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50 Years Ago Today: JACK RUBY: Lead up to the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (A synopsis from Case Closed)
Jack Ruby got about four hours of sleep after getting to bed at dawn. When he finally got up, he watched a memorial service for JFK on TV, and told his roommate, George Senator, that it was "a tremendous emotional feeling for me" that JFK had fought for the U.S. in the Navy, only to "come back to his own country to be shot in the back."
While tens of thousands paid tribute to JFK in Washington, Ruby closed his nightclub for the weekend to pay personal respect. (He thought it disgraceful that his nightclub competitors, the Weinsteins, stayed open). Ruby spent much of morning talking to friends about the "terrible" assassination, as well as sharing his belief that some of the anti-Kennedy sentiment in Dallas was to "stir up anti-Jewish feelings."
In the afternoon, he visited Dealey Plaza and spent some time looking at the memorial of flowers and candles that had spontaneously spread along Elm Street. Wes Wise, a KRLF newsman, ran into Ruby and "noticed tears in his eyes." Ruby left when he saw Dallas policeman, James Chaney, because he did not want Chaney to see him "break down."
From Dealey Plaza, Ruby returned to the third floor of police headquarters, where homicide detectives and the District Attorney were still questioning Oswald. Ruby handed out sandwiches to the press, passed around his Carousel cards, and told reporters that he'd buy them all drinks when they visited his club.
He went to the Carousel that evening. A few workers were there cleaning up. They recalled he was in a "sorrowful mood." Even a visit to his sister Eva did not later pick up his spirits. Instead, she may have inadvertently added to his dour mood, talking about the horror of the assassination. He offered to drive her to Officer J.D. Tippet’s funeral planned for Monday.
That night, one of his strippers, Karen Bennett Carlin (stage name, Little Lynn), called to say she desperately needed some money. He was angry she did not have "respect for the President" and he told her to call him the next day.
He telephoned some friends that night. They later said he "was so low," "very upset," "vehement about those poor children (John and Caroline)." He told one, "I've got to do something about it."
Near midnight, he went to the Pago Club, sat alone at a table, and ordered a Coke. The club's owner, Robert Norton, soon joined him. They talked about the assassination. Norton said, "It was terrible and I think it was an insult to our country. It was terrible for the man himself. We couldn't do enough to the person that had done this sort of thing."
Ruby was uncharacteristically quiet. He left fifteen minutes later, saying he was tired. And by the time his roommate got home at 1:00 AM, Ruby was asleep.
Jack Ruby was less than 12 hours from permanently entering the pages of history.
Copyright Gerald Posner 2013