Ardmore woman shares story of meeting Jack Ruby

By: Helen Headlee Email
By: Helen Headlee Email

ARDMORE, OK - Mary Booth Naes can't forget the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. But she also can't forget Jack Ruby because she knew him before the world knew him as the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

"I had been in his company a number of times and he was just a businessman," said Naes.

From late 1959 into the early '60's Naes worked as a ticket agent at the Skyliner Ballroom--a nightclub in Fort Worth. Naes met Ruby because he sometimes brought in his exotic dancers to perform, but didn't leave much of an impression.

"As being anyone important, he wasn't," Naes said. "He was just a man that owned nightclubs."

But in November 1963 all that would all change. On the 22nd Naes heard on television that shots had been fired in Dealey Plaza. If that wasn't enough of a shock two days later she watched a man she knew assassinate an assassin.

"And I wondered why would he do that? Who knows," Naes sad. "Jack never told me. As far as I know he didn't tell anyone other than the fact he said, 'He killed my president.'"

But why was Ruby allowed near Oswald?

"He was so well known amongst the Dallas police that it wasn't anything for him to be there, even in places where he probably shouldn't have been," said Kirk Rodden, Murray State College's Social Science Department chair.

But that wasn't the end of the story for Naes. Because she knew Ruby, Naes was allowed to visit him one time in jail with her son and and daughter where he gave her a copy of Destiny in Dallas.

"Just a cordial greeting, very quick, and then he centered on the children," Naes said. "How old are you, what school do you go to?"

Naes said that the book is the only one of its kind in the world. On the inside cover is the signature of her husband who was the captain of Dallas County jail and who was the censor at the time, and across from that is the autograph to Jack Ruby.

And because of that parting gift Naes will always remember that fateful day and the man she knew.

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