By William Kelly
billkell@bellatlantic.net
October 27, 1998

NOVEMBER 21, 1963 - THE CABANA MOTOR HOTEL, DALLAS, TEXAS
It had all the appearances of a normal Thursday night in Dallas. A big convention was in town, the hotels were booked solid, the restaurants were busy and the nightclubs were hopping. The weekend was approaching and the President was coming to town the following day, but the President's visit was almost an after-thought and certainly not the main topic of conversation that night, at least in one social circle. It was a normal Thursday night, except in retrospect, after the President was shot down on the street in broad day light twelve hours later, those who socialized at the Cabana Lounge the night before would play peculiar roles in the unfolding drama. When Jim Braden, Morgan Brown, Roger Bauman and Duane Nowlin checked into the Cabana Motor Hotel that morning they told the desk clerk they would be staying until Sunday, and were assigned a duel suite, rooms 301-303. Morgan Brown was from Dallas and had given Jim Braden a job when he got out of jail. Now a millionaire, this was a sort of homecoming for Brown. Their friend Bauman was in the oil business while Duane Nowlin was the pilot of the private plane they flew in that morning from California. That same day Lawrence Meyers, in Dallas on business from Chicago, and his companion Jean Aase, moved to the Cabana from the Ramada Inn at the airport. They checked into room 530 as husband and wife. Meyers was in Dallas a lot, nearly once a month, and a year or so earlier he had attended the grand opening of the Cabana Motor Hotel, which was on Stemmons Freeway, a stone's throw from Dealey Plaza. Reported to have been built with Teamster money, and said to be somehow mixed in with Doris Day's crooked financial money manger, the Dallas Cabana was part of a regional chain, and then considered one of the premier hotels for those traveling to Dallas on business. It is now a jail. Lawrence Meyer's brother Ed, who owned a number of New York Pepsi Cola franchises, was with his wife, both having just returned from visiting her sister in Mexico City. While they were staying at the nearby Adolphus Hotel, the headquarters of the convention, they came by the Cabana for a Pepsi Cola party that night. It is possible that Pepsi director Donald Kendell and Pepsi's corporate attorney Richard Nixon also attended the party. Jack Ruby was definitely at the Cabana Lounge that night. Ruby owned the Carousel Club strip joint, clip joint, directly across the street from the Adolphus, where the Secret Service had also set up their primary communications center to coordinate the President's impending visit. While the Adolphus Hotel was the center of the convention activities, the Cabana was center of a whirlwind of social activities. Then a seventeen year old singer at the Colony Club, blonde and beautiful Beverly Oliver claims to have accompanied Ruby to the Cabana that night. As a young and precocious show girl, Oliver recalls that Ruby and Meyers drank coffee and talked while she drank champagne and danced with Jack Lawrance., who she knew as "Donny Allen Lance." But Oliver claims nothing suspicious happened that night, and there was nothing in the conversation that she remembers that could in any way be construed as conspiratorial. Around midnight everyone seems to have gravitated to the Cabana's Bon Vivant Room, where Lawrence Meyers introduced Ruby to his brother Ed and his wife. They shared a few drinks and all had a good laugh when Ruby demonstrated the "Twist Board" exercise device he was peddling. It was a typical Thursday night at the Cabana Lounge and no one there was aware of the catastrophic events that would overtake them the following day. Or were they? The circumstances of that evening would never be adequately explained, the official chronology of events, whether by contrivance or mistake, can be shown to be false, and significant lines of inquiry were never followed, lose ends left dangling and unasked questions left unanswered. THE OFFICIAL VERSION OF EVENTS According to the official version of events, Lee Harvey Oswald himself had not yet decided to kill the President, so no one was suppose to be cognizant of the historical occurrences that would occur in 12 hours. On the other hand, if "Elimination" were the motive and there was a conspiracy, there should be general circumstantial and some specific probative evidence even if those responsible tried to conceal the particulars. According to the Warren Report's official version of events, "Scrutiny of Ruby's activities during the several days preceding the President's arrival in Dallas has revealed no indication of any unusual activity. The Commission has attempted to reconstruct as precisely as possible the movements of Jack Ruby during the period of November 21 - November 24, 1963. It has done so on the premise that, if Jack Ruby were involved in a conspiracy, his activities and associations during this period would, in some way, have reflected the conspiratorial relationship. Ruby's activities during this 3-day period have been scrutinized for the insight they provide into whether the shooting of Oswald was grounded in any form of conspiracy." "The evening of the President's visit - On Thursday, November 21, 1963, Jack Ruby was attending to his usual duties as the proprietor of two Dallas night spots - the Carousel Club, a downtown nightclub featuring striptease dancers, and the Vegas Club, a rock-and-roll establishment in the Oaklawn section of Dallas." According to this official report, "Ruby arrived at the Carousel Club at about 3 p.m.," with his activities there being "a combination of business and pleasure," with the evening culminating in a midnight rendezvous with Lawrence Meyers and the Pepsi Cola party at the Bon Vivant Room of the Dallas Cabana Hotel. Taking it from the top, beginning that afternoon at the Carousel, Ruby, "...as was his custom,...remained long enough to chat with a friend and receive messages from Larry Crafard, a handyman and helper who lived at the Carousel..." While the Warren Commission's chronology of Ruby's activities then jumps to the evening, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978 went into the details more closely. They note that Ruby met acquaintances (Max Rubberg Bonding agent) and talked on the phone with others (John Newman at the Dallas Morning News). Ruby was seen driving along Main Street and at Munger and Oak Streets, and generally seen around town before he went to the Carousel Club around 3 in the afternoon. The HSCA then reports that: "Ruby was seen at the Carousel Club by Joyce Lee McDonald. " Then they skip down to, "Sam Campisi, Dallas, saw Ruby with Ralph Paul at the Egyptian Lounge, Dallas for 45 minutes, beginning about 9:45 p.m., ...Ruby had a steak during the evening at the Egyptian restaurant and was seen by Joe Campisi....From 10 to 11p.m.,Jean Aase, Chicago, and Lawrence Meyers saw Ruby at the Carousel Club and later,about midnight, saw Ruby at the Cabana Motor Hotel, Dallas. At the Cabana Motel, Ruby was seen by Edward Meyers, Brooklyn, N.Y." This barebones, basic version of events was maintained by both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and the story remained relatively unchanged and unchallenged. What happened that night appears innocuous, but is actually quite significant in understanding the events of the following day. NORMAL BUSINESS AFFAIRS WITH THE PARTY GIRLS Lawrence Meyers, ".....stated he pursued his normal business affairs that date and in the evening following dinner he went to Jack Ruby's Carousel Club. Mr. Meyers stated that on this trip to Dallas he was accompanied by Miss Jean West, who he had known casually in Chicago." Meyers, a longtime friend of Jack Ruby, said he became acquainted with Ruby because of their mutual background, both being from the old neighborhood - Chicago. Later Meyers described West as a "....'rather dumb, but accommodating broad,...and a semi-professional hooker.' He further pointed out that his association with Miss West is not known to members of his family or to his business associates. When he and Miss West arrived at the Carousel Club he introduced her to ...Jack Ruby, and Ruby joined them at their table." There is some discrepancy as to the actual time that Larry Meyers and Jean Aase were at the Carousel Club, but that's where they began in the early evening. Stripper Betty McDonald (aka Joy Dale) saw Meyers there, and as Mary Ferrell points out in her most thorough chronology of events, "McDonald falsely reported Ruby did not talk to Meyers." Betty McDonald joined Meyers briefly, and was introduced to Jean Aase, who Meyers referred to as "Jean West." Betty McDonald-Joy Dale had met Larry Meyers a month previous, in October, when he was in town and visited the Dallas State Fairgrounds with Ruby. McDonald and roustabout Larry Crafard were working at a booth that featured a film, "How Hollywood Makes Movies," which was not very successful. Meyers considered bailing the operation out,but instead gave McDonald a $400 check for some unspecified services. Ruby then cashed the check and gave her a job as a dancer. Ruby also took Crafard on, giving him work doing odd jobs (and a place to stay) at the Carousel Club. Other people at the Carousel Club early that night included Dallas Morning News employees Charles Miller and George Landers, cigarette girl Beckey Jones and Billy Don Williams. Betty McDonald and Jean "West" Aase became acquainted, and made arrangements to meet together to go shopping when Larry Meyers was otherwise preoccupied. Before leaving the Carousel Club that night Larry Meyers invited Jack Ruby back to the Cabana Hotel where he could meet Meyers' brother Ed and his wife and their friends attending the soft drink bottler's convention. Warren Commission Counsel Bert Griffin asked Larry Meyers where he had been in the time between he left the Carousel Club and when he met Ruby at the Cabana around midnight. Meyers responded: "I haven't the vaguest recollection of where I had dinner that night." Beverly Oliver remembers. Oliver, a singer at the Colony Club, just down the street from the Carousel Club, claims she recalls what happened very well, and doesn't think there's anything conspiratorial about it at all. "There's a lot of misconceptions about that night," Oliver said in a telephone interview, "but all I know is that there was a big party....a Pepsi Cola Bottling party..Jack was going to this party and wanted me to go with him to meet a friend of his." Since Larry Meyers brought a girl with him from Chicago - Jean Aase, Ruby would naturally want to take a date to the Pepsi party with him, and Beverly Oliver was a convenient convenient party girl. She claims Ruby even bought her a new dress to wear that night. Now Beverly Oliver has claimed to be a lot of peculiar places with a lot of questionable people, but she was, without a doubt, at the Cabana Lounge. "We went to the Cabana, you walk up these steps into this beautiful lobby, and we went upstairs to the mezzanine....Jack spoke with a couple of people but did not introduce me. He met this Mr. Meyers on the mezzanine, they shook hands. We went back downstairs to the Bon Vivant Room. There was the rock & roll bar, Nero's Nook on the one side, and the elegant Bon Vivant Room on the other. The Bon Vivant Room was a super club with a big dance floor and had the top name big band orchestras." According to Oliver, "We sat in the Bon Vivant Room, had a drink, Donny Allen Lance and I danced a few dances, then I came back to the table and Jack said he wanted to go have a steak. So we went to Campisi's Egyptian Lounge around 10 or 10:30p.m.. I didn't know Mr. Meyers very well. I don't know much about him. I was just around him for a short while. He was very neat looking, well dressed and demanded respect. Even Jack called him 'Mister Meyers.' I do remember he had a brother there,but I never met the brother, and I was under the impression that he had a female companion with him,and that's why we didn't stay too long at Campisi's.They went and made a phone call back in Joe's office while we were at Campisi's, and as soon as they made that call we left and went back to the Cabana. When we got there, before midnight, they went there way and I went mine." "All I know is what happened. I can't explain the official reports because I haven't read them.I need to be shown some stuff before I get worried about what went on that night. I know that if anything fishy happened that night it happened after we went back to the Cabana and I left." SOMETHING FISHY - THE STEAK DINNER Everything fits in with the Official Version except for who visited Campisi's Egyptian Lounge for steak dinner. Beverly Oliver claims she went there with Ruby and Ed Meyers, while the Official Version has Ruby having dinner at Campisi's with his business partner Ralph Paul. On Mockingbird Lane, off a Stemmons Freeway exit a few miles north of Dealey Plaza, the Egyptian Lounge was originally owned and named by Johnny Grissafi who sold the business to Joe and Sam Campisi. They made the place popular for a wide variety of people, mainly because of the good, inexpensive Italian food. Pretty much the same today as it was in 1963, Beverly Oliver has definitely been there, as she describes it in her book: "The Egyptian is inconspicuously nestled in the middle of a small cluster of retail stores, across from the Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant...The covered foyer to the restaurant was brick, painted in the colors of Italy. The dining areas were served by two red doors separated by a brick column. The door on the left was the main entrance, it having a handle, the door on the right was an exit for some or a one-way private entrance for others..." [18 - Nightmare....] According to Oliver, "Jack ordered his steak medium-well, and Mr. Meyer-medium. Jack ordered Beverly another cocktail, but she declined. Two had been enough. Jack ordered two coffees." Joe Campisi, she said, brought over a pizza as a free appetizer, though Campisi himself testified before the HSCA that he was off that night and wasn't even there. According to Beverly Oliver they talked about Jada, the stripper from New Orleans who was giving Ruby trouble by taking off too much. Oliver: "Jack nervously tapped his spoon on the table until the steaks arrived. Conversation was casual. Jack was not rushed nor preoccupied with anything." Another customer at the Egyptian that night was Dallas Morning News advertising executive Don Cambell, who talked with Ruby and invited him to another nightclub where one of Ruby's former bands was playing, but Ruby declined. In her book Nightmare In Dallas (With Coke Buchanan), it is related: "His (Ruby's) conversation with Meyers was boring and she didn't pay much attention. She thought Meyers was somewhat arrogant; besides, men talk was boring. All men usually wanted to talk about were guns and other women, neither of which she had any interest in. After jack ordered a refill and a cup of coffee for Beverly he asked, for 'the damage.' Beverly than left to freshen up after dinner. When she returned to the table, Jack pulled out her chair and said, 'Larry, let's go make that phone call in Joe's office. Beverly, we'll be back in a minute.' Beverly sat pretty, wondering just how long it took to make a phone call. Two refills later they returned. Jack looked over his check and told the waitress to put it on his tab. Meyers paid the tip." According to Oliver, while getting into the car Meyers asked about a pilot who used to fly to Galveston, "Buddy," who moved east, and about Ruby opening a new club near Turtle Creek. They then drove back to the Cabana, where Beverly Oliver left her make-up kit in the car and Ruby had to go back to get it, leaving Meyers and Oliver alone for a few moments. "I bet your as pretty in the morning when you get up as you are right now," she remembers Meyers flattering her. "Beverly said good-bye to Mr. Meyers and that it was nice to have met him. She then left to go to the ladies room while Jack and Larry walked toward the elevator. Beverly stepped into the ladies room, put on a dark wig, changed her lipstick, and straightened her mascara. Within a few minutes, she went from being a vivacious blond to a sensual brunette. Beverly sat in the lobby and waited until 1:00 A.M. for her escort. He breezed by the Cabana on time then drove her to a party in Fort Worth that would last until the early morning. Her green and white silk polka=dot dress was holding up well. And thanks to a diet-pill, so was she." MEANWHILE - BACK AT THE CABANA Meanwhile, back at the Cabana, there was a party going on and there is more certainty about what happened back at the Cabana around midnight. According to the Official Version, succulently summarized by Gerald Posner (Case Closed, Random House, 1993. p. 368), "After dinner, (Ruby) returned to the Carousel...Shortly before midnight he drove to the Bon Vivant room at the Cabana Motel, where he joined his Chicago friend, Meyers, Meyers' brother Eddie, and sister-in-law Thelma. When Ruby found out that Eddie Meyers worked for Pepsi Cola, he spent the conversation trying to interest him in his twistboard product..." Eddie and Thelma were just back from Mexico City where they had visited Thelma's sister. Larry Meyer's son Ralph Meyers was also living in Mexico City at the time,and was said [by Penn Jones] to have been registered at the Cabana that night. Ralph Meyers was a former Army Security Agency (ASA) technician, trained in the Russian language at the Monterey Language Institute,where Lee Harvey Oswald also reputedly matriculated. While Oswald defected to Russia, Ralph Meyers served at a top secret electronic "listening post" near a U2 base in Turkey. After leaving the service, Ralph worked as a bus driver in Chicago before moving to Mexico City where he was working as a journalist when Oswald visited there in late September, 1963. His possible presence at the Cabana that night raised the crypto level considerably. Whether Ralph was present or not, Lawrence Meyers, Jean Aase, Ed and Thelma Meyers and Jack Ruby were there - all together at the Bon Vivant Room at the Cabana around midnight. The presence of his brother calls into question Meyers' assertion, while testifying before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, that his relationship with Jean Aase "was not know to his family," as his brother and sister-in-law were sitting there with them when they met Ruby. The Warren Report refers to Ruby's time at the Cabana as "a brief visit," and Seth Kantor, in The Ruby Cover-up (Zebra Books, 1978) reported, "Ruby spent only a short time in the Bon Vivant room with Meyers,...and his movements for the next two hours are unknown. But at 2:30 A.M., Ruby telephoned an employee (Larry Crafard) at his own club, and said he was still at the Cabana." Kantor also notes: "Ruby was getting a series of phone calls at the Carousel from an unidentified man who never would leave a message when Ruby was out. Larry Crafard, the young handyman at the club, asked Ruby about these strange telephone calls but Ruby told him to mind his own business." Mary Ferrell's chronology supports the contention that Ruby was at the Cabana, left and returned because: "Jack got angry with the Cabana motel employees for not telling him about a telephone call. He searched the records of the Bon Vivant Room booth #B26 for the name. They think it was Martin, Martins or Martel. The Secret Service checked Jack Martin and Layton Martins to see if they were the man." So for at least part of the time during the "missing two hours" Ruby was in the mezzanine at the Pepsi party with Larry and Ed Meyers, at the Bon Vivant Room and looking for the mysterious "Mr. Martin." At around 2:30 A.M. Ruby joined Larry Crafard at the Lucas B & B Restaurant, next door to the Vegas Club, which Crafard had closed. Ruby then dropped Crafard off at the Carousel, where he stayed, while the Warren Report has Ruby returning to his apartment at approximately 3 A.M. in the morning. THE NEXT MORNING The next morning CIA forger and mob accountant Chauncey Holt claims he drove into town with Chicago mobsters Charles Nicoletti and Leo Moceri. They were supposed to have meet some associates the night before at the Cabana Lounge, and deliver counterfeit Secret Service credentials, but were late because of car trouble. According to James Files, Nicoletti's driver, he too was in Dallas that day, picked up the Secret Service credentials from Jack Ruby at a Fort Worth grill. Both Jack Ruby and Jim Braden's friend Morgan Brown visited the offices of oil man Lamar Hunt that Friday morning, while Lawrence Meyers, back at the Cabana, made plans to play golf. Beverly Oliver claims to have witnessed and filmed the assassination of the President at Dealey Plaza. Jack Ruby was at the advertising department of the Dallas Morning News, where Don Cambell, who Ruby met with the previous night at the Egyptian, provided the alibi for Ruby at the time of the murder. Donny Allan Lance, aka Jack Lawrence, also witnessed the assassination as he walked through Dealey Plaza, then ran to the auto dealership where he worked and vomited. Later in the week he would be fired for informing the authorities that Oswald had taken a car for a test drive. Jim Braden was taken into custody as suspicious persons at the scene of the crime, as was Chauncey Holt and a number of other "tramps," but they were released after Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended and charged with the murder of Dallas policeman, J.D. Tippit. Immediately after the assassination Jim Braden's associates checked out of the Cabana and flew to Houston in Nowlan's private plane, abandoning Braden. After their release Braden gave Holt a ride to the airport. Braden caught up with his friends in Houston, and then went on with them to New Orleans where they went to the offices of oil geologist Vernon Main, Jr. at the Pierre Marquette office building. Just down the hall on the same floor of the same building, David Ferrie worked as an investigator for attorney G. Ray Gill. After Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, while Lawrence Meyers was playing golf, Meyers and Jean Aase quietly checked out of the Cabana and returned to Chicago to resume their normal lives, never to see each other again. THE TELEPHONE RECORDS More reliable than eye witness testimony, third party references such as telephone records provide independent, objective evidence and lines of inquiry that often goes right to the heart of the matter.In the course of investigations Lawrence Meyers' telephone records were obtained and made part of the official record. Although the HSCA report concluded that there were no calls of a suspicious nature, there was one. On September 24, 1963, the day Lee Harvey Oswald left New Orleans for Mexico City and his wife went to Dallas with Ruth Paine, a telephone call was placed from the offices of attorney G. Ray Gill at the Pierre Marquette office building in New Orleans to the Chicago number Whitehall 4 - 4970. Larry Meyers also made a call to the same number, which is an apartment at 20 East Delaware Ave- nue in downtown Chicago. According to Meyers, 20 East Delaware is where his traveling companion Jean "West" Aase lived. The hotel and lounge were operated at the time by Les Barker, who Meyer admitted owing a substantial amount of money to in regards to a failed stock venture. It was through Barker that Meyers met Jean Aase, who accompanied Meyers to Chicago for the weekend, stayed with him at the Cabana Motor Hotel and was with him at the time of the assassination. Also staying at the Cabana that night, Jim Braden and his associates left Dallas after the assassination, traveled to Houston and then to New Orleans, where they visited oil geologist Vernon Main, Jr. at the Pierre Marquette building. Main's office is on the same floor as G. Ray Gill's law office, from where the phone call was made to 20 East Delaware in Chicago. Gill at the time was representing Carlos Marcello in his federal deportation case. Gill had hired and then fired private investigator David Ferrie for making too many unauthorized phone calls from the office, and Ferrie has been attributed as the person making the call, although anyone from Gill's office could have conceivably done so. In his book The Enemy Within, Robert F. Kennedy wrote about the significance of tracing telephone records in organized crime investiga- tions: "We find out who is in touch with whom and on what dates. Say that A calls B: we get B's calls; find that two minutes after he hung up from talking to A, he calls C. Then we find from canceled checks, money going from A to C. Gangsters in Chicago all call the same barber shop in Miami Beach that gangsters in Detroit call - its being used as a syndicate message center. Records are far more important than witnesses." So the call from Gill's New Orleans law office on the significant date of Oswald's move to Mexico City and Marina's move to Dallas, to 20 East Delaware, Chicago, could be of investigative significance. At the other end of the line, the phone call could have been to Jean Aase, her acquaintance Larry Meyers, or possibly, Les Barker, the building manager. In any case, Meyers and Aase traveled to Dallas, stayed and according to Oliver, visited Campisi's Egyptian Lounge. While at the Egyptian, according to Oliver, Ruby and Meyers went into Campisi's private office to make a telephone call. Dallas Policeman Joe Canty, a friend of both Ruby and the Campisis, talked before the Frontline TV cameras (Nov., 1993) and said that the Campisis frequently talked on the telephone with Carlos Marcello at the Town and Country in New Orleans. Canty said that he himself, once talked with Marcello from Campisi's office. When he testified before the HSCA in 1978 Joe Campisi acknowledged that he knew Marcello well, met him in New Orleans, played golf with him and sends him 260 pounds of Italian sausage every Christmas. Jim Braden maintained his innocence to anyone who would listen, and blamed bad press for ruining his life, but he himself was suspicious of an anonymous telephone threat he received shortly after the body of John Roselli was found floating in a drum off the coast of Florida. Ironically, Jim Braden, who married a wealthy Dallas socialite, and Lawrence Meyers, both relocated to Dallas after the assassination. Both were also good golfers and Meyers even admitted to playing in a tournament with Joe Campisi shortly before they both testified before the HSCA. Larry Meyers, Jim Braden, Joe Campisi and Carlos Marcello, circumstantially and suspiciously tied together by phone records, travel accommodations, golf, and that one night at the Cabana Lounge, a typical Thursday night in Dallas when nothing extraordinary happened at all.
----------------------------------- end ---------------