's deputy Roger Craig claimed that he saw Oswald escape the Texas School Book Depository in a light-colored Rambler station wgaon. According to Craig, when Oswald was questioned about his vehicle, his response was that the station wagon belonged to Ruth Paine and that she had nothing to do with the assassination. This comment by Oswald was never corroborated; indeed, Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz would later testify before the Warren Commission that the exchange never took place. Rather than focus on the validity of Craig's claims, let's look at the vhicles that the Paines did own. It seems that the Paines had in fact acquired a third vehicle for the benefit of the Oswalds but it was not a Rambler station wagon.
Ruth and Michael Paine separated in September of 1962, the same month and year that the Oswalds first separated. Michael moved into an apartment house in Grand Prairie while Ruth stayed in the family home in Irving. During that time and continuing for at least several years after the assassination, each had a vehicle registered in his or her own name. Michael had a 1959 French made Citroen and Ruth had her 1955 light green Chevy station wagon.
In Sptember 1963 Marina Oswald would return to Irving with Ruth Paine while Lee took up residency in a Dallas rooming house following his trip to Mexico City. Apparently at Ruth and Marina's urging, Lee very soon began to take driving lessons from Ruth so as to increase his employment prospects. It is about this time that the Paines acquired a third vehicle: a 1955 blue and white Oldsmobile sedan.
On some undetermined date in October 1963, Michael Paine took Ruth and one or both of the Oswalds to look at this car which was being offered for sale by one of Michael's co-workers named George Stephenson. Although interviewed by the FBI, Stephenson was not questioned about this visit by the Oswald(s); he was questioned only about the date of the sale, price, and method of payment. Nor were Michael and Ruth questioned about why this vehicle was displayed to the Oswalds.
The Oswalds second daughter Rachel was born on Sunday, October 20th. A few days later, on Thursday, October 24, 1963, Michael Paine purchased Stephenson's car for $200.00. He did this with two separate $100.00 checks, both payable to Stephenson. The checks were drawn on Michael's separate account at Southwest Bank & Trust Co. On October 25 Michael Paine wrote a $200.00 check to himself from his separate account at the Irving Bank & Trust Co. and deposited the check int othe Southwest account---presumably to cover the two Stephenson checks he had written the previous day. Neither account was a savings account---the Paines had a separate savings account in their joint names. Stephenson told the FBI that he thought the method of payment was strange and asked Michael why he was doing that. Michael's reply was that he hoped to save the sales tax due on vehicles costing $200.00 or more. If this was Paine's true motive, then he was as miserly as Oswald was reported to be---despite the fact that he had trust funds worth almost $1 million dollars by today's values. Perhaps he had another motive.
One to two weeks after Marina gave birth to Rachel a friend of Michael's by the name of Raymond Krystinik helped Michael Paine deliver the car to Ruth's residence in Irving. This was accomplished by following Paine out to Irving as paine drove the Olsdmobile, then returning Paine to his Citroen which had been left at Bell Helicopter Laboratory in Arlington. This was the first opportunity that Mr. Krystinik had to meet the Russian woman living with Ruth. Krystinik was never asked questions as to the purpose of a third vehicle in the Paine marriage which he helped deliver. In early November, two weeks before the assassination, a man who introduced himself as O.H. Lee visited Ed Brand, an insurance agent who maintained offices across the street from Oswald's rooming house on North Beckley Avenue. Mr. Lee indicated that he expected to have his own car in the very near future and he was interested in obtaining insurance for this car. The timing of this visit to Brand's office follows on the heels of delivering the Oldsmobile to Ruth's house in Irving.
At about the same time, a couple greatly resembling the Oswalds in all respects visited the Furniture Mart in Irving looking over used furniture and seeking directions to a gun shop. The two witnesses describing this incident could not agree on the make or model of the car but one thing was clear: it was a mid-50s blue and white sedan. Unbeknownst to Roger Craig, the Dallas police made an effort to identify automobiles owned by the Paines. A report of December 1963 indicates that the blue and white Olsdmobile parked at Ruth's house was devoid of tags. In January 1965, the police observed a tag on the Olsdmobile but were unable to track down a registration. Later, in May 1965, Oldsmobile had a new tag and was duly registered to the Paines. In 1967, a fourth visit was made to the Paine residence in connection with their cars. This time the Olds was gone and in its place was a 1959 green and white Plymouth wagon.
Michael Paine, in response to a Warren Commission question as to the purpose of purchasing the vehicle, replied that he did so to demonstrate to the Oswalds that the purchase of a car was feasible for them and within their means. Ruth Paine's answer to the same question differed. She replied that it was a spare vehicle in case her husband's vehicle should break down. (Never mind that it was taken to her house and not his apartment.) During the Garrison investigation, Ruth Paine furnished a third explanation for the acquisition of the Oldsmobile. This time she told the grand jury that it was purchased for spare parts. It would appearthen that the vehicle was purchased for the benefit of the Oswalds. So why would Ruth and Michael Paine not own up to this? Because to do so would suggest a much closer relationship between the Paines and the Oswalds---one that the Paines apparently did not want to admit to after the assassination.