Dave Ferrie's "Strange" Ice-Skating Trip, Part Three!
Jim Garrison writes in his book, On The Trail of The Assassins, that David Ferrie was brought to his office for questioning upon his return to New Orleans.
"And the more he talked, the less his story held together. For example, when I asked him the reason for his departure from New Orleans only one hour following the assassination, he responded that he had driven to Houston to go ice skating. When I asked him why he had chosen one of the heaviest thunderstorms in many years as the occasion for his ice skating trip, he had no adequate reply."
The first part of that paragraph is just plain wrong. Ferrie and his friends did not leave just after the assassination. Ferrie was in court that day, and the verdict only came in at 3:15 PM. Ferrie then attended an "impromptu victory party at the Royal Orleans Hotel," and at 4:30 PM picked up Al Beauboeuf to start the trip.
The story about the bad weather was repeated in the film JFK during a very early scene (page 22 in the screenplay):
Jim Garrison: Dave, may I ask why the urge to go ice skating in Texas happened to strike you during one of the most violent thunderstorms in recent memory?
David Ferrie: Oh, it was just a spur of the moment thing ... the storm wasn't that bad.
At the end of the scene, Garrison tells Ferrie that "I find your story simply not believable." I doubt that's true - I can't find any direct evidence that Ferrie was questioned by Garrison. The police report shows that Ferrie was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Frank Klein and police officer Raymond Comstock:
This doesn't preclude the possibility that Garrison later questioned Ferrie - I just haven't seen any documentation to support that it happened. If anybody has some documentation, please let me know.
But, was the weather that bad? Researcher Stephen Roy did some research which shows the weather wasn't that bad:
In 1963, the US Weather Bureau kept records of local climatological data from such locations as Moisant Airport and Houston International Airport. The hourly precipitation report at New Orleans was as follows:
4-5pm Fog, thunder 5-6pm Light rain shower, .04 6-7pm Light rain shower, .03 7-8pm no precipitation 8-9pm Thunder, .02 9-10pm Light rain shower .49 10-11pm Light rain shower .12
The New Orleans reports from Moisant Airport showed that the 8-9pm thunderstorm was not unusually severe. The hourly precipitation report at Houston showed light rain showers during the 9pm-5am period. At shortly after 9:00pm, when Ferrie, Beauboeuf and Coffey said they left the New Orleans area, the thunderstorm had ended and turned to light rain, a condition that prevailed all along the route to Houston. Beauboeuf recently confirmed that the weather was rainy.
When Al Beauboeuf and Mel Coffey were questioned by Garrison's Assistant District Attorneys in late 1966 and early 1967, they were both not asked about the weather.
When I talked with Beauboeuf, he felt the controversy was just plain silly. He told me that Ferrie would always fly into thunderstorms rather than fly around them. To think that a thunderstorm would stop Ferrie from driving, he said, was just ridiculous.