Penn Jones Jr. – As a Frequent Correspondent, and Personal Friend
I would have to say, if there was anyone who “took me under” and was the guiding light where I needed to go early on, it was Penn Jones, Jr.
I used to spend hours with him on the phone, we corresponded back and forth, and it was Penn who, in 1973, sent me his 8mm copy of the Zapruder film (which I still have)! Accordingly, he acquired a copy and made copies of the film, having obtained the film from DA Jim Garrison (who subpoenaed the film from Time-Life, either sometime in 1969 or in 1970, while Jones was doing investigative work for the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office sometime prior to the Clay Shaw trial. He sold the film — available to anyone who was interested — for 15.00 dollars — and when I first viewed it I was quite stunned. I then understood, quite obviously, why ‘they’ had concealed this film from public view. I have two film canisters of the Z film in 16 mm I bought from Penn Jones in 1975 and 1976).
Then he sent me the book, “Farewell America”, and I have to admit, with no understanding early-on in what direction I needed to go in my early pursuits of the JFK case, I recall I was frightened having read that (banned) French book. He also told me I should also read, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, by J. E. Haley, which was printed in 1964.
I also purchased from him (and still have) 2 sets of his “Grief” 4 volumes. Including a rare Vol 1. in leathered hardcover, which he personally numbered ‘313’ and had autographed with a nice ‘thank you’ in the book for “taking care of us” (along with his wife, L.A.) while they stayed with us as guests at our home in Detroit in November 1974.
Penn Jones was a proponent in having advocated early on as well, that Johnson was responsible for the assassination. And he would explain to anyone who would listen in his own terms – and I must say I was amazed and shocked in hearing this point of view as this was altogether different and new to me (I suppose I just could not imagine Johnson might’ve been involved in the killing) – and in hearing his side of the events in Dallas, ten years after the fact; in hindsight, he knew how to connect the dots.
He said Johnson controlled everything: the investigation, the Dallas police, the body, the autopsy and medical evidence and having ordered the presidential car, the very crime scene itself, removed to his custody and ultimately, having it destroyed [and in the ultimate brazenly macabre action, having it rebuilt as a completely different vehicle before putting it back into service – ed.].
These were his professed, settled conclusions. Jones firmly believed there were at least nine guns involved at various trajectory points in the plaza when Kennedy was killed.
The letter to the right, written by Penn Jones to James Feliciano on August 2, 1982, references the photos below of LBJ’s limo being “painted” by war protesters in Melbourne Australia in October, 1966.
If necessary to read the letter more clearly, “right-click” on it and select “open image in new tab” then go to that tab to view (it can be enlarged there by hitting the “Ctrl” button and plus “+” key simultaneously, or decreased using the same procedure but using the minus “-” key instead).
Jones took me for my first tour to Dealey Plaza on July 2, 1977. Pointing here and there, sharing his stories of what took place behind the picket fence, the Dal Tex building, The Records Building (rooftop gunmen) he covered the entire grounds pretty well with me that day. But there was to be one other surprise. Walking ahead of me towards the picket fence on Elm street, to my surprise, I saw Penn pull up a manhole cover (I didn’t know he had a small crowbar on his person, never mind he did this in broad daylight) and he ordered me, “get in!”
To my surprise, I found myself hesitate momentarily in doing so. I heard him say, “hurry up! I can’t keep this open too long!” I dropped myself in (and was surprised there was ample room as I crouched inside), and his point [of doing this] being . . . a gunman fired a shot from this vantage point towards the motorcade while under this cover. Since then, Elm street has been layered [repaved] several times and the drain opening on the street near that manhole cover has lost much of it’s opening [each vertical extender being smaller in diameter – ed.] from what it was in 1963. But from what I saw down there with the traffic streaming by Elm, one can only affirm such a possibility. According to Penn Jones . . . there were two tunnels behind me inside the drain where an assassin could have crawled to another opening near the picket fence which leads towards the top of the underpass behind the knoll.
In his later years, I began to take notice he was not much in responding to my correspondences as before, there were some things he would claim he took care of (after I sent payment to him) which were not received at my end, in all honesty. Then he would recall later this to be true, and he would in turn apologize for any misunderstandings and communications, or lack of it, on his part and we just moved on. But I never allowed that to get in any way of our mutual friendship and my admiration for the work he had done in the JFK case, and my love and admiration towards him. He had done so much for me personally in my younger years, of my desire to find truth into what happened on November 22.
As I later found out, it was about this time that his memory was beginning to lapse. And I did not know this disease was beginning to take an effect on him. So I was saddened having learned when Penn Jones had Alzheimer’s, ultimately having taken his life in the late 1990s.
In looking back, I must say the first generation of researchers were my heroes (I am sure yours as well) when it comes to what all has been uncovered early-on, immediately in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s death, a long time ago. And Penn Jones, Jr., single-handedly, sits above the rest, at least for me personally. I still have nearly 70 issues of The Continuing Inquiry in my collection, including two issues of number 1.
He was my inspiration: Keep looking. The truth will find you out. Truly, I was blessed in having known this man and, as a friend, as well. Penn Jones, Jr. My eyes were opened a long time ago.
And he also warned me, if you want to keep digging, this case can consume you. For me personally, that one statement by Jones, turned out to be the case.
On Meeting Robert White – And Holding JFK’s Watch and Wallet
In 1993, I attended the ASK Conference in Dallas, on the 30th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas. Robert White was not listed in the ASK itinerary [directory] nor did he give a presentation, in November 1993. I think he was just an attendee there to observe the 30th anniversary. I found myself in the lobby (Reunion Square) and I began a conversation with an individual who was alone, seemingly in solitude and away from the rest of the crowd.
He introduced himself to me as Robert White, a collector of JFK memorabilia, and as we engaged in conversation, to my utmost surprise, he pulled out of his suit pocket two items he had on his person as JFK artifacts. One was JFK’s personal wallet which also held JFK’s Massachusetts’s driver’s license (with his photo!). And the other was a watch he claimed JFK was wearing on the day he was assassinated. To my surprise, I was stunned when he handed it over to me and told me to hold it and examine it! He told me to turn it over, and there on the back was the initials engraved, J.F.K., (in large letters) and the watch, as I recall also had a date below the initials (which I cannot now recall, in smaller lettering) but the JFK initials stood out for me the most.
In hindsight, I think that moment had to have been the highlight of the conference, to me personally. If for only a moment, Robert White, in the course of our short conversation, allowed me to hold a piece of history I will never forget.
On the “Research Community”
Yesterday, I read your [Phil Nelson’s] blogs in response to the “trolls,” as you phrased it. There are many researchers who will not support the notion Johnson had any involvement in JFK’s murder in 1963. They will concede that he might’ve covered it up, but no, that he had no direct hand for his murder. As much as Jim DiEugenio and Joan Mellen hold much admiration for Jim Garrison (and I’ve admired their diligent work in the JFK case all the same) – who believed Lyndon Johnson was the sole principal benefactor who gained from Kennedy’s murder – they scoff and reject any notion Johnson had been directly involved.
You are absolutely right. I believe the “research community” has done much to destroy credibility to themselves from within. Many in the community have taken upon their own authority to say they have the last word – while having rejected and dismissed other scholars and their findings, in part or in whole, who have done essential and good research such as yours – your views are not their views and therefore they will not accept it.
A Final Word From the Editor (PFN)
As I read Mr. Feliciano’s comments regarding the state of the “research community” my thoughts drifted back to why I believe that some people have difficulty in accepting the premise of Lyndon Johnson’s direct involvement in the 1960s assassinations.
It has to do with the massive cover-ups initiated by Johnson himself in real time which, for the sake of its continued viability, he then forced all governmental entities – judicial, legislative, and executive agencies, departments, bureaus; military and intelligence services and, through them, the print and broadcast media as well – to “circle the wagons” and hide behind the walls thus created. The threat of exposure of real truths necessarily extends to the names of those who commanded and controlled those events and their associated political parties (which thus compromises both of the most prominent ones, in control then and now).
The following passages from the Epilogue of Who Really Killed Martin Luther King Jr?. sums up my opinion regarding that point:
Such subtle grace and “presumed innocence” is expected of a journalist, or a jurist, and it is the proper standard for treating a live person accused of a crime, pending a specific finding by a jury. But since most of the people who have been implicated in these deeds are now dead and no longer within reach of earthly justice—having escaped it in their time as mortals—we are long past the point where such exigencies of due process, or the niceties of polite manners and graciousness, are still pertinent.
This kind of tepid discretion only further slows the already-lengthy process of rendering historic truths, especially when the evidence—already stale and fragmented as a result of the enormous cover-ups put into place by the diabolically powerful culprits—finally dribbles out, piecemeal over many years. Given that traditional court remedies are no longer possible, the excessive caution not only hinders achieving real justice, it impedes the ability of the general public to learn enough to avoid repeating the deadliest mistakes of the past.
The 1960s madness will never be reconciled by books that stop short of naming the men who choreographed the worst crimes of that era. The many books which direct us to the doorstep of only one of the agencies used to facilitate these crimes (the one in Langley, Virginia) despite the fact as proven within these pages, it was only one of several, will never produce that result.