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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

David Ferrie's "Strange" Ice-Skating Trip, Part One!

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

On the evening of November 22, 1963 David Ferrie drove to Houston with two of his young friends, Al Beauboeuf and Mel Coffey. His boss, attorney G. Wray Gill, had just won a court case for his his client Carlos Marcello, and Ferrie deserved a holiday. But he also had some business to conduct.

The business related to an appeal that Gill was working on - that of Marion James "Buster" Johnson, who had been convicted on a perjury charge related to some payoffs on slot machines. Ferrie needed Johnson to pay for a transcript of a hearing that had just been held on some new evidence that would help with his appeal. Johnson lived in Vinton, Louisiana, which is about 123 miles east of Houston, and they would all stop there on the way back.

Beauboeuf was a champion roller skater and he wanted to try his hand at ice skating. At the time, there were no ice-skating rinks in New Orleans. Here is an excerpt from his statement to Garrison from December 15, 1966.

They arrived in Houston in the wee hours of Saturday, November 23rd and stayed in a hotel. Later that day they went ice skating. Ferrie was also interested in learning more about ice rinks - he had told Layton Martens that "if he won the case, he might be interested in purchasing a skating rink."

The Winterland Skating Rink in Houston

Naturally, conspiracy authors believe there was more to this trip than just ice skating. James DiEugenio writes in Destiny Betrayed that the trip was "strange," and that "Ferrie spent two hours near a pay phone. When it rang, he answered. After he hung up, he left with his two companions." (page 176)

Jim Garrison wrote in his book, On The Trail of the Assassins, that "Later we would learn that at the skating rink he had never put on ice skates but had spent all his time at a pay phone, making and receiving calls." (page 8)

He then includes what the good Reverend Raymond Broshears told him about the ice skating trip - or should I say, what Broshears claimed Ferrie told him. (page 121)

Raymond Broshears told a number of stories to Garrison's investigators. You can read more, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. He had no credibility whatsoever. The Carlos he mentions in the second paragraph was supposed to be one of the assassins.

So what did happen at the ice rink? Well, they just skated, and then Ferrie tried to reach G. Wray Gill. The reason he stayed near the pay phones was that he, like many people in those days, had probably given Gill the number and was waiting for a call back. He never did get ahold of Gill, and he tried again when they got back to the hotel.

Let's start with what David Ferrie told the FBI back in 1963 (RIF# 124-10371-10039):

Chuck Rolland, the manager of the rink, was interviewed by the FBI (Commission Document 301):

The major point of difference is whether Ferrie discussed with Rolland the cost of operating an ice rink. They certainly did talk about skating rinks.

Here is what Mel Coffey said:

Here is Garrison's memo about their interview of Charles Rolland in 1967:

Note that Rolland was not there when the three of them arrived. That is when Ferrie did some skating. Stephen Roy writes, in his unpublished manuscript, Perfect Villain: David Ferrie and the JFK Mystery, that "Initially, all three men took to the ice, but Ferrie found himself terribly out-of-practice and left the boys to skate."

Ferrie did chat with Rolland noting that there were no ice rinks in New Orleans. But also note that "Rolland said he was busy with his other duties and after his initial contact with Ferrie, he didn't pay much attention to him."

Rolland told Sciambra that Ferrie was a "phony." Stephen Roy writes that "One gets the impression that the melodrama then surrounding the late David Ferrie may have caused Rolland to elevate a mundane encounter to something more conspiratorial." Perhaps Ferrie's wig and fake eyebrows played a role.

What I find strange is the almost mandatory discussion of homosexuality in a Garrison memo - note the last paragraph. I'll be posting more on that tomorrow.

Charles Rolland testified at the Clay Shaw trial. Not surprisingly, he wasn't asked about any of the homosexual connections. Here are some excerpts from his testimony:

Now. here is the stuff of conspiracy:

Ok, so David Ferrie was a bit of a pest.

What did Ferrie actually say?

Rolland was at the rink when they arrived, so he never saw if Ferrie went ice skating. But, he saw Beauboeuf and Coffey skating:

Ferrie used the public telephone. He was trying to reach G. Wray Gill to tell him that he was in Houston.

They were there on a Saturday which was the busiest day for the rink. Rolland didn't really pay that much attention to Ferrie.

When they were leaving, Ferrie said goodbye.

As for Mel Coffey and Al Beauboeuf, here is what they had to say. First, an excerpt from an interview between Coffey and John Volz and John Alcock on February 18, 1967:

Alcock and Volz mixed up Houston and Dallas.

And, the roller skating pro, Al Beauboeuf, found that ice skating wasn't that simple.

I spoke to Beauboeuf last year, and he confirmed that he was an expert roller skater and that he really wanted to try ice skating.

So, there you have it. Ferrie, Beauboeuf and Coffey went ice skating. End of story.

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