Lunch With Stolley:
I've shared an abbreviated version of this personal anecdote in the past on another site, but it might be worth repeating: Several years ago I had occasion to ask Dick Stolley to have lunch and talk about the Zapruder film acquisition. The exchanges prior to our lunch were as strange and disconcerting as the face-to-face encounter. We talked back and forth about dates and venues and eventually settled on both, and he asked, "how will I know you ... will you be wearing a green hat?" Now, I don't know if there are many women with a penchant for green hats, but I certainly didn't have one nor did I want one, except it happened that the week prior to this conversation with Stolley, I wanted a straw hat and the only color available in the preferred style was a really unattractive green. I bought it anyway, planning to come up with some kind of camouflage. When he asked the question, my knees went weak. It was a visceral reaction, not well thought through, but I decided to keep the luncheon appointment anyway as I was now more curious than ever about the Life magazine agenda in 1963. A couple of pints into the meal, he asked, so "what's your theory?" From there, I introduced several lines of inquiry that I had thought significant including a group of Dallasites all with peripheral (seeming) relationships to the events as they occurred leading up to and following the assassination… job interviews with Oswald, Texas Theater connections, radio station links, the justice of the peace that arraigned Oswald, etc. The group included four individuals who shared the same last surname, purely ironic, so I referred to them as "All Those Harrell's." Dick Stolley listened, we laughed at the synchronicity, then we talked a bit more about the milieu that was Dallas in 1963, the attitudes, the fraternities, the social structure, the secrecy, the racism, the religiosity, the hatred, the influence of military contractors etc. etc. He then brought the interview to a close with an almost line-by-line recitation of the CIA document in question ... And as he did so, he literally clasped his fingers in front of his mouth, his eyes darting around the pub. I was stunned into silence for a long time. We said our polite good byes and have not talked since .. not unusual in that he hardly knew me and vice versa, but nevertheless. He is a nice man, but nice is not always good.
PS: he did divert from the CIA script to a degree, and I suspect that was because I had shared that I lived a good deal of my life in Texas, had worked for the Hunt family and had friendships with people related to the power structure of the city and state. (don’t misread …. I was a worker bee) He asked (it was actually a statement) “What about LBJ, don’t you think he was involved?" I ran through my theory, that people in Texas knew the source of LBJ’s influence, that he was only as good as his last gig, no generations of familial power behind him, only fraternities and symbiotic interests … all could vanish with the blink of an eye, and he certainly had no power to ensure the cover-up, he could only move things along as he was directed. (in retrospect, I should have paid attention to Stolley's reaction to that last bit!) It was simplistic, but my guest didn’t pursue the issue. He did pull the last rabbit out of the hat with “if so many were involved as you intimate, how could they all have kept a secret.” I said something about hive mentality, uncritical conformity and loss of a sense of individuality and personal accountability, and I think I muttered something about the Lone Star.