More damning evidence against Blaine, Hill, and the Kennedy Detail
[The Vanity Fair article referenced also included mention of myself, my book, and my work]
T he death Monday of Texas guitarist and songwriter Arvel Stricklin brings up one of the less-explored facets of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Were Secret Service agents impaired the morning after drinking and hanging out at Fort Worth after-hours club the Cellar?
Stricklin would have known. He was playing that night at the Cellar.
As he said in the documentary film, You Must Be Weird, “I know I saw a lot of guys in suits. And the party went on until 6 a.m.”
Agent Clint Hill, the one who leaped on the trunk of the presidential limousine, told the Warren Commission that he stayed at the Cellar until 2:45 a.m. Speaking last year to Vanity Fair, he shaved about an hour off that statement, saying he left before 2 a.m., returned to the Hotel Texas and put in a breakfast order for 6 a.m.
Agent Paul Landis, who, like Hill, rode on the running board of the Secret Service car behind the Kennedys, said he didn’t leave the Cellar until 5 a.m.
One of those present at the club was a Star-Telegram reporter named Bob Schieffer, who went on to anchor the CBS Evening News. In his book, This Just In, Schieffer wrote about his visit to the Cellar in the earliest hours of Nov. 22, 1963: “It seemed a good idea at the time and must have been quite an evening. I remember that we stayed long enough for some of the Easterners to see their first Fort Worth sunrise.”
It was a problem of hunger that led the Secret Service into the Texas night. Arriving in Fort Worth late from Houston, the president and first lady settled into their suite at the Hotel Texas. Of the 28 agents on the presidential detail, nine left the hotel after midnight in search of food.
The Fort Worth Press Club had stayed open late to feed visiting reporters covering the president, but by the time the Secret Service got there well after midnight, the food was gone. They stayed for Scotch and beer.
As Schieffer recently told Vanity Fair, “The Cellar was an all-night, San Francisco-style coffeehouse down the street, and some of the visiting reporters had heard about it and wanted to see it. So we all went over there, and some of the agents came along. The place didn’t have a liquor license, but they did serve liquor to friends — usually grain alcohol and Kool-Aid.”
Six Secret Service agents stayed until around 3 a.m.
Abraham Bolden, a member of Kennedy’s detail, was not with the team in Texas, but in a 2008 book, he wrote about the partying atmosphere among Kennedy’s agents.
Last year, he told Vanity Fair: “The biggest problem I ran into with the Secret Service when I was an agent was their constant drinking. When we would get to a place, one of the first things they would do was stock up with liquor. They would drink and then we would go to work.”
During the assassination in Dallas, Bolden says, “their reflexes were definitely affected by, number one, the loss of sleep and, number two, the fact that [some may have] consumed that amount of alcohol.”