My Trip to New Orleans
Over the last week, I have been in New Orleans. I visited four different archives and checked out the JFK-related sights with my buddies.
I started by examining the papers of Sharon Litwin, who was a friend of Clay Shaw. Contrary to what some conspiracy theorists believe, I don't believe there is any relation between us. She was from the UK and she married Martin Litwin -- he is not in our family tree.
Sharon Litwin had a copy of Clay Shaw's journal and she wanted to write a book about the case. Unfortunately, she was turned down -- here is one such rejection letter:
I then went to Tulane University to have a look at some of papers of F. Edward Hébert who was a congressman from New Orleans. He had a file on Jim Garrison and some correspondence from Clara Flournoy (Bootsie) Gay.
She told Jim Garrison that there was a map of Dealey Plaza found on David Ferrie's desk in G. Wray Gill's office right after the assassination. She wrote Hébert a 13-page letter about David Ferrie in December 1963 -- take a guess on whether she mentioned a map of Dealey Plaza.
I will be publishing that letter next week.
She also wrote Hébert in early 1963 to try and get him to help David Ferrie with his case for reinstatement from Eastern Airlines:
I also examined two small files from the Hale Boggs papers related to Jim Garrison. Nothing earth-shattering but I will be posting a few items in the next few weeks.
Then it was on to see the JFK-related sights from my buddies. On the way to Lee Harvey Oswald's house on Magazine Street, we passed Tipitina's, a famous bar where my company, NorthernBlues Music, actually recorded a CD years ago:
Here is the cover of Mem Shannon Live: A night at Tipitina's, which NorthernBlues Music released in 2007. Mem was a taxi driver who became a blues musician. You can buy his CD here.
Oswald's house is now a law office.
The Oswalds lived on the side apartment (the door to the right of the main door):
Across the street someone was cutting down part of a tree, which looked somewhat dangerous:
Here is a corner store just a few block away:
A few blocks down Magazine Street was the Napoleon branch of the New Orleans Public Library, which is where Oswald took out books. It is still a library branch:
That's my friend Ed on the phone in the front of the library.
The front doors are original:
Here is what the library looked like in the early part of the twentieth century:
We then drove further down Magazine Street to have a look at Reily Coffee, where Oswald worked as a greaser for two months in 1963. The offices of Reily are still there:
Right next door to Reily is the parking garage where Oswald used to hang out during his breaks:
A few blocks away is the notorious intersection of Camp and Lafayette - on one side was 544 Camp Street which Oswald stamped on a few brochures (but not on his flyers) and around the corner was 531 Lafayette where Guy Banister had an office. The two entrances did not go to the same part of the Newman building:
The Newman building has been torn down. The street you are looking at is Camp Street. Layayette runs perpendicular to Camp Street (where the red brick goes down the block).
This is how it looked in the 1960s:
A points to 544 Camp Street and B points to 531 Lafayette.
On the right hand side is the John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals. Interestingly, Wisdom upheld the judgment of Judge Christenberry that Garrison's prosecution of Clay Shaw for perjury could not continue. Here is the front of that building:
In the early 1960s, there was a post office on the first floor. This made Garrison a tad suspicious. But the Post Office left the building in 1961 and Oswald did not have his PO Box in this building. He had it around the corner in the F. Edward Hébert Federal Building (see below).
Across the street is Lafayette Square:
That is a statue of Benjamin Franklin:
Lafayette Square is ringed by a number of amazing buildings. One such building is the F. Edward Hébert Federal Building:
Did Oswald attend this meeting at Gallier Hall in May 1963?
New Orleans States-Item, May 21, 1963
Next stop was to find the printing company where Oswald printed up his flyers. An old street painting...
We couldn't find the exact address. Further up on Magazine Street, I found the law offices of the firm that defended Garrison in Clay Shaw's civil suit:
That's me and Steve Roe.
We then went to Metairie Cemetery to have a look at Jim Garrison's grave. It took a while to find it, but before we did, Bill stumbled across this:
Just around the corner was Garrison's grave:
We then drove to David Ferrie's home on Louisiana Avenue Parkway:
Ferrie had the top apartment.
And then to Saint Bernard Memorial Gardens in Chalmette, Louisiana:
I guess the CIA doesn't pay for elaborate graves.
Then it was time to go on to Bourbon Street for some partying. On Royal Street, we found the Court of the Two Sisters:
Gene Davis used to work here; Dean Andrews claimed that Helen Girt had once introduced Gene Davis to him as "Clay Bertrand." In addition, Leander D'avy also supposedly worked here as the doorman and he came up with some amazing stories.
Here we all are in lobby of our hotel:
From left to right: Matthew Kordeski, Ed Murray, Bill Brown, Fred Litwin, and Steve Roe.
Here we are having lunch:
New Orleans street scene:
On Sunday, we went to the former site of the International Trade Mart on the corner of Camp and Common Streets:
The Trade Mart is no longer there, but you can see the corner where Oswald handed out his leaflets.
You can see the corner here in a photo from 1966:
Here is a view from the corner. Note the building to the left of red one -- you can see that building clearly in the photo below of Oswald:
Here is Oswald leafletting:
We then went to Clay Shaw's house at 1313 Dauphine Street:
The red door is the entrance and Shaw's apartment is on the left.
Around the corner from Shaw's home is the plaque honoring him on Governor Nichols Street:
I gave a little talk about Clay Shaw:
Not too far away....a lovely street scene:
Here's another jazz band:
We then got caught in a rain storm and took shelter at Cafe du Monde where we had some beignets.
Here is Bill Brown:
Want a poem?
On Monday, I headed up to Shreveport to examine the papers of Ned Touchstone who was the editor of The Councilor - a racist newspaper. As an example, here is a letter that John Rarick, who was a judge and soon to become a congressman, wrote to Touchstone:
Here's a letter from a Director of the National States Rights Party:
Here's a document which indicates that Ned Touchstone was working with General Edwin Walker:
Here is part of page one of The Councilor from June 1967:
I don't doubt that Touchstone actually talked to Russo. I've already posted excerpts of Russo's statements in which he believed that Ferrie liked Fidel Castro.
The next day I visited the Hammond campus of LSU to examine the papers of John Rarick who became a congressman. He had a file of news clippings from the Garrison case, and Jim Garrison had written to him about his prosecution for bribery in 1971.
I then drove about thirty miles to Kentwood, Louisiana where Clay Shaw is buried:
At the airport in New Orleans, there was an interesting display of guns that had been confiscated from people:
I certainly hope they are catching 100% of the guns passing through the airport. You would not see this sort of display at a Canadian airport.