Sometimes information comes to me in dreams. I get huge downloads of information while I sleep. Last night, I was on the Papal and Pynchon Trail at the same time. (Why me?) I was led to a woman’s name. I told Pynchon we have to stop playing games because the Pope has called for a Holy Crusade against ISIS, and I need to blog on this. Tom gave me her name, that I could not quite make out. I tried to focus in and get it. This caused me to wake up…..with this conscious thought;
“Lee Harvard Oswald worked for Boeing, for NASA. So did Mary Ann, and….
“In the early 1960s, Phyllis was a Spanish teacher in Seattle, married to Fred Gebauer, a mechanical engineer doing work at Boeing he couldn’t discuss. At a party celebrating a mutual friend’s new piano, the two met Pynchon, a technical writer working for another part of Boeing.”
Then it hit me, how similar Thomas Pynchon is to Lee Harvey Oswald. They have been on a parelel path living a double life. These INFAMOUS LONERS are famous for their SECRETS, their covert activity. Some of the best detective minds have failed to discover WHO Lee was. Consider all the cult-like literary guesses about these two men, that if stacked up, would reach to the ceiling!
Has Tom made the Oswald connection? I had read about the Reily Coffee Company a year ago when I blogged extensively about the Kennedy assassination that some blame on the failed Bay of Pigs CIA operation. I googled ‘Oswald’ and ‘Aerospace’ and found this article and this name
“I then noticed that Alfred Claude, who hired Oswald for Reily, had also gone to work for the Chrysler Aerospace Division.”
Your CIA boss would be a real pig for information. Was Tom working on an assignment for the CIA? Did Mary Ann Thararldsen get him a job working for the CIA at Boeing? What were these eggheads doing in Mexico? What was Oswald doing in Mexico? Tom had to know folks around him could not talk about what they did for money and country. The Mailman has been corrupted. No one gets close the truth.
As I came fully awake, I thought about my mother’s job at Rucker, a company that made hydrolics for the Space Industry in Emeryville California. Rosemary would tell her children she helps some of the brightest minds in the country get their act together. They were eggheads. CIA material.
“Your mother helps put men in space.”
Once a year Rosemary would throw an office party. She was in charge of entertainment. There was a Jazz band that practiced at our home. My mother had these Space Men dress like Can-Can Girls. My father hated all the attention she was getting. Then she met Big Bones Remmer in the Key Club, a legal gambling joint in Emeryville.
Rosemary Rosamond, the ex-mother-in-law of Mary Ann Tharaldsen, scored the second highest score in the history of WAVES (Navy) when they gave her a IQ test. She was put to work spying on the Russians in Seattle where they intercepted radio chatter and deciphered it.
My brother worked on the Space Shuttles at Hughes Aircraft. He told me he had same TOP SECURITY clearance as the President. He designed War Toys. Mark’s wife was Sue Lyon’s good friend. My brother would drive Sue to Santa Monica College. Sue starred in the movie ‘Lolita’.
My reclusive brother disappeared himself. In 1987 he showed me a video of his top secret work. They were making tanks impervious to gas warfare. He said;
“We are like boys with new toys. We will play with them one day. This is why I want you to find some land in Oregon and build our family a bunker.”
In Boris Kachka’s article on Pynchon, he speaks of the dislusionment Tom suffered after being admitted into a inner circle at Boeing. He speaks of a “death-wish” he acquired there. Mary Ann was a part of that circle. Consider the “death-wish” in her apocalyptic paintings. Lee Harvey Oswald seems to have the same world-view, he not able to find himself after being introduced to the ‘World of Spooks’. No one is who they say they are! This is key!
Pynchon wrote the Minuteman Field Service News when he worked at Boeing that made the Minuteman ICBM missile. Did he want to own more math so he could actually build a missle, and get paid more money? He carried around fireworks and rockets that he would set-off. How many bright college kid’s brain and identities were buried in those secret silos hidden the cornfields of Kansas? During the Cuban Missle Crisis Rosemary told her kids;
“We were considering invading Russia at the end of the war.”
Rosemary also announced;
“I know who killed Kennedy.”
“Who?” her four children asked.
“I can’t tell you.”
There was enough paranoia to go round. Every family in America owned some. Mark worked at the Redstone Arsenal repairing ICBMs. He took the photo of my new bride and I at his home. My brother had a plan, that after Armageddon we would merge from the family bunker, kill all surviving males, rape all the women, and get each other’s offspring – with child! We would repopulate the earth! ZARDOZ!
Mary Ann is/was the ‘All American Girl’ who bragged she descended from Vikings who discovered America. She was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Was she a CIA Recruiter who led eggheads down the yellow-brick road, she answering her country’s calling to put a man in space, do something more spectacular than SPUTNIK?
We have arrived in Oz. We tear down the curtain and find THE COLD WAR. Oaths have been taken. There is a CODE OF SILENCE. Our brightest minds are given a new name. It doesn’t take long for them to conclude they have been compromised, and used. There is no way out of this covert world.
I thank the writer, Boris Kaccha, for his article on Pynchon and Mary Ann, that took us into the UNKNOWN. Boris took a good shot in the dark.
“Let there be light!”
It’s time for Tom to come out of the cold.
“On the face of it, the idea that [the Marxist] Oswald could get a job at a space agency installation requiring security clearance seems preposterous. . . . But [Jim] Garrison points out that it is an open secret that the CIA uses the NASA facility as a cover for clandestine operations.”
According to Bailey, Pynchon “wrote for an intramural sheet called the ‘Minuteman Field Service News’ (to be distinguished from the company’s official house organ, The Boeing News).” Specifically, the two men “worked in the Minuteman Logistics Support Program,” and Pynchon had “a ‘Secret’ clearance.” Pynchon, Bailey recalls, was an introvert, had few friends at Boeing, and, while working, would occasionally “shroud himself in the enormous stiff sheets of paper used for engineering drawings and work within this cocoon, like an aerospace Bartleby, by whatever light filtered in” (96). The men became friendly when “Bailey made a casual literary reference one day, which generated an immediate and enthusiastic response from Pynchon.” Pynchon, Bailey discovered, was “‘very literate'” and also well-versed in “technical matters” (97). Unfortunately, Bailey’s reminiscences end there (except for a further brief reference, relegated to an endnote, to Pynchon’s technical competence), and Cowart, like Winston, fails to inquire further–about either Minuteman Field Service News or, more intriguingly, what Pynchon wrote for it.
“Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News. The aerospace giant was just then developing the Minuteman, a nuclear-capable missile that likely inspired Pynchon, years later, to cast Germany’s World War II–era V-2 rocket as the screaming menace of Gravity’s Rainbow. (One of the joys of tracking Pynchon is tracing the far-flung interconnections in his work to unlikely real-world experiences—dating an NSA worker; seeing Charles de Gaulle in Mexico; fooling around on a primitive music synthesizer in 1972.)
Boeing-built Minuteman missile systems, operated by the Air Force Combat Command, are long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage, intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying single or multiple nuclear warheads.
The program, which began in 1958, is one of the company’s longest military contracts. By April 1967, 1,000 Minuteman missiles were operational and installed in six sites across the country. At peak production, 39,700 Boeing people worked on Minuteman projects. The company built, installed and maintained the missiles in their silos and trained Air Force personnel involved in the program.
Originally a chemical weapons manufacturing facility for World War II, the arsenal became the focal point of the Army’s rocket and space projects, including development of the first U.S. ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles in the 1950s.
Engineering physics, the hardest program at Cornell, was meant to supply Cold War America with its elites—the best and the brightest, junior league. One professor called its students “intellectual supermen”; Pynchon’s old friend David Shetzline remembers them as “the slide-rule boys.” But after less than two years in the major, Pynchon left Cornell in order to enlist in another Cold War operation, the Navy. He once wrote that calculus was “the only class I ever failed,” but he’s always used self-deprecation to deflect inquiries, and professors remembered universally good grades. Tharaldsen says she saw Pynchon’s IQ score, somewhere in the 190s. So why would he leave? He wrote much later about feeling in college “a sense of that other world humming out there”—a sense that would surely nag him from one city to another for the rest of his life. He was also in thrall to Thomas Wolfe and Lord Byron. Most likely he wanted to follow their examples, to experience adventure at ground level and not from the command centers.
His alienation had begun to coalesce into a worldview. Pynchon had written to the Sales that Seattle “is a nightmare. If there were no people in it it would be beautiful.” In his next letter, he complained that a group of “ten more or less individuals” at Boeing, “assembled in a conference room … turned into something else: The Magazine.” His letters, like his books, brim with the tension between individuals and groups, between intense curiosity and hopeless disillusionment. For much of his life he would flee crowds and cities, dipping a toe into cultures and communities and then leaving and skewering them in turn. (Friends describe him, in person as on the page, as an incomparable mimic.) Only rarely do we see him ask himself why—as when the Sales, later, pressed him on whether he hated Mexico, too. “What I hate is inside, not outside,” he wrote back, “a kind of deathwish I never knew I had.
In Mexico, Tharaldsen says, Pynchon wrote all night, slept all day, and kept mostly to himself. When he didn’t write, he read—mainly Latin American writers like Jorge Luis Borges, a big influence on his second novel, The Crying of Lot 49. (He also translated Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl.”)
In his next letter, he complained that a group of “ten more or less individuals” at Boeing, “assembled in a conference room … turned into something else: The Magazine.” His letters, like his books, brim with the tension between individuals and groups, between intense curiosity and hopeless disillusionment. For much of his life he would flee crowds and cities, dipping a toe into cultures and communities and then leaving and skewering them in turn.
NASA or NADA?
Lee Oswald: Space Cadet?
Since conspiracy theorists suspect every other U.S. government agency of some sinister role in Kennedy’s assassination, it’s no surprise to find that they suspect NASA too.
Anthony Summers writes:
“Before he left the William Reily Coffee Company, Oswald visited [garage owner Adrian Alba] to say goodbye. According to the record, he had been fired for malingering. Yet Oswald seemed pleased, telling Alba he expected to work next at the New Orleans plant of NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He never did work there, although four of his colleagues at Reily did move to NASA within weeks of Oswald’s departure. At all events Oswald departed, telling Alba, ‘I have found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'” (Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1989, Paragon House, 284).
This struck me as an extremely intriguing claim, and I wondered if I could verify it.
The sources listed in Summers’ endnotes (p. 589) refer to Adrian Alba’s recollections of Oswald, but not the particular claim that four of Oswald’s Reily co-workers moved “to NASA within weeks of Oswald’s departure.”
When Thomas Pynchon is just Tom: A remarkable collection debuts
May 5, 2011 | 2:08 pm
Thomas Pynchon has surfaced in a remarkable book collection and the memories of his lifelong friend Phyllis Gebauer, who shared stories of one of America’s most reclusive writers Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The only known collection of signed first editions of Pynchon’s works, a gift to the UCLA Extension Writers Program, debuted at an invitation-only event in Westwood. Although the exceedingly private author does not hold public book signings, he sent inscribed copies of each of his books as they were published to Phyllis and Fred Gebauer. The writer and the couple became friends in the early 1960s.
Most of Pynchon’s inscriptions include personal comments. In “The Crying of Lot 49,” Pynchon wrote, “For Fred and Phyllis, who saw this first, though we’re still friends anyway. — Tom.” One, in “Gravity’s Rainbow,” includes an illustration of a smiling pig, harking back to a piñata the Gebauers brought him as a gift when they were all living in Southern California.
Phyllis Gebauer was at the event to discuss the books, her friendship with Pynchon — whom she calls “Tom” — and the collection, which she hopes will fund scholarships to the UCLA Extension Writers Program where Gebauer has taught for more than two decades.
Gebauer talked to Pynchon extensively about the gift. “When Tom lived in L.A. he did a lot of research at the UCLA research library,” she said. “He likes the idea of these books being used to fund scholarships.” The two spoke on the phone for 90 minutes Tuesday, she said. Pynchon followed up with a fax, which Gebauer read to Wednesday night’s audience.
“I was planning to skydive into the middle of these proceedings,” joked Pynchon, who didn’t even attend the National Book Awards when “Gravity’s Rainbow” won in 1974. “Thank you for your teaching,” he continued. “Good work and good vibes to everybody there.”
The relationship between Pynchon and the Gebauers was based on a strange combination: a shared reticence paired with playfulness. And a fondness for charades.
In the early 1960s, Phyllis was a Spanish teacher in Seattle, married to Fred Gebauer, a mechanical engineer doing work at Boeing he couldn’t discuss. At a party celebrating a mutual friend’s new piano, the two met Pynchon, a technical writer working for another part of Boeing. Pynchon and Fred clowned around by reaching into the piano and plucking out the Yogi Bear theme song on its strings — “which did not delight the host,” Phyllis Gebauer said Wednesday night.
Fred couldn’t talk about his work, and Pynchon never mentioned he was writing a novel — instead, they talked and joked and Phyllis made lasagna and they played charades. “He’s a great charades player,” Phyllis said. “He’s great at puns. They’re awful.”
Fred and Phyllis only learned that Pynchon had been working on a novel when he sent them a copy of his first book, “V,” published in 1963.
The Gebauers’ lives separated from Pynchon’s. Phyllis, in a “mini-memoir” distributed at the event, wrote that aerospace workers of the era were called ” ‘aero-braceros,’ because they changed jobs and locales as frequently as Mexican field hands.”
The couple had moved several times in just a few years when Fred took a job at NASA — another one he couldn’t discuss — and, after being in Houston just a week, they bumped into Pynchon after a concert. “Phyl, Fred, what are you guys doing here?” she remembers Pynchon calling to them. The coincidence was the kind of thing that might happen in one of Pynchon’s books — but in Pynchon’s world it would have been the result of a deep and complex conspiracy.
The reconnected friends spent a lot of time together. In her mini-memoir, titled “Tom and Us,” Phyllis writes that Pynchon and Fred used to shoot toy rockets off the roof of their Houston house. She recalls that more than once she’d be talking to Pynchon on the phone, hand it over to Fred when she left for one of her graduate school classes — and she’d return hours later to find Fred still sitting in their knotty-pine lined family room, still talking to Tom on the other end of line.
“Tom at the time was working on ‘The Crying of Lot 49,’ and when that book came out and I read about his heroine — Oedipa Mass — ‘layering lasagna’ at the beginning of Chapter One,” Phyllis writes, “well, I can’t prove it, but hey — I’m sure that was our lasagna!”
When the Gebauers left Houston for Los Angeles Pynchon was right there with them — literally. They drove their Volvo and Pynchon drove their Hillman convertible. While living in Southern California — Pynchon is thought to have resided in Manhattan Beach, though Phyllis carefully avoided mentioning any specifics — their friendship continued, and the Gebauers brought Pynchon a pig piñata, which they named Claude.
A previously unpublished photograph of Phyllis, Claude and Pynchon — just his right arm, extending from behind a door with his hand in a peace sign — appears at the back of “Tom and Us,” dated 1965.
Claude was perhaps the inspiration for what is thought to be the most valuable inscription of Gebauer’s collection, the sketch of a smiling pig saying “Love” in the 1973 novel “Gravity’s Rainbow.” That book was Pynchon’s most controversial. In addition to winning the 1974 National Book Award, it was unanimously recommended by the judging committee to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. However, the recommendation was overturned by the advisory board, which found the book “unreadable,” “turgid,” “overwritten” and “obscene,” and elected not to award any Pulitzer for fiction that year.
Although by this time they were again living in different parts of the country, Pynchon continued to send inscribed books to Fred and Phyllis Gebauer. His inscription in 2006’s “Against the Day” was the first to Phyllis alone; Fred passed away in 1998.
Gebauer says Pynchon is not reclusive but simply very private. She channeled the author to describe his perspective: “Some people can pull this off, the balance between writing and going out to parties — Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates. I get too easily distracted and I’m not good at schmoozing.”
In 2010, Phyllis met up with Pynchon in New York, where he handed her a copy of his most recent novel, the SoCal spoof “Inherent Vice,” over a seafood lunch in midtown Manhattan. Indeed, the writer is able to move around New York without being recognized.
“We toured this whole Barcelona exhibit,” Gebauer said Wednesday. “Nobody in his building knows who he is. Nobody knows what he does.”
In an era in which a Wikipedia scan identifies Pynchon’s wife, a literary agent, and son by name, his privacy could be one avid Googler away.
She’s discussed this precariousness with Pynchon. “In today’s world” she said, “the privacy he gets is that people seldom read.”
— Carolyn Kellogg
Photos, from top: A first edition of Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49” inscribed by the author to Fred and Phyllis Gebauer, on display at UCLA; Pynchon’s inscription in “Gravity’s Rainbow” to the Gebauers, with pig cartoon; Phyllis Gebauer, with Claude the pig piñata and Pynchon waving a peace sign from behind the door, in Southern California in 1965. Credits: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times; UCLA Extension
So let’s try another source. In Deadly Secrets (1992, Thunder’s Mouth Press), Warren Hinckle and William Turner write, “Oswald told Adrian Alba, the owner of the garage next door to where he was working, that his application was about to be accepted ‘out there where the gold is’ — the NASA Saturn missile plant in suburban Gentilly. NASA of course didn’t employ security risks. But tucked into its Gentilly facility was an active CIA station that provided a Kelly Girl service for operatives in between assignments” (p. 239).
The endnote reads, “The CIA’s practice of providing interim employment for its agents and assets is well known,” and refers the reader to an earlier article of William Turner’s, anthologized in The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler, eds., 1976, Vintage Books), page 287.
The passage in Turner repeats the familiar statement from Adrian Alba, then adds, “On the face of it, the idea that [the Marxist] Oswald could get a job at a space agency installation requiring security clearance seems preposterous. . . . But [Jim] Garrison points out that it is an open secret that the CIA uses the NASA facility as a cover for clandestine operations.”
So the assertion that the NASA installation housed a CIA station would appear to actually be the unsourced claim of Jim Garrison.
Let’s see what Garrison has to say about all this. In his memoirs, Garrison begins with an item relating to a suspect of his, David Ferrie. Garrison writes, “Ferrie, once a pilot for Eastern Airlines, had been investigated by a private detective agency. I obtained a copy of its report. The investigators had maintained a stakeout near his residence and found that Ferrie was visited frequently by a man named Dante Marachini” (sic — Marochini; Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991, Warner Books, 133-4).
Garrison notes that Marochini resided at 1309 Dauphine Street, which Garrison describes as being next door to the home of Garrison suspect Clay Shaw. He then observes that another resident of the building at 1309 Dauphine was James Lewallen, who had once shared an apartment with David Ferrie (Ibid., 134).
Some time later, I came across the name of Dante Marachini (sic) again. I had wanted to talk to individuals at the Reily Coffee Company who had worked with Lee Oswald or at a level immediately above him, so I sent Frank Klein over to the company to get their names and respective positions.
He returned rather quickly. “They’re all gone,” he said. “Anyone who ever had any connection with Lee Oswald left the Reily Company within a few weeks after Oswald did.” He laid a sheet of paper in front of me. “Here are the names and the new jobs.”
I glanced down at the list. One name jumped out at me immediately: Dante Marachini (sic). He had begun work at the Reily Coffee Company on exactly the same day as Oswald. Several weeks after Oswald’s departure, Marachini (sic) also left the company and began life anew at the Chrysler Aerospace Division at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on the eastern side of New Orleans.
I then noticed that Alfred Claude, who hired Oswald for Reily, had also gone to work for the Chrysler Aerospace Division.
Then I saw that John Branyon, who had worked with Oswald at the coffee company, had left for a job at NASA.
At just about the same time, Emmett Barbee (sic — Barbe), Oswald’s immediate boss at Reily, left the coffee company and also inaugurated a new career with NASA (Garrison, 134-5).
He also found that James Lewallen, Ferrie’s onetime apartment mate, was working “for Boeing at NASA” (Ibid.).
Strangely, Garrison doesn’t mention anything about the facility housing a CIA station — something I’d expect him to emphasize, if true — but the information is intriguing nevertheless. So I went to see if I could verify the report.
The Warren Commission published a sworn affidavit from Emmett Charles Barbe, Jr., in their Hearings volumes (11 H 473). The affidavit was dictated by Mr. Barbe on June 15, 1964. Oddly, despite the claim that “Anyone who ever had any connection with Lee Oswald left the Reily Company within a few weeks after Oswald,” Emmett Barbe, Oswald’s supervisor at Reily, was still employed by the Reily company in 1964:
Emmett Charles Barbe, Jr. of New Orleans, La., being duly sworn, says:
1. I am employed by William B. Reily Company, Inc., as Maintenance Foreman. The William B. Reily Company plant is located at 640 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. I have been employed by that Company for five years. During the year 1963 I was serving as Maintenance Foreman.
Emmett Barbe’s name also comes up in the Warren Commission testimony of one Charles Le Blanc, who trained Oswald at Reily, and described himself as probably Oswald’s closest associate there (10 H 217). Le Blanc was also still employed by Reily at the time of his April 1964 Warren Commission deposition (10 H 214).
His testimony seems fairly innocuous. Here’s a representative sample:
Mr. LE BLANC. . . . The way I broke him in, I told him, “Make sure that you have got everything on that one floor,” and I said, “If it takes you a day to do it, let it take you a day,” I said, “but make sure that you have got everything greased and oiled and cleaned.” And that is what he was supposed to do, and I told him, I said, “Then if you get finished the fifth floor, or whatever floor you are on, you can always work to the next floor.” And then in the evening at 3:15 when the lines were shut down, we had these three machines that had to be cleaned, oiled and greased every day and sometimes twice a day it all depends on how they ran and he had to see to it that each evening at 3:15 they was cleaned and greased.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now did he have anybody keeping track of him as a general proposition? He really didn’t, did he? I mean, he was just—-
Mr. LE BLANC. Well, the majority of the time he had somebody over him, but as a practice, I mean after you got broke in on your job, well, they wouldn’t look after you, keep looking after you. They figured, well, you knew your job and you would go ahead and do your job. But after awhile, well, they seen he was drifting off. Right to the last day before they let him go, why, we kept an eye on him, because we seen then that he wasn’t doing, the work that he was supposed to be doing.
Mr. LIEBELER. He really wasn’t doing the work?
Mr. LE BLANC. No.
Mr. LIEBELER . He wasn’t greasing the machines?
Mr. LE BLANC. No. And you see, we have a greasing log that when you grease the machine you log it the day that you grease it, and actually a lot of times I think he might have put stuff down in the log that he didn’t even get to sometimes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Just so I can get an idea of what kind of work he was doing, how were the machines greased? Did he have a grease gun or cups and—-
Mr. LE BLANC. Yes; well, we have an air grease gun and we also have these hand-type grease guns.
Mr. LIEBELER. And you used just regular Alemite fittings and grease guns?
Mr. LE BLANC. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER So I would imagine from time to time he ended up with the grease on his hands and it was a greasy job?
Mr. LE BLANC. Yes; it was a dirty job.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did he ever complain about that?
Mr. LE BLANC. Well, he would complain now and then. I would tell him, well, that goes in with the job of oiling and greasing.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now was he just basically an oiler and greaser, or was he classified as a maintenance man?
Mr. LE BLANC. No.
Mr. LIEBELER. That is a different thing?
Mr. LE BLANC. He was hired as an oiler and greaser and helper (10 H 215-6).
Alfred Claude is next on Garrison’s list. Here we strike pay dirt. Alfred A. Claude, Jr., was interviewed by the FBI on November 26, 1963. He indeed was employed at the “Chrysler Aerospace Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Michoud, Louisiana,” which was where the FBI interviewed him. He had been with Chrysler since he resigned from Reily’s personnel office on July 1, 1963, which he estimated to be about four weeks after Oswald’s departure, loosely fitting the “few weeks” Garrison attributes to Frank Klein. Claude’s interview also seems fairly innocuous, devoted largely to Oswald’s poor work habits and quiet personality (CE 1940, 23 H 734).
Unlike Claude, however, Claude’s former associate in Reily’s personnel office, Robert Hedrick, had not moved to NASA, and was still at Reily when the FBI interviewed him on November 25, 1963 (CE 1903, 23 H 706).
Another co-worker, Arturo Mendez Rodriguez, was interviewed by the FBI on November 25, 1963. The report doesn’t state that he was still at Reily, but his occupation is listed as “Oiler — mechanic,” and “oiler” was the position he held at Reily, as did Oswald. If Rodriguez had changed employers, the report does not say so (CE 1898, 23 H 703). Rodriguez is also mentioned in passing in the Warren Commission deposition of Charles Le Blanc (10 H 217). Again, if Rodriguez left his job at Reily, there is no indication of it.
John Branyon was another name mentioned by Garrison. Like Claude, he too was indeed employed by NASA. However, Branyon did not work at the Chrysler plant — he worked at the Boeing Aircraft Division. He said that Oswald was still employed at Reily when he himself resigned on July 3, 1963. His statement describes Oswald’s duties as a machine oiler and his “lone wolf” personality (CE 1941, 23 H 735).
Another Reily employee’s name comes up in the Warren Commission volumes. John C. Clark was interviewed on November 25, 1963 (CE 1899, 23 H 704). He was still Reily’s Assistant Vice-President in Charge of Production.
Dante Marochini is not mentioned in the Warren Commission volumes, possibly because he had not been a co-worker of Oswald’s at all. Paris Flammonde describes “Marachini” as “a forty-two-year-old parts-scheduler for the Chrysler Company’s Michoud Assembly Facility” (Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 1969, Meredith Press). Information in Flammonde suggests that Marochini probably had not known Oswald: “In April 1963, Marochini found employment with the Standard Coffee Company, owned by the William B. Reily Company, with locations at 725 and 640 Magazine. During the same period, Lee Harvey Oswald was employed at the same 640 Magazine address as an employee of the William B. Reily Coffee Company” (Ibid.). But according to researcher David Blackburst, Marochini did not work at the same location as Oswald after all.
Furthermore, if Marochini started at Reily in April 1963, he could not have “begun work at the Reily Coffee Company on exactly the same day as Oswald,” as Garrison claimed: Oswald began at Reily on May 10, 1963 (11 H 474).
Dante Marochini was subpoenaed by Garrison to appear before the grand jury in 1967. If the DA learned anything of value from Marochini’s secret grand jury testimony, he doesn’t say so in his book. In fact, he doesn’t mention that he ever questioned Marochini at all.
At one point, Garrison was certain that major aerospace contractors were culprits in an assassination conspiracy, as shown in an hilarious account from Warren Hinckle, the editor of Ramparts Magazine.
Paris Flammonde also reports that when Marochini was subpoenaed by Garrison on March 3, 1967, Marochini’s address was not 1309 Dauphine, but 4951 Music (Flammonde, 78). It is possible, of course, that Marochini had moved by that time.
I asked Ferrie expert David Blackburst whether Marochini was a friend of Ferrie’s. Blackburst informed me that the December 19, 1962, installment of the 1962-3 Southern Research report on Ferrie, commissioned by Eastern Air Lines in preparation for Ferrie’s dismissal/grievance hearings, details a surveillance of Ferrie’s apartment by Jack Oliphant on November 16, 1962. Oliphant observed Ferrie and two men leave the apartment and get into a car, and the registration was traced to Dante Marochini. Marochini, Blackburst reports, was a friend of Ferrie’s then-roommate, James Lewallen (E-mail to author, June 9, 1999).
Flammonde also mentions James Lewallen: “The thirty-eight-year-old, Cleveland-born James Ronald Lewallen, a quality inspector for the Boeing Company, worked at the Michoud Saturn rocket plant . . . Lewallen, a licensed (former Air Force) pilot, has been with Boeing in the Michoud plant since 1964, except for a brief period when he was farmed out to the Mississippi Test Facility in Hancock County, Mississippi. Reportedly possessed of security clearance, his sixty-day assignment in Mississippi was to check out ground support equipment for the test firing of the Saturn V booster. Lewallen was rated by a supervisor as having ‘a relatively good background in aircraft repair,’ and regarded him as a mild-mannered individual” (Flammonde, 180-1).
Flammonde also reports that Clay Shaw lived at 1313 Dauphine, suggesting that Garrison erred just slightly in placing James Lewallen’s 1309 Dauphine home “right next door” to Clay Shaw’s home — not that it makes much of a difference (Garrison, 134).
So while, in the end, Garrison was correct in stating that some of Oswald’s former co-workers had resigned from Reily and gained employment at the NASA installation in Michoud, the number turned out to be not four, but two — Alfred Claude and John Branyon — and one was hired at the Chrysler plant, while the other found a job at Boeing.
If Frank Klein did report to Jim Garrison that “Anyone who ever had any connection with Lee Oswald left the Reily Company within a few weeks after Oswald,” that report would have been false. In fact, the three Reily employees who had the most contact with Oswald — Emmett Barbe, Arturo Rodriguez and Charles Le Blanc — all seem to have still been with Reily well after Oswald’s departure.
In summation, Anthony Summers’ assertion that “four of [Oswald’s] colleagues at Reily did move to NASA within weeks of Oswald’s departure” seems to have originated with Jim Garrison’s erroneous claim, first published by William Turner in 1968. From what we now know, a reasonable inference about the relationship between NASA and the Reily employees might be that the newly opened Michoud plant was hiring for better wages than those paid by the Reily Coffee Company, and, if Adrian Alba’s recollections are correct, it’s possible that Oswald was planning to apply for a job at NASA.
If, on the other hand, the remarks Alba attributes to Oswald were actually spoken by another Reily employee of Alba’s acquaintance, it would explain why this individual was so optimistic about his future at NASA, somewhere Oswald never even applied for a position. It would also explain why he said, “I have found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” a statement which does not sound much like the Oswald we know, who denounced capitalism and complained to his friend George De Mohrenschildt that his wife was too materialistic.
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