I wrote to Jim Glover, of Jim & Jean a wonderful folk-duo from the mid 60s. He sent me this story of his strange days touring....I present it as I received it.
Later, we were driving up the East coast of Florida on the Bus with only a few people on board this time, when someone points out a big house on the ocean side of the road and says, "there's the Kennedy family's house". After a while I wanted to mail a post card home and Thin Tom, who was kind of in charge at this point, says that I can mail it when we stop -- but I had to do it in a certain way. The bus stopped and across the street on the left side of the road was a Post Office. I was about to go over and mail it but was told not to and to wait for the right time. I waited for quite a while and then Thin Tom said let's go and we went into the post office just around closing time and I gave it to the Post office mail clerk. Why I was told to wait is always been a mystery to me. I still have the post card and the time stamp of its mailing which someone later pointed out is right after closing time for the Post Office. I guess it did have an intimidating effect on my freedom. I wrote something like -- "the tour is almost over... what a grind". I guess the bus was almost empty for a reason cause more strangers got on and I always thought that one of those Watergate guys might have been one of the strangers who got on around the time we left Florida and were moving West towards Texas again.
I also remember someone saying, "the Corsican Brothers are here"! Whoever they were and exactly where we were at that point I don't recall or why it stuck in my mind, except it was when a lot of mean and strange characters were on the bus, but this part of the trip is the foggiest of all and I think I spent as much time as I could sleeping. I remember we were told we were on our way to Corpus Christi for a gig and it took a long time to get there or wherever we ended up. There were some musicians on the bus now and a few were getting into squirt gun fights. All of a sudden a musician, who claimed he was a Black Belt, started firing a blank gun off at the ceiling. The Bus driver put on the brakes, stopped the bus and said, "What the hell is goin on!" and ....OK, sorry. The bus driver began the trip again after a bit of a scare. After a short while we made a pit stop and when the driver got on the bus he said that President Kennedy had just been shot. There was total silence on the bus. The bus driver, got in his seat and continued on to where I always thought was Corpus Christi, but I still haven't found out for sure where we were booked the day JFK was shot. I remember standing outside a concert hall were the Hollywood Hootenanny was in progress and we must have just gotten there late and two men in suits come up and one tells me that President Kennedy had died. I didn't know who these men were and I got the feeling that they were looking closely at me for my reaction and I was looking for their reaction so I don't think I knew what to think at that point except that I seemed to be swept up into something where they were in control over me somehow ... so far away from home, and wondering -- if they can kill the President, am I next?
We went to eat at a big pit-stop nearby the collage concert and I was starting to talk to one of the musicians in the tour who I had not been in contact with since I was on another bus that day. I think I mentioned that I was on another bus but whoever I was talking to didn't say anything unusual was going on with them. After we had lunch we were all lining up to get on the bus and there was talk of canceling the rest of the tour because of the Assassination. I was blocked from getting on the bus by a man who stood in the door with his arms spread so that I could not get past. When I tried to get on again when I saw that there was still room on it and others were allowed to get on, I found myself surrounded by a group of very young people -- mostly short -- and they were leaning in on me so tightly that I could not move and some of the short people were cheering and kind of acting like they were fans or something as the bus was getting ready to leave. A tall man behind me was twisting my arm and telling me to be quiet and not to resist as I called out to the bus as it began to pull out -- "Remember This!" I remember the facial structure of the man who was twisting my arm because it reminded me of an old junior high friend, Dennis, and many decades latter when I saw the face of the Haitian general, Raul Cedras, it made me think it could have been him. So after a brief pause, Tour Bus number 2 pulls up and I somehow managed to get on without freaking out -- or because of it -- as I found myself so inwardly scared and trying to stay alive in a completely isolated, hostile and terrifying environment. Bronze Star? How about Medal of the Freaked.
After I was gently persuaded to get on the second bus I don't recall seeing any other tour musicians and the bus was only half full if that. The bus was very quiet and nobody was making waves and they were all strangers to me including the bus driver. At one point one of the strange passengers took over the driving and a man was standing at the front of the bus gave the order for everyone to pull down the shades on all the passenger windows which I also obeyed. I was sitting on the driver side near the middle rear. No one was next to me and the bus was kind of dark even though it was a very sunny day, but I could see out the front windshield. The driver kept making a lot of turns and it seemed like unnecessary maneuvering for some reason and the order was given to -- "not look out the windows". The bus stopped and through the windshield all I could see was a lot of sunny open space and concrete type ground that we were parked on but someone must have peeked outside cause he said, "Were at an airport!" I could hear a lot of commotion outside the bus like people were loading or unloading stuff in the luggage compartments under the floor. A whole new group of strangers got on and there were quite a few cause the bus was getting full. Some were in casual clothes, and some were in suits and there were at least two in Dallas police uniforms. Two big guys in suits had custody of a man -- like they had just arrested him. Their captured man had very short hair like a military crew cut but wearing a big cowboy hat which looked strange to me since most cowboys that I ever saw were in the movies and they always had longer haircuts but maybe this was common in modern day Texas. The man was obviously scared and had tears in his eyes as he was being treated as a man who was under arrest but not in any official way since nothing that was happening was official or even believable. The man's features reminded me of a friend in college, Mark Tepping, and after the trip I realized that the resemblance was very close to Lee Oswald. So, the men in suits were leaning on the Oswald look-alike as he was sitting in the window seat with the man next to him and the man on the seat behind him restricting his movements in a manner that said "you are dead if you make any noise or trouble". At one point around this time a man who looked a bit older than the others sat down in the seat in front of me and turned around and looked at me and said, "How's the trip?" I don't recall if I responded to him at all but he was so bizarre looking with funny eyebrows and a reddish wig that made him look weird ...like a clown.
The bus traveled and traveled for quite some time and would stop maybe once or twice for someone to get on or off. At one of these stops a man got on and the clown turned to me and said pointing to that man -- "Do you know him?". I didn't really know what to say or why he would ask that. Right after the next pit stop, I was looking at the faces on the bus as I walked back to my seat and tried to act casual about it. They were still holding the Oswald look-alike under their control and he still looked mighty scared and I saw the Dallas police insignia on the arm of one of the guys in uniform and as I looked to my right where the man was sitting who the clown was asking about, something raced through my head as I observed he was sitting by the window on the drivers side of the isle and next to him on the isle side seat was a sort of familiar looking shorter fat man with kind of a piggy bulldog face. They both looked at me as I walked by and nobody said anything but for some reason my friend Johnny Yakel popped in my mind and it hit me that he was the man who wanted me to spy on my folks. I don't believe I said anything about that to the clown and I was pretty quiet. After a while someone pointed out to me that we were driving around in circles as we passed through a very nice park like area and it did look like an area that we had already driven past. I think the man who wanted me to spy got off around that time because that was the last time I saw him in person. Around dusk it seems we were in a national forest and pulled into the Pines Motel which was right next to an Army National Guard facility with high security fences. Thin Tom showed up when we walked up the little hill to the office and at a small bar inside men were having a great time celebrating. Thin Tom turned to me and asked, "Didn't Kennedy just get shot"? Now I wanted to call home. I asked some guys at the bar where we were and they said, "Dallas". I called home and talked to my dad who remembered that I called that night and said I was in Dallas. It was dark soon and as I looked out to the horizon it was pitch black out there -- hardly even a light anywhere -- and I knew this could not be Dallas. The compound which was called The Pines Motel went back quite a ways on a gradual incline away from the highway and office up to the woods way in the back. I was staying the night in a little mini-barracks like room with a very military green drab atmosphere with a cot, no radio or TV, and I think I was about out of money so don't remember if I paid for it or what.
There was a lot of celebrating and whooping it up that I could hear going on outside that night as I sat in the room and at one point someone came in and said, "don't go outside tonight because there is a guy with a shotgun looking for the guy who killed Kennedy". I think there were shots fired that night and I never saw the Oswald look-alike again. The next morning I was standing by the office and looking down the hill where the bus was parked and there were some men moving stuff around in the luggage compartment. Thin Tom said "look at that guy there ... he sure looks weird!". He was talking about the clown who was asking me about the man who wanted me to spy on my family. It seemed like the clown, who I later came to believe was David Ferrie, was in charge of the arranging of whatever was going on in the luggage compartment. That afternoon we were called to a meeting in a larger kitchen barracks type room in the rear of the motel compound and were told that the tour is really over now. Later before dark, as we were lining up to get on the bus, I was told for the first time that I would have to take my guitar and suitcase on the bus and could not put it in the luggage as usual.
I remember being kinda miffed at that and right after we took off, we passed another place a short piece down the road where I was told that many of the musician's in the tour stayed the night. I wanted to be sure and remember where we were so I kept my face pressed to the window looking for the first road sign. It wasn't long before I saw it -- The sign read -- "Point Blank Texas". On the trip back to LA there were a couple of men sitting in front of me and the one on the left had some kind of a light weight, hi tech earphones similar to the type that is now commonly used in law enforcement, and I think back in those days, was mostly for Secret Service. I started talking to the guy right in front of me who said he was in the government and he said, "NASA". I Asked him if he knew who shot Kennedy, and he said they had some investigation going and that Hoover was around the day before and they decided that they didn't think it was the Cubans. I asked him if they had any ideas on who and he said that there was some kind of a test on the President's security where someone was supposed to shoot at the president and miss but may have accidentally hit him instead.
This is interesting because later in the trip, I noticed a black man for the first time who looked like an actor that I might have seen in a movie or something of a stereotype and he was in the back of the bus and I believe he was sitting next to one of the musicians on the tour.... Anyway, many years later I was telling this story to someone who seemed to know a lot about it and they said that the black man was the actor who had a big part in the movie, "God's Little Acre". Then around 1990, I was reading Gerald Fords book on the Warren Commission where one of the eye witnesses at Dealy Plaza said after he heard a shot, he looked up and in the window were he thought the shot came from and he said he saw a Colored man with a white spot on his head looking out of the window. I always wondered if that could be the same man I saw on the bus and one day as I was watching TV, the actor who was in the movie God's Little Acre was getting an award or at some function and the TV camera, as if it was reading my mind, focused in on the top of his head where it appeared he had a circle of white hair but only in that area of his head did it look white.
So naturally, I'm thinking that could explain the shot that missed Kennedy by a mile and hit the curb and injured a bystander at Dealy Plaza. What a perfect deception that would be and the rest of the shots in the crossfire would almost out of necessity been done from guns with silencers and probably each shooter would try to hit with their first shot so that their position would not be shown to anyone who might happen to look or even heard a muffled shot. There were a lot of open windows in the buildings at Dealy Plaza where a shooter could be in a room back far enough from a window so that they could not be easily seen from the street. And, of course that includes the shot from the front that probably came from the storm sewer that hit JFK in the temple and knocked him back with his blood and pieces of his skull hitting the motorcycle policeman who was directly behind Kennedy in an area that was in a line of fire from the storm sewer. So the man, whoever he was, who fired the shot that hit the curb could have been tricked into doing something he thought was OK, and not even be aware that he was a diversionary decoy. In fact, come to think of it, a lot of what I was told and saw could have been disinformation. Even so... the purpose of disinformation is to protect the truth from being known. So, the Bus continued on to California. Around that evening, which would have been Saturday night, someone in the back of the bus said, "Hey, I hear voices coming from the floor of the bus!". Nobody said anything but some people seemed puzzled but the driver ignored the claim. After a while longer he said again -- "Hey there are people talking, I hear voices coming from under the bus!"
So I went to the back of the bus and sat in the last rear long seat and listened for a while but could not hear anything even when I put my ear to the seat cushion. After a while I went back to my seat and soon someone else said -- "Yea I hear it there are people talking below". The driver never checked it out during the whole trip back continuing to ignore the claims of voices. Jean was feeling sick so the Bus stopped at a hospital in the middle of the night and I remember an American Indian couple with a baby that was crying wanted some help but the nun at the desk was refusing.... Very strange trip. Jean must have felt better soon and we were off again. The next day we were driving in the mountains and someone noticed that we were being followed. Three gray military cars -- I think two sedans and a larger van -- seemed like they were checking us out and maybe escorting us for a while. I could see them slowly pass and look up at me and then after passing, would slow down and get behind us again.
This continued for quite a while. I had an urge to start signaling them for help, but I already suspected government involvement in the plot so I stifled myself and they eventually were gone. I think we returned to LA via a bus station in Glendale. It was late night when we finally stopped I got my gear and guitar and got off the bus and waited to see what the deal was with the voices and I was curious as to why I wasn't allowed to use the luggage compartment. The passengers and some people who looked like they were there to meet the bus stood around for a long time for the luggage compartment to be opened which usually didn't take any time at all. All of a sudden two men walking very fast and side by side approached the luggage compartments and simultaneously opened both luggage compartment doors and immediately three men ran out. The first two took off to the left and the third at first crouching, his hand trying to block the sudden change in the lighting (it must have been pretty dark in there) jumped out and ran right past me and into the lobby of the station and was gone. There were a few gasps from the crowd but no protests or talk about it at all. The guy that ran by me had a pockmarked face and the best I can do to describe him is he looked like General Noreiga in a dark jump suit as he ran with kind of a waddle. Well, the next thing I recall is Jim, the guy who talked me into going, was there and I said, "Did you see that?... What was that all about?" And he dismissed it by saying -- "Oh they're just some Wetbacks". He did not say anything about the Kennedy assassination at all or talk to me about what I saw on the trip. Everyone acted like nothing ever happened.
The next day I started seeing on the news that the guy who shot JFK was killed by Jack Ruby and since Oswald was the "lone gunman", the case was closed as far as the media and the FBI were concerned. From what I had been through, this made no sense and when I would ever try to explain to anyone, it seemed to scare them or they didn't believe my story which probably was not believable anyway. But there was some dissent and there were witnesses in Dealy Plaza who told of shots coming from the front and a puff of smoke and suspicious activity on the grassy knoll and soon I was hearing tales of witnesses having unfortunate accidents and being killed and all that kind of stuff that Americans are familiar with. I was hoping for some kind of breakthrough that would cause a real investigation, but the war in Viet Nam escalated and the Warren Commission gave a whitewash. I read many decades later that Earl Warren was told by President Johnson that because of Oswald's suspicious trip to Russia, it was in the interest of preventing a nuclear war, that Oswald be found guilty with no conspiracy involved. Allen Dulles told his fellow commissioners that if there was government involvement, whoever they were would lie to the commission. And Commissioner Gerald Ford even moved a wound on JFK's back about five inches or so to his neck on the written report so that it would conform to the unbelievable "Single Bullet Theory" which was absolutely necessary to block any ideas about a conspiracy. Was I scared?... You bet. And the fear has never really gone away.
So, When Phil and I got together after the Assassination, I told him about what I went through in Texas, he said -- "I was in Dealy Plaza the day they shot JFK". He went on to explain how he was told by his contacts to get a haircut and go there to observe the operation. He said it was a "security" mission, but I believe that we were being set up so that the political Left could be implicated or blamed. Why not? Hoover's FBI hated us and Blacks in general. So having a Black man shooting from a window and a folksinger at and near the scene who didn't live in Texas was a way to focus attention on the left if it would have been necessary. But since Oswald the patsy was killed and dead men don't tell tales it was easier for everyone to forget the truth.
Phil never told anyone else as far as I know about how he was filmed in Dealy Plaza that day. But when he heard that I was talking about it between songs at the Gaslight he said "What are you trying to do, get me killed?"
Well, this is what his song, Crucifixion, is really all about.