The November 22, 1963 JFK Assassination is always with us, never seems to go away, the terrible act itself and the suspicions that grew out of the information we were fed, that never did feel right. After the murder, I was attending Lincoln High School in San Francisco, and wrote a paper for my history class. There are some new books out about it now, so I thought it’d be fun to post–plus there are footnotes.
The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Table of Contents:
The Assassin: Lee Harvey Oswald
The Assassin’s Assassin
Response of the Public
I chose the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy for my topic because it was such a tragic event. I felt that by reading the accounts of the assassination, I would gain a better understanding of what occurred, how it occurred, and why it occurred. I read about the background of the assaswsin, and how he was assassinated in the midst of 70 policemen. I wondered how it could happen. I wanted to read about how security measures were handled during the days before and after the assassination. I felt it was important to known the facts about this significant tragedy in history.
President Kennedy’s jet dropped down on Dallas’ Love Field on a clear November 22, 2963. President and Mrs. Kennedy climbed into a special 1961 Lincoln convertible for the 45-minute motorcade ride that winded through Dallas on the way to the Trade Mart. (1) Twice the President stopped the limousine to shake hands with well-wishers before reaching the fatal point…Dealey Plaza. (2) In the 15-car motorcade, the Kennedys and Texas’s Democratic Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie rode in the third car. Jackie sat next to her husband. In front of them on jump seats, were the Connallys.
President Kennedy’s trip to Texas had three purposes: to smooth over splits among state Democrats, to make fund-raising appearances for the party, and to see and be seen by…the people. (3)
Kenneth O’Donnell (Kennedy’s Appointment Secretary) said that if the weather was clear and it was not raining to have the bubbletop off (it is neither bullet-proof nor bullet resistant). (4) The President had also ordered that no Secret Service Agents were to ride on the small running boards at the back of the car.
As the President’s car approached an underpass near the intersection of Elm, Main, and Commerce Streets, Nellie Connally turned to Kennedy and said laughingly:
“You can’t say that Dallas isn’t friendly to you today.” (5)
The President started to reply…
But a reply never came. It was stilled by a shot. It was 12:30 p.m., C.S.T., and in a split second a thousand things happened. The President’s body slumped to the left; h is right leg shot up over the car door. Blood gushed from the President’s head as it came to rest in Jackie’s lap.
“Jack!” she cried. “Oh, no! No!” (6)
John Connally turned…and by turning, probably saved his own life. There were two more shots, and a bullet pierced his back, plowed down through his chest, fractured his right wrist, and lodged in his left thigh. (7) A photographer looked up a seven-story building on the corner…the Texas School Book Depository, a warehouse for textbooks…and caught a glimpse of a rifle barrel being withdrawn from a window on the sixth floor. (8)
There was a shocked stillness. Then Kennedy’s driver cried:
“Let’s get out of here quick?” (9)
He automatically pulled out of the motorcade…the set procedure in emergencies. The Secret Service agent next to him grabbed the radio telephone, and called ahead to the nearest hospital. Racing at 70 mph, the car fled down the highway, rounding curves on two wheels.
Five minutes later, the cars arrived at the emergency entrance of Parkland Memorial Hospital on Harry Hines Blvd. The agents ran inside to get stretchers. John Connally was still conscious. The President had never known what hit him. Stretchers were brought out and both men were placed on them. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been in the same motorcade, walked into the emergency clinic holding his hand over his heart, giving rise briefly that he had been wounded or was suffering from a heart attack. Neither was the case: Lyndon was simply, profoundly stunned. (10)
Three shots were fired, which was proved by the evidence, but there is disagreement about which one hit whom. Connally believes that the first one struck Kennedy in the neck, that Connally was hit by the second, that the third caused the massive wound in the President’s head. But the Warren Commission presents evidence that one shot went wild and two hit…with the one that pierced the President’s throat continuing on to hit Connally. (11)
At the assassination scene, meanwhile, there was a stillness which gave way to frantic, confused movement. Bystanders grabbed children to blanket them when they heard the sound of gunfire. Police officers got out of cars, guns drawn, to search aimlessly.
Directly across from the School Book Depository Building, Amos Lee Euins, a 15-year-old ninth-grade student, saw a man shoot twice from a window; Euins hid behind a bench. Steamfitter Howard L. Brennan, standing across from the School Book Depository Building, had noticed a man at the sixth floor corner window; while waiting for the motorcade to arrive, Brennan had watched him leave the window a “couple of times.” After Brennan heard a shot, he looked up again. He said he saw the man who was in the window aiming for his last shot. After he had fired, he drew in the gun and disappeared. Brennan stopped a police officer, gave a description of the man: slender, about 5ft. 10 in., in his early 30’s. The description was flashed to all Dallas patrol caars. (12).
Within minutes, cops surrounded the schoolbook warehouse. Dozens of them poured inside with shotguns and began a room-to-room search. And in the storeroom near the fifth-floor landing, half-hidden behind crates of textbooks, they found a rifle. It was a cheap, Italian-made Mannlicher-Carcanco 6.5m.m C2766 rifle. It was fitted with a four power telescopic sight.
Marina Oswald, the wife of the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, identified the weapon in testimony to the Warren Commission as the “fateful rifle of Oswald.” (13)
One flight above, near a sixth-floor window only 75 yards from the point where Kennedy and Connally were shot, the cops discovered remnants of a chicken dinner in a bag, an empty pop bottle, and three spent cartridge cases. The assassin was gone. (14)
At 1:15 p.m., about four miles from the warehouse, Patrolman J.D. Tippit, 38, was driving alone when he heard the description of the assassin. He saw a man on the sidewalk and stopped his car to question him. The fellow’s height and weight corresponded to the description. He had kinky brown hair, a prominent forehead, thick eyebrows, a crimped tight mouth and a defiant air. Tippit got out, started toward the front of the car. Oswald shot Tippit four times with his revolver. Tippit was dead before he hit the ground. Tippit was hit in the head, chest and abdomen. (15)
A bystander jumped into the patrol car and called headquarters. Seven blocks away, the cashier of the Texas Theater telephoned police to report that a suspicious-looking man had entered the movie house and was constantly changing seats. At 1:35, four cops entered the theater, where the movie, “War is Hell,” was just starting. Patrolman M.N. McDonald approached Oswald and heard him say,
“Well, it’s all over now.”
Oswald sprang up, slugged McDonald in the face. Oswald pulled out his pistol, and pulled the trigger, but the weapon didn’t fire. The cops jumped him and there was a fierce, brief struggle. Hauled bruised and kicking to police headquarters, the man was booked as Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, 5 ft., 9 in., 160 lbs. (16)
The President never regained consciousness. In Emergency Room No. 1, Dr. Kemp Clark, 38, Chief of Parkland’s neurosurgical department, examined a large wound in the President’s head and another smaller wound…from the second of the three shots…in his throat. Clark and eight other doctors worked over him for 40 minutes but the President was dead. The doctors gave him oxygen, anesthesia, performed a tracheotomy to help breathing; they fed him fluids, gave him blood transfusions, attached an electrocardiograph to record his heart beat. (17)
Shortly after his arrival at Parkland Hospital, Father Oscar Huber of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church administered the late rites. (18)
Within two hours Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office and became President at about 12:30 p.m. PST. For the first time in history, the oath was administered by a woman…U.S. District Judge Sarah J. Hughes. Johnson was sworn in aboard the presidential jet transport…Air Force One…at Dallas’s Love Field. This was the same aircraft that brought Kennedy to Dallas in the morning. (19)
1. Newsweek, “The Assassination,” p. 34, Oct. 5, 1964
3. Time, “The Warren Commision Report,” p. 45 Vol. 84, No. 14, Oct 2, 1964
4. Newsweek, Op. Cit., p. 34
5. Time, “The Assassination,” p. 23, Vol. 82, No. 22, Nov 29, 1963
11. Time, “The Warren Commission Report,” p 46, Vol 84, No 14, Oct 2, 1964
13. Ibid, p 47
14. Time, “The Assassination,” p. 24, Vol 82, No. 22, Nov. 29, 1963
15. Time, “The Warren Commission Report,” p. 47A, Vol. 84, No.14, Oct 2, 1964
16. Time, “The Assassination,” p. 24, Vol 82, No. 22, Nov. 29, 1963
18. News Call Bulletin, Vol 5, No. 90, Friday, Nov. 22, 1963
19. San Francisco Examiner, Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963
The Assassin: Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald was born on October 18, 1939, two months after the death of his father. Oswald was raised under the domineeering influence of his eccentric mother. The relationship had an obvious traumatic effect on the boy. (20)
While in the Marines in 1956, he was twice court-martialed, once for unauthorized possession of a pistil and once for abusive language to a sergeant. He was unpopular among his barrack mates for his open advocacy of Marxism. Discharged from the Marine Corps in 1959, Oswald went to the Soviet Union and demanded U.S.S.R. citizenship. At one point, when the Russian government was threatening to kick Oswald out of the country, he slashed a wrist in an abortive suicide attempt. The Soviet government purportedly took pity, allowed Oswald to stay on, got him a job as a metal worker in Minsk, where he met and married Marina Prusakova, then a 19-year-old pharmacist. (23)
But Oswald was not satisfied with his mental state in life and 18 months after his defection he decided he wanted to go home. Taking up family life in Dallas, Oswald found things were tough there, too. Through the Texas Employment Commission he got a job with an advertising photography firm in Dallas, but on April 6, 1963, lost it. Four days later Oswald tried unsuccessfully to assassinate former Army Major General Edwin Walker in his Dallas home. (24)
Soon after he shot at Walker, Oswald took an abortive fling at organizing a “Fair Play for Cuba Committee” in New Orleans, of which he became the only member. His deepest drive at that time was to get to Cuba himself. On September 27, Oswald went to Mexico City himself, heading straight for the Cuban Embassy. He tried to get a visa to Cuba but flopped miserably. He was in Mexico for seven days. (25)
Back in the U.S. with Marina, Oswald once more suffered frustratings. Oswald wasw a wife-beating tyrant, laid down orders that Marina must not smoke, drink or wear cosmetics. (26)
On November 18, Marina and Lee Oswald quarreled bitterly over the telephone. Marina was staying with Mrs. Ruth Paine while Oswald had been living in a Dallas boarding house. Marina discovered that he was there under a phony name. (27)
Surprisingly, Oswald arrived at the Paine home on the evening of Thursday, November 21. Oswald left the house for nearly an hour…during which time he was presumably out in the garage, disassembling his rifle and placing it in the brown paper bab he had bought with him to carry “curtain rods” back to his boarding house. The next morning he left for his job in Dallas with the “curtain rod” bag in hand. (28)
20. Time, “The Warren Commission Report,” p. 47B, Vol 84, No. 14, Oct 2, 1964
22. Ibid, p48
24. Ibid, p49
The Assassin’s Assassin: Jack Ruby
On November 22, Jack Ruby was in the advertising department of the “Morning News,” bragging about how he handled tough guys in his club…and complaining about how bad business was. After the assassination, Ruby got in his car and couldn’t stop crying. He went to the Carousel, made a flood of calls to family, friends and business cronies in which he babbled about the assassination and got sick eating dinner at his sister’s apartment. (29)
At about 11:30 p.m., Ruby was on the third floor of the Dallas Police Department, saying that he was a translator for the Israeli press. At about 2:30 a.m., he stopped at a garage to gab for an hour with one of his strippers and her boyfriend. About four he turned up in the composing room of the “Dallas Times Herald.” (30)
On Sunday, November 24, Jack Ruby arose in a nervous state, mumbling to himself and pacing the floor. He left his apartment about 11 a.m., a revolver in his pocket, drove to the point where Kennedy was shot and looked at the wreaths scattered along the street. Then he drove to the Western Union Office. He paid for a telegram and got a receipt stamped 11:17 a.m. He left hurriedly and walked into the police department building where Oswald was being held. At 11:21 a.m., he lunged from a crowd of newsmen and cops to shoot and kill Lee Oswald. At the moment Oswald was shot, he was in the midst of 70 policemen. At 1:07 p.m. at Parkland Hospital, Lee Oswald was pronounced dead. (31)
29. Time, “The Warren Commision Report,”, p. 49, Vol. 84, No. 14, Oct. 2, 1964
31. Newsweek, “The Assassination,” p. 40, Oct. 5, 1964
Response of the Public
Hardly anyone appears to have changed his mind about U.S. foreign policy as a result of Mr. Kennedy’s slaying. Those who supported the Kennedy policy continue to support it. Those who opposed it remain opposed. Many, nevertheless, do worry about U.S. prestige in the world following the assassionation of Mr. Kennedy. (32)
32. The Wall Street Journal, “Response of the Public,” Vol. LXIX, No. 105, Nov. 26, 1963
Oswald did not have time for all of the movements attributed to him between his departure from the Texas School Book Despository and his encounter with Tippit.
Finding: Time tests of all of Oswalds movements establish that these movements could have been accomplished in the time available to him. 33
Speculation: Oswald was on his way to Jack Ruby’s apartment when he was stopped by Patrolman Tippit.
Finding: There is no evidence that Oswald and Ruby knew each other or had any relationship through a third party or parties. There is no evidence that Oswald knew where Ruby lived. Accordingly, there is neither evidence nor reason to believe that Oswald was on his way to Ruby’s apartment when he was stopped by Tippit. 34
Speculation: Tippit and his killer knew each other.
Finding: Investigation has revealed no evidence that Oswald and Tippit were acquainted, had ever seen each other, or had any mutual acquaintances. Witnesses to the shooting observed no signs of recognition between them. 35
Speculation: Oswald was the victim of police brutality.
Finding: Oswald resisted arrest in the Texas Theater and drew a gun. He received a slight cut over his right eye and a bruise under his left eye in the course of the struggles. During the time he was in police custody, he was neither ill-treated nor abused. 36
Speculation: Oswald learned Russian during his service in the Marines, as part of his military training.
Finding: Oswald never received any training from the Marine Corps in the Russian language. His studies of Russian were entirely on his own and at his own initiative. 37
Speculation: On November 27, 1963, in a speech at the University of Havana, Fidel Castro, under the influence of liquor, said “The first time that Oswald was in Cuba***.” Castro therefore had knowledge that Oswald had made surreptitious visits to Cuba.
Finding: Castro’s speeches are monitored directly by the U.S. Information Agency as he delivers them. A tape of this speech reveals that it did not contain the alleged slip of the tongue. Castro did refer to Oswald’s visit to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico which he immediately corrected to “Cuban consulate.” The Warren Commission has found no evidence that oswald had made surreptitious visits to Cuba. 38
Speculation: Municipal and federal police had observed Oswald closely for some time but had not regarded him as a potential killer.
Finding: The Dallas police had not been aware of Oswald’s presence in the city before the assassination. The FBI knew that Oswald was in Dallas from an interview with Mrs. Paine, but no FBI agents had interviewed him there before the assassination.The FBI had not regarded him as a potential killer. 39
Speculation: Patrolman J.D. Tippit, Bernard Weissman and Jack Ruby met by pre-arrangement on November 14, 1963 at the Carousel Club.
Finding: Investigation has revealed no evidence to support this assertion. Nor is there credible evidence that any of the three men knew each other.40
Speculation: Mrs. Marquerite Oswald was shown a photograph of Jack Ruby by an FBI agent the night before Ruby killer son.
Finding: On the night of November 23, 1963, Special Agent Bardwell D. Odum of the FBI showed Mrs. Marquerite Oswald a picture of a man to determine whether the man was known to her. Mrs. Oswald stated subsequently that the picture was of Jack Ruby. The Commission has examined a copy of the photograph and determined that it was not a picture of Jack Ruby. 41
Speculation: The presidential car had a small round bullet hole in the front windshield. This is evidence that a shot or shots were fired at the President from the front of the car.
Finding: The windshield was not penetrated by any bullet. A small residue of lead was found on the inside surface of the windshield; on the outside of the windshield was a very small pattern of cracks immediately in front of the lead residue on the inside. The bullet from which this lead residue came was probably one of those that struck the President and therefore came from overhead and to the rear. Experts established that the abrasion in the windshield came from impact on the inside of the glass. 42
33 Newsweek, “The Assassination,” p. 57, Oct. 5, 1964
39 Newsweek, “The Assassination,” p. 60, Oct. 5, 1964
42. Time, “The Warren Commission Report,” p. 50, Vol. 84, No. 14, Oct. 2, 1964
This is a 1970s Inteview with Alice Kent, to see the hilarious piece on Marvin Lewis, go to Other Work Part II
And that’s how my interview with Marvin Lewis ended–he gave me the best interview I’d ever had–of course he was a famous and successful attorney, an orator and entertainer. But I cannot think of anyone else I have met and interviewed who had a better story.
My adventure wasn’t over yet. I was still seeking more about Michael McCracken. I had a list of people to see and talk to but when I knocked on the door of the country house that belonged to Alice and her attorney husband, Roger, I confess I wasn’t sure where this was taking me.
(Photo: The home of Alice and Roger Kent, Kentfield, Marin County, California. The artist-painter Michael Bowen stands watching several people, including gray-haired Alice Kent, kneeling with her back to the camera.
Copyright R.W. Bruch,Â http://22.214.171.124/Beatscene/index.html
Alice Kent lived in Marin County, in Kentfield, home of the local junior college. Yes, I guess the town was named after her. My memory is blurry on the details but it seems to me that her house was a big, old white two-story farmhouse style house with a porch around it.
Alice’s family were early settlers in Hawaii–her descendents came to the islands originally as missionaries but later they got very rich from the land they owned. (This was the second time I’d met someone with connections to the early Hawaiians–John Wickett a very eccentric, kind fellow, who gave me a pretty good interview and a great time in his eclectic house had been married to a Dole pineapple heiress)
I don’t know what propelled me to follow-up on these interviews–the search for the beatniks of Princeton-by-the-Sea. To go places where I didn’t know what was going to happen, where I didn’t know the people I was going to interview…there was a small element of danger to it. Maybe that’s what enticed me.
When Roger Kent answered the door of the Kent’s home in Marin, I knew I was safe but I still wondered what this was going to be about. Roger didn’t look well. His skin color was gray–I saw him for a few brief seconds before his wife Alice appeared to greet me.
[Roger Kent was an attorney with strong political connections, counting Richard Nixon as one of his clients].
In my mind Alice was small and gray and wearing comfortable clothing. She took me upstairs right away. We walked into a small room where she pointed out a sandbox scene on the floor. In it were figurines that had come from a glass China cabinet in the corner. This was Jungian therapy, she told me.
Every day she opened the door to the China cabinet, selected objects that seemed appropriate and put them in the sandbox. I guess she sat on the floor and interacted with them.
After that brief introduction to Alice Kent’s Jungian therapy we sat down and tried to talk about Michael McCracken–a man she didn’t know much about. But maybe that was because Alice was actually going to be a link to another person (and that would turn out to be Rosalind Sharpe, who had strong connections to Big Sur).
Upon re-reading this, I see that the conversation is very cryptic. That’s the way she talked, the way she was.
I will call this interview, “It is, What It is”
“I never met [Michael] McCracken,” Alice told me. “He never was in. And I don’t remember Michael [Bowen] when I was down there. But I was talking to Rosalind [Sharpe]–you know Rosalind Wall [I didn’t]–and she said that, “I said I don’t remember Mike being in on the gang that wrote….that was when the tarot was coming in.”
And Alice continued, “No, I don’t think he [Bowen? McCracken?] was there then but he came afterwards when the drug scene got really rough. Down there, [Carmel? Mexico?] too, where they were all whooping and hollering. I guess there ws sstill some, if you say it’s in there, there was still some dictation coming through. But the cards were finished, weren’t they?”
June: When does Michael Bowen come in?
AK: June 1963? That’s when it’s all finished, I think. (Looks at book, “The Word of One”)
“Yes and three visitors from Big Sur: Michael, Judy and Patrick.”
June: Patrick Cassidy?
AK: I think it must be. I was trying to think where it ends. Anyway, I’m sure it was after the cards. After all the tarot cards came through. So it was just kind of like playing games.
June: What about the scarab?
AK: Well all those things are just over my head. I can tell you my side of my brother [John Starr Cooke]. It’s a fascinating story. Rosalind is writing. She’s the one you really should see about this kind of stuff because she’s writing his definitive autobiography, I guess.
AK: Before he died he taped a lot of what he remembered of all those ‘scarab’ years or whatever years. When I didn’t know him because he was away a lot and he knew that I wasn’t into that as much. We always–funny–he was ten years than I, and we began way back in 1939 when he had been 19. He goes on 1920 and I was born in 1910 so it’s very easy to remember dates–but that’s when we first–when he first thought he could be a medium–or getting something from somewhere else.
AK: Even as a child he was full of the mystic side. During the war I moved away from here down to the Ojai when Roger [her husband] went off to the war. He was an actor in Hollywood then…
June: Your brother was?
AK: Yes. He would come up on weekends and I was into Krishnamurti who was living there. Of course Krishna G’s very down to earth, you know. There’s no hocus pocus mysticism abut him. He says we all have the same abilities and anything we believe about past lives or future lives or whatever is really symbolic of a way of saying who you are and who cares if you were in Egypt once when you were Tutankamen or whoever you want to be.
AK: We always disagreed on that because I was much more the thinking type and he [her brother John] was much more the mystic. So that for awhile there we didn’t have much to say and also he was away. Then he contracted polio over there in Algeria and he came back here for the rest of his life.
AK: Of course it was a tremendous adjustment then because he’d been an actor and a dancer and that was all finished–and he’d also been a great playboy, too, and loved going to other places. He went up as far to the north and far to the south as he could on some kind of thing that combined-joined at the equator.
AK: He was full of that kind of travel and experiencing…When he came back with polio, he’d already been both in the American Hospital in Paris and then up in Denmark for therapy. When he came back he still needed lots more therapy. They told him he could maybe walk again with crutches or something. He wasn’t about to.
AK: He said he was either going to find the real cure which he spent the rest of his life looking for, a miracle, or else he was going to sit in a wheelchair with dignity. He said, ‘I’m not going to be one of those people who stagger about and everybody feels sorry for,’ which he never was…
June: In Carmel, he was in a wheelchair?
AK: Yes. That was the first place and then he left this rehabilitation place and moved down to Carmel. I don’t know where I was. I wasn’t here then, either. I must have been in Japan, or somewhere. He gradually, not gradualy, I’m sure right away, gathered a crowd around him because he always had people. He was tremendously lovable and full of the joy of living and a wild man–not a ‘Bowen Wildman.’ You could see how Bowen would get into it.
AK: Why would John like Bowen, too. John loved ? and all that. For instance when Michael came down to Mexico– after John had moved down to Mexico–Michael came down with the idea of picketing the Pentagon or having a big demonstration with the Flower Children in front of the Pentagon. I think John financed most of that although he really didn’t have much money but he was so interested in stopping war and whatnot.
AK: He and Michael could cook up a Pentagon party that included truckloads of carnations to put on the muzzles of each soldier’s gun in the Pentagon. That kind of thing. Giving flowers to everybody. John was, I guess, one of the original flower children because that’s when [Timothy] Leary and Ram Dass and Mezzner and all that crowd were fooling around between Haight Asbury and Harvard and Big Sur and whatnot.
AK: John could have been, probably, one of the great leaders.
AK: He kind of died in the sorrow that he hadn’t accomplished what to him was his mission this trip around. He died when he was only–he died in 1976–he would have been 56.
June: What did he die of?
AK: Of cancer. He came back from Algiers–with–where he had been living for quite a while. He joined a very strict Muslim sect that said, once in, you can’t get out. He wanted out because, he realized, well, maybe not black magic, but much too powerful for him. He didn’t want it. He didn’t have that much power over peoople or in the world. He was backing away, and, of course, you never knew when he was telling the truth because he was such a fantasizer–and he just lived in a different world.
AK: But he’d do thinks like, well, he says that while he was down getting his ticket, a sweeper came up to him with a broom, and said, ‘Oh, you’re leaving?’. And, he said, ‘Yes, I am.’ ‘Oh, you think so?’
AK: Then he went to the bank and another one of the followers of this Muslim crowd had given him a silk scarf and he had it on for the first time. At the bank he got this terrific burn on his shoulder and he ripped off the scarf, and there was this great, big red mark. He thought he had been stung by a scorpion.
AK: Then when he went up to the American Hospital–then he got both polio and this burn before he could leave, anyway. Then his wife left him and then he was sent to Paris. But half of him for the rest of his life said it wasn’t polio–that he had been poisoned. But the American Hospital diagnosed it as polio and found polio in him, so…
AK: But they said, ‘When did you get that X-ray burn?’ He said he’d never been X-rayed and they said, ‘Well, it certainly is an X-ray burn. It’s no other kind of burn that you have on your shoulder.’
AK: That would come and go, and sometimes it would really disappear, but then it was diagnosed as skin cancer. So he had a couple of operations up here. I guess he was coming up from Mexico by then.
AK: He moved down to Mexico, I guess about 1966, I’m not quite sure. He cme up for a couple of operations on it to see if they couldn’t close it up because by then it was getting deeper. Then the third time he came, they said, ‘It’s too deep now, we can’t fix it.’ So I asked the doctor what the future was–ws the cancer going to go in and hit the lung? You know and he’d get lung cancer.
AK: And they said, ‘No, that skin cancer doesn’t like any other part of the body except skin.’ They said, ‘He’ll live a long time, probably, but if he’s going to die of this cancer, it will be because it’s crept up to a big vein or artery in his neck. It will cut through that and he’ll bleed to death very quickly and that will be that.’
AK: That is what happened–except before that happened it went down his arm and just made this terribly painful–it hit every nerve–blood vessels and everything so his whole hand was swollen. He was in agony for quite a while. Then he was getting weaker so I went down to be with him. We knew it was coming and we talked and laughed about the past and our childhood and what a good life he’d had. He was all ready to go. But it was fantastic–I’ll give it you, the thing I wrote on his death because it was a fantastic death, he had, I thought. Just really as though it were another Jesus.
AK: We used to have such darn good times. Of coure, from the wartime on, I guess, no, because that would have taken in Algiers. Anyway, we got closer and closer. Partly we had a great time during the war. He was married to his first wife, then. I couldn’t stand her so that alienated us, too, because she had just moved in, and so did his second wife. Our mother died when he was quite young, so I kind of brought him up. We were two of eight children, so there was a big family but he wasn’t happy down there so he spent a lot of his time up here with us.
AK: So we were very close–brother and sister. During the war we were even closer and then–no, what I was starting to say was both of these women caught on to the fact that what he needed was a mother because his mother had died so young and I refuse dto be…He’s say, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ And I’d say, ‘John, this is your life, kid.’ ‘Should I go to war? Can I get out of it some way?’ ‘You figure out that one. You’re a big boy, now.’
AK: He didn’t want to go to war, he–in fact, I got him a job. I was helping with a spastic home for kids that couldn’t walk but had brilliant minds. All their help had gone to war and they needed a strong man to help carry the kids around. John was a big, strong kid, so that got him out of the war–he did this work instead. I guess he was about 6 feet tall. Very strong. You haven’t seen pictures of him? Well, we’ll go inside and I’ll show you the works…
AK: I’m a Cooke, married a Kent. Brought up in the Hawaiian Islands which is ideal, of course, for any mystic or any dreamer of any sort because it’s so full of ghosts and legends. The Hawaiians were very open to things coming through, of messages and all that so we were brought up with a lot of it, anyway.
AK: Although we were brought up by very strict puritan missionary stock so that until John’s generation–well, first it was my great grandfather who went to the Islands and then my grandfather was one of the first sugar planter people, an interesting, fascinating and terrific person. Then my father was still strict and no one could–well, we could play with Hawaiians and other rces, but, boy, there was no intermingling at all. They were against that from the time they came in. The were not going to mix with the heathen. By the time John came, especially because he was ten years younger than I, it was much more relaxed so that he got in with a lot of Hawaiians and people.
June: How did John start with the Quigi boards?
AK: Of course, he’d always done that. We did that when he was 19 here. On the Quigi board itself he went down–he was looking for the miracle cure–a friend of his–he knew all the big people in the world–among them was John Bennet, a Gurdieff follower, and “the” leader of all the Gurdieffas of that time which was in the 1940s, 50s. I guess Gurdieff had died by then and he was carrying that and he wrote to John out here and said “Pok Subub” [note: i have no idea what this means]. Have you heard of him?
AK: Well, he’s an Indonesian leader–religious leader. He said, ‘I’m sure I can cure you.’ If anyone can. He does remarkable healing. Hs in London and he wants to go home to Indonesia by way of US and would you consider seeing him through California? John wrote back and said, ‘Yes, indeed.’
AK: John, at that time was staying here and we had an absolutely screamingly funny time because Roger Kent [Alice’s powerful attorney husband] is such a macho as you can see. [ Note: Kent was the one who opened the door when I arrived to meet with his wife, Alice. I’m sure he was thinking I was another one of Alice’s weirdo friends. While I was there, i should interviewed him!] There’s just no dreamer in him. No, with anything hocus pocus. So here comes this–he was Muslim, too. That’s when he moved to Carmel. I think he went down to start Pok Subub with a group down there, then stayed, and led that group. Pok Subub went back to Indonesia. I can’t remember how he first got there. I think that was it. It was kind of a nucleus of that Subub crowd that would come see John all the time.
AK: One evening when there was nothing to do, the story goes, he said, ‘Come on, let’s play the Quigi board and just got out a big piece of paper and wrote the alphabet around and used a silver dollar which–that’s what that’s supposed to be (pointing at a book cover)…Nothing happened at all until they brought in this Bill Eaton and he didn’t even want to play. As soon as he got on, he and John…the board just….started whizzing around. So, it was he and Bill that brought this through. He changed his name to ‘Given.’
AK: She [Rosalind Wall Sharpe] doesn’t say it in the book. Bill Eaton is Given. John always gave Given the credit for having brought this tarot through. But John had always been interested in the tarot ever since he was 9 years old. He was up here on the mainland with mother and I think he got measles or something because he went out–anyway, he went downstairs, thought he was buying a pack of cards to play solitaire–maybe he was 10 or 11, I don’t know….when he got them upstairs, it had these 22 other funny looking things–people.
AK: He [her brother, John] was very attracted to them but his story is he threw it out the window because he was afraid it was Black Magic. He couldn’t drop it although he didn’t do much and then in 1941, 41 when he got married to the girl on the Quigi board and immediataly the board–for some strange reason–said they should get married–they were soulmates. That’s when I started fighting against it.
AK: She [not sure who she’s talking about here] woke him up in the night and said, ‘Draw what I tell you I see.” She was getting these dream visions of big, either stone or clay, carved, strange figures. So he would draw it and they’d look at it the next day but it wouldn’t make any sense. They were in Paris, or somewhere, they had one of the top mediums in the world who came there for dinneer. Or else it was New York, I don’t know. In the middle of supper, his voice changed and he burst into tears–and this other voice said [end of tape, lost some of the conversation, tried to pick up on the other side but it’s not as detailed].
June: You said the medium’s voice had changed during dinner and they brought down the drawing….
[No follow-up and the next line doesn’t make sense to me, in the sense of continuity]
AK: Yes, in Atlantis times. And tried to persuade the people that it was the prophecy of the fall of Atlantis–they wouldn’t listen to me. Anyway his wife kept that copy which I didn’t say before. I mean that stack? What I was getting at, is he had done. The tarot of Carmel was not new to him. It had already started when he was 9. When he was 9 he was up on the mainland and bought a deck of cards to play games–was suprised at the other figures and realized they were the tarot cards–or didn’t know what the tarot cards were, was scared of them and threw them out the window of hte hotel.
AK: These were medieval. He threw them out once, twice, three times. He made one joking film of everybody taking parts and dressing up. The big movie people saw that and decided–they begged him to make a documentary. I go down. First he thinks we’ll cook up a story and then he says, ‘Nom, we’ll have it legitimate. The next people who walk in–but that’s all written down somewhere. You don’t need to have that.
June: Did they make a documentary then?
AK: Yes. Michael didn’t tell you about that because I have it here but I don’t have a projector. You’ll have to see it some time. Anyway it’s 1976…they kept promising they’d have it in March and then didn’t have it in March and the contract read 6 weeks after it’s filmed. We’ll put it on. By now his arm was in terrible pain and he’s really a sick man. But you’d never know it when you see the movie. He gets even worse and they stall and say they haven’t got shots of this yet and outside.
AK: Just drives me wild, they were so darn macho anyway. Being Spanish, they’re even worse. During the movie-making, they would take nothing from me, unless I told John to tell them. Finally I rushed out in the middle of one of the ?….’it’s none of your business when I see them making mistakes. I rushed out. ‘I’m sorry, stop the cameras, you are not going to say, you’re not going to mispronounce the word, TAO, which is really DAO and not TAO. He was saying TAO and that’s just pure ignorance…
AK: He made lots of other mistakes, that they wouldn’t let me change. Once–so then–the man who was going to edit it was a swell guy and he was fired just before–it was just fate anyway that he would. A young guy who really didn’t know very much took on the editing and he wouldn’t take any sass from me, either. He was another Mexican. John saw some of the rushes–I guess about three nights before he died they brought him some and he shook his head and said, ‘The magic’s gone out of it. They’ve made it so ordinary. I’m sorry, but it’s alright.’ Even by then he didn’t care.
AK: He lived in Templesan (?), a little town outside Cuernavaca, about 45 minutes outside, a little Indian village where you couldn’t get help easily. That’s where he died.
AK: He was still trying every bruha (?), every witch-woman. That’s why he went to Mexico–there was a Dr. Rosetti, I think his name was, a Mexican-Spaniard who had studied in Germany and he was working with one of the big microscope lens manufacturers and used this super-powered microscope and discovered he could separate the nucleus or something from something else. That wa the life germ and he could cure people by injecting them with the life-giving stuff. That’s who John went down to see. Of course, he had his merits–people were healthier afterwards but any fool would know that when John’s legs were just about this big around, he wasn’t going to get a miracle cure…
[Story about Alice’s trip to Japan]
AK: I think at the end he had really given in and accepted himself as he was. The one thing I do want to get across is the fact that I do think he was sorry that he’d gone to Mexico and lived an easy life. He moved to Mexico, partly because it was cheaper to live and cheaper to get strong help that could lift him around and take care of him. He had one man who took care of him that was terribly jealous of im and wouldn’t let any hippies in. That scared all that Big Sur crowd. I think even Michael Bowen was kicked out. That upset John because he was always wanting everybody in.
AK: Because the hippies couldn’t come to see him, because real people who needed his help, couldn’t get to him and because he didn’t really want them.
AK: He was tired of the 10s, 20s and 50 people coming in all the time at Carmel because he was such a great leader. But his leading was the right kind of ? It was through love. He never told anyone what to do but he would tell them how great they were. Give them all the courage they needed at the time. He really was a fantastic man.
AK: In Mexico he led a much easier life. He fooled around, not with drugs anymore, because he was over that stage but drinking and partying and everybody knew him. All the people from New York came down–any big shots would come out to see him. But it was more social. He didn’t, I really think, at the end that he hadn’t finished the job that he was supposed to do. That was one more reason he wanted to make the film.
AK: He wanted one more chance to tell the people what he–all his beliefs, his philosophy, his religions. He died in August and the film wasn’t ready until about next March.
AK: No, it wasn’t ready until the next August but I had to go down and first I went in March to take over the music and all that kind of stuff…Then I went down in August for the first anniversary of his death which is a big fiesta in Mexico. The first anniversary is when you really let them go away. Before that they’re lingering around, supposedly. But he’s still around. I get him all the time. It wasn’t finished until…When we first put the film out, I think it was 19??..We opened it. I had about five copies made and we had one start in L.A. to show movie people, one in New York for all his friends and movie people. One in London for all his friends because he was in London a lot of his life, one in Hawaii and one here.
AK: We all had the opening on the 21st of June and I was fascinated at all the answers I got. The reception it received, which was poor, in most of the places. And I knew why. It was that damn job they’d done on it. So I wasn’t in any hurry to get it out and I also–every time it was shown from then on I really had to be there to say who John Cooke was because people already didn’t know and here comes this blast from this guy, who is he? What are the tarot cards?
AK: So I did an introduction and then we’d finished that which was just a short time ago. We had to bring the original up from Hollywood. They’d lost the soundtrack so that we had to make a new soundtrack from one of the copies which makes it less than perfect…
AK: A good editor friend, of course, another gal, started playing with the original. It’s just finished before I went to Hawaii. But it’s a little too dark. Once that’s corrected then I am going to distribute it in the U.S. I’ve done the three things for John I was going to: I printed those cards for him, did all the printing he wasn’t going to, he just had these terribly good looking, original pictures on his wall. I said, ‘John, you just–that’s just not fair. That wasn’t given to you to hide, that’s a message for the world and it’s an Aquarian message that’s coming in–but maybe people don’t understand it yet but they will and more.’
AK: This was in 1969. In ’69 we had the tarot cards printed and an explanation of how the cards were read from the Quigi notes. That was so fantastic to me–how he was told what to paint and how he painted because he wasn’t an artist. It just came through, just the way it was supposed to. I loved them rough and as they were. I think it makes them much more magical. Much more powerful. That’s why I don’t like most tarot decks–they’re so sweet and wishy-washy next to John’s.
AK: Not the old ones–the Medieval. I think they are great. I did the movie for him and I did one more book I’ll give you called ‘Communify’ which was a game he and I played a lot before he died. He said please get this out for two reasons. (1) I think it says more than the big one and (2) we really hadn’t copyrighted the name Aquarian [there was an Aquarian deck, apparently] and they had the nerve to put the double serpents in theirs…He said if we get Communify out, then quickly trademark the Atlateans, too, they can’t be swiped.
AK: The Aquarian tarot doesn’t say anything different from the old tarot. They’re no change for the Aquarian Age…In order to get the Communify game in, we had to have a medieval deck to show the different stages, the Atlantean, the Medieval and the Aquarian…
AK: He drew those like the medieval except all the time he was in England and Europe he would go to every big musuem to look at all their old big tarot packs and get the feeling of the real magic about them. Their real essence and knew what change had become conventionalized into what the medieval was now and what had been taken out that he thought still was important in the old decks. He made his own third deck which we call the “gypsy” deck–just not to confuse the Atlantean in the matriarchal times. The medieval or gypsy deck is the patriarchal times. The coming Aquarian is the androgenous time when we’ll find both the masculine and feminine qualities within each one of us. We won’t be one or the other…I have to write one more and that will be on the Atlanteans, the real meaning of the Atlanteans for women, especially today because it’s so good, so real.
End of Interview
New email from Michael Bowen
I want to send you more pictures so you will have a larger choice. It is
fine if you only use one but there are a few more you can choose from.. This
time I really did have a lot of trouble with the computer, which kept saying
it was sending for 5 hours. I will send a few more tomorrow. For example the
art writer, h. hilson said in one of his illustrated books that one piece,
beat comrades, is the best painting to ever come out of the beat generation.
When you consider that that the beat generation has been understood from the
point of view of a writer’s movement but was, primarily a visual movement
that has been so hi jacked as the beat one has it becomes important. For the
last ten years, some great institutions have dispelled that false notion.
An example, Ginsberg introduced howl by reading it to the audience at the
six gallery, as in art gallery, in San Francisco then it becomes clear that
these poets used the visual artists places of exhibition as places for their
own very different art form.
Ps you can use all or any part of the above writing. It might help to know
that the abalone factory was filled with visual artists. Thus not much
writing anywhere about it until you now.
June 16, 2007: New email from Michael Bowen: i June im getting ready for an opening tonight at our gallery, so just a note with more to follow. I just read More Outside Work III.
There is a lot that needs straightening out. Alice really was removed from what was happening to an extent I did not realize until I read this interview. Her history is good but she does not mention john was published by the theosophical society in India at the age of 20. I have an original right here. Also the town in Mexico is
I was never kicked out of anything. Actually, it was exactly the opposite. I will send you some of john’s letters to me, I have them all, and all hand written. This will help you understand how powerful he was. As for the Muslim thing he spent his life running from them. Not to them. Pak subud was just a hustler who arrived looking for the desperate and for a while a fad developed. That is it. Whatever those taureqes gave john, they wanted something for it. Moreover, that something was John. I know for a fact he never had polio no matter the opinion of some Drs in France who could not have isolated anything to prove he did. It was the burn. Moreover, it was radiation. In addition, that should teach us the danger we are in messing with these Muslim fanatics now. When was the last time the American army had a suicide corps.? Yet look what we are fighting. Sorry no more time
Ps isn’t it odd we as a nation are not questioning the use of continual mass suicide as a weapon by these maniacs? Could it be we are also hypnotized? Andif so, by WHAT.?
Photo, c RW Bruch.http://126.96.36.199/Beatscene/index.html
The woman is an Indian girl; I forget her name exactly, something like poison claw. The child is hers and I do not know its name. The lighting makes her look very white skinned. She was actually quite dark.
Yes, it is really me standing next to john. I am holding a rare, precious jeweled Tibetan magicians implement for calling the forces of nature to assist one. It is called a Phurbu (FUR BOO) in Tibetan. Its affects can be compared to Wilhelm Reich’s orgone cloud materializing experiments recorded in books and findable on the net. Reich’s use of the principles behind the phurbu brought an immediate response from what are commonly called UFO arrivals. This entire experiment was nick named Reich’s cloud busting experiments. This was so starting to the locals it was recorded in the 30s I believe in the Arizona newspapers. The experiments were done in the desert of Arizona. You will find these things as I mentioned on googles advanced search engine. Wilhelm Reich was a brilliant student of Sigmund Freud the founder of psycho analysis’
Ciao for now
Michael Bowen’s “Cosmos”
The artist’s statement; “Each moment of the artistic event includes the
energy of all present. In this way these pictures show performance art in
its entire meaning.”
Live performance art painting by Michael Bowen accompanied by Svante
Henryson on Cello. All of these photos from the evening of June 16 in
Stockholm Sweden. All photos copyright R.W. Bruch.