The testimony of Mary E. Bledsoe, 9:30 a.m., April 2, 1964

By Steve Hammer

The testimony of Mary E. Bledsoe was taken at 9:30 a.m., on April 2, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Messrs. Joseph A. Ball, David W. Belin, and Albert E. Jenner, Jr., assistant counsel of the President's Commission. Mrs. Mary E. Bledsoe was accompanied by her attorney, Miss Melody June Douthit.

My name is Mary E. Bledsoe. My residence is 621 North Marsalis in Dallas, Texas. I received a letter from the counsel for the Commission asking me to be here today.
I was born in the country. Town about 12 miles from Corsicanna, Tex. My father was a doctor down there, and I was a second child; I have a brother older than I am. And then I moved to Ennis, and then come to Dallas and lived here until I was a little girl, 4 or 5 years old, then I went back down to Ennis and my father practiced medicine in Ennis, Tex., and then about---I married then when I was 17, and then I moved around quite a little while I was married, but-and then my husband and I, we had trouble, and I divorced him in-oh, about in 1925, and I raised my two children by myself, and I have been in the place where I live 24 years, and over on the back, I was--I have been here 43 years in the neighborhood, and I raised both of my boys, and they are grown.
Well, I had rented rooms, but I had some money my father had given me. I had some money from him.
I  rent rooms. I have just started in September again. My house is  all on one floor. And I have four bedrooms, but I rent three.
In September of 1963 I  rented a room to Lee Oswald.
The first time I ever saw him or heard of him, I was in the backyard doing a lot of yardwork. I come around the house and he was standing on the porch, and he said, "Do you have a room for rent?"
I had a "for rent" sign out. I said, "Yes" and he said, "May I see it?"
I was trying to size him up to get in that room, and--in the house, and I said, "Are you married?"
And he said, "Yes; I am married. I just want this for a short time. My wife lives at Irving."
It was hot weather. He was not a man to talk, you know, what I got out of him, I had to get it out of him, because I wanted to see what kind of a person he was, and it was hard to get, you know, to judge him in such a short time.
He gave me seven $1 bills, and then he come over to my room and I---he wrote it down, and it is a good thing I had him write it, because I am kind of nervous.
And he said, "Well, I just want the room for a week or two, because I am going to get a job and then I will have my wife here."
And so, that give me a lead, something to talk about, and I said, "Well, what kind of work do you do?”
"Oh, I do electronics," he said, and I said, "Well, there is some good jobs because you are young, and you can get a good job a young man like you."
Then something about him being in the Marines, and I said, "Well, that is wonderful. My son was in the Navy." And talking about him, you know, just getting to know him, and--but, "here is a picture of my wife, and picture of the girl, and the baby." And I said, "Oh, she has got a baby, hasn't she?" And he said, "Yes."
He said he had been in the Marines and I thought that was a pretty good recommendation, and I said, "Well, you won't have any trouble at all getting any job."
And then we got inside the house and he had a thing where this---pictures of his wife and baby, and he said he was in the Marine Corps, and I tried to be nice to him, and so, he paid me $7, and he said his name was Oswald, and he put it on this calendar.
I just had started using it. The first one I got was in September.
And he said his name was Lee Oswald was what his name was, and I said, "Well, I can't think of that name Oswald, I will call you Lee."
He paid me $7 in money. For one room. For one room for one week. He moved into the room right then.
He had his things on his hand and had his bag, but after he paid my $7 he went out---I don't know, I think this YMCA, but I am not supposed to know where, and brought back another bag, and then he said, "Well, where is the grocery store?"
Well, I said, "It is down that way," but I didn't want him to use the kitchen, so, he said, "I'm going to get some milk," and so, I didn't like that much, but I didn't say anything about it because I wanted to get along with him.
He had a bag ---seemed like it was a kind of a duffelbag. The kind the men in the service put their clothes in.
Yes; and had some on his arm, these coathangers, you know. And had a clock, wrapped up.
I didn't pay any attention. He rented the room, and I didn't pay any attention. I guess he carried it by a handle, but I don't know.
He come and just knocked on the door. I was in the backyard.
He  always took a bus. One time he stopped over there across the street and get the bus.
Of course, I had no idea he was the kind of man he was.
I got him something to eat.
He said he was going to put something in the refrigerator, and I said--I didn't have anything to say, and I hemmed-and hawed, I said, "Well, no; I don't have a very big refrigerator."
Well, he said, "I won't use it after this time." He was very, very congenial.
He bought some peanut butter and some sardines, and some bananas and put it all in his room, except the milk, and he ate there, ate in his room.
I didn't like that either.
He was there 5 days, just 5 days.
Monday and Tuesday he stayed home and went to bed, and stayed. I didn't pay any attention to him after he went to the grocery store.
Tuesday he went out at 9:30 and come home at 2:30. He was looking for a job, and called on the phone, wanted different ones, and I got the book, and papers, and tried to look for him a job, because he was a nice looking boy, and wanted a job.
He went out at 9---9:30 in the morning and came back at 2:30. Let's see. 1:30. I have my nap then, and it kind of interfered, but I didn't say anything.
I had a stroke, you see.
On Wednesday he left about 9 o'clock, and went off dressed. Had a white shirt and white tie and white---white trousers, and looked very nice. Went off Monday about 2 o'clock. Wednesday. Then he got back at 1:30.
He didn’t go out again that day. But then he talked to somebody on the phone, and talked in a foreign language.
I was in my room, and the telephone is over there, and I didn't like that, somebody talking in a foreign language and, so I told my girl friend, I said, "I don't like anybody talking in a foreign language."
He didn’t go out again that day. Went to bed that night and stayed there. And I didn't fix his room either, that is why I didn't see his luggage. I didn't go in his room at all because they take care of their own rooms.
Thursday, he went out at 10 o'clock or 10:30, and I was out in the yard, and he come out and I said, "Oh, I thought you had gone."
"Oh, no," he said, he didn't go, but he came home a little bit early, and after I said he got into my nap, he come home at 2 o'clock, or 2:30, you see, and didn't leave until 10.
l told him that he interfered with my nap. It was after I had that call. I didn't like that and he never said a word, and then I interviewed him when he first came in and thought he was all right, and he never spoke---I had one boy on the back. He never saw him and he would run to the bathroom and go to the icebox and get some ice, and didn't like that. Went too much to the icebox.
He interfered with my nap. I didn't like it, and the next day he fussed with somebody on the phone, I don't know whether it was his wife or who it was.
That day he stayed in all day, and it was Friday he stayed in his room all day. Didn't eat. Ate what he had in his room. Stayed in his room all day long.
Then Saturday, he started out and had his bag.
I thought he was going to move and I said, "You are going to move?"
And he said, "No; I am just going for the weekend."
Well, I said, "Well, I don't know."
But he said, "And I want my room cleaned and clean sheets put on the bed." And I said, "Well, I will after you move because you are going to move."
He said, "Why?"
I says, "Because I am not going to rent to you any more."
He said, "Give me back my money." Now, $2.
I didn't like him.
I didn't like his attitude. He was just kind of like this, you know, just big shot, you know, and I didn't have anything to say to him, and--but, I didn't like him. There was just something about him I didn't like or want him-- just wasn't the kind of person I wanted. Just didn't want him around me.
He said, "Well, give me my money back and I will move now." And I said, "I don't have it."
I said, "Good luck." You know, I thought to myself, "That's good riddance," and I looked in his room and it was all right, and nothing was disturbed. No; it was dirty. Somehow I saw a map. I believe he left that map, a map of Dallas where he could get around to get some places, jobs.
I throwed it in the garbage.I just threw it away and cleaned up the room. Just threw it away.
I  saw Oswald again.
I went down to the parade. Oh, when was the parade? The 22d of---the next---22d of February---when was the parade? The 22d of November the President came to Dallas.
And I first got off at Neiman's and I---the parade didn't come on, and I kept walking on up, and walked in front of Titche's over on that side there, and I saw the parade there. He passed--I saw the President, oh, I was happy I got to see him. And--so then I got on across and went over to the Athletic Club, and caught the bus.
I don't remember whether it was the Marsalis or the Romana.
I got on the bus, and while it was awfully crowded there. And, after we got past Akard, at Murphy---I figured it out. Let's see. I don't know for sure. Oswald got on. He looks like a maniac. His sleeve was out here. His shirt was undone.
Was a hole in it, hole, and he was dirty, and I didn't look at him. I didn't want to know 1 even seen him, and I just looked off, and then about that time the motorman said the President had been shot, and I sit--when I go to town I sit this way on the bus. The motorman is right there, and I sit right there so that I can get off.
He passed me as he boarded the bus. Just in front of me. Just like this. Just a matter of a foot or two.
He sat about halfway back down on the same side I was on.
I don't know. I didn't look at him. That is---I was just---he looked so bad in his face, and his face was so distorted.
He had a brown shirt. Hole in his sleeve right here. All the buttons torn off.
The motorman said "Well, the President has been shot," and I say--so, and the woman over--we all got to talking about four of us sitting around talking, and Oswald was sitting back there, and one of them said, "Hope they don't shoot us," and I said, "I don't believe that--it is--I don't believe it. Somebody just said that.
And it was too crowded, you see, and Oswald had got off. After three or four blocks.
I didn’t look at him as he got off the bus. I didn't want to know him.
There was a lady sitting right across, she wanted to go to the train station, and she was worried about trying to get off, you know, trying to get there, and then we were hearing her, and I said, "Well, why don't you walk over there. It's just a little ways." Because the crowd was so bad we still didn't know the President had been killed, and finally she got off, but I think it was---it was before---I mean after Oswald did. She caught the bus before she got to the train station.
It was awful in the city, and then they had roped off that around where the President was killed, shot, and we were the first car that come around there, and then all of us were talking about the man, and we were looking up to see where he was shot and looking---and then they had one man and taking him already got him in jail, and we got----"Well, I am glad they found him."
I was  looking up at where the boy was shot. The Texas Book Depository. We were right four blocks from there, you see.
When I got home, first thing I did I went next door and told them the President had been shot, and he said, "Why, he has got killed." Well, I turned on the radio--television--and we heard ambulances and going around and there was a little boy came in that room in the back and he turned it on, and we listened and hear about the President, only one I was interested in, so, he went on back to work and they kept talking about this boy Oswald and had on a brown shirt, and all of a sudden, well, I declare, I believe that this was this boy, and his name was Oswald---that is---give me his right name, you know, and so, about an hour my son came home, and I told him and he immediately called the police and told them, because we wanted to do all we could, and so, I went down the next night. He took me down, and I made a statement to them, what kind of---Secret Service man or something down there.
The man down at the police station, he had a picture of him with a gun, and said, "Do you recognize him?"
And I said, "Yes; it is Oswald." That is the one that I remember him.
What time is it? I'm tired.

Mr. Ball. 
It is 5 minutes until 11. Mrs. Bledsoe, this deposition will be written up by the reporter, and you can take it and look it over if you wish and change it in any way and sign it, or if you wish to waive the signature we will have it written up and send it to the Commission as it is.
Do you have any preference that way? Do you want her to waive the signature?
Miss Douthit. I think she can waive it. I don't see any reason for her to sign it.
Mr. Ball. Then can we, on the advice of your attorney, will you waive the signature?
Mrs. Bledsoe.
Mr. Ball.
Fine. You will know that you won't be bothered any more then.
Thank you very much, Mrs. Bledsoe.
Mr. Jenner.
We do want you to know that we appreciate your coming in.

(c)2012 by Steve Hammer