TESTIMONY OF MRS. MARY JANE ROBERTSON
The testimony of Mrs. Mary Jane Robertson was taken at 12:20 p.m., on May 28, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Leon D. Hubert, Jr., assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. HUBERT. This is the deposition of Mrs. Mary Jane Robertson.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Right.
Mr. HUBERT. Mrs. Robertson, my name is Leon D. Hubert, and I am a member of the advisory staff of the general counsel on the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. Under the provisions of Executive Order 11130, dated November 29, 1963, the Joint resolution of Congress No. 137, and the rules of procedure adopted by the President's Commission in conformance with the Executive order and the joint resolution, I have been authorized to take a sworn deposition from you. I state to you now that the general nature of the Commission's inquiry is to ascertain, evaluate, and report upon the facts relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent violent death of Lee Harvey Oswald. In particular, as to you, Mrs. Robertson, the nature of the inquiry today is to determine what facts you know about the death of Oswald and any other pertinent facts you may know about the general inquiry.
Now, Mrs. Robertson, I believe that you appear here today by virtue of a general request made to you by Mr. J. Lee Rankin, general counsel of the President's Commission, in a letter addressed by him to Chief Curry, asking Chief Curry to request that you come here. Under the rules adopted by the Commission, you are entitled to a 3-day written notice prior to the taking of
this deposition, but the rules adopted also provide that a witness may waive this 3-day notice if he sees fit to do so. Now, I must first ask you if you wish to receive the 3-day notice, or whether you are willing to waive it?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I am quite willing to.
Mr. HUBERT. Will you rise then, and raise your right hand so that I may administer the oath?
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?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; I do.
Mr. HUBERT. Will you please state your full name, please, ma' am?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. My name is Mary Jane Robertson or Mrs. Jim G. Robertson, as I go by.
Mr. HUBERT. What is your present residence address?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. 619 Lacewood, L-a-c-e-w-o-o-d [spelling] Drive, in Dallas, of course.
Mr. HUBERT. And your occupation?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I am classified as a clerk-typist with the city civil service.
Mr. HUBERT. That's Dallas?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes--Dallas--and I work in the special service bureau of the Dallas Police Department.
Mr. HUBERT. In other words, you are a civil service employee but assigned to the Dallas Police Department?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Right.
Mr. HUBERT. How long have you been so assigned?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Just about a year and a half---October the 1st I started to work there, so just about a year and a half.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, were you there on Friday, November 22, 1963?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. The day the President was killed?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; I certainly was.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you remember what time you went to work there and what time you left?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; at that time I was coming to work at 7:15 and leaving at 4:15--those were my hours.
Mr. HUBERT. At 7:15 in the morning?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. At 7:15 in the morning and leaving at 4:15 in the afternoon. Now, as to the exact time I left that afternoon, I cannot-tell you to the minute because, well, further on in the testimony you will probably want to ask, but Jack Revill, Lieutenant Revill, asked me to take a letter for him, the exact time of which I cannot tell you, but I do remember this very well--my husband had a vacation. He had been on a hunting trip and he was at home, so when Jack asked me to write this letter I went in and phoned home and I said, "I might run just a few minutes late because I don't know if this will be a long letter or a short letter, or what it will consist of," and I did have the car, and ordinarily I would have been home, say, leaving the office at 4:15, in 20 or 25 minutes, you know, but I did get home more or less around 5 o'clock--which was the usual time. I mean, I didn't run, you know, real late or anything, but that part--I definitely remember, and my husband does, too.
Mr. HUBERT. And the letter of Lt. Jack Revill you just talked about was the thing that caused you to be delayed?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That was what I stayed to write yes.
Mr. HUBERT. And that is a fact?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That is a fact.
Mr. HUBERT. So, that was the last thing you did that day?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; when I completed the letter.
Mr. HUBERT. Normally, you would have left at 4:15?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; and I am saying that I didn't run too much after 4:15--the point of it--now, exactly what time I started on that--I don't know.
Mr. HUBERT. Normally, how long would it take you to get to your home from your office?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, you see, if I leave at 4:15 I make a little better time than if you wait until 4:30 because the more traffic starts then, and it's hard to
say exactly, but I go on the freeway, and it's probably 20 minutes and if it's heavy traffic probably 25--you know what I mean?
Mr. HUBERT. Would it be fair to state, then, that you probably left at about 4:30?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I would assume so. Now, I'm not saying to the very minute or anything like that, but I am saying that approximately--if it was after 5 o'clock, it was very shortly after when I got in the car, you know, I did not run what you would call late by hours or so.
Mr. HUBERT. Now I'm going to show you two documents, but I want to identify them with reference to your deposition, so I am marking a document which has been already identified as Commission Exhibit No. 838, as follows: "Dallas, Texas, May 28, 1964, Exhibit No. 1, of the deposition of Mrs. Mary Jane Robertson," and I am signing my name below that, all of which appears in the left margin, and I am doing precisely the same to the other document, which bears the identification, Commission Exhibit No. 709, except that I am marking this as Exhibit No. 2 of the deposition of Mary Jane Robertson, signing my name to that.
Now, Mrs. Robertson, I would ask you to look at Exhibit No. 1 and Exhibit No. 2 which are identified and ask you if that is the letter to which you have previously referred as having been written or typed by you for Lieutenant Revill?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I didn't this--because I know nothing about this down here [indicating].
Mr. HUBERT. You are pointing to Exhibit No. I and you are covering with your hand the affidavit portion?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. You say you know nothing about that?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No.
Mr. HUBERT. The letter itself, you have noticed that they are actually identical, one appears to be an original and the other a copy?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That's right--I was trying to see if there was a difference.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you remember writing these letters yourself?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Why, yes; I wrote them.
Mr. HUBERT. Is there anything on the letter that identifies you as having written them, I mean like the usual little marks put on the letter by a stenographer?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No; that's something I always do, but what I mean, the state of confusion--well---I'm sure you can't have a conception of the state of confusion that office was in---our main secretary was out, she had a dental appointment and she had left earlier that morning, there were only two girls in the office and the two deskmen.
Mr. HUBERT. Well, you do identify the letter?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Definitely--I identify the letter.
Mr. HUBERT. You identify it from the sense of it or what?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, this is something that I did not memorize verbatim, and could not have repeated--what I mean-- per word, but I could have told you the general gist of the letter, is what I mean, yes--the actual facts.
Mr. HUBERT. Was it dictated to you?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Lieutenant Revill came in and said, "Mary Jane, I would like for you to take a letter," and like I said, our stenographer was out of the office on an appointment, and I said, "Of course, now, Jack, this has been a hard day and you know I don't take shorthand and if you will be patient with me and let me write it out in longhand, I will be happy to do it for you." That is when I made my phone call home, and so he said, "Well, you take your time," and he said, "I know you don't take shorthand and that's quite all right," and I had him even spell such names so as to be Certain of--you know--the agent's name and all like that. He sat across the desk from me, as we are doing here.
Mr. HUBERT. In other words, it was written out in your hand?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; now, Jack, as I remember--I speak of him, we are very informal in our office, as Lieutenant Revill--Lieutenant Revill, as I recall, did have several papers or rough drafts that possibly he had written out or
something, but he did speak verbally to me and I wrote in my own handwriting and I used a shorthand notebook. I wrote in my own handwriting.
Mr. HUBERT. And then you used your own handwriting for the purpose of writing the letter?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That's correct.
Mr. HUBERT. What did you do with your own handwriting notes?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Anything like that I always take and I tear up and put in the wastebasket.
Mr. HUBERT. And you think that's what happened here?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, I'm certain it did.
Mr. HUBERT. But you don't know the existence of those notes now, is what I am getting at?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you know how many copies you made?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. There again, I could not swear to you under oath exactly. Ordinarily we make an original and five. Now, whether Lieutenant Revill just might have said that an original and three will be enough, I cannot tell you.
Mr. HUBERT. You don't know how many you made?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No--I cannot--I absolutely do not remember that.
Mr. HUBERT. But the normal practice would have been to make more than one copy?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. More than the original?
Mr. HUBERT. More than the original and one copy--normally you would write the original and how many copies?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Now, by this going to the captain that is not necessarily so. Anything we address to the chief we would have definitely more than one carbon copy, but for little instances like that, I cannot remember--Lieutenant Revill just might have said "an original and one will be enough."
Mr. HUBERT. Do you recall that he did say so?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I do not---absolutely.
Mr. HUBERT. And you don't really know how many you did make?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I cannot tell you--I cannot remember.
Mr. HUBERT. When the letter was finished, what happened to it?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I called Lieutenant Revill, as well as I can remember, I called him into my office. Now, I might. have gone into his office, but I took it directly to him. I waited and let him read it and let him proof it over to see it and I know he questioned me---he said, "Are you sure this is the correct way to spell assassination?" And I said, "Yes, sir; I looked it up in the dictionary," and he read the letter and then as I remember, I got my personal belongings together and I left the building then.
Mr. HUBERT. So, you handed the original and copy or copies to him?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Directly to Lieutenant Revill.
Mr. HUBERT. And you don't know what he did with it, to your own knowledge?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Oh, no; I left the building.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you know anything about what the figures in the lower right-hand corner on Exhibit 1, that is to say, Commission Exhibit No. 838, mean?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; I do.
Mr. HUBERT. What do they mean?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. The captain has flies of copies and that is his own, and his own personal file. In fact, he gave me a letter, a photostat, which he said it would be quite all right to show that that is his own and that that appears on his file, you know what I mean, the way he has it set up.
Mr. HUBERT. You are talking about what?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. The O-1 is what I'm talking about.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, you are showing me a document that is exactly the same actually, it seems to be a photostatic copy of Exhibits Nos. 1 and 2, that you have just testified to.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That's right, this is in the captain's files.
Mr. HUBERT. This is from the captain's files and in the left-hand side it shows "WPG"?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That's Capt. W. P. Gannaway.
Mr. HUBERT. And then over on the right-hand side it has "O-l" and you say that those are his initials on the left-hand side, and on the right-hand side is what, that is his indexing?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Correct--this is not in the outside file or anything, it's in the captain's office.
Mr. HUBERT. Would that indicate that there is another copy other than the two that you have just testified to, being Commission Exhibits Nos. 838 and 709?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, sir, will you phrase that again, I don't understand it?
Mr. HUBERT. Well, you will notice that in Commission Exhibits Nos. 838 and 709, both of which have been identified, respectively, as Exhibits Nos. 1 and 2 for this deposition, do not have on the left-hand side the initials of Captain Gannaway. Now, it could be that this document you have just showed me is another copy or another photostat initialed?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Sir, I don't know. He called me in his office yesterday and handed me the letter and I read it. I said, "Yes, Captain Gannaway, this is the letter. I assume I typed it because this is the contents of the letter that I typed."
Mr. HUBERT. And you remembered it?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; so he handed it to me and he said, "Well, take this along," and he said, "This, of course, Mary Jane, you well know----"
Mr. HUBERT. You are talking about the "O-1"?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. The O-1, I don't ask questions, but I mean, he has a file, of course, of the documents pertaining to this and so he said, "Would you return the letter to me when you return from taking your deposition?"
Mr. HUBERT. He didn't authorize you to let me have this letter that you have just showed me?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No; he did not.
Mr. HUBERT. Well, as I said before, I think you will agree with me that this letter seems to be exactly the same as the other two, with the exception that on the one that you have produced there are in the left-hand corner, the initials "WPG," which you say you identity as being the initials of Captain Gannaway?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. That's correct.
Mr. HUBERT. Can you tell us anything about the other markings and symbols on the bottom of Commission Exhibit No. 838? I refer first to seemingly a rubber stamp in a square called "Indexed date 4-27-4" and the initial "S." Can you tell me what that means?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I have no idea in the world, sir. I have never seen a stamp like that.
Mr. HUBERT. And then below that, the initials "Int," this being in writing, and then "2965-34," do you know what that means?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I have no idea. Now, there again is our O-1, which would be in our captain's files. Now, whether this is something pertaining--I do not know whether this is something pertaining to his files only, this subject matter.
Mr. HUBERT. But in any case, from your own knowledge, except for the O-1, as to which you have already testified, the rubber stamp and the other figures in the lower right-hand corner in Exhibit No. 1 in this deposition, being Commission Exhibit No. 838, as to those you know nothing about?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I know nothing, sir. Once I handed the letter to Lieutenant Revill, then I never saw the letter again until I was called into the captain's office yesterday. I remember it in my mind, but as far as seeing the actual document, I had not seen the actual document, I mean a copy of it or anything.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you think it would be possible for you to call Captain Gannaway and see if he would give you authority to let me have that copy that you have shown us or perhaps take a photostat of it; can you do that?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes; I will do that.
Mr. HUBERT. Suppose we take a few minutes recess, then, and you call Captain Gannaway and ask him if we might have that copy.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. All right; I will.
(At this point the proceedings of the deposition of Mrs. Robertson were recessed, during which time Mrs. Robertson made the call heretofore referred to, and the proceedings were continued as hereinafter shown.)
Mr. HUBERT. Mrs. Robertson, you have attempted to reach Captain Gannaway to see if he could give you permission to either let me have a photocopy made of this letter which you showed me, or else have a copy of that made, but at the moment you have not been able to reach him.
Suppose we do this. I have already asked you all the questions that I would ask you about the document, and suppose we do it this way--that if you do secure permission to give it to me, then when it is delivered at a later time today or at the latest, tomorrow, I will mark it as Exhibit No. 3 of your deposition, do you understand?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. By simply writing my name and the date and then all of the testimony which you have previously given as to that document heretofore, but which did not refer to a numbered exhibit will apply to Exhibit No. 3; is that all right? Do you understand what I mean?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Yes--I see---I understand what you mean.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, I understand that Captain Gannaway, from what you told me, called you in yesterday and spoke to you about this. Has anyone else spoken to you about this recently, at any time?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No, captain--I assume it was from this letter that was addressed to the chief requiring my testimony on this--the captain just said I was needed and that I had a choice of Thursday or Friday and which would be more convenient?
Mr. HUBERT. Yes; I understand, and then he asked you if you remembered it?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. He asked me first if I remembered the letter, and I said, "Yes, very well," and I repeated the gist of the contents to him.
Mr. HUBERT. That was the only time anyone had spoken to you about the letter?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, when Lieutenant Revill went to Washington, I believe, he went a matter of a week or 2 weeks ago and he said at that time when he came back, when he returned from Washington, he said, "Mary Jane, you know they may need your testimony on it," and I said, "Well, that's fine. I certainly remember the day, and I certainly remember the incident," and other than that there has been no discussion.
Mr. HUBERT. And there is no doubt in your mind that it was written, as you say, on the afternoon of November 22, approximately between the hours of 4 and 4:30 p.m.?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I would say that it was written more between--yes--about then, because I was thinking from the---actually the time he started giving it to me and all that--actually the typing and waiting for him to proofread it and all like that---that I am sure---because I went directly home to my family and told my husband that I had typed the letter.
Mr. HUBERT. And there can be no doubt about it being November 22, either?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. No doubt in the world.
Mrs. HUBERT. All right, Mrs. Robertson, thank you very much. As soon as you find out from Captain Gannaway, perhaps you can arrange some way to get the document delivered?
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Shall I personally have to deliver that to you, or can it be sent by one of the officers? Is there a requirement about it?
Mr. HUBERT. Just so that it is identified more particularly with your testimony, if you get permission to hand me that document, or deliver it in person, that's all that will be necessary.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. Well, I'm quite sure the captain will not object.
Mr. HUBERT. If you want to send it over, I would like you to place your name on it just so that we will know it is the document we are talking about, because after all, this is going to be read by people later, and we know what we are talking about, but we must make it clear that others will know from the whole record what it is.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. I see, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Thank you, very much, and I appreciate your assistance.
Mrs. ROBERTSON. All right.