[Photo: Michael Ralph Paine speaking with Life Magazine on the morning after the JFK Assassination. His tie was loose and he needed a shave because he had been up all night.]
We’ve surveyed the Warren Commission (hereafter WC) testimony of Everett Glover and this has impelled us to review the WC testimony of Michael Paine. We have evidence that Michael Paine heard much about Lee Harvey Oswald (hereafter LHO) before April 1962, from both Everett Glover and from Ruth Paine. Michael testified that he first met LHO personally on April 2, 1963. Everett Glover remembered, however, that Michael had come to his February party where LHO was on display for young Dallas engineers. This prods us to dig deeper into the WC testimony of Michael Paine.
Ruth Paine was kind enough to speak with me over the telephone during December 2015 and January 2016, to give me some extra insight into her WC testimony. By contrast, I tried for several years to establish contact with Michael Paine before he died, and I always failed. Perhaps we can still learn something new about Michael Paine’s WC testimony, however, if we analyze it more carefully.
The WC opened by asking Michael about any relationships with the Russian exile colony in Dallas and established that Michael had virtually no contact with them. The WC presented Michael with a long list of Russian exiles in Dallas that had testified for the WC, asking Michael one-by-one if he was acquainted with them. Michael knew none.
This was normal because the Russian colony in Dallas was established primarily for those who spoke Russian as a first language and who worshipped at the Greek Orthodox Church. They needed that familiar social interaction in America. Michael was a Unitarian who didn’t speak a word of Russian, so he had no business there.
There was one indirect connection. Michael’s good friend, engineer Everett Glover, was close with college professor George De Mohrenschildt (hereafter DM), an exceptional Russian who spoke several languages with ease. Michael had known Everett Glover since 1959 – at sports, at Church, in singing groups, and socially. Yet in his WC testimony, Michael minimized his relationship with Glover, for example:
Mr. LIEBELER: He doesn’t work with Bell Helicopter, does he?
Mr. PAINE: No; he works for an oil company, I think.
Mr. LIEBELER: He is a geologist?
Mr. PAINE: He may be something of that sort…I have seen him only occasionally when he would go to the madrigals and once, I went skating with him. Occasionally we have met also at the theater center. Occasionally also I have stopped by – there is a – he showed up once or twice at a single adult party dance of the Unitarian Church.
Michael hesitated multiple times in this reply. Perhaps memories went through his mind, but noticing where they led, he shut them down. Michael had known Glover for nearly four years; they were both engineers; it is unlikely that Michael would be ignorant about whether Glover was an oil geologist. Yet oil geology was the very link between Glover and George DM. This was reason enough to suppress these memories.
Glover moved to Dallas in 1955 and had seen the DM’s about town since 1956, and Glover was Michael’s good friend, so, the WC asked Michael directly about George DM.
Mr. LIEBELER: George and Jeanne De Mohrenschildt?
Mr. PAINE: It was – the name there is familiar. I don’t believe I have met them. They were friends of Everett Glover and then Everett Glover moved to their house later, after they moved to Haiti. Everett told me that.
You “don’t believe” you met him? Either you did or you didn’t, Michael. Michael knew that Glover and George DM were friends, and that Glover had moved into George’s DM’s house when he moved to Haiti. That’s not a passing acquaintance – that’s personal information. So, the WC dug deeper.
Mr. LIEBELER: Did you ever meet De Mohrenschildt?
Mr. PAINE: Everett gave some parties to which we went, it is possible that I have – but for practical purposes, I had not met them – I know nothing about them.
Why did Michael hesitate? Michael says that he and Ruth went to “some parties” that Glover threw – so “it is possible” that he met George and Jeanne DM there. But HALT! For “practical purposes” he hadn’t met them. HALT! Michael insists, “I know nothing about them.” These hesitations pique our curiosity.
Michael may have known more about George DM than he was willing to tell – not necessarily from a personal connection, but from his good friend Glover. Michael had heard from Glover in early February 1963, for example, that Lee and Marina Oswald would be at Glover’s party – and that LHO was an interesting ex-Marine who had defected to Russia in 1959 and then returned with a Russian bride in June 1962.
Since Glover had already met Marina Oswald through the DM’s way back in September 1962, and since Glover was also good friends with Michael Paine during these same months, it seems likely that Glover would have mentioned the novelty of such colorful Dallas folks as the Oswalds to his good friend Michael. If so, then evidently Michael did not wish to testify about these conversations with the WC attorneys.
OCTOBER 1962 – JANUARY 1963
What was the issue with George DM that would cause Michael Paine to waver when the WC asked about him? Clearly – the proximity of George DM to General Walker and to LHO would have been a painful memory. In any case, the WC asked about a few other people known to have associated with Everett Glover:
Mr. LIEBELER: Richard Pierce?
Mr. PAINE: Yes; he lived with Everett Glover. I know him less than Everett. When we visited Everett’s house for a sing, I would meet him, and he also would come to these single adult parties.
Mr. LIEBELER: Volkmar Schmidt?
Mr. PAINE: Like Pierce – living with Everett and occasionally showing up at the stag parties.
Mr. LIEBELER: Florence McDonald?
Mr. PAINE: I know Elizabeth MacDonald. She would come to these madrigal groups and I think she was a friend of Everett or Pierce. I think these guys brought the ladies into circulation.
Michael admitted that he knew the names of Glover’s roommates; that they went to singles parties together; their girlfriends’ names, and the madrigal choir. Michael suggested that Glover’s world was vague to him – yet he knew Glover’s social circle quite well. Furthermore, when Michael first separated from Ruth in October 1962, Michael literally moved in with Glover, Richard, and Volkmar!
Michael Paine on the WC witness stand back-pedaled quite hard on the topic of his good friend for many years, Everett Glover, and his friends for more than a year, namely, Richard Pierce, Volkmar Schmidt, and their girlfriends.
Ruth Paine, a highly educated woman from the East Coast, wanted to learn to speak Russian in order to serve her country during the Cold War. She sought private tutoring in the Russian language from Professor Ilya Mamantov in Dallas. Mamantov rejected Ruth as a student because her Russian conversational skills were so poor. Mamantov directed Ruth to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Dorothy Gravitas, who was no professor, a mediocre tutor, and quite expensive. (Mamantov and Gravitas were both WC witnesses.) Ruth sought a better tutor, but this was Dallas/Fort Worth. Nothing doing.
That was the status of Michael and Ruth Paine as of January 1963. They could never guess what was about to happen next.
FEBRUARY – APRIL 1963
As Michael testified, he and Ruth would attend various parties thrown by Everett Glover. He gave us no details, but we know from WC testimony that one of Glover’s parties was scheduled for February 22, 1963 at his large home in Dallas. He told all those invited that they would meet a special guest. Glover had met LHO at a party that George and Jeanne DM threw at their house in mid-February for their close friends. Glover was so impressed with this novel display of the Oswald’s that he scheduled another party at his own house. Glover would put the Oswald’s on display again, this time for Dallas’ young engineer community.
Glover gave LHO and Marina a ride to his party so that Dallas’ young engineers could gawk at LHO and ask him questions about Russia. Since Marina spoke no English, she retired to a bedroom with her baby June and Jeanne DM, to speak in Russian. Ruth Paine was bored by LHO, so she sought out Marina Oswald. She wasn’t disappointed – this was when the Paine’s and the Oswald’s began a long, deep relationship.
Glover recalled that Michael Paine was at that party. Yet Michael denied it to the WC. Let’s read:
Mr. LIEBELER: Did your wife meet the Oswalds at the same time?
Mr. PAINE: No; she met them at a party that was held at Everett Glover’s house and we were invited to…go meet this couple who were represented as him having been an American who had defected to Russia and came back with a Russian wife. I think I was sick or something and for some reason I couldn’t go so I didn’t meet him at that time.
You “think” you were “sick or something,” Michael? Or perhaps the memories were sickening because they connected the Paine family with the Oswald family! Our suspicions arise when we read Michael admitting that he and Ruth went to parties at Glover’s home – but he withheld all details.
At Glover’s home on February 22, 1963, Ruth heard Marina’s perfect, aristocratic Russian dialect and observed her kind and polite manner. Further, Marina had a college degree – a rarity among housewives in Dallas/Fort Worth/Irving. High class Ruth recognized Marina as high class. Ruth asked Marina for her phone number. Marina said she didn’t have a phone, but she gave Ruth her new address, 214 W. Neely Street, Dallas. She had just moved, Marina explained, so she asked Ruth to wait at least a week before writing. Ruth agreed.
(Incidentally, this was the same week the George DM asked Everett Glover to lend the DM record player to Marina, which Glover did.)
Exactly one week later, Ruth wrote to Marina, and Marina responded. The Dallas Russian exiles had abandoned Marina because she returned to LHO in December 1962 after the Russian exile’s exhausting efforts to shelter her from LHO. Ruth offered to drive to Dallas to visit Marina, and Marina quickly agreed. They became fast friends.
Marina presumed that Ruth knew people in the Russian exile colony in Dallas. Actually, Ruth spoke Russian so poorly that she knew only old Mrs. Gravitas and her son-in-law, professor Mamantov, who had rejected her as a student. Ruth didn’t correct Marina, however, because it seemed irrelevant. She was thrilled to practice her Russian conversational skills with this native Russian speaker. All through March 1963, Ruth and Marina built up their friendship. Ruth would drive to Dallas for a visit, or would pick up Marina and baby June, drive them to Irving, have lunch and a visit, and then drive them back to Dallas.
Soon Marina became more comfortable with Ruth and confided that she was pregnant. This touched Ruth. Marina added that LHO had been threatening to send her back to Russia while he stayed in the US. This enraged Ruth, who now sprang into action. Her friend Marina was a victim and needed help. Ruth planned to help Marina stay in the US, break away from LHO, get a job, and eventually become a US citizen.
Yet it was a half-baked plan because Ruth hadn’t yet told Marina about it.
Here is where Michael again entered the picture. Ruth told Michael that LHO wanted to separate from Marina, so she asked Michael if he would mind if Marina came to live with Ruth. Michael Paine was basically conservative, so he replied that if (and only if) LHO approved of this arrangement, then he would offer his charity, otherwise, no. Also, Michael wanted to meet LHO in a more intimate, family-to-family scenario. Ruth agreed with all this.
As April 1963 approached, Ruth invited Marina and LHO to her home as dinner guests. This was to permit Michael to get a closer look at LHO. The Oswald’s accepted and they scheduled the date with Ruth: April 2, 1963. The WC asked Michael about it.
Mr. LIEBELER: Did you ever make the acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. PAINE: Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER: Would you tell us briefly the circumstances under which that occurred?
Mr. PAINE: My wife invited Lee and his wife over to supper one evening in April 1963.
This is a crucial moment in US history, but Michael tells the WC about it in dribs and drabs only. For example, when the Dallas Police asked Michael about the infamous Backyard Photograph of LHO holding his rifle and two Marxist newspapers, Michael told them it was taken at the Neely Street address. Asked how he knew that fact, he replied that he had been there. Here’s his testimony:
Mr. LIEBELER: What did you identify the place as being?
Mr. PAINE: The Neely Street address. He didn’t drive a car, so to have them over for dinner I had to go over and pick them up.
Michael drove to Neely Street to give the Oswald’s a ride. Nor did he remain in his car honking his horn. He climbed the steps to their door, knocked, and was invited inside to wait. Marina was still packing baby things. The WC attorney asked if he knew about LHO’s dismissal from Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall on April 1, 1963. No, Michael heard nothing of that – but in answering that question Michael gave us another clue.
Mr. LIEBELER: Did he ever indicate that he thought the FBI was responsible for his losing a job?
Mr. PAINE: No; he never told me of losing a job. …And as Marina for a half-hour was packing for Junie…he and I sat on the sofa and talked.
That first long conversation between Michael Paine and LHO lasted for half an hour. Much can be shared in a half-hour. Nor did LHO interrupt their conversation by helping Marina in any way. This half-hour discussion was far more important than Michael told the WC. We know this because thirty years later Michael would tell CBS News anchor Dan Rather much more about it. But in 1964, Michael did his best to minimize this conversation. Let’s review:
Mr. LIEBELER: What did he say?
Mr. PAINE: He mentioned how he didn’t have people at work who talked about this subject of politics and economics. He bitterly noted how his employer made more money than he did and the things that his employer had that he did not have. It was the only time I saw personal animosity – I thought to myself, “that animosity must show through to his employer!”
Here we have only a few seconds of conversation. But let’s analyze it for further clues. LHO complained to Michael that his workmates at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall didn’t converse about political economy. Michael didn’t tell the WC that political economy was one of his own fields of great interest. (Michael’s wealthy father in Los Angeles was a follower of Trotsky and had used his own home to host parties for various Communist parties in Los Angeles. When Michael was in high school, he attended a number of these parties at his estranged father’s house, and he got quite an education about the dangers of Marxism.) So, LHO and Michael Paine learned that they had politics in common.
We get a closer impression of Michael’s conversation or conversations with LHO from this Life Magazine interview of Michael on the morning after the JFK Assassination. It was recorded and is now available on YouTube at this URL:
Michael recognized that LHO was poorly educated and self-taught, while Michael had studied political economy at home, in high-school, and in college. He was qualified to criticize Oswald and to understand every nuance of Oswald’s rants. At this point, however, the WC changed the topic to Marina Oswald:
Mr. LIEBELER: Did your wife tell you anything about…Marina Oswald…?
Mr. PAINE: …I had seen that Marina Oswald – when I met them in their apartment, Oswald had spoken very loudly and harshly to Marina. And I thought to myself, isn’t it amazing to see a little fellow who strongly insists on wearing the pants? …
Here Michael demeans LHO, yet in 1993 Michael would tell Dan Rather that during this same half-hour, LHO showed him one of his (soon to be) famous Backyard Photographs of him holding his rifle, wearing his pistol, and proffering two Marxist newspapers. Evidently, then, the conversation between Michael Paine and LHO had developed into something deeper.
This is a blockbuster revelation because it shows that on April 2, 1963, Michael Paine saw evidence that LHO possessed two firearms. Only eight days later (as Marina would testify) LHO tried to assassinate General Walker in Dallas. Michael didn’t go to the Dallas Police with any suspicions as he probably should have. He claimed he had no such suspicions.
It is just as possible, however, that Michael was part of that Dallas Liberal group including Everett Glover, George DM, and Volkmar Schmidt that had pushed LHO to despise General Walker. If so, then Michael would have been an accessory after the fact in the plot to murder General Walker on April 10, 1963 – and Michael would not wish to expose this publicly.
The issue resolved itself one week after LHO shot at (and missed) General Walker. LHO decided to move to New Orleans. Marina was happy to see him get out of Dallas because she worried about the Dallas Police beating down their door over the Walker scandal. In just one more week, LHO actually took a bus to New Orleans, leaving Marina and baby June behind with Ruth Paine.
Ruth was also happy to see LHO go, because now Marina and baby June could move in with Ruth and her two small children, Lynn and Chris. Would LHO abandon his family? If so, Ruth would be happy to smooth Marina’s way. If LHO settled down and called for his family, then Ruth would personally drive Marina and baby June to New Orleans. She wanted to keep Marina Oswald as a friend.
This suggests to us that while Michael Paine had personal reasons to suspect LHO in the attempted murder of General Walker, it is likely that he withheld even telling Ruth at that time. We may surmise this since Ruth’s behavior was to draw the Oswald's closer to her during this period, instead of pushing them farther away.
As it happened, in two further weeks LHO found an apartment and a job in New Orleans and called for Marina and baby June to come there. Marina was thrilled. “Papa nas lubet!” which means, ”Daddy loves us!” So, Ruth delivered the two ladies to New Orleans, and the Paine family had nothing to do with the Oswald family for about six months. LHO had a job, and he could now take care of Marina. Marina was happy to have her family intact.
Ruth now prepared for her annual two-month vacation back East to visit her mother, her other relatives, and her friends, starting in July 1963.
Mr. LIEBELER: Do you recall that your wife went on a trip to the eastern part of the United States in the fall of 1963, summer-fall of 1963?
Mr. PAINE: It was mostly the summer. She went about the end of July and she spent a couple of months [to visit her family].
Mr. LIEBELER: Did Ruth tell you anything about her relationship with Marina during this period?
Mr. PAINE: Yes, it was all perfectly reasonable…Marina thought Lee would force her to return to the USSR. She didn’t want to go. She struck me as an apolitical person and yet honest, just, and conscientious. So, I prepared to help her stay in the USA till she could get on her feet. Also, Ruth also wanted to learn Russian, this was cheaper than paying for Russian tutors. Ruth was happier – she stayed at home more when Marina was there to keep her company. Ruth didn’t want to stand in the way of Marina and Lee if they wanted to remain together – but we would have helped Marina break away if that’s what she wanted.
During her vacation back East, Ruth’s family and friends wanted to hear all about her separation from Michael, and any possible reconciliation. But all Ruth wanted to talk about was Marina Oswald.
Anyway, let’s fast forward to September 1963, when Marina Oswald was now eight months pregnant, and LHO was again out of a job. Let’s hear from Michael on this point:
Mr. LIEBELER: Do you know approximately when she got back to Irving?
Mr. PAINE: Well, I think she returned late in September…
Mr. LIEBELER: Tell us briefly the circumstances of the second major period with Oswald?
Mr. PAINE: Well, Ruth had invited Marina to come and have her baby early in the summer when she knew that Marina was pregnant, to come have her baby, if she wished, at our house, where she would have the help of another woman who could help her with the hospital affairs. Ruth stopped by from her vacation on the East Coast, stopped on her way back to Irving, stopped in New Orleans to see them. She found that Lee was out of work again, and she picked up Marina and brought her back to Dallas which was the end of September and Marina and her child arrived here.
Michael summarized the situation very well indeed. This exhibits his usual ability to articulate clearly and succinctly anything that he wanted to articulate, and it underscores our suspicions when he became tongue-tied.
We have arrived at September 1963, when Ruth reached out to invite Marina Oswald to come and live with her again in Irving, Texas, because Marina was now eight months pregnant and LHO was again out of work. In our next blog post, we’ll continue to summarize the WC testimony of Michael Paine.