TESTIMONY OF C. A. HAMBLEN
The testimony of C. A. Hamblen was taken at 2:50 p.m., on July 23, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 3.01 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. LIEBELER. You may remain seated. Will you raise your right hand? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I do.
Mr. LIEBELER. My name is Wesley J. Liebeler. I am an attorney on the President's Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. I have been authorized to take your testimony by the Commission pursuant to authority granted to it by Executive Order 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and the joint resolution of Congress, No. 137. You are entitled under the rules of the Commission governing the taking of testimony of witnesses to have an attorney present, should you wish. I understand that you are present pursuant to a subpena that was served on you some days ago by the U.S. Secret Service, and I presume since you don't have an attorney with you at this time, you are prepared to proceed with your testimony without an attorney?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I don't need an attorney. You might wish to make a little correction. This should be C. A. Hamblen instead of C. R.
Mr. LIEBELER. Your name is C. A. H-a-m-b-l-e-n?
Mr. HAMBLEN. That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER. How old are you?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I will be 50 in December.
Mr. LIEBELER. You are employed by the Western Union Telegraph Co.; isn't that right?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. How long have you worked for them?
Mr. HAMBLEN. It will be 38 years the 6th day of August.
Mr. LIEBELER. I want to come right to the point in this deposition. I think you know basically the reason we have asked you to come over. It is my understanding that you had a conversation with a newspaper reporter by the name of Bob Fenley shortly after the assassination, in which you told him, in substance, that you thought that a man who you thought looked like Lee Oswald had been in your office and had either sent a telegram or cashed a money order telegram that he had in his possession; is that correct?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Not exactly.
Mr. LIEBELER. What is it exactly?
Mr. HAMBLEN. During that time, I came in contact with newspaper correspondents from all over the world. In my years of service to the company, I have never disclosed the contents of a telegram, who they were addressed to, who they were from, or anything pertaining to them.
I don't think I told Mr. Fenley that a Lee Oswald had been in there, because talking with those correspondents, I wouldn't divulge any patron coming into the telegraph office in search of any of our services, money orders, telegrams, collateral services, collection services, anything that we have to offer. I believe there is some misunderstanding on Mr. Fenley's part there. Perhaps I did tell him that I thought I had seen someone that looked like the man that I saw over television.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember----
Mr. HAMBLEN. I thought he was the assassinator.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember talking to Mr. Fenley about this?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I don't remember telling anyone that, of anyone filing a telegram with us. I remember talking with Fenley, but I wouldn't disclose any information.
Mr. LIEBELER. What did you say to Fenley?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Just in general conversation like I would with Wes Wise or any of the other reporters that I come in contact with.
Mr. LIEBELER. Didn't you tell Fenley that you thought you had seen somebody that reminded you of Oswald in your office?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes; I did tell him that I had saw Oswald. I may have told him that. I don't recall what all was said--as many of those correspondents that I talked to during that period of time. Then the employees under me, we never discuss any telegrams unless it is necessary for them to ask me to pass upon a telegram so it could be transmitted.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember telling Fenley that when you saw the picture of the alleged assassin on television, that he looked very much like a man that had caused you a hard time on several instances in your office?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I don't remember telling Fenley anything like that.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember signing a statement to that effect for Mr. Wilcox on December 2, 1963, and I show you a copy.
Mr. HAMBLEN. That I told Fenley that I saw that man in there?
Mr. LIEBELER. Yes.
Mr. HAMBLEN. I told Wilcox that I thought I saw him, but I don't think I told Fenley.
Mr. LIEBELER. Read the first paragraph of that statement.
Mr. HAMBLEN (reading). I don't think I told Fenley that. I remember telling Mr. Wilcox that I thought a party had been in there that resembled Oswald, on several different occasions.
Mr. LIEBELER. Well, now the statement that I have shown you here, which is Wilcox Exhibit No. 3005, is a copy of a statement that you signed on December 2, 1963, isn't it? That is your signature?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes; that is my signature.
Mr. LIEBELER. Could I have it back, please? Now, that statement says, and I quote:
"I was in conversation with a reporter at the counter and remarked to him that I was watching my TV, enjoying the Ernie Ford show, when word was flashed that the President had been shot and that I thought to myself what a coincidence it was that I recognized the picture of the accused gunman when I recognized it when he was slain in jail. He asked me how I could remember so vividly the photo and my answer to him that the picture was or was the spit image of a party that had caused me a hard time on several instances in his transactions of business within the past several months. (Mr. Bob Fenley was the reporter.)"
Mr. HAMBLEN. Well, now, if I gave Bob any information like that, I don't recall it now. I might have at the time that I wrote the statement.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now you had several conversations with Mr. Wilcox about this whole matter over a period of time?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Mr. Wilcox and the company conducted a thorough investigation of the files?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I am sure they did.
Mr. LIEBELER. And tried to find the telegrams that you thought this man that was in there may have sent; isn't that right?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Were you able to find them?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I wasn't able to detect any one.
Mr. LIEBELER. After this investigation was made, Mr. Wilcox showed you these telegrams that you have associated or thought might be associated with Oswald?
Mr. HAMBLEN. They were brought to me in the presence of Mr. Wilcox and the vice president of the company in charge of this investigation.
Mr. LIEBELER. You weren't able to identify any of those telegrams as having been sent by this man you thought looked like Oswald; isn't that right?
Mr. HAMBLEN. That's right. And I think I am pretty good on recognizing handwriting after handling as many as I have over those years of time.
Mr. LIEBELER. To the best of your recollection at this time, do you think that Lee Oswald was ever in your office?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I wouldn't say that it was Lee Oswald. I would say it was
someone that resembled him from the picture that I had seen in the paper and on TV.
Mr. LIEBELER. But you aren't able to state positively that it was Lee Oswald?
Mr. HAMBLEN. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now, I show you a photograph that has been marked Pizzo Exhibit No. 453-A, and ask you if you can see anybody in that picture that you think might have been the man that was in your office that we have been talking about.
Mr. HAMBLEN. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. I show you a picture that has been marked Bringuier Exhibit No. 1, and ask you if you recognize anybody in that picture.
Mr. HAMBLEN. No, sir; I do not.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you recall specifically that Mr. Aubrey Lee Lewis at one time in the fall of 1963 had some trouble paying somebody a money order because this fellow expected to get the money order without proper identification; that you became involved in this and helped Mr. Lewis handle it?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Yes, sir; I did.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember what the fellow looked like?
Mr. HAMBLEN. No; I can't tell you what he looked like.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you know if it was Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I wouldn't say that it was.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you think he resembled Oswald in any way?
Mr. HAMBLEN. No; I don't. Different ways people dress and everything, they come in one time and we pay them money orders and the next time they come in we hardly recognize them. I remember it was a very small money order, too small to quibble over. I can't remember where it was from. I know it was under $10, I know that.
Usually I pay people without identification when it is a small money order, which the clerks are not allowed to do. They have to get my permission before they can make payment on a money order where a person is unable to furnish proper identification. But on small amounts, I take it upon myself to assume the responsibility, hoping that I will pay the right man.
Mr. LIEBELER. After looking at this picture that we have looked at, and after reviewing your recollection, you are not able to identify any of the people who you saw in your office during that period as being Lee Harvey Oswald, isn't that a fact?
Mr. HAMBLEN. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Am I correct in assuming that you are quite certain that Oswald was not a regular customer, in any event? He was never coming into your office at regular intervals, is that correct?
Mr. HAMBLEN. Well, I wouldn't say Lee Oswald came in there at regular intervals. We have patrons that visit us sometimes once a week, sometimes half a dozen times a week. If it was him, he was very infrequent. I will say if it was him, he wasn't there over three times, that I recall.
Mr. LIEBELER. There was a fellow that you thought resembled Oswald to some extent that did come in on occasion, or at least two or three times, but you are not able to positively state that it was Oswald?
Mr. HAMBLEN. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Am I correct in understanding that in your discussions with Mr. Wilcox and with the other officials of the company, you did the best that you could to straighten this whole matter out and determine whether it was Oswald or not?
Mr. HAMBLEN. I certainly did.
Mr. LIEBELER. You were unable, after working with Mr. Wilcox, to pin down any of these telegrams or money orders that would indicate that it was Oswald?
Mr. HAMBLEN. That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now, specifically, I show you a picture marked "Pizzo Exhibit No. 453-C," and ask you if that looks like that man who was in your office.
Mr. HAMBLEN. No; I wouldn't say that that was the man that was in there. No resemblance.
Mr. LIEBELER. I want to cut your testimony as short as I possibly can, because
you are not feeling well. We appreciate your cooperation in coming in when you don't feel well like you have.
Mr. HAMBLEN. I appreciate it. I was in the X-ray all morning and yesterday morning for 2 hours.
Mr. LIEBELER. Thank you very much, Mr. Hamblen, for coming in. I appreciate it very much.
Mr. HAMBLEN. If I can help you any further, well, you have my address.
Mr. LIEBELER. We will get in touch with you.