Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 4 July 2018

Another Slice of Potato Peel Pie, Please

Oh my, oh my! This is great news!!

I’ve learned that one of the best novels I’ve ever read (and one that I’ve blissfully read 3 times now — 4, if you count listening to the audio book!) has been made into a major motion picture, which will be available on American screens in about five weeks!

When my wife Adrianne and I stayed with friends in Dallas a couple of years ago, our hostess purposefully (but silently) left the novel on the bedside table in our guest room. I had failed to bring anything to read on the trip, which was quite unlike me, so I picked up the book. I found the title amusing and the plot summary gently intriguing, so I began reading. I fully intended to read only a few chapters to “unwind” in the evenings and then leave the book back on the table when we departed.

But, no! I became almost at once captivated by the story; entranced by a host of endearingly wonderful and beautifully drawn characters; beguiled by the book’s interwoven wit (which occasionally rose to the level of audible-chuckle-inducing humor); and thoroughly enmeshed in the author’s plainly sophisticated, intelligent, lovingly romantic, and warmly charming style. I simply did not want to quit reading, except for frequent pauses to look up, stare into space, and marvel at the glorious writing. The book hugged me all the way through.

Juliet AshtonIt is written in epistolary form, meaning that the story is told through the progression of letters and other messages sent between and among the characters. It is a totally daunting form in which to unwind a narrative, but the authors (more about the dual authorship below) seamlessly shift from one persona to the next with graceful ease. They have done it so well that you are quickly able to differentiate the various characters simply by the literary fingerprint of their distinct writing styles.

I was not even half finished with the book when it came time for us to travel home. So I took it to our hostess, and with as much of a pleading-puppy-dog look as I could muster said, “Elaine, if I solemnly promise to mail it back to you when I’m done, would you let me take this book with me? I just have to finish it!” She smiled and said that was exactly what she hoped and predicted would happen.

Okay, I’ve purposely withheld the name of the book until now, hoping to whet your “literary appetite” to know more. That should be easy, as the title of the novel intriguingly speaks to both literary delights and gustatory imagination.

The ten-year-old best-selling and widely loved novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, has been made into a major motion picture, and it will have its American debut on August 10.

T H E   B O O K


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe story begins in post-war 1946 London, where heroine Juliet Ashton is on a book tour to promote the newly published volume of her wartime essays. Unfortunately, it isn’t going exceedingly well, and Juliet’s heart simply isn’t in it. Guernsey being a book of letters, it isn’t surprising that the next major plot point is when she receives a letter out of the blue from a farmer on the island of Guernsey, introducing himself, and asking what seem to Juliet to be some rather surprising questions about literature.

The story unfolds as Juliet learns that, during the war, several of the people of Guernsey formed a “literary society” by accident one night, which proved to be a serendipitous antidote to the island’s German occupation. That’s all I really want to reveal of the plot, because you will prefer it if the rest just unfolds as naturally and beautifully as it does in the book.

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie BarrowsI mentioned the novel’s dual authorship, which was born of tragedy. After Mary Ann Shaffer (bottom right in photo) had completed her final draft of Guernsey, all that was left was a series of re-writes and edits requested by her editor. But then, unimaginably, Shaffer fell ill and died. This was her first, and therefore only, novel, and the enormity of the “what might have beens” is heart breaking.

The grief of losing such a marvelous talent must have been agonizing enough, but what to do about the book? Everybody who had read it surely knew what an amazing document it was. Happily for the sake of literature, her niece Annie Barrows (upper left in photo) was available to step in and finish the work, allowing it therefore to go to press and then out into the world.

When Guernsey was published in 2008, critics and readers alike found it irresistible. The media fell over themselves in expressing their praise, and most of them placed it in their list of the “Ten Best Books of the Year.” Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, confessed that “I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren’t my actual friends and neighbors.”

Typical of the many glowing reviews, below is an excerpt from England’s The Guardian:

A bibliophilic jeu d’esprit!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society commemorates beautiful spirits who pass through our midst and hunker undercover through brutal times. Shaffer’s Guernsey characters step from the past radiant with eccentricity and kindly humour, a comic version of the state of grace. They are innocents who have seen and suffered, without allowing evil to penetrate the rind of decency that guards their humanity.
      Shaffer’s writing, with its delicately offbeat, self-deprecating stylishness, is exquisitely turned, bearing a clear debt to Jane Austen. She shows, in addition, an uncanny ability to evoke period, miming its manners and mannerisms — not only in the reminders of blitzed London but also in recreating a culture that reveres books.

— Stevie Davies, The Guardian


T H E   F I L M


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyOf course, I haven’t seen the film yet — merely two versions of a two-and-a-half-minute trailer (see below). And I’m quite aware that the track record of cinematic adaptations of superior novels is, to put it bluntly, dismal. Nevertheless, I want this movie to be great so much that I am willing to let myself believe that it might actually rise to the literary occasion. It was directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Four Weddings and a Funeral), so there seems a better-than-even chance of its success.

The cast appears to have been well chosen. Juliet is brought to life by Lily James (Downton Abbey; Mamma Mia! 2). Portraying the heroine-author in Guernsey is the second of her “1940’s typewriter roles” — she was Churchill’s at-first terrified secretary in Darkest Hour. The arc of her finely tuned transformation in that role gives great hope for the subtleties that any faithful adaptation of this delicately nuanced book would require.

Juliet's typewriterThe three male leads, portraying the triumvirate through which Juliet must wind her way towards her final happiness, are (in alphabetical order) Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game; Downton Abbey), Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones), and Glen Powell (Hidden Figures). The film is something of a mini-reunion for members of the Downton Abbey cast. Lily James (Lady Rose MacClare) and Matthew Goode (Henry Talbot) are joined by Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil).

Guernsey cast

The film had its London premiere in April, but it will not reach America until Friday, August 10. And therein lies the one, and so far only, great disappointment for those of us on this side of the pond. All over the rest of the world, they are seeing Guernsey in movie theaters “on the big screen.” But StudioCanal and Blueprint Pictures, the European studios who produced and made the film, sold Guernsey‘s American distribution rights to Netflix — ensuring that the film will not be shown in American movie theaters! What were they thinking??

As a result, apparently the only way we in this country will be able to see the film is streaming over the Internet, and only if you have a Netflix account! I was so looking forward to taking Adrianne to the movies on opening night, treating her to popcorn and a frozen Coke, and holding hands while Juliet walks across the giant silver screen. Phooey!

There are, as you may imagine, no reviews from American critics for a movie that hasn’t even shown up here yet. But the reviews that are out there are giving the film a positive, if sometimes guarded and partial, thumbs up. The following is excerpted from an extended review in England’s The Telegraph.

A mini-break for the soul!

      Mike Newell’s adaptation is a film you don’t spend time with so much as spend time in: every location in this irresistible romantic mystery is like a little mini-break for the soul, every costume and piece of set-dressing nibble-ably gorgeous, and every character a pleasure to keep company with, even the rotters.
      Newell excels as a director of well-picked ensembles — which is why
Four Weddings and a Funeral worked as well as it did. Here again, he gives each of his cast members just enough room to stretch: a broad gag here, a hushed monologue there.
      This kind of magpie detail saves the film’s professed love of the written word from coming off as glib or trite, just as its story-within-a-story — the island’s Nazi occupation — brings a tug or two of gravity to the postwar romantic intrigue. It is a confection in every sense, but plump with natural sweetness.

— Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

I’ll end here with the film’s official British trailer (which I much prefer to the one fashioned for its American audience by Netflix), and share my hope that you’ll find a way to enjoy the cinematic Guernsey, as we in the Proctor household plan to do. And by all means, if you have not feasted on the book itself, absolutely do not waste time. Go out, get a copy, and start immersing yourself in the unfolding and irresistible delight therein.


British Trailer for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2:32)

The film is 124 minutes long. It has not yet been rated by the MPAA.
(The film was rated 12A in the UK, which is similar to the US PG-13.)

Guernsey quote





Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 8 June 2018

His Fight Is Over

NOTE: This article was originally written and published June 8, 2018, the day that Charles Krauthammer announced to his friends, colleagues, and fans that his fight with cancer was nearing an end. Today, June 21, we learned that he has gone to his rest.


A truly great intellect (brilliant), spirit (humane), analyst, writer, and thinker has been silenced. As he, himself, announced two weeks ago on the Washington Post website, “My fight is over.”

Charles KrauthammerCharles Krauthammer has died of an aggressive cancer at 68 years old.

I need to go all the way back to the mind and writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis to identify an intelligence and a body of ideas, so cogently and irrefutably expressed, as those of Charles Krauthammer. When he became a regular at 6:00 p.m. on cable television news, I tried never to miss the program. I knew that he would address the complex issues of the day — issues invariably complicated by rascally people (in and out of government) and infused and confused by the injection of small-minded personal invective — and his opinions and solutions would always emerge smoothly and uncomplicatedly brilliant.

Even on the rare occasion when I disagreed with his conclusions, the correctness of his logic and the inevitability of the flow of his reasoning were always right on target and thought-generating.

“It’s an unusual combination. While he intellectually operates at a very high level, he speaks simply and clearly and compellingly. You don’t have to be a genius to know what he’s talking about.”
— Brit Hume, Fox News

His life was full and multi-faceted, evolving in ways one would be hard-pressed to predict. He was, in this chronological order, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, a political writer for The New Republic, a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, an ardent “Great Society Liberal” (who would, however, become fully disillusioned of modern Progressive Liberalism), a Reagan Conservative, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his commentary in 1987, a diehard Washington Nationals fan, a Conservative political analyst for Fox News, and the author of the best-selling book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics.
Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer
My wife Adrianne and I got the audiobook of his 2013 book Things That Matter, and listened to it on a long car trip. The book was a revelation, opening the door to give us a much wider and deeper look into the whole man. We find out, as the title promises, what truly matters to him in his life. The following is from the book’s Introduction.

“What matters? Lives of the good and the great, the innocence of dogs, cunning of cats, the elegance of nature, the wonders of space, the thrown outfield assist, the difference between historical guilt historical responsibility, homage and sacrilege in monumental architecture, fashions and follies and the finer uses of the F-word.”

Below is a video of a book reading and Q&A session Krauthammer did in support of the book. It took place in Washington’s wonderful Politics and Prose bookstore. (And yes, he’ll even explain about his allusion to “the F-word”!)

Here, in its entirety, is the note that Dr. Krauthammer published on the Washington Post website today. And below that is a short excerpt from Things That Matter. Both encapsulate everything we suspected about his wide vision of humanity, his positive outlook, and his generosity to all of us “fans.”

God bless you, sir. And thank you for everything.

A Note to Readers
by Charles Krauthammer
8 JUNE 2018, 12:01 PM

         I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.
         In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.
         However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.
         I wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.
         Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.
         I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

The Washington Post has stated that notes of encouragement and appreciation could be emailed Dr. Krauthammer at THIS ADDRESS.

Things That Matter (excerpt)
Young Charles KrauthammerI’m often asked: “How do you go from Walter Mondale to Fox News?” To which the short answer is: “I was young once.” The long answer begins by noting that this is hardly a novel passage. The path is well trodden, most famously by Ronald Reagan, himself once a New Deal Democrat, and more recently by a generation of neoconservatives, lead by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Every story has its idiosyncrasies. These are mine.

I’d been a lifelong Democrat, and in my youth a Great Society liberal. But I had always identified with the party’s Cold War liberals, uncompromising Truman-Kennedy anti-communists led by the likes of Henry Jackson, Hubert Humphrey and Pat Moynihan. Given my social-democratic political orientation, it was natural for me to work for Democrats, handing out leaflets for Henry Jackson in the 1976 Massachusetts Democratic primary (Jackson won; I handed out a lot of leaflets.) and working for Mondale four years later.

After Reagan took office in 1981, however, Democratic foreign policy changed dramatically. Some, of course, had begun their slide toward isolationism years earlier with George McGovern’s “Come Home America” campaign. But the responsibility of governance imposes discipline. When the Soviets provocatively moved Intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) into Eastern Europe, President Carter and German chancellor Helmut Schmidt got NATO to approve the counter deployment of American INFs in Western Europe.

However, as soon as they lost power in 1981, the Democrats did an about-face. They fell in the thrall of the “nuclear freeze,” an idea of unmatched strategic vacuity, which would have canceled the American IMF deployment while freezing the Soviet force in place. The result would have been a major strategic setback, undermining the nuclear guarantee that underwrote the NATO alliance.

Years later, leading European social democrats repented their youthful part in the anti-nuclear movement of the early ’80s. But the Democratic Party never did. It went even further left. It reflexively opposed every element of the Reagan foreign policy that ultimately brought total victory in the Cold War: the defense buildup, the resistance to Soviet gains in Central America and the blunt “evil empire” rhetoric that gave hope and succor to dissidents in the gulag. Democrats denounced such talk as provocative and naïve — the pronouncements of “an amiable dunce,” to quote Clark Clifford’s famous phrase disdaining Reagan.

And most relevant now, Democrats became implacable foes of missile defense, in large part because the idea originated with Reagan. The resistance was militant and nearly theological. It lasted 30 years — until, well, today, when a Democratic administration, facing North Korean nuclear threats, frantically puts in place (on Guam, in Alaska, in California, and off the Korean coast) the few missile-defense systems that had survived decades of Democratic opposition and defunding.

I wrote most of the New Republic editorials opposing the Democratic Party’s foreign policy of retreat, drawing fierce resistance from and occasioning public debate with my more traditionally liberal TNR colleagues. My attack on the nuclear freeze, announced the publisher rather ruefully at the next editorial meeting, produced more canceled subscriptions than any other article in the magazine’s history. At that time, I still saw myself as trying to save the soul of the Democratic Party, which to me meant keeping alive the activist anti-Communist tradition of Truman and Kennedy. But few other Democrats followed. By the mid-1980s, Humphrey and Jackson were dead and Moynihan had declined to pick up their mantle. The Cold War contingent of the Democratic Party essentially disappeared. As someone who had never had any illusions about either communism or Soviet power, I gave up on the Democrats.

On foreign policy, as the cliché goes, I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.

Not so on domestic policy. The Democratic Party remained true to itself. I changed. The origin of that evolution is simple: I’m open to empirical evidence. The results of the Great Society experiments started coming in and began showing that, for all its good intentions, the War on Poverty was causing irreparable damage to the very communities it was designed to help. Charles Murray’s Losing Ground was one turning point. Another, more theoretical but equally powerful, was Mancur Olson’s The Rise and Decline of Nations which opened my eyes to the inexorable “institutional sclerosis” that corrodes and corrupts the ever-enlarging welfare state. The ’80s and ’90s saw the further accumulation of a vast body of social science evidence — produced by two generations of critics from James Q. Wilson to Heather McDonald, writing in The Public Interest, City Journal and elsewhere — on the limits and failures of the ever-expanding Leviathan state.

As I became convinced of the practical and theoretical defects of the social-democratic tendencies of my youth, it was but a short distance to a philosophy of restrained, free-market governance that gave more space and place to the individual and to the civil society that stands between citizen and state. In a kind of full-circle return, I found my eventual political home in a vision of limited government that, while providing for the helpless, is committed above all to guaranteeing individual liberty and the pursuit of one’s own Millian “ends of life.”

Such has been my trajectory. Given my checkered past, I’ve offered this brief personal history for those interested in what forces, internal and external, led me to change direction both vocationally and ideologically. I’ve elaborated it here because I believe that while everyone has the right to change views, one does at least owe others an explanation. The above is mine. This book represents the product of that journey.

Reprinted from the book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics. Copyright 2013 by Charles Krauthammer. Published by Crown Forum, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.





Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 17 May 2018

A Healer of Children

Here’s some great news about someone I feel like I’ve known forever. Trust me, you will for certain want to read this if you have children — or grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. — or if you know people who do. (And those of you who know what “NBHS ’69” means, you will especially want to keep reading!)

Kurt Newman - Then and Now

Kurt Newman: Then and Now

I have known Kurt Newman for over 50 years, going back to high school and university (UNC). All of us who were with him in the Needham Broughton High School Class of 1969 knew then that (in addition to being hardworking, intelligent, and quite likely destined for big things) Kurt was friendly and modest, and he possessed a sincere caring for people that was as large as his trademark smile.

(That previous paragraph sounds way too much like a eulogy! Not what was intended!! Sorry, Kurt.)

Happily Kurt is very much alive, active, and highly accomplished. He has risen to lofty heights of achievement and rank in his chosen field of Pediatric Surgery (see his bio below), and he is the author of an inspiring, very important, and wonderfully readable book titled Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine.

Healing Children

The book is seasoned with Kurt’s memories, experiences, and many of the children (and their parents) he has encountered over the years. But its purpose is not to be a memoir for its own sake — though with all he has accomplished, he would be more than entitled to write one.

As you will see later when you view the video of Bret Baier’s interview, Kurt is very forthright in asserting that he wrote the book with a much more crusading purpose. Based on knowledge and wisdom he has accrued in his 30+ years of experience as a noted Pediatric Surgeon, he wrote the book to enable parents and guardians to know how best to plan in advance for their children’s health and well being. As such, it is an exceedingly important book, as summarized here:

By exposing the reader to the range of child-specific treatments and services available, Healing Children helps parents to tackle the myriad decisions involved in choosing the best health-care options for their children and to plan ahead. After all, the day your child needs care is not the best day to start looking.
— The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, October 2017

The reviewers have heaped on praise:

  • The New York Times: “Newman captures the beautiful collegiality of pediatric medicine and the wisdom of parents and of children themselves. The kids Newman describes are themselves heroic, and they deserve nothing but the best.”
  • Author Madeline Levine: “Astounding! An amazing look at the tenacity and courage of kids.”
  • Kirkus Reviews: “[Newman] sets forth a convincing argument to place children’s medical requirements and their need to thrive well into adulthood at the forefront of American medicine, and he admits that ‘these kids have been my real teachers.'”
  • Washington Independent Review of Books: “This book is a valuable guide for parents, families, and caregivers, as well as for anyone concerned about the future of our kids. Healing Children will also be of great interest to students pursuing a career in medicine.”
  • The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: “Healing Children is a deeply moving and inspiring chronicle of a doctor who has dedicated his life to fighting the good fight.”

The hardback edition of Healing Children was published last year, six years after Kurt was named both President and CEO of the renowned Children’s National Health System, headquartered in Washington, DC. And here’s more good news: the paperback edition is scheduled to be released two months from today, July 17 and is now available for pre-order..

Last year, after the book had hit the market, Kurt was invited to be interviewed on Fox News by anchor Bret Baier. It turned out to be an emotional moment for the newsman.


For those who prefer to absorb their reading through their ears, there is an Audio Book version as well, nicely narrated by Kurt himself! Here’s a 5-minute chunk of the opening, just to give you a flavor and to entice you:

READ BY THE AUTHOR   (2017)   (5:00)


Kurt Newman - NBHS '69


Congratulations on the success of your book, Kurt. We are honored to know you, and are so very proud of your career of life-saving work!

Hope to see you at our 50th-Year Reunion in 2019!



Kurt Newman, MD: Bio

Kurt Newman, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s National Health System, is a surgeon and a recognized leader on pediatric health issues, nationally and in Washington, D.C.
           Since becoming CEO in 2011, he has fostered a culture committed to advancing care and research by putting patients first and actively championed innovations in research, operations, and clinical care. He has forged creative and productive partnerships with other health systems in the region, with government and community entities and with industry, at the local, national, and global level. He is also a strong advocate for expanding mental health access for kids and has led two national forums on this issue.
           Dr. Newman joined Children’s National as a surgical fellow in 1984, becoming the Surgeon-In-Chief and Senior Vice President for the Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Center for Surgical Care in 2003. He was instrumental in developing the vision for the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National, inspired by the audacious goal of making surgery for children minimally invasive and pain free. When the Institute was made possible in 2009 through a transformational $150 Million gift, Dr. Newman served as its Founding Vice President.
           Currently Dr. Newman serves as the Chair of the Children’s Hospital Association Leadership Committee on Advocacy and Policy and as a member of the Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the District of Columbia Hospital Association and a member of the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success in Virginia. In addition, Dr. Newman serves on the Board of the Economic Club of Washington, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Federal City Council, DC Chamber of Commerce, and Fight for Children. Previously, he served as a Board Member of Commissioners of The Joint Commission, a member of the Board of Governors of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, and as Chair of the Surgery Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
           Dr. Newman is a Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Public Health. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his medical education at Duke University. He completed his surgical residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and also served as the Arthur Tracy Cabot Fellow at Harvard Medical School.









Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 23 April 2018

Enquiring Minds Now Know

Well, here is some interesting news — and keep reading to find the kicker down near the end.

I was recently told that a mass-circulation, national publication was going to carry a story on The Raleigh Call, the small part of the much larger JFK assassination mystery which I have been researching for almost 40 years.

[If “The Raleigh Call” does not ring any bells with you, I have placed a small addendum at the bottom of this essay which will give the bare bones, introductory facts. But meanwhile, back to the “interesting news”…]

Not only did I find out about the forthcoming article, I was told that my research, publications, and lectures were to serve as the basis for it! Seriously??

Stephen Jaffe

Author, researcher Stephen Jaffe

And, as if all of that still weren’t enough, its author is Stephen Jaffe, a highly respected assassination expert — and, as it turned out, a very nice guy.

Jaffe is the last surviving member of the investigative team pulled together by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to research the assassination. He also worked with attorney and author Mark Lane for many years on Lane’s myriad research topics, and he can be seen as narrator of key parts of Citizen Lane, Pauley Perrette’s engaging biographical documentary film about (and homage to) Lane.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Jaffe by email, text, and phone in the last weeks (as he consulted me for facts, additions, and corrections), while he was putting the finishing touches on the article. He has become quite fascinated by the events and implications of the Raleigh Call (I certainly understand that!), and he told me he was planning to devote an entire chapter to the Call in the book that he is now writing.

How unbelievable and humbling is all that, I ask you?! I certainly never expected this kind of attention for my work.

Ready for it?? Here it comes…

“So, Steve,” I asked him early on, “in what publication is this article going to appear?”

“Oh! Didn’t I say? It’ll be in the National Enquirer.”

Say what?

(In case you didn’t pick up on it, that was the “kicker” I promised at the beginning of this essay.)

And, sure enough, Jaffe’s “enquiring minds” article hit the grocery store shelves this past Friday, and will stay there until April 27. (It’s the issue, dated April 30, with the splashy cover headline: The Woman Who Destroyed Matt Lauer! … sigh!)

Seriously, though, you should allow no prejudice against Jaffe’s new article, or the recent series of articles he has written, based on any feelings you may have about the publication in which they have appeared. Jaffe demanded total content control as a non-negotiable prerequisite of his agreeing to write JFK assassination articles for the Enquirer. And because they really wanted to publish him based on his long and deep research experience, they granted him that. I went back and read Jaffe’s previous articles for the Enquirer, and I found them highly probing, concise, very well written, and welcome additions to the collective body of research.

While Jaffe maintains complete textual control over his articles, he has zero say about the headlines and cover copy. As a result of that and the time deadline and space restrictions imposed by the Enquirer, a couple of errors slipped in unawares. The main error is found in both of the two headlines (on the cover and over the article). “JFK Murder Sensation: Oswald made jailhouse phone call to CIA agent!” If you read Jaffe’s article, you’ll see that the person whom Lee Oswald attempted to call was not CIA, but rather a former Special Agent for U.S. Army Counterintelligence. I think that’s explosive and provocative enough — but I suppose the magazine’s editorial staff thought “CIA” sounded sexier and perhaps more sinister. Even with this, and one or two other small glitches, Jaffe has written a very good piece, and he proved once again what a dedicated truth-seeker and accomplished writer he is.

Anyway… getting back to this ol’ Southern boy — Who’da thought any of this would happen?! Certainly not me.



National Enquirer logo and headline

The Raleigh Call article by Stephen Jaffe


What Was The Raleigh Call?

A brief excerpt from

The Raleigh Call and the Fingerprints of Intelligence


         The story presented here takes place in the Dallas jail, 34 hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
         It’s Saturday night, November 23, 1963, in the Dallas jail, sometime before 10:00 p.m. Though of course he cannot know it, Lee Oswald has only 12 hours left to live. Around this time, he lets it be known that he wishes to make at least one telephone call. That request set in motion the following train of events.
         Between 10:15 and 10:35 p.m., 43-year-old telephone switchboard operator Alveeta Cave Treon arrived at work on the fifth floor of the Dallas Municipal Building, to begin her 11-to-7 shift. She came in well before her shift began in order to relieve one of the operators who had previously asked to leave early that night. Seated near one end of the ten-position switchboard was another operator, Louise Swinney, and Mrs. Treon took a position near the other end, leaving about four to six seats separating them.
         The following narrative is told from the perspective of, and uses quotes from the testimony by, Mrs. Treon (1920-1999).
         As soon as Mrs. Treon sat down to begin work, Mrs. Swinney told her there would be two men — “I am not sure if she said Secret Service, homicide, or what” — coming to the switchboard room to listen into a call. “They had told her that they would be taking Lee Harvey Oswald to a telephone to let him make a call.” Mrs. Swinney made it quite clear that their superiors had sent instructions for them to cooperate with the men.
         About 10 minutes later, said Mrs. Treon, “a knock came to the door, which is kept locked at night for security purposes. Mrs. Swinney, who was closest to the door, went and unlocked it. Two men identified themselves to her, I think by showing their identification cards. I didn’t remember what they said but I assumed they were the expected law enforcement men. They entered the room and immediately went to the equipment room.”
         As they were the only two operators at the board at that time, Mrs. Treon said she knew that either she or Mrs. Swinney would handle Lee Oswald’s call when it came through.
Lee Oswald in the Dallas jail          “A few minutes after the men went into the private room, a red light came up on the board showing a call from the jail. Mrs. Swinney and I both plugged in simultaneously to take it.” Mrs. Treon was the first to say “Number, please,” but it was Mrs. Swinney who took charge of the call. “[I] let her handle it alone,” Mrs. Treon said later. “I did not unplug. I quit trying to handle the call and let her, but I stayed plugged in with my key open.” This meant that Mrs. Treon could hear everything that was being said to Mrs. Swinney by Lee Oswald.
         Mrs. Treon’s 20-year-old daughter, Sharon — who also worked for the Dallas Police Department, as a records stenographer in the Records Office — had come in to visit with her mother that night, and was sitting in a chair a few feet away from the switchboard. Sharon asked her mother, if it worked out that she handled Lee Oswald’s call, “to make a memorandum of it — a copy of the original ticket — as a souvenir.” When it was clear that Mrs. Swinney was taking the call, Mrs. Treon sat back and listened.
         ‘I Was Dumbfounded.’   Mrs. Treon continued: “I heard her repeat a number to the caller and saw her write down details on a notation pad, which is normal routine. She then closed the key so no one on the line could hear her, then called the two men in the room on a line and said that Oswald was personally placing his call.”
         “I listened and watched very carefully for Mrs. Swinney to place the call with the long distance operator. She appeared very nervous and visibly shaken. For a few minutes she just sat there trembling.” Mrs. Treon would later comment that she understood Mrs. Swinney’s nerves. “I continued watching and listening but she did not place the call.” Because Mrs. Swinney’s key was closed, it was not possible for Oswald or the men in the equipment room to know what was happening, nor whether she had placed the call that Oswald had requested.
         “I was dumbfounded at what happened next. Mrs. Swinney opened the key to Oswald and told him, ‘I am sorry the number doesn’t answer.’ I am pretty certain she said number and not numbers. She then unplugged and disconnected Oswald. Immediately, then, the two men in the equipment room came out, thanked us for our cooperation and left.”
         Mrs. Treon would later say that her “lasting impression of the events that night is that Mrs. Swinney had been instructed by someone to not put the call through to Oswald.” That belief was strengthened, she said, “by the fact that Mrs. Swinney did not leave work as soon as Mrs. Treon came on that night as she usually did. Instead she remained as though she had been assigned to handle the call.”
         In 1978, Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police Department was asked by a Congressional investigator if he remembered sending any of his homicide detectives to the Switchboard room to monitor Oswald’s calls. Captain Fritz said he did not remember giving those orders, “but he stated that it still could have happened.” He further noted that Dallas Jail records “show nothing relating to a call from Oswald to John Hurt,” but that would be consistent with the fact that the call was never attempted, and Mrs. Swinney made no official record of Oswald’s request.
         The LD Call Slip.   In 1963, switchboard operators who placed Long Distance (LD) calls for people from inside the jail were required to fill out an LD ticket and turn it in for accounting purposes. However, such tickets were not required to be turned in for long distance calls that did not go through. Mrs. Treon was later asked if she knew what Mrs. Swinney did with the LD ticket she had begun to fill out, but she said he had no idea what had become of that ticket, though the normal thing would have been for her to throw it in the trash.
         However, because she had kept her key open when Mrs. Swinney was talking with Oswald, Mrs. Treon heard and made notes of all the information he had given concerning the call he wished to place. Surell Brady, a Senior Staff Counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), summarized Mrs. Treon’s version of events this way:

Mrs. Treon stayed on the line. She said she was therefore able to hear everything Oswald said and she is sure he asked for the name John Hurt and gave the two numbers. She said that as she listened she wrote the information down on a regular telephone call slip. However, since Mrs. Swinney actually handled the call, Mrs. Treon signed her [Mrs. Swinney’s] name to the slip she intended to keep as a souvenir. She said the notations on the slip of “DA” and “CA” stand for did not answer and cancelled, because the call was never actually put through. Mrs. Treon said she never retrieved any paper from the wastebasket on which Mrs. Swinney supposedly entered the information.

The Raleigh Call LD phone slip
         Had Mrs. Treon not kept the LD call slip that she filled out as a souvenir, this story would be no more than the most minor of footnotes in the tragedy of the Kennedy Assassination. However, years later, when the identity became known of the man to whom Oswald was trying to place a call, its significance would rise to the “very troublesome” and “deeply disturbing” levels ascribed to it by HSCA Chief Counsel Blakey.

* * * * * * *

To read more about the man in Raleigh, NC that Lee Oswald was trying to call, as well as the implications for this man having been a former Special Army Counterintelligence Agent, you are invited to read the entirety of The Raleigh Call and the Fingerprints of Intelligence by clicking here.






Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 8 February 2018

The Letter Man Is Coming!

An invitation to all lovers of
the fine arts, design, and the art of Calligraphy

Julian WatersCome and hear world-renowned and internationally honored calligrapher, type designer, and teacher Julian Waters speak at the N.C. State University Crafts Center. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the main gallery of the Crafts Center, located on the NCSU campus. Admission is free.

Waters is the son of calligrapher Sheila Waters and the late bookbinder and conservator Peter Waters. Starting in the late 1970s he studied extensively with the legendary German type designer Hermann Zapf, who later picked Waters as his successor to teach the summer masterclasses at Rochester Institute of Technology. His clients have included the U.S. Postal Service, National Geographic, many agencies, institutions, and companies. He has been a typographic designer and advisor for numerous exhibit designs and memorials.

Waters TitlingHis typeface designs include the award-winning Waters Titling Pro font from Adobe and several custom corporate typefaces including a Transitional style family for the new Visitors Center at Jefferson’s Monticello, where he was a typographic designer and advisor. Among his collaborative efforts was with muralist William Cochran on the large public text art project The Dreaming in Frederick, Maryland in 2007. He has received many awards from the Type Directors Club, Graphis, Art Directors Club, Print, and Letter Arts Review, among others. Waters’ work has been represented in many international exhibitions and publications.

Bill of Rights stamp

Lettering by Julian Waters
commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service.
Click here to see more examples of his and his mother’s extraordinary works.

Waters has had solo exhibitions in Washington DC, Norway, and Iceland; and in 2009 he was one of only two contemporary western lettering artists to be included in the St. John’s Bible exhibition at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. During the 1990s, Waters taught lettering and typography in the graphic design program at the Corcoran School of Art, and in 1997 he was the Rubenstein Memorial Artist in Residence at DC’s Sidwell Friends School, in conjunction with a large retrospective exhibition and a series of lectures.

In 2001, Waters was one of 14 international type designers invited to exhibit in the seminal Zapfest exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library. He has been the keynote speaker at international design conferences, and over the last 30 years he has taught countless specialized workshops for lettering professionals throughout the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and Asia. He has taught several week-long summer sessions at Wells College Book Arts Institute, including digital font design using FontLab. His appearance for this talk in Raleigh is in conjunction with a four-day workshop on aspects of the German Black Letter hand sponsored by the Triangle Calligraphers’ Guild.

Given Waters’ extraordinary talent and his countless professional and artistic accomplishments, the lecture promises to be mesmerizing. In addition, there will be an opportunity to purchase his books and prints after the presentation.

See you there!!

Julian Waters postcard




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 7 January 2018

A Brief Life


Today — 7 January 2018 — would have been my father’s 100th Birthday !

A Brief Life of Grover Proctor

Young DadGrover Belmont Proctor, Sr. was born on January 7, 1918 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Family stories say that the names “Grover” and “Belmont” were suggested to his parents by a neighbor lady, Mrs. Taylor, a widow who lived with her adult son John next door to the Proctors. Unfortunately, there is no record as to why she chose those names. Regardless of its origin, Daddy always made it quite plain that he really disliked the name “Grover,” and he did whatever he could to avoid being called by it. He had his nieces and nephews call him “Uncle Proctor” instead of “Uncle Grover,” and when he answered his phone at work, he always said, “Proctor speaking.”

Daddy was born and lived the first seven years of his life on a 49-acre farm his mother had inherited from her family. Located at the west end of Trap Range Road, the farm was inside a triangle of Rocky Mount, Tarboro, and Wilson, NC, and it prospered as a tobacco farm that also had abundant fruit trees. His father built what Daddy’s oldest sibling called a “pretty house” across the street from the farm. It had carbide lights and other amenities that few people in that area had at the time. Unfortunately, that “pretty house” is no longer standing.

The Proctor Siblings

Grover (at right) with his three siblings,
photographed on the family farm.

When Daddy was seven years old, in 1925, his parents sold their farm, and the family resettled first in Lee County, and they later moved down the road to Moncure in Chatham County. Daddy graduated in 1935 from Moncure High School, after which he went to work for the Seaboard Coastline Railroad. When World War II broke out, he would have had every expectation of being drafted, but his work for the railroad was considered by the government as “vital” to the war effort, and so his draft eligibility was deferred.

Ruth, Grover, and Janie Proctor

Ruth, Grover, and Janie Proctor

By 1943, the 25-year-old Grover was working as a clerk in the Railroad Depot in Apex, North Carolina. Sometime in late May of that year, a mutual friend introduced him to Edna Ruth Hooks, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Apex High School. It must have been something akin to love at first sight, as six weeks later, on July 11, they were married. One of his distant cousins, the soon-to-be-7-year-old Janie Proctor (see photo) was their Flower Girl. (I’ve written elsewhere brief re-tellings of their engagement and wedding ceremony and about Daddy’s life at and before the time of his wedding.)

The following year, on April 3, 1944, he enlisted in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Speaking of the day my mother put him on the bus that took him off to basic training, she would say decades later, “I’ve never been more proud of him than I was that day.” Daddy served in the Army from April 1944 to November 1945, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Pfc.

The Golden Acorn patch from Pfc Proctor's uniform

The Golden Acorn patch from Pfc Proctor’s uniform

After induction and (probably) boot camp at Fort Bragg and Clerk School at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was transferred to Camp Howze, near Gainesville, Texas. Camp Howze was one of the largest of several infantry replacement training centers the Army constructed to accommodate the large number of new soldiers needed for deployment in Europe and the Pacific. Daddy left the States on December 12, 1944, and arrived in Europe (probably France) on December 20, where he was assigned to Company “F” (2nd Battalion), 345th Regiment of the 87th Infantry (“Golden Acorn”) Division.

Daddy participated in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) and Rhineland (Siegfried Line) Campaigns. After fighting through Hitler’s infamous “Bulge,” Daddy’s battalion pushed through to the German border. By February of 1945, they were in position just a short way from the supposedly impenetrable Siegfried Line. On February 6 (his wife’s, my mother’s 20th birthday), Daddy’s F Company led the charge into the Line, and within a few short hours, had successfully breached it. The 2nd Battalion was awarded the much-coveted Presidential Unit Citation for

“extraordinary heroism, savage aggressiveness and indomitable spirit — in the face of extremely difficult terrain, fanatical enemy resistance, and devastating artillery fire — brilliant tactical planning, rapid capture of assigned objectives and the conspicuous gallantry of each member of the 2nd Battalion, in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

Daddy also was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Daddy in WWII

Having broken through into Germany, they pushed toward the city of Olzheim, which had such tactical and strategic advantage that General George Patton specifically ordered Daddy’s 345th Regiment to capture it. Daddy later told my mother that on that day, he had taken the point of the march (that is, he was in the lead), and he was shot and critically wounded in the upper left arm (inches away from his heart) as they came up over a ridge. He fell and lay in the deep snow for nine hours before being found and rescued. He was later told that, had he not fallen in snow, which stanched the bleeding, he would have died long before he was found. After a long recuperation in Luxembourg, England, and finally the Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, he was discharged from the Army on November 19, 1945. (I have elsewhere written in greater detail about Daddy’s service in World War II.)

Daddy portraitAfter the War, Mother and Daddy moved to Raleigh, and from 1949 to 1960, he worked as a Cost Accountant and Warehouse Manager for Peden Steel. During that time, I was born in 1951. When they were thinking about names, Mother said that if she had a boy, she wanted him to be “Grover Jr.” But because he disliked his given name so much, Daddy was strongly opposed to the idea. As was usual in their marriage, Mother won — but with a compromise. Daddy said he would agree, just so long as I wouldn’t actually be called “Grover.” So, for the first 10 years of my life, I was known as “G.B.”

Daddy began to feel strongly that he was being called into the Christian Ministry, and so he went back to school, enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1960. Finances and other problems prevented his completing this goal, but he remained a quiet but strong member of the Faith. Later he worked in Management at Richmond (Virginia) Steel Company, as Business Manager for the Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, and finally, as the accountant for Federal funds at the Wake County Public Schools.

Daddy's grave footmarker

As a result of his injury during the war and some experimental surgery that went bad, Daddy was in almost constant, often debilitating pain the rest of his life. Not only did the wound to his arm severely restrict its strength and movement, the Military doctors who performed post-injury surgery on him tried a new technique for nerve repair and regeneration. Not only did it fail and leave him in severe pain, but also many surgeries in subsequent years determined that the original, flawed “repair” was irreversible. The pain finally got so bad in his late 50s that he was unable to continue to work, and he was forced to retire. I still boil with anger at the shabby, irresponsible, callous treatment I observed Daddy receive from the Veterans Administration after his discharge from the Army — in all aspects (administrative, veterans benefits, and medical). To me, the (mis)treatment with which we dishonor Veterans like my father should be a criminal offense.

When my mother met Daddy in 1943 (he was 25 years old), she said he was already a heavy smoker, and unfortunately, he remained one all the rest of his life. He developed lung cancer in the early 1980s, and he died from it June 22, 1982. He is buried next to Mother and among her family in Apex Cemetery in Apex, NC.

I love you and miss you, Daddy!

Mother and Daddy, in a portrait from the late 1940s

Mother and Daddy, in a portrait from the late 1940s


The sepia-toned photo of the young Daddy, the wedding photo that includes the Flower Girl, the photo of Pfc Proctor sitting on the “Keep Off” sign, and the formal portrait of my parents were all restored and (in 3 cases) colorized at my request by Asheville, NC photo-artist Melanie Bevill Arrowood. Beautiful work, as always, Melanie!




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 31 October 2017

‘The Searchers’ at the Cary Theater

The SearchersThe Cary Theater

The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham Street, Cary, NC
Friday, November 10, 7:00 p.m.
one-night showing
followed by panel discussion and Q&A
Ticket Purchases by Phone: 1-800-514-3849

“One of the best films ever done on the case.”
— Robert Groden
Groden’s praise for this film is not to be taken lightly, as he is considered perhaps the premier photo and film expert on the subject of the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The award-winning film The Searchers is the creation of North Carolina documentary filmmaker Randolph Benson. Calling itself “a portrait of researchers of the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” the film tells the stories of those men and women who devoted innumerable hours, months, years of their lives to researching the case — selflessly and with the sole goal of the Truth. And why would they not? A large majority of the American people have consistently and willingly told pollsters that they do not believe the official version of history — that “lone nut” nebbish Lee Oswald single-handedly murdered the president.

My wife and I had the great pleasure earlier this year to view the film’s East Coast premiere, and I wrote afterward that “the audience at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater seemed unanimous in their admiration of the film’s quality, and the vital slice of American history it has preserved so heroically.”

I heartily invite everyone to see it on November 10. (See the film’s trailer below.)

The Cary Theater is a wonderful venue, but it is not huge. The auditorium’s limited number of seats will sell quickly, so I urge you to purchase your advance tickets immediately!

Randolph Benson

Randolph Benson

Fourteen years in the making, the film uses never-before-seen interviews, archival footage and recently declassified documents to chronicle the past and present of these ordinary citizens and their contributions to revealing the truth about the crime of the 20th century.

Suffering ridicule, and being labeled with the intellectual scarlet letter of conspiracy theorists, these individuals have challenged the institutions of power for over 50 years. They have fought against great odds to, as they often proclaim, “take back our history!”

The film features a literal “Who’s Who” of those who have given most to the investigation: Cyril Wecht, Robert Groden, Josiah Thompson, Mark Lane, John Judge, Jim Marrs, Jim DiEugenio, Debra Conway, Gary Aguilar, Lisa Pease, Rex Bradford, Walt Brown, Andy Winiarczyk and John Kelin, among many others.

A “great strength of the film is that it is made for an audience that is not necessarily expert in all things JFK,” noted film critic Joseph Green. “The director made it, in his words, for ‘himself, before I got into all this.'” These researchers were at first scorned, then completely shunned, by the mainstream media — having the effect of caricaturing the people and censoring their message. This film “counters that by simply letting the critics speak about the case without being interfered with. . . . The great achievement of the film is to humanize the researchers themselves.”

Randolph Benson (whom I am fortunate and honored to call friend) is an award-winning, Durham-based filmmaker. His films have garnered the Gold Medal in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards and a Kodak Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Cannes Film Festival, among others. His work has been featured on the Bravo Network, the Independent Film Channel and UNC-TV as well as several international channels.

A graduate of Wake Forest University and the North Carolina School of the Arts, Benson has taught at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for more than 10 years. He is author of the article “JFK, Oswald and the Raleigh Connection,” as well as the highly intriguing and informative “13 Documents You Should Read About the JFK Assassination.”

As is, alas, the case with all too many highly deserving documentaries, The Searchers is not currently set for national release. That is all the more reason you should see it in Cary on Friday night, November 10. Even if (and maybe “especially if”) you do not know much about the JFK assassination, you need to see the human drama of these men and women unfold in Benson’s deft telling. Seriously.



The Searchers





Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 26 October 2017

Do Two Exceptions Prove the JFK Rule?

It seemed to me that, in the run-up to the deadline date for the release of the JFK Assassination documents, the national media were really trying very hard to make it into a story — and by that I mean, a really big story with mega-overtones. It was almost painful at times to watch them report it, struggling to find an appropriate historical or political underpinning (translation: spin) to put on it.

Many of the reports were collective “ooo-ing” and “ahhh-ing” about it, and it was easy to believe they were making a bigger deal of the “event” than was warranted. Yes, it’s high time these documents finally are coming out of deep freeze, but it’s going to take quite a while for us to know everything that’s in them, and how important (if at all) they will be in the grand scheme of things.

The national media have grown accustomed to the 24-hour news cycle, where, if a story is more than a day old, it’s ancient. I think they wanted (and maybe a few were actually expecting) the documents to be released at 8:01 a.m., and by 9:15, the entire JFK assassination to be solved.

The old aphorism says that it is the exception which proves the rule. And such was the case here — twice. I’m very happy to report that both the UNC Public Radio program The State of Things and The News and Observer (nicknamed “The Old Reliable” for several decades long ago) got it right.

The State of Things — Frank Stasio, host; UNC Public Radio (11:49)

Camila Molina article
Camila MolinaCamila Molina’s article in the News and Observer, “Will the JFK files tell us more about Lee Oswald’s call to Raleigh?“, which was published on both the N&O and Herald/Sun websites, has set itself and its author apart.

It’s thanks to a journalist who did her homework, researched the facts, digested them without prejudice, and reported them clearly, accurately, and without editorializing. You wouldn’t think this would be so unusual, would you? But Camila Molina distinguished and differentiated herself from a large number of her colleagues from years past, who were not known for unprejudiced, well-informed reporting of the issues surrounding the investigation into the JFK Assassination.

I was pleased to be interviewed by her for the article, and happy that I am able to commend her for her obvious grasp of the facts which I discerned from the questions she asked.




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 21 October 2017

Trump Tweets ‘Yes’ to JFK Document Release

I’ve been peppered with questions from family, friends, and even the media (I’ll be interviewed live on BBC-TV early Thursday morning), wanting to know the significance of President Trump’s Saturday announcement that he would permit the release of all remaining classified documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy.

It’s an excellent question, and one that has myriad possibilities. Here’s a shortened version of my take on the matter.

JFK Trump tweet 2
Background. There have been 3 major investigations, by various parts of the Federal government, of the JFK assassination —

  1. The so-called Warren Commission (Report issued 1964; 888 pages); President Johnson strong-armed Chief Justice Earl Warren to chair the Commission in order to affirm to the public the “truth” that Lee Oswald alone killed the president.
  2. The so-called Schweiker-Hart Senate Sub-Committee, part of the Church Select Committee on Intelligence (Report issued 1976; 106 pages); Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart investigated the Monkey Business committed by and associated with the American Intelligence agencies related to the JFK assassination; and
  3. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (Report issued 1979; 686 pages); this committee was formed to further investigate the assassinations of both President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and was the first one to suggest the possibility of a conspiracy to kill JFK.

All of these efforts to “find out the truth” about the assassination relied for information on various national law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, Secret Service, etc. As a matter of wrapping up their work, each of the investigations boxed up all of the documents they had collected from these agencies, along with their internal working papers, and en masse declared them “classified” for various long periods of time. Honestly, none of them ever offered a reason for hiding all this information that I (and huge numbers of others) ever found credible or satisfying.

The perceived inadequacies, inconsistencies, and pre-conceived conclusions associated with the Warren Commission’s year-long investigation and its findings would have been enough by itself for people to demand to see all of these sealed-away documents. But it was Commission Chairman Earl Warren himself who lit the fuel of urgency. When he was asked if all of the Commission’s information would be made public, he replied, “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime.

Congress: “Release ‘Em.” In 1992, the last full year of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, Congress listened to the rising voice of public pressure by passing (with the president’s signature) the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act.

The law required that agencies throughout the Federal Government transfer assassination-related records to the National Archives, and thus the JFK Assassination Records Collection was born. The Archives’ web site notes that the law required that “all records previously withheld [from release to the public] either in part or in full should be released on October 26, 2017, unless authorized for further withholding by the President of the United States. The 2017 date derives directly from the law that states:

Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, unless the President certifies, as required by this Act, that –

(i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations; and

(ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

“The Act was signed by President Bush on October 26, 1992, thus the final release date is October 26, 2017.”

Dribs and Drabs. During the intervening 25 years, the National Archives has released a steady stream of documents, generally well indexed, so that searching was made almost easy. However, as the 2017 deadline approached, the speed of the releases failed to satisfy the researchers. Describing the pace as having dropped to “snail-like” and “in dribs and drabs,” information hunters approached the date of October 26, 2017 with increasing and seemingly justified skepticism. Would the full, uncensored documents be forthcoming?

On July 24 of this year, the Archives released a batch of 441 “formerly withheld-in-full documents” and 3,369 documents previously released with portions redacted. While this was a huge chunk of .PDFs to pore through, a little arithmetic told researchers there was a huge number more hidden documents promised for October. The debate raged as to whether it would actually happen — with consensus overwhelmingly leaning to the negative. According to figures supplied by the National Archives, there could be as many as 50,000 documents “identified as assassination-related remaining withheld in full.”

Will we see 50,000 documents on October 26? Unlikely. But you get the gist of the order of magnitude with which we are dealing.

JFK Liberty ButtonSo, What Will Happen? I don’t know, but I perceive there are 3 issues raised by all of this, which we may briefly consider to end this essay — (1) lessons from the July 2017 release, (2) options remaining for the President, and (3) how likely is it that a “smoking gun” will be found?

The July 2017 Bomb (Dud?) That Dropped. As I awaited my (electronic) copies of the almost 4,000 documents in July, I knew it would be an Everest-sized miracle if there were any sort of indexing done. Well, there’s no crying in baseball, and there are no miracles in Government.

Remember that above I mentioned the great value and ease imparted by the fact that the documents currently in the Archives’ JFK Collection are generally very well indexed. If I want to know what, if any, documents are in the collection pertaining to the Raleigh, NC man that Lee Oswald was attempting to call from the Dallas jail, all I have to do when I’m at the National Archives Annex in College Park is enter “John David Hurt.” Out pops a list of all documents (released prior to this year’s July mass batch) in which his name appears.

The fact that there was virtually NO indexing done for the July release (and certainly will not have been done for whatever comes out in October) means that months or years of slogging, page by page, through thousands of documents, will be the only way new knowledge is gained. Fortunately, I know for a fact that there are a large number of info-craving individuals out there who will gleefully, carefully, and painstakingly take that very route. The point is… when the documents are released on October 26, don’t expect Fox News or the Huffington Post to immediately be able to give you the run-down on what it contained. The prospect harkens back to Earl Warren’s prescient prediction of “not in your lifetime.”

What Might the President Do, and Why Might He Do It? Scroll back up to look at President Trump’s tweet about the JFK documents. The first 7 words immediately jumped out at me when I first read it: “Subject to the receipt of further information…” Words are important in Washington, and in government in general. That caveat obviously meant something important, and we should take note of it. Should the president want an “out” (or should someone “convince” him that it would be in his best interests to make one), the original law that mandated the October 26 release provided an escape route from his otherwise plain duty to release all the documents.

If you look above at the Roman numerals (i) and (ii) in the excerpt from the law quoted there, you’ll see exactly the “out” he has. Will he use that “out”? Or will he defy the Intelligence agencies that are strongly calling for a delay or denial of the release of some documents in the Archive? Or — a third possibility — was this just a ploy all along? The tweet allows him to appear as a champion of transparent (or at least translucent) government, while keeping the door open for him to later say, “Well, I tried. But I simply cannot put our Intelligence agents (or law enforcement or military) in the kind of danger that releasing some of these documents would do. It is with my greatest respect for what these brave men and women do to protect us every day that I will protect them by delaying the scheduled release until such time as we can be certain that their safety will not be compromised.”

Frankly, I could see it going any of those three ways.

There will be no smoking gun.

There will be no smoking gun.

A “Smoking Gun”? This one is somewhat easier for me, as I have been giving the same answer for the entire 40+ years I have been researching, writing, and lecturing about the assassination. There will be no smoking gun.

Mentally walk with me for a couple of minutes, and let me show you why I am absolutely convinced this is so. For the moment, we should assume the worst. Assume that there was a big Conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. (After all, if Lee Oswald were the sole assassin, there would be no need to look for or hide a “smoking gun,” would there?)

No matter who actually was involved in the Conspiracy, the investigative and intelligence agencies would have, some time or other, come across something that could serve as a “smoking gun” — perhaps not identifying the shooters or the groups behind them, but enough at least to prove beyond doubt that there were others involved. That’s a “smoking gun” for Conspiracy if I ever heard one — and the “Lee Oswald = Lone Nut” narrative immediately flies out the window if this document ever sees the light of day.

Let’s further assume that this document finds its way to one of the 3 Federal investigations listed above. Someone sees it, and says, “If the public saw this today, there would be a strong clamor for the president to either bomb Russia or bomb Cuba or break the CIA into a thousand pieces, or whatever. National crisis. We have our dead ‘lone nut’ assassin, so let’s just keep him as that. This document cannot see the light of day.” Are you with me so far?

So logically and realistically, what do you think happens to that document? Does it get put into a folder and later classified for 75 years? Or does it find its way to the shredder or incinerator? Anyone high enough in the government with sufficient power to be able to make such a file-away-or-burn decision would, it seems to me, make absolutely certain no one ever saw that piece of paper again. Thus, I have always said that the declassifying of documents will never solve the case in one fell swoop.

BUT … having said that, I don’t want you to leave here thinking I am saying that the October 26 document dump (and the one from July) are pointless wastes of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s continue our mental walk together. The National Archives revealed that it inherited 5,000,000 documents from the various agencies, as a result of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Think of this, if you will, as a 5,000,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. By saying above that I believe that no “smoking gun” will be found, all that means is that there will not be found in the puzzle box one single piece (a “smoking piece,” if you will) that will magically reveal the whole picture.

The logical alternative, however, is that by careful examination of all of the pieces, and finding how they fit together, that picture will slowly, inexorably appear. That is how we’ve progressed in the overall investigation to date. We must recognize that there are some pieces that are very small that will not likely to reveal much of the overall picture. But when combined with these 2 here, and those 5 over there, etc., first a pattern, then a picture, begins to emerge.

Therefore, the document dump on October 26 will not be July 4 fireworks-worthy. It won’t be a compelling, sexy, rah-rah, 007-type event. Oliver Stone will almost certainly not make a movie about October 26. But it will mark one more step, albeit halting and long overdue.

Had it had not been for public opinion rising up to demand the release of the hidden documents in the 1980s and early 1990s, October 26, 2017 would just be one more day of walking past the Christmas decorations to find the Halloween candy.

Let’s keep the cry of public opinion strong and persistent for the Truth about who killed our President.

Release the Documents




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 1 October 2017

When B.B. and Bono Came to Town

I just finished reading Blues All Around Me — the autobiography of B.B. King. And I am even more deeply filled with admiration for the humility and grace of the man, and for the towering genius of his music.
B.B. King
Purposely written (by co-author David Ritz) in the style of the great Blues Man’s speech, the book was completed and published when King was 71 years old. As a memoir, it is above all honest, thorough, frank (shockingly so, at times), and both gently self-effacing and keenly self-aware. There were many passages that were just so wonderful (for this true fan of B.B. King) that I had to search out my wife and read them out loud to her.

Now I’m seeking you out, to let you read one of my favorite passages from the book.

Writing about B.B. King is becoming one of my favorite things to do. I have two previous essays about “The King of the Blues,” my personal obituary for him from 2015 and his (and others’) take on the question of whether Elvis was a racist. (Spoiler alert: everyone who knew him, including King and the many giants of Black music, all agree that Elvis “didn’t have a racist bone in his body.”)

In this new essay, I’m sharing the history of one particularly huge hit song by B.B. King, which has always spoken directly and forcefully to me.

If you know and love B.B King’s music, then I’d be willing to bet that one of your favorite songs by him is “When Love Comes to Town.” It was written especially for him, words by Bono and music by his rock group U2. It’s way up there among my favorites, and among the songs most likely to stir my emotions — with good reason. It comes across as a perfect fusion of the blues of B.B. King and the unique rock style of U2, as it was always intended to be.

U2's Bono and B.B. King

U2’s Bono and B.B. King

In the excerpt (below) from Blues All Around Me, B.B. King tells how the song came to be written, how the special relationship between him and Bono started and grew, and how this song was fundamental in introducing a whole new generation to the American Blues and the Blues Master himself. You’ll see how the song’s poetry was what first drew King to the song (“Real heavy lyrics. You’re mighty young to write such heavy lyrics!” he told a slightly embarrassed Bono). Couple this with a powerful, driving musical foundation, plus the lyrical cries of King’s guitar “Lucille,” and there was no question it would be a winner. (Below the excerpt, I’ve put a link to the song’s music video, which is seasoned with concert footage and other visuals from Rattle and Hum, the documentary film featuring U2.)

B.B. King never liked being called “The King of the Blues,” but everyone always did anyway. At the time this excerpt begins, he has at least become the leading Elder Statesman of the Blues. His long-time manager, Sid Seidenberg, was in the middle of a multi-year project to get King’s artistry in front of larger and more varied audiences. Sid understood King’s genius perhaps at a more fundamental level than anyone, and fortunately, his imagination for possibilities was equally large. As a result, he came to B.B. King with a suggestion that would change everything. . .

from Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King

B.B. King autobiography

I was sixty-three when my career hit its hottest stride. . . .

Sid was also looking for greater exposure. That’s why he hooked me up with U2. I’d heard their Joshua Tree album and knew they were among the biggest rock groups in the world. I could relate to rock. I heard its blues roots and felt its connection to my music. I could see its popularity had grown like wildfire since Elvis started shaking his pelvis in the fifties. Opening for the Stones and Marshall Tucker had been important for my career. But it took Sid—and not me—to think of a way to introduce myself to still another young generation.
“It was a joy, just a joy, to share a stage with B.B. King. There was this great sense of camaraderie in his band. A rich, brassy sound they have behind them with the horn section.

And then there’s his grace. You know,
he’s a Lesson in Grace.”


“We’re going to Ireland,” said Sid, “and U2 is coming to the show. So why don’t you ask Bono, the guy who sings lead, to write a song for you?” Sounded like a good idea, but I wasn’t sure Bono would be interested. I also hate to impose myself on anyone else. When it comes to business, though, I make myself do certain things, even if they might go against my nature.
After my Dublin Concert, Bono and his boys showed up in the dressing room and we had a nice relaxed chat. They acted more like old friends than superstars. Before Bono left, I mentioned how I’d like him to write a song for me. All he said was “Okay, I will.” A year passed, maybe more, and I’d forgotten the whole thing when Sid said Bono had been looking for me. U2 was playing Fort Worth, Texas, and wanted my band to open the show. Sure thing.
“I love the song. Real heavy lyrics. You’re mighty young to write such heavy lyrics!”
—B.B. King to Bono,
who looked humbled and in awe
When I got there, Bono was all smiles. Said he’s written the song, but it was a duet for the two of us. I was flattered but frightened. Wasn’t the kind of material I was used to. But he was cool and patient and showed me how it went. More I heard it, more I was convinced our styles would blend. He called it “When Love Comes to Town.” The story surprised me; the lyrics weren’t what I’d expected. Didn’t think someone so young would write something so deep. In a rock tune, he’d written about the Crucifixion of Jesus. The song was solid and the rhythm was right, and that night, after my show and after his, Bono called me back out in front of forty thousand screaming U2 fans and we sang “When Love Comes to Town” as the crowd stood and cheered. It was a great moment.
I was there
     when they crucified my Lord.
I held the scabbard
     when the soldier drew his sword.
I threw the dice
     when they pierced His side.
But I’ve seen love conquer
     the great divide.

—”When Love Comes to Town”

It was also great going out with U2. We taped a video that got heavy airplay and won an MTV Video Award. “When Love Comes to Town” was the hottest single off the album. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, we basically used the live version with some adjustments made in the studio. After the song came out on their album Rattle and Hum and hit big, U2 carried us around the world for over three months. We hit Europe and Japan and came back home, playing huge football stadiums and giant arenas to sold-out crowds. Bono treated us with absolute respect. He never made us feel like an opening act. I was given a hotel suite as big as his in every city I played. And in every concert, I felt a new energy coming from audiences who brought with them a fresh appreciation of the blues.
I’ll never know how many new fans I made on that tour. But I believe my music was heard by still another new generation of young people who seemed to feel the same thing I’d felt when I first heard the blues sung by my Uncle Jack hollering in the cotton fields outside Indianola—raw emotion.

“I gave it my absolute everything I had in that HOWL, at the start of the song.
And then B.B. King opened up his mouth, and I felt like a girl.”
—Bono, on the opening 10 seconds of the video below


B.B. King and U2 in Sun Studio

Rare Photo of B.B. King and U2 in the legendary Sun Studios, Memphis,
recording “When Love Comes to Town”




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