Babushka Lady #MysteryMonday

Hey, everyone. I wrote this post a year ago, but held it when I decided to take a blogging break for NaNoWriMo. I found it in my archives, so this month, you get two Mystery Monday posts.

Yesterday marked the fifty-seventh anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On November 22, 1963, as the presidential motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now home of the Sixth Floor Museum.

JFK, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife Nellie were riding in the presidential limousine. An assassin mortally wounded JFK. He was later pronounced dead at Dallas’s Parkland Memorial Hospital. Governor Connally was seriously wounded, but recovered.

Elm Street, Dallas. The presidential motorcade took this route on 11/22/63.

Seventy minutes later, police arrested former marine Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the murder of Dallas policeman, J. D. Tippit. He was eventually charged with Kennedy’s assassination.

Conspiracy theories surfaced almost immediately. Many claimed other shots came from an area known as the grassy knoll.

Dallas businessman Abraham Zapruder had a perfect vantage spot to watch the presidential motorcade. By chance, he brought his 8mm Bell and Howell movie camera. His film became an essential piece of evidence in the investigation.

A view of Elm and Main Streets from the Grassy Knoll. Zapruder shot his film from this location.

Among the many persons present at Dealey Plaza was a mysterious woman known as the Babushka Lady. The nickname came about because of the headscarf she wore, which was similar to those worn by older Russian women.

Eyewitnesses claimed this woman held a camera as she stood on the grass between Elm and Main streets. She is visible in the Zapruder film and in some taken by other witnesses. In one film made by a man named Mark Bell, she is holding a camera to her face. This was after the shooting, and most of the surrounding witness had taken cover.

Afterward, she crossed Elm Street and blended in with the crowd on the grassy knoll. In the last photographic account of her, she is walking east on Elm Street. Neither she nor the film she may have taken, have ever been identified.

In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver claimed to be the Babushka Lady. She stated she used a Super 8 film Yashica camera, and she turned the undeveloped film over to two men who told her they were FBI agents. According to Oliver, she didn’t get a receipt and claimed they promised to return the film to her within ten days. She did not follow up with an inquiry.

However, Oliver never proved she was in Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination. Yashica didn’t make the Super-8 camera until 1969. When confronted with that fact, Oliver stated she received the “experimental” camera from a friend and was not even sure the manufacturer’s name was on it.

It’s doubtful Beverly Oliver was the Babushka Lady since she was only seventeen years old in 1963. The woman wearing the headscarf appeared to be older. Oliver was also thinner and taller than the woman in the photos.

It’s highly unlikely the Babushka woman is still alive these days. Whoever she was, the secret died with her, leaving more room for speculation and conspiracy theories.

23 comments

  1. There has been a lot of speculation about the Babushka Lady and like so many events of that day, remain a mystery. It shook the entire world. We could use a JFK in these days and times! Thanks for sharing, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This tragedy rocked the world and certainly me as a young girl. I did not know about the Babushka lady until your post. Thank you, John. Another conspiracy to investigate! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wasn’t alive for this, but the story fascinates me. I visited the book depository museum and signed the book. I watch the specials. I own the Oliver Stone film JFK (VHS version, lol) and Stephen King’s 11/22/63. The whole thing fascinates me. The babushka lady is a mystery we’ll probably never have an answer to. But I definitely think Oliver is lying. Great post, Joan. And another timely one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve always been fascinated by this story. We also visited the museum and although people can’t stand in “the” window, I stood at the one next to it and tried to envision how Oswald saw things that day. We also have the Oliver Stone film on VHS. I started reading the Stephen King book but had checked it out from the library and ran out of time.

      There’s another book, Frame 222 by Wil Mara that explores the Babushka lady. It’s fiction but he has a fascinating theory about her.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. If there ever was an event to cause conspiracy theories, the Kennedy assassination was one of them. I didn’t know about this woman until I read a fiction story that mentioned her. My natural curiosity led me to research, and I learned she did exist. Who she was no one will probably ever know.

      Liked by 2 people

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