June 1, 1967 (Dictated and transcribed)
TO: JIM GARRISON, District Attorney
FROM: ANDREW SCIAMBRA, Assistant District Attorney
RE: MR. HENRY EARL PALMER -- INTERVIEW WITH
REGISTRAR OF VOTERS, CLINTON, LOUISIANA
ON MAY 29, 1967
Lt. Francis Fruge and I talked to Mr. Palmer at his office which is located across the street from the Courthouse in Clinton, Louisiana.
Mr. Palmer said that some time between September 1st and October 15th of 1963 he had occasion to talk to LEE HARVEY OSWALD. Mr. Palmer said he feels very strongly that it was in the first week of October, possibly around the 6th or 7th. He said he was the Registrar of Voters at the time and his office was on Main Street located across the street from the Courthouse. Mr. Palmer said that on this particular day there was some Civil Rights [sic] activities in town and the colored people had a voter registration drive on. He said there was a long line of colored people lined up to register with him.
Mr. Palmer said that as he left his office for a coffee break around 10:30 in the morning he noticed 2 white men in line with the colored people and that they were very conspicuous as they were the only 2 white people in the line. When he talked to these two people he learned they were LEE HARVEY OSWALD and ESTES [sic] MORGAN; that ESTES [sic] MORGAN is from Livingston Parish, born in Sun, Louisiana. Mr. Palmer said OSWALD and MORGAN were in the hallway of the building and that Oswald had on a T-shirt, dark trousers and sneaker-type crepe soled shoes. He was normally clean and shaven. Mr. Palmer said he passed OSWALD and MORGAN in the line and never said anything to them, and he walked out of his office on the way to the café. On his way to the café he noticed a black Cadillac parked about 20 feet from the entrance to his building; that he noticed 2 people sitting in the Cadillace [sic], both of whom were white males and were sitting in the front seat. Mr. Palmer said he was sure it was a black Cadillac and looked to be about a 1962 [sic]. He did not write down the license number. Mr. Palmer said the Cadillac was parked in front of Cochran's Drug Store which is right close to his building. Mr. Palmer said the man in the passenger side of the automobile had heavy eyebrows and this was his distinguishing feature as far as he would say. He said the other man was sitting behind the steering wheel and was looking straight ahead; that he appeared to be tall and was gray haired and had a ruddy complexion. Palmer said that he was also wearing a hat.
Mr. Palmer said that when he got across the street someone told him that the Justice Department was watching everything and at that time he told someone around him to get a 1028 (license registration check) on the black Cadillac. Mr. Palmer said he does not remember who he told this to, but that it could have been a Mr. MANCHESTER who is the present Town Marshal, or it could have been a State Trooper, or it could possibly have been Judge John Rarick who may have been with him at the time. However he just does not know who he told. At any rate, about 10 or 15 minutes later the person whom he did tell to get a 1028 on the Cadillac told him as he was coming out of the caffee [sic] shop that the men in the black Cadillac were not federal men from the Justice Department, but were representatives from the International Trade Mart in New Orleans. Mr. Palmer said he asked the man what in the world they were doing there, and the man said laughingly, "Selling bananas." The man then repeated that he had checked them out and that they were from the International Trade Mart. Mr. Palmer said that he went back in the building until about 1:00 PM when he left for lunch at the same café. He said the car was still there and had not moved an inch, and the men were still in the line waiting to talk to Mr. Palmer.
Mr. Palmer said he did not pay any particular attention to the car or to the drivers [sic] any more. He said he passed about 18 to 20 feet from the car when he notice [sic] the men and that the guy on the passenger side had heavy eyebrows; that his hair needed combing as it was ruffled and he did not have a hat on. I then showed Mr. Palmer a picture of DAVID FERRIE and he said "that that looked like the type of eyebrows that the man in the car had." He then put an "X" on FERRIE's picture. I then showed him a picture of CLAY SHAW and he said "That is the type of build that the person appeared to have as the person appeared tall even though he was sitting down. He had broad shoulders and had the white hair." Mr. Palmer said he didn't get a full view of the person's face and saw him only from an angle from the back of the car as his face was somewhat turned as he was talking to the man on the passenger said of the car. Mr. Palmer said that from the picture I showed him he could not positively identify this man as being the man in the automobile. He said the man well dressed, had on dark clothes and had a tie on.
Mr. Palmer said that after he had eaten he went to the barber shop for a few minutes and then walked on back to his office. He passed the car like he had before and the men were still there but he did not pay any particular attention to them. Mr. Palmer said OSWALD and MORGAN were still in line.
I showed Mr. Palmer a picture of OSWALD and he said, "That's him" and put an "X" on the picture.
Mr. Palmer said that as he passed OSWALD and MORGAN in this line they didn't say anything to him and they were talking with some of the Negros [sic] in the line. Mr. Palmer said he stayed in the office until about 3:30 and then went to get coffee again passing OSWALD and MORGAN who were still in the line and passing the 2 individuals in the black Cadillac who were still sitting in the car.
Mr. Palmer said that he went back to his office and MORGAN was the first one to come in and register with him. MORGAN showed him a Livingston Parish Drivers [sic] License and said that he was from Jackson, Louisiana. Mr. Palmer did not let him register because he didn't have enough identification. Mr. Palmer said he sent MORGAN out to get better identification. MORGAN then told Mr. Palmer that he knew Reeves Morgan the State Representative and that he was interested in going to work at the East Louisiana State Hospital. Mr. Palmer told MORGAN that maybe he sould [sic] talk to Representative Morgan and ESTES [sic] MORGAN then left.
Mr. Palmer said that OSWALD then came in and showed him an ID card from the service. Mr. Palmer said he believes it was a Navy ID card. It had LEE H. OSWALD on it. He said he believes it was a cancelled [sic] Navy card and it had a New Orleans address on it. Mr. Palmer asked OSWALD why he didn't register before and OSWALD told him that he went into the service before he was old enough to register. OSWALD told Mr. Palmer he was living at Jackson and had been living there for 6 months with some doctor at the hospital. Mr. Palmer said OSWALD named the doctor but that he cannot remember the doctor's name. Mr. Palmer asked OSWALD if the doctor was a registered voter and OSWALD said "Yes," but when Mr. Palmer checked the voter registration rolls for the doctor's name he found out that the doctor was not registered with him. Mr. Palmer then asked OSWALD if he knew the Business Manager at the hospital or the Mayor of Jackson or Reeves Morgan the State Representative and OSWALD said he did not know any of them. Mr. Palmer then told OSWALD he would have to get a letter from someone at Jackson saying that he was living in Jackson for 6 months before he would be able to register, or if he wanted to he could register in New Orleans. OSWALD told Mr. Palmer that he wanted to register with him as he wanted to get the job at the hospital and Mr. Palmer informed him that he did not need to be a registered voter in order to get a job at the hospital. Mr. Palmer said OSWALD thanked him for this information and then left, and that was the last time he saw OSWALD.
Mr. Palmer said it was around 4:00 or 4:15 PM when Oswald left his office. At about 5:45 PM Mr. Palmer said he left his office and at that time the black Cadillac was gone. Mr. Palmer said that as he was closing his office GLORIA WILSON, who worked in Cochran's Drug Store, was just getting off work and as they passed each other she remarked to Mr. Palmer[,] "Your Civil Rights Workers [sic] are riding better than you are now." Mr. Palmer asked her what she meant and she said that the boy in line with the "Niggers" [sic] got in that black Cadillac and left with it. Mr. Palmer said that he is sure that if we would have talked to Mrs. Cochran we could have gotten all the information and identification we would have needed as they were looking at the Cadillac which was parked directly in front of the drug store all day long. He said that knowing the 2 women he feels sure that they may have even talked to the people in the car. He said, however, that Mrs. Cochran died in the last part of 1964 and Gloria Wilson died in 1965, (both of natural causes).
Mr. Palmer said that he has talked to JOHN MANCHESTER[,] the Town Marshal, about the incident and at one time MANCHESTER had told him that he could identify the men in the car. However, after the Garrison investigation hit the papers MANCHESTER told Mr. Palmer that he could not identify the men in the car. Mr. Palmer said that he would talk to some of the people around town to see if he could get some information about who might remember the incident.
Mr. Palmer said he has also talked to BILLY KLINE who said he vaguely remembers the automobile.
Mr. Palmer said he also talked to Mrs. Watson who would have run a 1028 on the automobile as it would have been her job in the Sheriff's Office to do so. However, she does not remember the car.
Mr. Palmer said that Mr. Phelps who is the Mayor of Clinton may have seen the automobile parked in front of Cochran's Drug Store that day as it was parked directly across the street from his garage.
Mr. Palmer pointed out the [sic] CLAY SHAW's first cousin (her father and Clay Shaw are brothers) is married to WILLIE JOE YARBROUGH who is one of the 5 Town Councilmen of Clinton; that she was living in Clinton in 1963 and is still living there as far as he knows. Her name is Doris Shaw and she works in the Clinton Bank which is just 3 or 4 doors from where the black Cadillac was parked.
[signed] Henry E. Palmer