2005-02-05 06:36:03 UTC
The Truly Briefing. Twice, in his Commission testimony, Truly mentioned Biffle,
though not by name, in the context of his briefing of Fritz, to whom, Truly
says, he gave just the missing man's name, address, & "general description"
(v7p384, v3p230), though others (including Fritz--see below) recall his
providing rather more information than just "gone," information re a roll call &
a certain police officer--the very information, that is, which spurred Truly to
contact Fritz in the first place, and which--if the words "storage room" and/or
"first floor" were included in the briefing package--absolved Oswald. Truly
went on to describe a reporter at the scene who "followed [him] away from that
spot, & asked [him] who Oswald was" (v3p230). Truly said he was surprised that
the reporter was asking questions "because [he] had talked rather low to Capt.
Fritz...." (v7p384) In the Section 1 portion of the story, Biffle speaks of the
Truly/Fritz scene: "Oswald later failed to report at a 1:15pm roll call of
employes. Truly reported this to police." Biffle does not say where & when he
learned this, on the spot or after the fact--and, while a 1964 first-person,
follow-up story suggests, at first glance, that he learned it long *after the
fact*, a second glance suggests otherwise....
The When. In his Morning News follow-up, "This Couldn't Be Happening"--a
recollection more revealing than intended--Biffle wrote:
I decided to stay [in the depository]. Hours dragged by. The building
superintendent showed up with some papers in his hand. I listened as he told
detectives about Lee Oswald failing to show up at a roll call.... I jotted down
all the Oswald information. The description & address [were] from company
records already examined by the superintendent.
"Hours"? Come again? Remove that word, & doesn't this scene look *familiar*?
Yes, it looks very like the famous scene we all know & love, but with a fake
beard. Pull off the beard, drag the scene back a few paragraphs, in Biffle's
article--back to, say, the gap where it more properly belongs, around the time
(1:22pm) of the discovery of the "hidden rifle"--and voila! You've got Biffle's
original, clean-shaven "His name is Lee Oswald" scene. Nobody was speaking that
The Piece of Map. Truly & Fritz, in fact, both testified that Oswald's address
& description were part of the *1:20pm* briefing. Take that "hours dragged by"
out of Biffle's story, & darned if he doesn't seem to be describing that very
briefing. The cat is out of the bag: As Truly testified, when he obtained
Oswald's address, he "scribbled it down on a piece of map or something so [he]
would remember it" & took the piece of paper with him, first to Deputy Chief
Lumpkin, then to Fritz (v7p383), who was with detectives Sims & Boyd at the time
(Sims Exhibit A p3). Compare Biffle: "superintendent... papers in his hand...
detectives... address." It would appear, then, that the briefing which Biffle
is describing took place that very first hour, Assassination Time, when the
"papers" with the address on them were a necessary part of same, when there was
some sense of urgency to the scene.
The Phantom Roll Call. Crucially, Biffle's '64 piece went on to suggest that
there had been *two* roll calls--this is, in fact, perhaps where this nugget of
assassination mythology was born. And it's just that, mythology: Film footage
of warehouse employees leaving the building about 1:30 (Richard Trask, "Pictures
of the Pain" p549) scotches this suggestion, & indicates rather that the
sixth-floor workers went directly from the one & only 1:15 roll call to police
headquarters to make statements, & further indicates that this roll call, or
check-out, was the immediate prerequisite for the employees' departure. As Sgt
Gerald Hill testified (v7p59), Fritz left the building, too, about 1:30 (Sims A
p3), & as early as 2:20 was telling detectives at city hall that Oswald "had not
been present for a roll call" ("With Malice" p201). No roll call took place
after several hours, dragging or not--no roll call could have taken place--&
therefore there could have been no such scene re the supe breathlessly breaking
any such news to detectives. Strangely, & disastrously, Biffle seems torn
between faithfully recreating the 1:20 briefing ("papers in his hand") &
re-situating it in time ("hours dragged by"), & he ends up with an impossible
scene re (a) data passed along hours earlier & (b) an advisory re a nonexistent
roll call. Trask trumps Biffle, or Biffle's editor....
copr 2005 Donald Willis