Thursday, February 24, 2011

                     Ruby and Oswald: Connections

                        John Delane Williams

  Whether Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald knew each other has been hotly contested; it has been denied by Warren Commission supporters. [1,2] Such a relationship has been alledged/confirmed by dissenters, though proof of such a relationship is not necessary to otherwise show the Warren Commission was in error (e.g., Kantor [3]). The existence of such a relationship is near fatal to the Warren Commission conclusions. The present purpose is to review instances of a Ruby-Oswald relationship that have been made public.
                      Oswald and the Carousel Club

  In conversations with Gary Shaw [4], Beverly Oliver (who also authored Nightmare in Dallas [5]) told of Oswald entering Ruby's Carousel Club on several occasions. She only started talking about the Oswald-Ruby connection in the 1970's; earlier, she feared for her life; Jada, a stripper at the Carousel Club mentioned the Oswald-Ruby connection on the night of November 22, 1963 at the Carousel Club, and has not been seen since; Oliver assumes she was killed for her looseness of tongue. Kathy Kay (variously, Kathy Clayborne [6] or Kay Coleman [7]), a stripper at the Carousel, danced with Oswald a few nights before the assassination at the club. [8] Sharri Angel (Bobbie Louise Meserole) confirmed Kathy Kay's account, adding that Ruby told Kay to do the bump and grind while dancing with Oswald to embarrass him. [9] William D. Crowe, a nightclub hypnotist who performed under the name Billy DeMar, remarked, after the assassination, that Oswald appeared to be a patron who been at Crowe's preformance the previous week at the Carousel. Crowe stated that "Bill Willis, the drummer in the band at the club, said he seemed to remember Lee Harvey Oswald sitting in the front row on Thursday night right in the corner of the stage and the runway". [10, p. 110] If this sighting referred to November 21, it could be disputed on the grounds that Oswald returned to the Paine's residence in Irving with Wesley Fraizer [11] and therefore could not have been at the Carousel Club.
   Robert Litchfield II testified that he thought he saw Oswald at the Carousel Club in late October or early November, 1963. He was told that positively incorrectly identifying Oswald would lead to a federal charge. Litchfield decided he wasn't that sure. [12] 
   An attorney, Carroll Jarnagin, wrote a letter to J. Edgar Hoover (head of the FBI) two weeks after the assassination, "On Oct. 4, 1963 I was in the Carousel Club in Dallas, Texas, and while I was there I  heard Jack Ruby talking to a man using the name H. L. Lee. These men were talking about plans to kill the Governor of Texas. This information was passed on to the Texas Department on Public Safety on Oct. 5, 1963 by telephone. On Sunday, November 24, 1963, I definitely realized that the picture in the Nov. 23, 1963 Dallas Times Herald of Lee Harvey Oswald was a picture of the man using the name of H. L. Lee whose conversations with Jack Ruby I had overheard"... [13, p. 254] Jarnagin then recounts six pages of this meeting, including a reconstruction of much of the Ruby-Oswald conversation. [14] In that Jarnagin had been accompanied by an exotic dancer, Robin Hood (Shirley Ann Marie Mauldin), the FBI sought to interview her. Mauldin was interviewed at the Douglas County Jail in Omaha, Nebraska. Mauldin said that were she aware of such threats being made,..."she would have not hesitated to report this information"...[15, p. 259]. Given her circumstances (in jail, being interviewed by the FBI) this seems an astute response to make, whether or not she overheard the conversation.
  Wally Weston, the master of ceremonies at the Carousel Club until five days before the assassination (and also the husband of Ruby stripper Sharri Angel) recalled hitting Oswald at the Carousel for saying he thought Weston was a communist. Weston mentioned this incident to Ruby when Ruby was in jail; [16] Ruby had previously denied knowing Oswald. [17] Ruby just looked at Weston without saying anything. [18] Weston also related an incident on his last night at the Carousel Club. Ruby introduced him, but not by name, to 'some friends from Chicago'. Weston left the club and tried to get back in. He was told he couldn't come in then. [19] Inside, according to one of the attendees, Myron Thomas Billet (aka Paul Bucilli), were Ruby, Oswald, Sam Giancana, John Roselli, an FBI man and Billet. The discussion was about a hit on JFK. Giancana and Billet left, not wishing to take part. [20] Ester Ann Mash, a waitress and champagne hostess at the Carousel Club, served drinks at the meeting; at the time, she recognized only Ruby; she recognized Oswald from his pictures after his arrest. [21]  
                   The Silence of the Damsels

  A group of people most likely to know of a Ruby-Oswald connection would seem to be the hostesses, waitresses and dancers at the Carousel Club. Perhaps the disappearance of Jada after talking about Oswald and Ruby together was sufficient to throw fear into the others. Perhaps also, several were interviewed for the Warren Commission but their information could not be sufficiently rebutted; under such circumstances, the Commission might prefer   that it not become part of the public record. One exotic dancer from the Carousel Club who was interviewed by the Warren Commission was Little Lynn (Karen Bennett Carlin). She alternately testified she had seen Oswald at the club, then denied it, then testified that there was a connection between the two men. [22, 23]                         

                  The General Walker Connection

   According to John Henshaw, an investigative reporter for Drew Pearson, Ruby and Oswald were being investigated for the assassination attempt on General Edwin Walker's life in March, 1963. Apparently, the Justice Department didn't want Oswald or Ruby arrested for matters of state. If Henshaw was right, then there existed written communications to the FBI (from the CIA) and the Dallas Police (from the Justice Department, on behalf of the CIA) regarding not arresting either of the men. [24] General Walker called a right-wing German paper on November 23, 1963. About three days later the paper went to press with a story that Oswald and Ruby were the attackers on Walker. [25]
   Madeline Brown, Lyndon Johnson's mistress/lover, [26] was sitting in the Carousel Club talking with her friends in the Spring of 1963, discussing the attempted shooting of General Walker. Someone asked 'Who do you think did it?' Jack Ruby blurted out the name Lee Oswald. Brown took note of the name she had never heard before; her shock was when she heard Oswald had been picked up by the police at the time of the JFK assassination. [27]

                        New Orleans

   At least two different sources place Oswald and Ruby together in New Orleans. Ron Lewis, [28] who claimed to be a friend of Oswald's, witnessed an arms movement involving Ruby, Oswald, Ferrie and Gerald Patrick Hemming, just before the Clinton, LA voter drive. A plan was concocted to sell the arms to Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) members and then have the CORE members arrested by the FBI. The plan was not put into operation, due to too much racial tension at the time. Lewis also relates conversations with Oswald where Oswald talked to him about his relationship with Ruby. Oswald said that he met frequently with Ruby during the first part of October, 1963, beginning on the 5th. Rose [29] tends to doubt Lewis's story.
   Another person thought she saw Ruby visit Oswald at Oswald's apartment in New Orleans. The woman was afraid that Garrison would force her to testify, and she feared for her life if she did. [30]

                             Key West

   As Gaeton Fonzi conducted his investigations with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, he was given a report of a Ruby-Oswald sighting in Key West. He interviewed George Faraldo, who had done reconnaisance photography in flights over Cuba for the CIA. In the summer of 1963 he saw Oswald and Ruby at Key West International Airport as they waited with a group of young people for an Aerovia Q Airline plane to go to Cuba to cut sugar cane; the group was part of the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee." Since the airline no longer had regular flights, the group was in the small airport for much of the day. Oswald mingled with the youth much of the time. Ruby stayed in a corner. As Faraldo tried to find documentation of the flight, he'd discovered files were either routinely destroyed, or else destroyed in a flood. Faraldo had also filmed the group in the airport and sent the undeveloped film to Ralph Renick at WTVJ-TV, where Feraldo did freelancing. Renick tried to find the film about the time of the Garrison investigation, with no avail. [31] Interestingly, Fonzi stated that, "In the files of the FBI there are hundreds of reports of individuals who claimed they saw Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby together before the president's murder." [32, p. 60] While many were seen as baseless, others seemed to have a basis and were from legitimate sources. [33] 

                    The Dallas Police Station

The early linchpin of the likelihood of an Oswald-Ruby connection was the midnight Friday press conference when District Attorney Henry N. Wade said that Oswald belonged to the "Free Cuba Committee", he was immediately corrected by Ruby, who said "Fair Play for Cuba Committee". [34] In that Oswald was the only member in his New Orleans chapter, it is highly unlikely that Ruby would have known this, unless he was very familiar with Oswald's background. Blakely and Billings [35] surmised that Ruby might have read it in a paper, but offer no evidence that that information was available to Ruby or any other citizen of Dallas that quickly after the assassination. Also, at the time of Oswald's being shot on November 24, "Witnesses to the shooting wondered if there wasn't a gleam of recognition in Oswald's eye when Ruby stepped out from the newsmen." [36, p. 133]

                Target Practice at Lake Worth

   A compelling story has been told by Ray "Tex" Brown. [37] Brown was not yet nineteen at the time of the assassination. He was a cowboy and a sometimes bounty hunter, working with his mentor, John Marshall. Marshall was asked to help Jack Ruby and one other person to learn to shoot guns better. Marshall declined, handing the job to Brown. The other person turned out to be Lee Harvey Oswald. Though the book is not entirely definite, meetings for target practice along the shores of Lake Worth (not at a target range) involving both Oswald and Ruby were:         
     October 9, Wednesday, 12:00-2:30 PM;
     October 10, Thursday, 11-1:30 PM;
     October 11, Friday, 11-1:30 PM;
     October 15, Tuesday, 4-5:30 PM;
     October 28, Wednesday, 5:30-6 PM;
     November 6, Wednesday, 5:30-6 PM;
     November 17, Sunday, late afternoon.
  Brown met Oswald for the first time at the Clover Club Cafe at noon on October 9. After 30-45 minutes, they proceeded to Lake Worth. The next three meetings began at the Rodeo Cafe.  Also, Brown met with Ruby, but not Oswald, on October 24 and November 13. While Ruby showed some promise, Oswald did not; on one occasion, Oswald nearly shot himself in the foot trying to do a fast draw. While at the Rodeo Cafe, a comely girl ingratiated herself to Brown so that he might introduce her to Ruby; once Candy made headway as an exotic dancer, her relationship with Brown ended. On November 20th, Brown was offered a million dollars for 'one day's work' by Ruby, which Brown declined. After their November 13th outing, Ruby excitedly showed Brown a "twist board" [38] that Ruby was trying to market; in the latter part of September, 1963, Richard Adams, President of the Pastelite Engineering Company (and maker of the boards) was contacted by Ruby to sell the boards. Though no arrangement had been made, Ruby was still actively pursuing this venture up to the assassination. [39] Ruby may have seen selling these boards as a way to address his chronic money problems.
   Brown agonized about whether to give the Warren Commission his information about the assassination; there was the danger of being killed; John Marshall, his mentor, had been shot in the back five times and died. Brown also promised Lyndon Johnson to keep his mouth shut. He decided to call investigators from the Warren Commission. Without telling them his name, he said that he had very important information about Oswald and Ruby. Brown was told, "We appreciate your call very much, sir, but the investigation is nearly concluded, and we have the information we need." [40, p. 224]
                      Other Alleged Sightings

   Bill Chesher was supposed to have information linking Oswald and Ruby; Chesher died of a sudden heart attack in March 1964. [41]
When shown a newspaper article shortly after the assassination wherein Ruby claimed he didn't know Oswald, Rose Cherami, who had been an employee at the Carousel, laughed and said, "They were bedmates!" [42, p. 57] Miss Cherami was killed by a hit and run driver on October 4, 1965 in Big Sandy, Texas. [43] Clyde Johnson asserted a relationship among Ruby, Oswald, Ferrie and Clay Shaw (presumably a homosexual relationship); Johnson was beaten the day before his scheduled appearance at the Shaw trial and murdered with a shotgun shortly thereafter. [44]
  A possible Ruby-Oswald connection was contained in the Warren Report. A boarder at the same house as Oswald (owned by Earlene Roberts) was John Carter, who was friends with Wanda Killiam, who had known Ruby since 1947. [45, p. 363] Carter worked with Hank Killiam, Wanda's husband, as a house painter. All three were possible sources of showing a Ruby-Oswald connection. Killiam was found dead with his throat cut and his body thrown through a department store window in Pensacola, FL on March 17, 1964. [46] Another possibility is that Ruby knew or was aware of Oswald through Roscoe and Geneva White. Roscoe was a Dallas police officer and an acquaintance of Ruby who had visited in Ruby's office, where Geneva (a B girl at the Carousel Club) overheard plans regarding the assassination. [47] Roscoe and Geneva White and Oswald went to a rifle range, where Oswald was reported to be a poor shot. [48] Former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox was told by his mother that she saw Ruby and Oswald have dinner together at the restaurant where she was a waitress. [49]
   Dallas electronics salesman Robert K. Patterson sold equipment to Ruby and a person who appeared to be Oswald on November 1, 1963. The Warren Commission concluded that the person with Ruby was Larry Crafard, an employee of the Carousel Club. [50]
   Four Dallas deputies, Billy Preston, Robie Love, Mike Calahan and Ben Cash (the latter three are referred to as Constables) examined a boxful of handwritten notes that linked Ruby and Oswald. The box and contents were handed over to District Attorney Henry Wade in late 1963 or early 1964. Wade claimed he couldn't remember receiving the papers. Among the papers were a photocopy of a Daily Worker press card issued to Ruby, a motel receipt from a motel near New Orleans dated several weeks prior to the assassination with both Ruby's and Oswald's name on it, and a handwritten note about a plan to assassinate Kennedy in Wisconsin. Several other papers were in the box as well. [51]
   A stripper at the Midnight Lounge in Dallas, Pixie Lynn (Helen Smith) reportedly stated to Travis Binkendorfer, a bartender there, that Ruby and Oswald were present at a recent party in Dallas. When interviewed at her lawyer's office by the Secret Service, she denied all details, including having worked on November 22. The interview was at the request of the Secret Service who asked for an affidavit with her denial. This request upset her considerably and she requested that the affidavit, typed by a Secret Service stenographer, be done at her lawyer's office. "This case remains open for discussion with the United States Attorney as to prosecution of Birkendorfer, interview with Birkendorfer if warranted." [52, p. 185] It is hard not to suspect the heavy hand of the government to try to scuttle all allegations of a Ruby-Oswald connection.
   While it might be argued that some of the sightings of Ruby and Oswald were either mistaken identities or fanciful products of imaginative minds, the heavy hand of the government can be seen in intimidating witnesses [53]. It appears that the government took the point of view that witnesses that gave the "wrong" testimony were treated as hostile witnesses, and sometimes threatened with prosecution. While photographs of the two together haven't yet been made public (if any were taken), nevertheless, it is highly unlikely the two men were strangers at their encounter in the basement of the Dallas Police Building.
     
 Notes
1. Posner, G. (1993). Case Closed. New York: Random House.
2. Blakely, G.R. & Billings, R.N. (1981).The Plot to Kill the
   President. New York: Times Book.
3. Kantor, (1978). The Ruby Cover-up. New York: Kensington Pub.
4. Shaw, J.G. with Harris, L. (1976, 1992). Cover-up. Austin, TX:     Collector's Editions.
5. Oliver, B. with Buchanan, C. (1994). Nightmare in Dallas.          Lancaster, PA: Starburst Publishers.
6. 26H 262-263.
7. Rose, J.D. (1987). You Don't Know Me but You Will: The World of     Jack Ruby. The Third Decade. 4#2, 1-28.
8. Dallas Times Herald, 5-22-75, as cited in Shaw, J.G. with          Harris, L.(1976, 1992). Cover-up. Austin, TX: Collector's          Editions.
9. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New     York: Carroll & Graf.
10. 14H 110.
11. Newman, A.H. (1970). The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: The      Reasons Why. New York: Potter.
12. 14H 107-108.
13. 26H 254-261.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New      York: Carroll & Graf.
17. The Warren Commission Report. (1964). New York: Barnes & Noble      Books.
18. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New      York: Carroll & Graf.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. 12H 219.
23. 15H 658-659.
24. Piper, M.C. (1995). Final Judgment: The Missing Link in the JFK      Assassination Conspiracy . Washington: The Wolfe Press.        25. Meagher, S. (1967). Accessories After the Fact: The Warren         Commision, the Authorities and the Report. New York: Vintage.
26. Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of         Madeline Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore,      MD: Conservatory Press.
27. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New      York; Carroll & Graf.
28. Lewis, R. (1993). Flashback. Roseburg, OR: Lewcom Productions.
29. Rose, J.D. (1997). Letters to the Editor: Rose Responds. The       Fourth Decade. 4#6, 15.
30. Piper, M.C. (1995). Final Judgment: The Missing Link in the JFK      Assassination Conspiracy . Washington: The Wolfe Press.        31. Fonzi, G. (1993). The Last Investigation. New York: Thunder        Mouth Press.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. NBC newsreel footage, November 23, 1963. New York: NBC News        Archives.
35. Blakely, G.R. & Billings, R.N. (1981). The Plot to Kill the        President. New York: Times Book.
36. Curry, J. (1969). JFK Assassination File. Dallas, TX: self.
37. Brown, R. with Lassiter, D. (1996). Broken Silence: The Truth      about Lee Harvey Oswald, LBJ, and the Assassination of JFK. New      York: Pinnacle Press.
38. 26H 180.
39. 26H 458.
40. Brown, R. with Lassiter, D. (1996). Broken Silence: The Truth      about Lee Harvey Oswald, LBJ, and the Assassination of JFK. New      York: Pinnacle Press.
41. Roberts, C. & Armstrong, J. (1995). JFK: The Dead Witnesses.       Tulsa, OK: Consolidated Press.
42. Shaw, J.G. with Harris, L. (1976,1992). Cover-up. Austin, TX:      Collector's Editions.
43. Ibid.
44. Penn Jones, cited in Groden, R.J. & Livingston, H.E. (1989).
    High Treason. New York: The Conservatory Press.
45. The Warren Commission Report. (1964). New York: Barnes & Noble.
46. Roberts, C. & Armstrong, J. (1995). JFK: The Dead Witnesses.       Tulsa, OK: Consolidated Press.
47. Livingston, H.E. (1992). High Treason 2: The Great Cover-up:       The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York:          Carroll & Graf.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New      York; Carroll & Graf.
51. Ibid.
52. 26H 184-185.
53. Meagher, S. (1967). Accessories After the Fact: The Warren         Commision, the Authorities and the Report. New York: Vintage.


Presented to the Twin Cities (MN) JFK Research Group, April, 2004.

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