Thursday, January 04, 2007

Suburban Pilgrimages

In Irving, Texas, city officials are considering a historic marker for Ruth Paine’s former home, where Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald stayed in 1963. It’s a modest suburban home, certainly nothing out of the ordinary architecturally, yet it is associated with significant people and events in our nation’s history. The current owner evidently wasn’t impressed by the house’s history when she moved in, but then she noticed all the people driving by, stopping to look or take pictures. There’s a book: Mrs. Paine’s Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy by Thomas Mallon (Pantheon, 2002). (Ruth Paine now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida).

Paralleling the Paine house, the Jack Kerouac house on 10th Ave N in St. Petersburg is a local pilgrimage destination. This is the beat poet’s last home, his address when he died in 1969. In the late 1950s, he lived in Orlando’s College Park Neighborhood. (In 2004, the Sun-Sentinel ran this story about Kerouac’s Orlando home, and the St. Petersburg Times ran this story about Kerouac’s last years in St. Pete and subsequent struggles over his estate.)

Another unassuming suburban Florida house noted for its connection to a famous writer is 1734 Avenue L, where Zora Neale Hurston lived in the late 1950s.

Can you add to this list?

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