A peek inside Lee Harvey Oswald's room

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by CBS News

khou.com

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

DALLAS -- When President John F. Kennedy was winding up that public appearance in Dallas on November 22, 1963 . . . 1026 North Beckley was an obscure street address, and the man who lived there a complete unknown. That was all about to change in an event that haunts us still. Here's Tracy Smith:

The widespread skepticism about the Warren Commission Report would come later, but on the day it was released in September 1964, its conclusion was clear: Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone.

What's more, according to the Commission, the first place Lee Harvey Oswald went after shooting the President of the United States was his tiny rented room.

As Dan Rather reported in 1964, Oswald lived in a Dallas boarding house under an assumed name.

On November 22, 1963, Oswald reportedly showed up at the house at 1026 North Beckley, wordlessly grabbed a few things from his room, ran out the front door . . . and into history.

Only hours after the shooting, a photographer snapped a photo of the home's owner, Gladys Johnson, standing next to Oswald's bed.

The world has changed a lot since that moment -- but this place seems to be frozen in time.

Gladys Johnson's granddaughter, Patricia Hall, was 11 years old in 1963. But her memories of Lee Harvey Oswald are clear.

"He was just another guy," she told Smith. "My grandmother appreciated the fact that he kept his room neat and clean, that he didn't monopolize the bathroom, 'cause when you've got five roomers sharing one bath, you don't need somebody to monopolize.

"He was just a regular guy."

There was, it seemed, nothing about Oswald that would draw anyone's attention . . . that is, until that day in November.

Hall told Smith that when her grandmother found out what her boarder has allegedly done, "She was scared, humiliated. And, in fact, she even destroyed the sign-in sheets showing that he had paid his rent. She just wanted to erase him."

Johnson also started receiving death threats. Once the hate mail started, Hall says her grandmother became more defensive, and stopped answering the door for TV news reporters.

In fact, the only filming inside the house after 1963 was when director Oliver Stone asked to shoot a scene there for his 1991 movie, "JFK."

Hall also says her grandmother was a bit rankled by the way police searched her home. "They dumped everything in, took up the sheets and just grabbed 'em and walked out," Hall said.

In 1964 Johnson described for CBS News how FBI agents search the premises.

"Did the officers take his possessions?" a reporter asked.

"Yes, everything," she replied.

"What did they say when they left?"

"That they wouldn't be returning."

A police inventory of Oswald's personal effects taken from the house includes a note about a Mrs. Johnson claiming one of the pillowcases.

"My grandmother harbored the fact that she never got her sheets back until the day she died," Hall told Smith. "Seriously. Not because they were historic, but because those were fairly new sheets and she could have used those on other beds."

The sheets may be gone, but Hall says that, to the best of her knowledge, the bed is Oswald's. What's more, many of the furnishings and lighting fixtures were here in November 1963.

Click here to read more and watch the full report on KHOU.com.

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