FOUR DAYS IN DALLAS – Day Three– Saturday, November 17, 2018
On Friday night I ventured into the West End, the old warehouse area behind the Texas School Book Depository that was developed into a shopping, bar and restaurant district that was very popular ten years ago, but is now not so much. I was disappointed that the West End Pub, where COPA held its first meeting after the second ASK conference, was closed and boarded up, and the Green Glass Café – a classic fifties brass and formica bar with booths, juke box and pool table was now a take-out liquor store.
A word about the old Green Glass. It was owned by an old lady and her daughter, both of whom knew Jack Ruby, and she said when she bought it Ruby named the joint because the glasses were so dirty they were green. Porter Bledsoe, son of Oswald's rooming house owner Mary Bledsoe, used to hang out there after his shift at an all night motel. And I heard the story from an old patron about one of Jack Ruby's dancers, who was engaged to a Dallas policeman. He went out one night to get ice cream, or so the story goes, and when he returned home found her dead of drinking drano. I can't verify that account, but that's one of the things I learned at the old Green Glass.
So I had a beer at a TGI Fridays, as Dallas is franchise city, and then went back to my hotel, the brand new Marriott Courtyard a block from Dealey Plaza and just across the street from the beautiful Union train station and Dealey’s Dallas Morning News.
At the roof top bar, overlooking the city’s brightly lit skyline, I met Marty Bragg, a former COPA associate, and her friend, and we talked over old times, the death of our mutual friend John Judge, and the demise of COPA, which sparked the establishment of CAPA. Unbelievably, many of the bars in Dallas, especially the hotel bars, close at 11pm, so our night was short lived.
The following day, Saturday, I got up early in order to catch Larry Hancock’s 8 am Lancer presentation on the “Wheaton Names,” – the individuals Gene Wheaton names in his video interview with William M. Law that I have been writing about. Larry’s hour long presentation was exceptional, and you can read his long monograph on line as it details much of what he had to say. That was the one presentation I wanted to hear and Larry didn’t disappoint, and provided even more lines of potential inquiry. As with John Neman’s talk, this one deserves a sidebar of its own.
After Larry Hancock’s talk on Wheaton’s name, CAPA attorney Bill Simpich and Larry Hancock gave a talk on “Dallas Police Department Suspects,” which convinced me that I was wrong in saying the emphasis should be shifted to Washington DC, as there is still a lot of work to do in Dallas, especially with the still living witnesses that have not been properly questioned.
Skipping Carmine’s talk on “RFK” in the break room – I can only solve on murder at a time, I took in Russ Baker’s “Hiding the Proof – We Want the Records.” Baker wrote an important book “Bush – Family of Secrets” and posts regularly at his web site “Who What Where Why.” Russ did a much more detailed report on the recently released records and the team of readers (led by Jimmy Fallon) who are going over these records in detail. Russ showed a number of examples of documents that had previously been released in full, but re-released in the latest batches redacted – that indicate exactly what they are redacting, an important lesson to those who are reading the most recently released records, and await the final release of them all in two years, if then.
Jim Jenkins and William Law then talked about their “Cold Shoulder of History” book on Jenkins’ experience at the Bethesda autopsy, the same one he gave at CAPA on Thursday and at JVB’s conference the day before. This is an example of why three such conferences are a waste of our time and we should work together and coordinate our efforts, but some stubborn people just want to do their own thing, and I’m sure if CAPA decides to hold a conference in Dallas next year, a competing conference will be put up against us.
Rex Bradford, of the Mary Ferrell Archives, was supposed to give a talk on the “Document Release Update,” but he was snowed in the Northeast and will present his talk via skype that will be added to the Lancer DVD. While I opened the conference on the same subject, and Malcolm Blunt, John Newman, Bill Simpich and Russ Baker all talked on the same subject, we didn’t repeat anything, and only complimented each other, and I’m sure Rex will add some new information that we left out.
I missed most of Saturday afternoon at the Lancer conference because I went over to the Doubletree to hear Dick Russell and Dr. Wecht.
According to the Lancer Program, I missed Gary Murr do a talk on “A Small Arms Dealer and the Death of the President,” Stu Wexler on MLK, Simpich and Hancock continue their talk on the Dallas Suspect, “Betrayal: JFK Honor Guards Speak Out,” and two that I wished I had time to see but will catch on the video – Malcolm Blunt and Alan Dale on CIA officer Pete Bagley and John Newman’s “The Kennedys, King and the Race Issue,” that Newman writes about in his third book in the JFK series that will be published and released this week.
Meanwhile over at the Doubletree, I wasn’t there but didn’t miss Ed Haslam update his “New Evidence Files and Dr. Mary’s Monkey,” Judyth Vary Baker on “The Secret Life of Lee Harvey Oswald,” Rick Russo on “A Closer Look at the Photo Evidence,” and Steve Cameron and Roger Craig, Jr. on Cameron’s film “The Deputy,” and Roger Craig, Jr. on his father, Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig. The former Sheriff of the year was disparaged for his testimony on the Dallas Sheriff’s order to stand down and not engage in the security of the president, as the Tampa sheriffs had supported the Secret Service a week earlier, manning the overpasses and high rise rooftops with shotguns and high powered counter-sniper rifles. It’s hard to believe that Craig, Jr. followed his father’s lead in becoming a Dallas deputy himself, and he must have had some interesting things to say. He repeated the performance at a luncheon on Monday afternoon with a number of other JFK researches.
When I got to the Doubleday I heard the last part of Edgar Tatro’s “Micromanagement and Damage Control in the Cover-up,” which focused mainly on the Dallas end of the cover-up of the conspiracy.
I then sat back at the CAPA table in the back of the room and listened to Dick Russell give his presentation on “Richard Case Nagell: The Newly Released Stasi Files & the Kennedy Assassination.” Since his bible sized book on Nagell – “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and his personal journey covering the JFK assassination story – “On the Trail of the JFK Assassins,” Dick is one of the few real reporters who have kept on this case, and we had a nice chat in the lobby and are on the same page.
I told Dick about the recently released Secret Service Preventive Resarch Section (PRS) file on those subjects the Secret Service considered a threat to the President, that included Nagell, who was in a federal prison on November 22nd for entering a bank in El Paso, Texas, shooting a bullet into the ceiling and waited to be arrested, he said because he wanted to be in prison when JFK was killed.
After his presentation Dick Russell received the “Justice for JFK” Award, given to him by longtime friend and associate Robert Groden.
Former New York City prosecutor and House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) attorney Robert Tannenbaum talked about the CAPA Mock Trial in Houston last November, in which he said he was disappointed in the prosecution making the same, debunked case against Oswald they would have made in 1964, as if we haven’t learned anything since then. He then gave a run down on his experience on the HSCA, before he too was presented with an award.
CAPA chairman Dr. Cyril Wecht gave an interesting talk on how he was brought into the assassination arena, asked to give a presentation on the JFK assassination forensic pathology evidence at a national conference of pathologists. That got him hooked, and his life’s experience on this case – the first pathologist permitted to examine the autopsy evidence at the Archives, serving on the HSCA pathology panel, and continued work on this case is astounding.
While Dr. Wecht talked again at the Doubletree conference banquet and awards, and Pat Hall was the special guest at the Lancer banquet and awards, I skipped both and accompanied CAPA treasurer Michael Nurko and Tom Lyons to dinner at the West End. I flew into Dallas on the same plane as Mike and we were scheduled to leave together the next day, and both Mike and Tom were longtime former COPA members, it was kind of a nostalgic reunion. So we decided to have dinner at John Judge’s favorite Dallas restaurant the Spaghetti Factory, where we reminisced about the good old COPA days.
On the walk home, we passed an actual demonstration, protestors with posters chanting something I couldn’t understand, so I asked a nearby group of Dallas policeman what all the fuss was about, and they said they were protesting cruelty to animals – the carriage horses like those at Central Park in New York City.
I went up to one of the horses and he seemed ok, well fed, and with diaper, no wiping, and the carriage girl seemed to love him and all animals, so I told the protester in front of me I thought the horse had a good job, liked what he was doing, was trained to do what he was doing, and there was no animal abuse at all going on. There is plenty of animal abuse at shelters, where they kill animals they can’t give out for adoption, and there’s plenty of bad things worth protesting, but this isn’t one of them.
Then we stopped in front of the old Record Café, that hasn’t changed since the fifties, and where the local FBI agents ate breakfast, and one of the few establishments that was open in 1963 and still in operation today. Then we crossed the street and visited the old founders log cabin that dates to the 1850s, which is adjacent to the official JFK Memorial, a bizarre series of cement walls that enclose a slate slab with some writing on it, said to be a good place for mediating in the middle of the busy and loud city. They say the Kennedy family approved it, but it doesn’t seem appropriate.
Back at the Marriott we went up to the rooftop bar for a drink and met Dr. Gary Aguilar and a few conspiracy theorists arguing over something or other, so I went out to the balcony and looked over the brightly lit Dallas skyline, Reunion square, and Dealey Plaza.
When we were alone Dr. Aguilar mentioned that all of the West Coast researchers will be meeting over a meal at a San Francisco restaurant in mid-December, an invitation only affair, but one that appears to be building up to be a significant event with David Talbot, Tink Thompson, Bill Simpich, Peter Dale Scott, Paul Hoch, Jim DiEugenio, Lisa Pease and others in the West Coast loop. I would like to be there, but after this trip to Dallas, it doesn’t appear likely, though I look forward to learning what happens there. I’m sure it will make for interesting conversation, as well as a determination as to where we should go from here.