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The coveralls-wearing customer in Shasteen's barbershop in Irving: was that Oswald or a mistaken identification?

Greg Doudna

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(A barbershop proprietor in Irving, Clifton Shasteen, claimed Lee Harvey Oswald had been a regular customer in his barbershop. Some in the JFK assassination research community believe that was true. The following research I developed argues that was a mistaken identification.)


Did Oswald every other Friday after arrival in Irving change into oversized coveralls and drive Ruth Paine’s car 0.8 miles to Shasteen’s barber shop to get a haircut?

“He [Oswald] never wanted to get a haircut. We would tease him about it because hair would be growing down his neck. We told him a week or two before the assassination that we were going to throw him down and cut it ourselves, but he just smiled. But he was a good worker and I don’t remember his getting into arguments with anybody.” 

--Roy Lewis, Texas School Book Depository employee, coworker with Oswald (in Sneed, No More Silence, 86)

There is a belief that a certain customer in Shasteen’s barbershop in Irving, Texas, who nearly always wore oversized coveralls, was Oswald, and that a boy who Shasteen said was associated with that customer and had told him, Shasteen, that he was 14 years old, was Ruth Paine’s 15-year old Russian student in Dallas, the future famous actor William Hootkins. Greg Parker originated the argument for the Hootkins identification (https://www.jfkconversations.com/supplement-lee-harvey-oswalds-cold-war/https://reopenkennedycase.forumotion.net/t1952-william-hootkins-is-innocent?highlight=Hootkins). The idea has been taken up by others including in modified form by Bill Simpich. Simpich suggests Shasteen saw not the real Oswald and Hootkins but impersonators of Oswald and Hootkins. Simpich asks, “Was the young boy the real Hootkins—or imitating him?” (https://maryferrell.org/pages/Essay_-_Oswald_Legend_12.html).

The objective is an accurate assessment of claimed Oswald sightings case by case, critical to study of the JFK assassination. Shasteen’s barber shop is simply one case.

The 14-year-old boy and Hootkins

In 2020 when I first looked into the Shasteen barbershop issue, I too carelessly assumed the barbershop customer was Oswald and, on that assumption combined with the Friday night time of the haircuts, briefly thought maybe the kid who Shasteen said had told him he was 14, was 19-year old Wesley Frazier. I don’t think that now. Here is Greg Parker taking me to the cleaners over that, while arguing his case for Hootkins: https://reopenkennedycase.forumotion.net/t2295-the-latest-paine-apologist-greg-doudna?highlight=Paine

Greg Parker’s 15-year-old Hootkins is an improvement on the Wesley Frazier idea in that it reduces the discrepancy in age to only a year, although at the price of having to suppose (if the scenario were correct) two round-trips of Ruth Paine from Irving to Dallas and back each time, to pick up Hootkins and ferry him to Irving, where Ruth would hand him and her car over to Oswald to drive himself and Hootkins 0.8 miles to the barbershop where Oswald would get a haircut, then Ruth drive Hootkins back to Dallas and Ruth return again, all without either Ruth Paine or Hootkins telling Hootkins’ mother this was happening. Is it realistic that Hootkins’ mother would not know her son was making trips to Irving? Is it realistic that Ruth Paine, a mother herself, would not inform another mother that she was taking her son to another city for a few hours? Hootkins’ mother knew nothing of Hootkins going into Irving with Ruth Paine (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=145811#relPageId=34). Ruth Paine confirmed to the FBI her tutoring of Hootkins took place on Saturdays in Dallas, that she never lent Oswald her car to drive by himself, and that she knew of no time Lee got a haircut in Irving. 

“Mrs. Ruth Paine … advised that she does not recall Lee Harvey Oswald going for a haircut on a weekend during October or November, 1963, and that she does not recall the location of any barbershop where Oswald ever obtained a haircut. Mrs. Paine has previously advised, as reflected on pages 635 and 636 of the report of Special Agent Robert P. Gemberling, dated December 23, 1963, that she did not know of any boy about 14 years of age with whom Oswald was ever associated in the neighborhood and that she had never allowed Oswald to take her car anywhere by himself.” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1142#relPageId=832)

Apart from both Hootkins’ mother and Ruth Paine told the FBI they knew nothing of Hootkins going to Irving or with Lee to a barbershop, the Hootkins identification depends on two prior assumptions: that the coveralls-wearing customer of Shasteen was Oswald and that the 14-year-old boy was associated with the coveralls-wearing customer. The fundamental problem with these assumptions is the information concerning the coveralls-wearing customer makes clear he was someone other than Oswald.

Context of claimed “Oswald sightings”

No one disputes that there were many mistaken "Oswald sightings" reported by witnesses following the assassination. The question goes to cases which must be examined one by one: which claims of seeing Oswald were real and which in error. In the case of Shasteen’s barbershop, all three barbers had cut the hair of a certain customer at least once over a two- to four-month period prior to the assassination. According to Shasteen the customer wore oversized coveralls almost every time he came in, a clothing description not known for Oswald from any other witness nor supported in inventories of Oswald’s clothing. But Shasteen believed his identification of the coveralls-wearing customer as Oswald was confirmed in that he believed he had witnessed the customer driving Ruth Paine’s station wagon. From Shasteen’s Warren Commission testimony:

“[W]hen I saw his picture [Oswald on TV] I remembered him coming in the shop and I just knew that. It finally dawned on me where I had saw him. I knew where he lived. Actually, I knew where the station wagon was that was parked, that I saw him and this lady in (. . .) When we [sic—“I”] got back to the shop [afternoon of Nov 22, 1963], then, we began to talk about it. All three of the barbers in there have cut his hair, but I cut it more, I guess, than the rest of them did. I think the boy on the front chair [Glover] cut it once and the boy in the middle chair [Law] cut it a couple of times, but I think I cut his hair three or four times.”

This customer of Shasteen’s who wore the oversized coveralls never claimed to be Oswald. The customer did not talk much and none of the barbers knew the man's name. One of the other two barbers (Glover), who remembered cutting the man’s hair once, told the FBI he too, like Shasteen, thought the man had been Oswald. The third barber (Law), even though he had cut the same man’s hair, “advised that he had no recollection of ever seeing Lee Harvey Oswald or anyone resembling him in this barbershop. He advised that he saw numerous photographs of Oswald in the newspapers, magazines and on TV but could never place this person in the barbershop” (FBI, https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=11941#relPageId=134).

Shasteen’s story told to HSCA

It may be useful to begin with Shasteen’s story to the HSCA in 1979 according to the interviewer taking down Shasteen’s story as he told it:

“I don’t recall the first time (he cut LHO’s hair). By the second time, though, I noticed he was different from most of the people around here. He was rude. Once he stepped up behind another barber to comb his hair using the mirror. He effectively crowded the barber, but you could see he didn’t care.” (https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/sightings-of-the-nov.-1963-clifford-m.-shasteen/691160?item=691161)

Comment: Oswald was generally remembered as polite. Was this Oswald?

“One morning early—it was a Saturday—he came in wearing old men’s shoes. They were yellow w/flexible side sections—looked very comfortable.”

Comment: All of Oswald’s clothing is itemized and documented. No yellow shoes. Was this Oswald?

“I admired them + told him so + he said ‘I’ll be glad to get a pair for you. I got these in Mexico—only paid $1.60. I make lots of trips down there.’ Offered money in advance he turned down the money saying he’d get them.”

Comment: Oswald never took “lots of trips” across the border into Mexico. Was this Oswald?

“Another time he came in with what appeared to be a 14 year old boy. During the boy’s cutting, he (the boy) was talking politics and finally said this country wouldn’t be right until the ni**ers get the same rights as the rest of the people. I asked him if that didn’t sound like a Communist type gov’t would work better + he said ‘Yes!’ That’s when Oswald told him to “Shut up!’. Neither one of them said another word. The boy never came back. It was his first + last time.

Comment: That Shasteen had some kind of upsetting exchange with this young man was real enough. In his earlier recounting to the Warren Commission Shasteen told how this boy’s views had upset him, Shasteen, so much, made Shasteen so angry, that he said if it was his kid, what he wanted to do was take a belt to the kid, the razor strap on the side of his barber chair, and beat the objectionable ideas out of him, set the kid straight by beating the crap out of him. 

But although some incident with a 14-year-old boy occurred, just about every detail told by Shasteen of the incident has morphed and changed in Shasteen’s telling compared to his earlier versions—what was said, the number of times the kid was in Shasteen’s shop, and the presence of the “Oswald” customer himself—although the age of the boy as 14 remains consistent. Shasteen’s earliest description of the incident to the FBI on 12/2/63: 

“On one occasion when this boy came into the shop for a haircut alone, not accompanied by Oswald, he had made some statements which had astounded Shasteen, and it was for this reason that he had asked him his age and he was told that the boy was fourteen. Shasteen stated that the topic in the shop at the time was foreign aid and that most in the shop had agreed that the United States could not buy friends. The boy, who up to that time had had nothing to say, volunteered something to the effect that, ‘We will only be free when everyone has the same, when everyone is equal’. The boy continued in this vein, Shasteen said, espousing what he considered to be Communist doctrine….” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=95676#relPageId=38).

Shasteen told the HSCA that occasion was the 14-year-old’s only time in Shasteen’s shop (“first + last time”). But in Shasteen’s earlier FBI statement and Warren Commission testimony Shasteen also said the “Oswald” customer was not present on that occasion, and it follows, never said any words to the boy such as “shut up”. Shasteen told the Warren Commission the 14-year-old had been dropped off in front of his shop by an adult who was not the coveralls-wearing customer, from a sedan which was not the station wagon driven by the coveralls-wearing customer. The coveralls-wearing customer had nothing to do with the 14-year-old boy on that occasion.

Shasteen’s earlier basis for considering the two connected was he claimed he saw the 14-year-old boy with the customer on two previous occasions. The two previous occasions were when the customer got haircuts from each of the other two barbers in early or mid-Oct (Glover), and Nov 8 (Law). Glover remembered the haircut of the customer to which Shasteen referred, but “Mr. Glover stated that he could not recall seeing this young boy” (FBI, 9/9/64, https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1142#relPageId=833). Under questioning Shasteen conceded he too did not seem too sure about his earlier claim that he personally saw the 14-year-old boy on that occasion.

Mr. JENNER. Do you recall telling him [FBI Special Agent Odum] on that occasion [12/16/63] that you had never been able to identify the 14-year old boy, that this boy had been in your shop on one occasion about 2 months prior to that day, that is prior to December 16, and that would make it around the 16th of October? 
Mr. SHASTEEN. Well, now, we---in other words, there were no customers in there, but the barbers and I think he was in there, as I told you, I think we were nearly positive about that, but if I told you I knew he was, I couldn't be sure about that. 
Mr. JENNER. It was on a Wednesday or Thursday and Oswald's hair was cut on that Occasion by your fellow barber, Burt Glover? 
Mr. SHASTEEN. Yes; and Burt is the one that says that was on a Thursday. 
Mr. JENNER. You see, this is what you told Mr. Odum and that Glover says on the next Monday or Tuesday he cut the hair of the 14-year old boy? 
Mr. JENNER. And that would be sometime in October? 
Mr. SHASTEEN. Evidently that's the time that I don't--that wasn't the time that he made the statement at all. If he got a haircut--but, if you know Burt like I know Burt, I don't know that Burt knows that that was the boy, but he still says it is. I think it was—I wouldn't be sure about it. 

Law also failed to confirm the presence of the 14-year-old at his haircut of the “Oswald” customer (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1142#relPageId=833). In short, Shasteen claimed to the Warren Commision that he saw the 14-year-old boy with his unusual customer two earlier times, but neither of those claims were supported by the barbers. And Shasteen himself denied to the HSCA that the 14-year-old was in his shop either of those times. In short, Shasteen’s HSCA testimony removes confidence that the 14-year-old was associated with the coveralls-wearing customer. The question arises whether Shasteen’s association of the 14-year-old with the customer was an early association in Shasteen’s mind based on Shasteen’s connection of what he thought was the kid’s communism, to Oswald in the news as a communist, “creating” an association where none actually existed. (To be clear, it is possible the 14-year-old could have been with the customer such as on the occasion of the Law haircut Nov 8—if so there would likely be some family relationship of the two—but the point is the connection is uncertain as opposed to certain.) Continuing with Shasteen to HSCA:

“Just as soon as they put his [Oswald’s] picture on TV at the shop I knew him—recognized him right away. I made it a point to read the part of the W.C. report where I told them what I knew. I told them about Oswald driving + they never even mentioned it. He drove Ruth Paine’s car. She had a 1955 Chev, a 4 door sedan, I think. It was either lt blue or lt green—that part was faded quite a bit, but it did have a white top. He used to park it right over there (pointing directly across the street alongside Hutch’s Market). I remember the time he dropped the jug of milk—spilled the milk all over the place.”

Comment: As previously noted Ruth Paine never let Oswald drive her car on his own nor did she know of Oswald getting any haircut in Irving. Note that from start to finish Shasteen said the coveralls-wearing customer’s car was two-tone blue-and-white or green-and-white with a white top. Shasteen identified the station wagon of his customer as the same station wagon he remembered seeing at Ruth Paine’s house when Shasteen would visit a friend who lived on W. 5th. Shasteen got the white top—which was Shasteen’s consistent description—from his customer’s blue-and-white or green-and-white station wagon. Shasteen attributed the white top of his customer’s station wagon to Ruth Paine’s station wagon. 

But Ruth Paine’s station wagon did not have a white top. Ruth Paine’s station wagon had a dark green top over a lighter-green bottom, two tones of green. There was no white top on Ruth Paine’s car as Shasteen said there was on the station wagon driven by his customer. From a description of Ruth Paine’s station wagon on a classic autos website:

“After President Kennedy’s assassination Ruth Paine continued to use this wagon and repainted the dark green top light green to match the bottom. (. . .) This wagon was originally two-tone Neptune Green & Seamist Green(604-STL Paint Code), now entirely light green. You can still see the green paint underneath the decades old finish (. . .) The original color and trim identification plate is also intact as is the original VIN plate (. . .) The Trim Tag reads as follows: STYLE 55-1062DF BODY S78TRIM – 517PAINT – 604 STL.” (http://smclassiccars.com/chevrolet/75293-lee-harvey-oswald-1955-chevy-belair-station-wagon-with-jfk-assassination-ties.html)

And from the FBI in 1964:

“There was observed on the afternoon of February 28, 1964, parked at 2515 W. 5th Street, Irving, Texas, which is the residence of Mrs. Ruth Paine, a 1955 Chevrolet four door, two tone green, station wagon, bearing 1963 Texas license NK 4041, which automobile was identified by Mrs. Paine as belonging to her.” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1140#relPageId=715)

It is not clear that Shasteen ever realized Ruth Paine’s two-tone green Chevy wagon never had a white top. Late on the afternoon of the assassination Shasteen, making the connection in his memory between his customer’s two-tone Chevy station wagon and the station wagon of Ruth Paine he had seen at her house, attempted to drive from his shop to W. 5th Street to confirm the station wagon was the same. Shasteen was unable to succeed in that intention because of the swarms of vehicles, press and police. Shasteen returned to his shop without having done the visual recheck to confirm, but he was sure enough of his memory that he went ahead with the identification to his fellow barbers and FBI. It is tempting to speculate that if Shasteen had succeeded in his attempt that afternoon to see Ruth Paine’s car directly, the whole Shasteen barber shop saga might never have come about. For if Shasteen had realized that the two vehicles of identical make and model, though similar in color were not identical and not the same vehicle, would Shasteen have retained the same confidence that his coveralls-wearing customer was Oswald?

Influential to Shasteen in his belief that the two station wagons were the same—his customer’s, and Ruth Paine’s—was Shasteen said he saw two women and the customer get out of the customer’s station wagon early Saturday morning, Nov 9, across the street at Hutch’s Market, and it was one of the women (not his customer) who got out of the driver’s seat. Shasteen assumedbased on the assumption that it was Ruth Paine’s station wagon—that that woman would have been Ruth Paine. But in his Warren Commission testimony Shasteen was questioned closely on that and said he did not come to that conclusion from visual recognition of Ruth Paine (whom he knew well enough to recognize) but rather from the prior assumption that it was Ruth Paine’s car. For her part, Ruth Paine denied being at Hutch’s Market. From Shasteen’s WC testimony:

Mr. Jenner. ... and you have a distinct recollection, do you, that there were occasions when you saw this man in the coveralls over at Hutch’s Market that he was accompanied by somebody else?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes.

Mr. Jenner. And did you recognize any of the persons who were accompanying him?

Mrs. Shasteen. No; I wouldn’t say I did because most of the time—they headed—they got out of the car and we saw their backs, and I would see him and I just knew it was him. Once you cut somebody’s hair that close you are close enough so that you know them outside or when you see them.

Mr. Jenner. So, you’re not in a position, I take it, then, to say that you have a distinct recollection that Mrs. Paine accompanied them at anytime?

Mr. Shasteen. Well, now, that part of it I would have to take for granted because they were in his car…

(. . .)

Mr. Shasteen. He drove that there 1955, I think it’s a 1955, I’m sure it’s a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon. It’s either blue and white or green and white—it’s two-toned—I know that. Now, why I say—why I take it for granted that Mrs. Paine was with him when he come to the grocery store—I do remember he wasn’t driving when they would come to the grocery store, there would be a lady driving and I’m assuming that that was Mrs. Paine …

So there is a station wagon different in color of its top from Ruth Paine’s. There is no identification of Ruth Paine. And finally, it is questionable that Ruth Paine would be driving Marina and Lee to Hutch’s Market at 8 or 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning for another reason. Ruth Paine had two toddlers and Marina one toddler and a baby less than three weeks old. Between the two of them Ruth and Marina had three toddlers and a baby. That all three adults—Ruth, Marina (and Marina was not an early riser), and the visiting Lee—would leave three toddlers and a three-week-old baby at the house to go buy groceries early on a Saturday morning (Lee putting on oversized coveralls for the trip) does not seem very likely. 

It is not as if Chevy station wagons were rare in American automobiles. There must have been many similar-looking vehicles in a city the size of Irving. This becomes a matter of accident—similar-appearing but not identical cars. Conclusion: the station wagon driven by Shasteen’s coveralls-wearing customer was not Ruth Paine’s station wagon.

Characteristics of Shasteen’s coveralls-wearing customer. Was this Oswald? The data

Number of haircuts and Oswald timeline compared

Shasteen said the last time the coveralls-wearing customer got a haircut in his shop was Fri Nov 8, 1963. Oswald arrived in Dallas on Oct 3 and Irving Oct 4. If Shasteen’s customer was Oswald all the customer’s haircuts at Shasteen’s shop must fit between October 4 and Nov 8 which is five weeks. According to Shasteen the customer got his hair cut every two weeks. Here is a math problem: how many biweekly haircuts is it possible to fit in five weeks between Oct 4 and Nov 8, if that customer was Oswald? Compare how many haircuts Shasteen’s customer got in Shasteen’s shop. 

Mr. Shasteen. Oh, I would say we cut his hair five or possibly six times.

Mr. Jenner. Five or six times?

Mr. Shasteen. At least.

Mr. Jenner. Five and possibly six?

Mr. Shasteen. At least (. . .) the only times I can remember definitely out of the five times and possibly six he was in my shop—I’d say that all the five or six times was in succession either, it might have been—he may have missed some haircuts and one or two in between somewhere in there.

(. . .) 

Mr. Shasteen. (. . .) I wouldn’t say when was the first time he was in there and of course we have talked about it—me and the barbers, and it seemed to me like there was a dead spot in there. Some time maybe a month or 6 weeks that we might not have saw him, be the first time I cut his hair, but the last three haircuts—it seemed to me like he was pretty regular.

Mr. Jenner. What?

Mr. Shasteen. He was pretty regular—at the last three.

Mr. Jenner. So, if you had a dead spot allowing for—let’s say getting a haircut somewhere else occasionally, or not coming in precisely at the end of every 2-week period and having in mind that your present recollection is at least five or six occasions, that would run it back into the summertime?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes; it was. In other words, 2 or 3 or 4 months that we had been seeing him, but I don’t know just exactly to the date or nothing.

(. . .)

Mr. Jenner. How many haircuts did he get—

Mr. Shasteen. Well—

Mr. Jenner. Six or seven, is that what you said?

Mr. Shasteen. No; he could have possibly gotten seven haircuts but I think about six haircuts is what he got. It could have possibly been five. I know personally three times I cut his hair and I know that the front guy cut his hair one time, Mr. Glover, and Mr. Law cut his hair one time [Nov 8, the last time the customer was in the shop] and Buddy [Law]—he might have cut it one other time and if he did that would’ve made six.

Mr. Jenner. Do you recall telling Agent Berry that in all this man had obtained six or seven haircuts at your shop?

Mr. Shasteen. I told him it was possibly six or seven, you know, in other words—he didn’t pin me down to just exactly—he wanted to know if I thought it was and I told him it could have been seven times.

Mr. Jenner. Seven or eight?

Mr. Shasteen. No: I believe—I don’t believe he ever got eight haircuts in there—I don’t believe it could have been over seven.

Mr. Jenner. Well, what I’m getting at is that the agent reports as you said that Oswald had obtained seven or eight haircuts at your shop.

Mr. Shasteen. You see, I told him about the times I remembered and he said, “Could he possibly have been in here more than that?” And I said, “Sure he could have possibly been in here more than that, but to have an actual remembrance of him—I wouldn’t.”

Mr. Jenner. But in any event, your present recollection, after thinking it through further, is that it was six, and it might even have been as few as five?

Mr. Shasteen. It could have been five, but I personally know of five times he was in there and like I told him, he could have been in there two or three other times when I wasn’t in there (. . .) 

Glover independently supported Shasteen that there were more haircuts for that customer than is possible within Oswald’s timeline. Glover told the FBI he remembered seeing the customer in the shop three times of which one was the time Glover cut his hair (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=62376#relPageId=64). But the Friday Nov 8 haircut by Law occurred about 7 p.m. at a time Glover had gone for the day and did not see that. Therefore that makes four haircuts minimum from Glover’s testimony, which agrees with Shasteen’s five minimum in that neither number will work within an Oswald five-week timeline. The elementary question is: if Shasteen’s customer was Oswald, how do a minimum of four (Glover) or five (Shasteen) haircuts spaced two weeks apart, with or without an additional 4-6 week “dead spot” therein, fit within a five-week period Oct 4 to Nov 8? The answer is that number of haircuts will not fit, and that customer was not Oswald.

Color of hair: “black-headed”

Mr. Jenner. What color hair did this man have?

Mr. Shasteen. Oh, he was dark headed—I wouldn’t say he was real black, you know, what I mean, he wasn’t jet black, but most people would call him black-headed.

Oswald had medium-brown hair and is not described by other witnesses as black-headed, an indication this customer was not Oswald. 

Black hairy arms

Mr. Shasteen. … he had pretty hair arms. I remember that about him, you know, he had black hair on his arms

Oswald is not said by other witnesses to have hairy arms with black hair. Glover said the same customer, although clean-shaven, had a “dark beard” which also does not sound like Oswald (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=62376#relPageId=64).

Wore oversized coveralls

Mr. Jenner. On the occasions you saw this man would you describe his appearance so far as his attire is concerned? How was he dressed? 

Mr. Shasteen. The best I remember is that he had on some kind of coveralls, nearly every time he came in.  

Mr. Jenner. Coveralls?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes; he wore unionalls or coveralls, you know, sir. They were G.I. of some description and they were green or a khaki-colored. The only time he wasn’t dressed that way when he came in the shop was the night I went to the football game [Nov 8] and that night he had on a pair of old worn out dress pants of some kind, they were dark, and he had on a sports shirt with his shirttail out. 

Mr. Jenner. Let me get at these coveralls—would you describe them?

Mr. Shasteen. They buttoned down the front. 

Mr. Jenner. They buttoned down the front and they had sleeves—it was a one-piece unit?

Mr. Shasteen. Right.

(. . .)

Mr. Shasteen. (. . .) the only time I ever saw him with anything but those coveralls on was that night he came in the shop [on Nov 8]—he had those on—those old coveralls on when he was over there [at Hutch’s Market] and another thing, they were big for him. I always noticed they were big enough for him and somebody else.

Mr. Jenner. They were very loose-fitting?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes.

Mr. Jenner. And even on those occasions when you saw him across the street at Hutch’s, he had the coveralls, the military-type coveralls on?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes; of course…

No other witness reported seeing Oswald wear coveralls nor were any coveralls found in Oswald's clothing. The coveralls are well interpreted as that customer’s work wear. Shasteen said the customer told him he worked “downtown”, no further information. But that detail would confirm the man was working and the work could go with the coveralls. Meanwhile, Oswald’s work clothing at the Texas School Book Depository is well established and it was not coveralls. For the customer to have been Oswald it would have to be supposed that Oswald, upon arrival Friday nights to Ruth Paine’s house in Irving, changed into oversized coveralls (which there is no evidence existed for Oswald), before going to get a haircut. Was Shasteen’s customer in oversized coveralls someone who had just changed into that kind of work clothes, or someone who had gotten off work and not changed out of them (someone other than Oswald)? Which makes better sense? The coveralls indicate the customer was not Oswald.

Meticulous about his hair

Mr. Shasteen. The fact is, he never did want his hair cut—he always wanted it to look like it was about a week old when he cut it and he got a haircut about every 2 weeks, and I don’t think he ever went over 2 weeks—he either got a haircut on Friday night or Saturday morning (. . .)

(. . .) 

Mr. Shasteen. (. . .) I do remember him saying, ‘Take a 32nd off of the temple.’ Well, you can’t take a 32nd off of a man’s hair, you know…

Mr. Jenner. He did come back then?

Mr. Shasteen. Yes; we have talked about that—I don’t care if we put it on the record—it’s the truth with us barbers—we have laughed about it, but he’s not the only one that said, ‘Take a third of it,’ you know. We laughed about his saying, ‘Take a 32nd,’ or he would say, ‘Take a 16th off of the top,’ or something. I do remember him saying them things.

I started this article with a quotation from Oswald’s fellow employee Roy E. Lewis in Sneed, No More Silence, about Oswald not getting his hair cut very often. The same was said by another coworker of Oswald, Danny Garcia Arce, in a statement on Nov 22, 1963: “some of the other male employees tease him [Oswald] and tell him he ought to go get a haircut. Lee Oswald just laughed at this remark” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10672#relPageId=10). An FBI physical description of Oswald on Nov 22, 1963 said of Oswald's hair: “medium brown, worn medium length, needs haircut” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=946#relPageId=638). And from the Dallas Police following Oswald’s arrest, “[Captain] Fritz says Oswald needs a haircut” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=40392#relPageId=275).

Shasteen’s customer was very particular about the grooming of his hair. That customer was a different person than Oswald known to his coworkers for letting the hair grow on the back of his neck and not getting a haircut.

Distinctive hairstyle in which the man's hair was cut so short it would not lay down flat but almost stood up when slicked back

Mr. Shasteen. You might attempt to ask me what kind of haircut he wore.

Mrs. Jenner. All right, go ahead.

Mr. Shasteen. You could just name it, because he didn’t wear it long and he didn’t wear it short. It was almost short enough to stand up but it was too long to stand up. He just wore a rough shod haircut because many times I thought, ‘Boy, you sure ought to let this grow out up here where it will lay down and comb nice or either cut it off where it would stand up.” But like I say, he wanted that little bit taken off…

That is not a description of Oswald’s hair in photos of Oswald. In all photos Oswald’s hair combs down flat with a simple part. Shasteen’s customer had a distinctive hairstyle with shorter hair than Oswald. 

A barber in Oak Cliff said Oswald got haircuts at his shop in Oak Cliff

“Mr. Herman I. Harrison, owner, Harrison’s Barber Shop, 2005 North Beckley, Dallas, Texas, advised SA John V. Almon on December 5, 1963, he recalls having cut Lee Harvey Oswald’s hair on two occasions, although he was not aware of Oswald’s identity until after the President’s assassination. Harrison stated that Oswald was quiet and made no comment concerning his personal affairs, associates or political ideas.” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=95673#relPageId=31)

This barber, within walking distance of Oswald’s rooming house in Oak Cliff, remembered two haircuts of Oswald. Those two haircuts in Oak Cliff may account for all haircuts of Oswald between Oct. 4 and Nov 22, with no need to suppose additional haircuts in Irving.


Shasteen’s testimony had many contradictions and changes in his story. Shasteen comes across as a raconteur, a storyteller, poor with accuracy in details and keeping his story straight. Shasteen thought there was a physical resemblance and a vehicle resemblance supporting his identifications. But too many falsifying features rule out that Shasteen’s customer was Oswald. The station wagon driven by the customer was not Ruth Paine's station wagon. The customer was not Oswald but was a mistaken identification. This was not an impersonation since the customer in Shasteen’s shop never claimed to be Oswald. It is not certain that the 14-year-old boy was associated with the customer but if he was the relationship would be a family one. Neither the customer nor the 14-year-old boy had anything to do with Oswald, Ruth Paine, or the JFK assassination.  

Edited by Greg Doudna
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