Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When They Kill A President By Roger Craig Part V


Our President is lying up there cold beneath his flame
He is calling out for vengeance and to do so in his name.
To keep the peace forever and erase our nation's shame
His dream goes marching on.

This time there were no jobs to be found. However, business in the Justice Court was somewhat improved due to the opening of a sub station in Midlothian by the Highway Patrol. I could not pay the rent or meet the bills but the increase was enough to buy groceries. I had resigned as City Judge so that there would be no conflict of interest between the two positions (City and County Court).

It was at this time that I was notified by District Attorney, Jim Garrison, that he would need me in the upcoming Clay Shaw trial -- another wrench in the machinery. The night after I was notified of this I received a telephone call and the voice asked if I was going to go to New Orleans. When I answered, "yes," he just said, "get a one-way ticket" and then hung up. I brushed this off as just another crank. I'd had those calls before. However, the next day I received another call. This time it was a different voice. This one asked if I were going to New Orleans and when I said, "yes," all he said was, "Remember you have a family" and hung up.

I must admit this worried me. After that I would get up during the night and check the family and house -- not a very pleasant way to live.

During this turmoil I at last had a prospect of getting back into that illusive pastime called "employment" -- it was again Penn Jones to the rescue -- and I say this with the greatest respect and admiration! Penn had been corresponding with a friend of his in Boulder, Colorado, regarding helping me find employment out of Texas, which seemed the only thing left. The friend suggested to Penn that I make a trip to Boulder to check into some leads so the Jones family made the arrangements and I was off to Boulder. This was in January 1969.

I arrived in Boulder and was met by members of the Students for a Democratic Society, whose names I will not mention. (J. Edgar Hoover should not have his work made so easy). They took me from the airport and arranged for my lodging. The next three days I filled out applications at various places, including the Boulder Police Department and Sheriff's Office because those were the positions I was most qualified for and I believed I could be a cop and still have compassion for my fellow men. If they would not accept me that way, I could always quit -- after all, I was an expert at being out of work.

After I had exhausted all possibilities, I thanked the people who had been so kind to me and returned to Midlothian, Texas to wait. I had been home about one week when I received word from the Boulder Sheriff's Department that there would be an opening soon and if I wanted the job, it was mine. Satisfied that the out of Texas bit was going to pay off, the Penn Jones, bless them, financed the trip back to Boulder. This time the family went with me. We drove straight through from Midlothian to Boulder. The second day in Boulder we found an apartment or two we might be able to afford until I started getting regular pay checks. I felt good about having a chance at a new start as I went to see Under Sheriff Cunningham.

When I arrived at the Sheriff's Department, Cunningham took me to his office, asked me to sit down and closed the door. It was then that I began to get that feeling I'd had so many times before when I was about to get the purple shaft. Sure enough, I had managed to lose a job before I even started. Mr. Cunningham began to ask me about my background with the Dallas Sheriff's Department (which he already knew from my previous visit) and the reason for my termination. Then he brought out his big gun, "What about Jim Garrison?" Well, knowing I'd been had, I told him I was going to have to testify in the Shaw trial (which I'm sure he already knew).

I'd heard about every excuse there was for not hiring me but he should have handed me this one in a gift-wrapped "surprise" package. "Mr. Craig," he said, (I had been Roger until then) "we've had a little situation here" and he went on -- it seemed that one of their jailers had seduced a sixteen-year old girl while she was in their custody -- WOW -- and with that and my connection with the Garrison probe, the heat would be more than they wanted to handle. He was sorry. So was I -- all the way back to Texas.

When we arrived back in Midlothian we were all exhausted and very disappointed. Molly had the flu, Deanna a bad cold and the strain of the past few weeks had taken its toll on me. I was having trouble with my stomach and lungs and was down to 138 pounds. It was February 1, 1969. We had just enough money left from the trip to perhaps rent a house and buy a few groceries. Dale Foshee was pressing me again to move and I had nowhere to go and no prospects of a job. Like a wounded animal, I could only think of returning to familiar surroundings -- the place that I had spent most of my adult life.

We drove to Dallas and by some streak of luck sneaked by a property owner and managed to rent a house. Before this poor, misguided soul could change his mind, we gathered up our belongings in Midlothian and moved back to Dallas, where I again applied my trade of looking for work.

I spent the following days filling out many applications and some of the interviews were even promising. I was very careful not to mention any part of my involvement in the assassination.

However, on February 13, 1969 I was summoned to New Orleans to testify in the Clay Shaw trial. On the 14th when I finally took the stand the defense tried very hard to discredit me by saying that I worked in New Orleans and was, in fact, still working in that city under an assumed name. Failing to discredit me, they accomplished the next best thing, the distorted version appeared in newspapers and wire services throughout the country.

When I returned to Dallas on February 16, 1969 I was to realize the full impact of this distorted news story for when I contacted the job possibilities I had before I testified I found all doors closed. On March 4 -- after several days of no openings, or being told that I was not qualified, or that they would call me, which they never did -- I found a job with Industrial Towel and Uniform Company of Dallas. This was a rental company and they needed men so that all I had to do was pass a polygraph test to prove I was not a thief, which I passed!

Now I was a Route Salesman. Ponder that awhile -- a Judge reduced to picking up dirty laundry. Oh, well, work is work! Still weak and underweight from being sick during January and February, I was determined to make it on my new job.

I left home at 5:45 a.m. and arrived at the plant a little after 6:00 a.m., put my route slips in order, loaded my truck and started my deliveries. I got back to the plant about 4:30 p.m., unloaded the dirty linens, turned in my money and charge slips and got back home around 6:30 p.m. This was the season for cold, rainy weather -- wouldn't you know? I had been to a doctor who gave me some medication for the chest infection I had developed and the medicine kept me going until March 14 -- when I, literally, ran out of gas.

On March 18, Molly called Penn and told him that I was not any better. Penn began to make arrangements for me to be admitted to the Veterans Hospital, where he was to meet me. By this time I was out of it and Molly called an ambulance. I had completely passed out by the time it had arrived. I knew that I was going to the V.A. Hospital but when I woke up a short time later I knew I was not at the V.A. Hospital. Those dirty bastards had taken me to Parkland Hospital, which has a reputation for saving people comparable to my employment record for the past two years. I gathered what strength I had, got off the stretcher and staggered down the hall.

Molly had reached Penn, who was waiting at the V.A. Hospital, and he was madder than hell as he hated Parkland Hospital even more than I did. So, I finally wound up at the V.A. Hospital via Penn's car, where I spent the next ten days. I was released from the hospital on March 28, 1969 with instructions not to work out in the weather until my lungs had improved. This, of course, eliminated my job as a route salesman.

I knew an inside job was going to be hard to find from my experience during the past two years. First of all, I knew that when my rererences were checked Decker would not give me a favorable recommendation -- if he even gave one at all. Second, my unstable employment record during the past two years had resulted in a disastrous credit rating. Eight years of experience in various responsible duties at the Sheriff's Office were gone. They had, indeed, done their work well!

After many weeks of search I still had no job and was again behind on the rent. At this point we took two cameras, one 8 millimeter movie and one Minor still, our projector and screen and sold them for enough to rent a cheaper house. We moved into a three room house on Gurley Street which wasn't much but it kept out the rain!

One day I got a wild idea. I would go down to the Federal Building and apply for a government job -- those people will hire anybody -- well, almost anybody. I passed the civil service test and was told they had a job coming up in the office and I was qualified for it. I was to go back in two days to begin work. Things were certainly looking up. I went over to my father-in-law's and drank all of his beer to celebrate.

The two days passed and I headed for my government job, which was to be handling correspondence from other government agencies -- they do a lot of writing to each other. Well, when I arrived I was ushered into one of those cubby hole offices AGAIN, where I was told that they had received a memo telling them the budget was being cut and my job was being eliminated (I hadn't even started). Oh, well, at least I was losing "more important" jobs now.

On June 1 I answered an ad for an Assistant Manager's job at a liquor store, where the only qualification was that I pass another polygraph test, which I did, proving that I had not yet turned to stealing. The next day I reported for work to find that I was a delivery boy again. My job was restocking private clubs throughout Dallas who bought merchandise from the store. I soon made friends with all the club owners and every time I would make a delivery, they would insist on buying me a drink. I was making $1.87 an hour. I wasn't the highest paid delivery boy in town but after a few stops I was probably the happiest!

In the meantime being out of work from March until June 1, I was again behind on the rent as well as the car payment on my used 1965 Buick. The landlord had asked us to move. I tried to explain my situation and the fact that I was now working and would try to catch up on the rent but he didn't care -- I had to go. It was two weeks before I received a pay check. I don't know how we made it but we did. Molly then found a house for us to rent and I paid the first month's rent. I didn't worry about the car payment any longer for two days after I started to work the bank repossessed the car. We then again went back to driving one of Penn's cars.

During the slow periods of the weeks which followed I was always searching the paper and talking to people -- trying to find a better paying job with a little security. I was working eleven hours a day, six days a week so it took me some time to locate one and I also had to be careful not to let people know too much about me because the general attitude in Dallas was not to get involved in the assassination. (A little late for Dallas).

On September 18, 1969 I applied at Peakload, Inc., a temporary employment service, who was looking for a dispatcher. The job consisted of taking orders from companies which needed temporary help for a few days, selecting the men from the hall who were best suited to the customer's needs, then seeing that they were delivered by our driver and picked up promptly after work. Al Nagel, the office manager, was from Minnesota and knew little of the events in Dallas and nothing of the people involved in the assassination so I slipped by and was hired. Now I was doing something which I enjoyed and the pay was $500.00 a month with time and one-half for over 48 hours. The next few weeks went by swiftly. I was working six days a week and making enough money to pay the rent, buy groceries and clothes for the kids.

On November 10, 1969 I was taken to the V.A. Hospital again. This time with neuritis, which the doctors said was caused by a vitamin deficiency over a long period of time, and bronchial pneumonia. This time I was not too concerned because Al Nagel liked my work and I was sure that I had a future with Peakload regardless of this temporary set back.

Well, after twenty-four days of what seemed like endless injections of vitamins, penicillin and streptomycin (one hundred and twenty-eight in all) I was sent home on December 4, 1969. The next day I called Al Nagel to tell him that I would return to work in a couple of days -- when I got my strength back. Al informed me that I no longer had the job -- that I had been replaced.

My final check from Peakload paid the rent for a month and bought a few groceries but Christmas was coming and I had managed somehow not to let the kids down -- up until now. While I was in the hospital Penn Jones brought a letter he had received from Madeline Goddard. She had, apparently, read much on the assassination and sent her best wishes and support to us. Also in the letter was the answer to this Christmas. Madeline had enclosed a check for $100.00.

She did not realize it, I'm sure, but that kept us from throwing my hands up in the air and giving up. The next few weeks were a repetition of earlier days -- no jobs, no money, no prospects (there must be a song in there somewhere). Our only means of eating those days was Madeline Goddard's generosity; God bless Madeline and her generous heart.

Penn Jones had a few acres of land in Boyce, Texas, a short distance from Midlothian and he had persuaded us to move into the smaller of two houses on this land. We decided to go so that I could recuperate and regroup my thoughts. By this time, January 24, 1970, I was very depressed and ready to throw in the towel.

Penn and his son, Penn III, moved our belongings into the small three-room house and I must say that the fresh air and freedom from Dallas and its citizens was a welcome change. After a few days I felt better and began exploring our new surroundings. Penn had seventy-eight head of cattle on the place and I was feeding twenty bales of hay to them every morning. As my strength came back I also tackled various small, clean up jobs around the farm. It was the least I could do -- the rent was free and Penn paid the light and water bills. We bought what butane we had to buy for heat and cooking. How about this -- in 1948 I ran away from home at age 12 and spent the next four years working on farms and ranches in the west and northwest -- now twenty-two years later I was back on the farm! There were days, however, when the rain and sleet would keep me inside, only venturing out when I had to (mostly to feed the cows).

The highlight of each day was when the mail man came as we were now corresponding with Madeline Goddard regularly and always looked forward to her letters. I do not know what we would have done if it hadn't been for this wonderful person. If I live to be a hundred, I couldn't repay her!

Roger, Jr., was sixteen now and living with his grandparents in Dallas. Terry and Deanna were going to school in Waxahachie, seven miles away. They had to walk about three quarters of a mile to the school bus stop so in bad weather we would drive them to school. This was no easy job in the 1955 Ford of Penn's, which had seen better days. I certainly do not mean to sound ungrateful -- Penn Jones and his wife were wonderful to us -- we will always hold them close.

It was April when the larger house on the land in Boyce became vacant and Penn said that we could move into it. We needed the room and I would be closer to the stock and the feed for them was also in the barn near that house. Living in the bigger house was much easier and it was about this time that Penn decided to try to raise Holstein calves. There were no jobs in this small county and maybe we could make some money on this venture.

Molly, Terry, Deanna and I drove Penn's Travelall truck to Cleburne, where we picked up the calf Penn had bought on a pilot project. At three days old, the calf was a big baby at 80 pounds or more. Every morning at 7:00 a.m. Molly fixed the calf's bottle and we took turns feeding him until he decided that Molly was his mother. Cute -- but something she wasn't ready for!

We continued taking care of the cattle for several weeks and during this time two calves were born. We named one, a little bull calf, "Jones" and the other a heifer calf, Deanna named "Susie." They became her only playmates. However, I wasn't making one red cent and the only help we received was from Madeline who, God knows, was carrying the burden of feeding my family.

On May 15 a decision had to be made. It was apparent that the calf project wasn't going to materialize and Penn was talking of selling some of the land and cattle. It looked as though Penn was having financial problems and I did not want to add to them. So, Molly and I talked and decided the best thing for us was to drive to Dallas and make arrangements to stay with someone and for me to try one more time (there's that song title). We talked to my mother, who said we could move in with her until I found a job and a place to live.

As we drove back to Boyce we spoke of our apprehension about moving but when we drove into the yard we knew it was the thing to do. The front door of the house was standing wide open. I knew what was gone even before I got out of the car. I was right. The 30-40 Krag rifle (the only one I had managed to hang onto), Terry's 30.30 Winchester, which he had received as a gift, his 410 shotgun, and the 12 gauge automatic shotgun Penn had loaned me were all missing. These were our only means of protection in this place so far in the country with no telephone or close neighbors. Now we had been stripped of that. Coincidence? Maybe. I was very uneasy and the sooner we got out of there, I felt, the better.

It took two days and two sleepless nights to arrange the move but we did it and were back in Dallas and staying with my mother. By this time my physical health was somewhat improved and my mental attitude was back to normal. This was due to the words of encouragement I had received from Madeline and others who had written to us over the past months to let me know that there were people in this country who cared. I was ready for any opposition from the Political Monster which ruled Dallas and even the very lives of those so-called Business and Civic leaders who did not have the guts to stand on their own two feet! As I thought over the past years, I was even amused that I, a man of limited education and no social position in this City of Purity, had struck fear into the hearts of its great leaders by just speaking to them on the street!

Although I had not worked steadily since my termination from the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, I did not forget my obligation as an American. Thus, when asked by certain critics of the Warren Report to help, I did what I could. Imagine the turmoil it will cause when and if the Dallas Police read this and find out I have copied and turned over to a certain editor several names, addresses and telephone numbers of people connected with the assassination of John F. Kennedy which were locked in the files of the Dallas Police Intelligence Division. Not to mention the files which were photostated and smuggled out of the Dallas County Mail under Bill Decker's nose (all after I left the Sheriff's Department). Even though I have not made any money in the past few years, I hope I was able to help those who have spent so much time investigating the assassination, who certainly haven't made any money either!

The last week of May, 1970 I got lucky. The ad in the newspaper read, "Wanted Dispatcher for temporary labor company". The Company was Peakload. I quickly made a call to the chief dispatcher, with whom I had worked previously, and found he was working sixteen hours every day. He was so happy to hear from me, because of his workload, that he offered to come and get me so that I could go to work that day. The company had a new office manager, Jim Morris. I went in immediately to apply -- at the urging of the chief dispatcher, Bill Funderburke -- and for an interview with Jim Morris, the manager. He was from Ft. Worth and knew more about the assassination and me than I would have preferred (from the questions he asked me concerning Bill Decker, Jim Garrison and others who had made the news). However, the office was in trouble as they had not been able to keep an evening dispatcher for more than three or four weeks at a time since I worked there in 1969.

With a word of caution as to my activities, Jim put me to work. This made Bill very happy as the pressure was now off him. I knew the work, the customers and most of the men I would be dealing with so Peakload did not have to worry about breaking in a new man. The rest of May and early June passed uneventfully but around the middle of June Molly went into Baylor Hospital, through the clinic as we could not afford a private doctor or the high rate of regular hospital services (I had only worked a short time and we still had a balance owing on Molly's surgery in August 1969). On June 26 Molly underwent major surgery. She had been under a tremendous strain the past years and was physically and mentally exhausted.

During this period I had managed to gather enough money to buy a 1962 Ford from a friend. It was not the best car in the world but it was only a hundred and fifty dollars and it did run. I paid $50.00 down and was to pay him the rest in a month or so. I also rented a small apartment and it seemed good to once again be by ourselves in our own home. But our new found Wealth was short lived.

Shortly after this, a self-professed private detective in Dallas, by the name of Al Chapman, had written a story about new evidence in the assassination which he had sold to the National Enquirer. In this article he quoted me as saying that I had given certain information to him and had personally identified a picture of a man and car saying it was Lee Harvey Oswald and his accomplice.

The entire story, with reference to me, was completely false. I had never been interviewed by this man and had at no time seen the picture to which he referred. Al Chapman, prior to the assassination, was a custodian for a church in Oak Cliff. There is a good deal of mystery about him for he will not reveal his business or residential address. Nor is the name of the church available. Although he is a part-time private investigator, he has no license.

The story was all over the office and Jim was concerned as he had been keeping up on anything written involving these events. Before long the F.B.I. and the Dallas Police were making regular visits to the office on the pretext of looking for "Jim Jones" or "Tom Smith" or any excuse they could use to let me know they could also read! The heat was on. Jim was constantly there -- everytime I looked up -- which was unusual. This leech, this skid row bum, and I am referring to Al Chapman, in his lust for money, not caring whom he hurt, had not only sold his story but my future with Peakload as well.

On July 17, 1970, I reported for work to find another man doing my job. I was told by this "replacement" that Jim wanted to see me. As I sat in Jim's office I knew what was coming. Jim said, "Roger, you've done a good job but it is time for a change." I asked him for an explanation but all he would say was that it was time for a change and he was sorry!

Bill Decker died in August. The County Commissioners appointed his executive assistant, Clarence Jones, to fill the job until November, when he had to run for election (with the backing of the Democratic Party). For the first time since Decker's reign, the Republicans nominated someone to oppose a Democrat for the office. The man was Jack Revel, former Chief of the Dallas Police Intelligence Division. This meant that the voters had the choice between two evils. Well, Clarence Jones was elected -- his campaign signs and posters read, "Elect Clarence Jones -- In the Tradition of Bill Decker"! It would be nice if Jack Revel would be upset enough over his loss of the election to make public some information -- but this is very wishful thinking indeed.

Meanwhile, I am still out of a job (but still looking). I would like to think that the people of Dallas will change and rise up against the dishonest and irresponsible tyrants who govern in their name -- but I do not see it happening in the near future. Dallas is my home but I will always feel like an outsider because I simply will not adjust to the idea that for Dallas, for Texas, for America this must serve as democracy.

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