Before the wrecking crew tore it down, I got a chance to see 602-604 Elsbeth, Dallas, Texas. This run down apartment north of the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff was the former residence to Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife, Marina. The couple lived here for six months between November 1962 to March 1963.
News reports state that Lee beat Marina and that she tried to commit suicide in the bathroom of this very apartment. Marina conceived her second daughter while living at Elsbeth.
Honestly, I did not think much about the apartment. There are a number of other significant Oswald places around the Dallas metro area.
There is Oswald’s last official residence (a boarding house) at 1026 N. Beckley Ave., Dallas.
There is the last place Oswald slept (Paine House) on November 21, 1963, at 2515 Fifth Street, Irving.
And also there is the Neely house where Oswald was photographed with the rifle and revolver at 214 W. Neely, Dallas.
But after listening to the news reports over and over again, I just had to visit the Elsbeth apartment. So, my show daughter (win, place, show) and I ventured out on another photo safari.
The Elsbeth apartment is a large horseshoe shaped complex. There are about ten to twelve units. The Oswalds lived in apartment No. 2, which was on the ground floor near the road.
We parked across the street in an empty lot. No sooner than I started taking photographs, we met the owner, Jane Bryant. Ms. Bryant purchased the complex in 2011 with the idea of fixing it up. Unfortunately, The City of Dallas said it had to come down.
Bryant immediately invited us into the fenced-off grounds. Some of the demolition had begun. There were piles of bricks and some boards covering the windows had been removed.
I expected a mess, but what I got was Gordon Keith. Mr. Keith is a television and radio host, columnist, and avid Kennedy assassination enthusiast.
I had recently met Keith at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. I was there for the “Oswald Has Been Shot!” panel discussion with some of the media who were in the Dallas Police Headquarters basement on Sunday, November 24, 1963. The highlight of the panel was Dallas Police Det. James Leavelle, who was handcuffed to Oswald when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Keith asked me to take a photograph of Det. Leavelle and himself.
From what I could tell, Keith was in Oswald’s apartment removing either the toilet or the tub. After reading his column, I see it was the tub. This would make for an interesting collectible.
After a little visiting with Bryant and Keith, I got down to business. I took my photographs and recorded the GPS coordinates.
I was about to leave when Bryant told me the bricks were being auctioned on eBay. She said the current price is $11 each. I looked in my wallet and then offered $10. Bryant said no, the going price was $11 each. So, I paid $11 for a brick. I got one from the pile of bricks nearest apartment No. 2.
Bryant walked us out of the fenced area and watched us leave. I couldn’t help thinking she didn’t want us taking any more bricks.
Update – May 24, 2013
I got a call from Jane Bryant yesterday. Apparently she was none to pleased with this post. Ms. Bryant demanded that I removed her from my website. She stated her graciousness in allowing me onto the property, which I agreed. She denies selling me a brick for $11 instead of the $10 I offered, which is untrue. And she did watch me leave the property, also true. Ms. Bryant even criticized my site for having the comments section turned off, which is standard after a few weeks on all WordPress site. After not being able to get a word in the conversation, I simply thanked her for calling and hung up.
A word to the wise: you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If Ms. Bryant asked kindly, I would have been happy to comply. Food for thought. Cheers.