Lee Oswald and the Marsalis Bus
... Similar to us not knowing how the DPD found out about McWatters we also have very little documentation that explains whether the DPD took the full book of transfers from McWatters to gain a grasp on the numerical sequences involved in their issuance. In fact, I was under the impression for years that the only evidence in existence of bus 1213 transfers being collected was this photograph of the one allegedly given to Oswald. Transfer number 004459:
12 downloads (Transfer taken from Oswald)
What I have always found curious is that the DPD and the FBI seemed to show little interest in tracing the woman that McWatters and Bledsoe claimed got the transfer prior to Oswald's. The lady making her way to the train station would have been issued transfer number 004458. Obviously, the likelihood that the individual involved would have still had the transfer is minimal but they made no attempt to even find out (ladies purses do sometimes have a steroetypical knack of holding onto items that enter them), or to find her to corroborate McWatters recollections. Much the same way they failed to look for the old lady that Oswald offered his own cab to at the Greyhound Station who could have corroborated William Whaley's statements. The simple fact of the matter is, if these people existed, I'm sure they would have been looked for.
Concerning the transfer, I will leave you with this. We do know that the DPD confiscated the book of transfers from Cecil McWatters. Whether it was definitely the same book that Oswald's transfer was allegedly issued from is anyone's guess because the actual book was never photographed. We do know "a" book was taken because a receipt was given for it. The receipt has the following written on the back"Receipt for the book of transfers from which transfer was issued to Oswald the accused assin of Pres, John F. Kennedy." What is tantalising about this receipt is what it was written on. What is even more tantalising is the number of the thing it was written on. TRansfer receipt #004451. I'll leave it up to everyone's imagination to make their own sense out of what this could potentially mean:
Link to MFF document (Transfer Receipt)
Without the full transfer book it's impossible to cast-iron prove anything regarding this little gem but at least this does prove that the DPD had the full transfer book in their possession and they certainly kept this fact out of the reports and out of discussion and if this knowledge does one thing for me, it certainly reinforces the thoughts I have had about the Oswald transfer that I've had for more than 15 years; Oswald wasn't on the bus. Nor was he in the cab. He left Dealey Plaza by other means. The transfer was planted.
If I understand what you're (not?) saying, and what it appears that I'm seeing, the transfer shown in the FBI exhibit is one that preceded
that supposedly issued to Oswald and supposedly taken from him by DPD. Let's see if I'm missing anything:
- Both are printed by the Globe Ticket Co. Dallas
- Both are issued by the Dallas Transit Company
- Both are dated "Fri. Nov. 22, '63"
- Both are "good within 15 minutes of time indicated on the date issued only, at first point of intersection or transfer point, on connecting lines except to vicinity of starting point."
- Both are "Shopper Transfer" tickets
- Both have the same list of routes
- Both have (apparent) directional blocks, N S E W
- Both have "THRU CAR" printed "beneath" the direction indicator
- Both have "A.M." and "P.M." time stamps/punches at the end
A few general observations:
- We now know the answer to what on what bus routes transfers could be used ("on connecting lines except to vicinity of starting point," i.e., no round trips) and where ("at first point of intersection or transfer point," wherever the routes met closest or at "transfer points" ... downtown?).
- This also tells us that someone getting on and paying the fare for a wrong bus could use it to transfer to the correct bus continuing in the same or crossing direction
- We also now know when a transfer was good until: "within 15 minutes of the time indicated on the date issued only."
- The "Oswald transfer" is cut off at the 1/0 mark, indicating 0 minutes after the hour of 1, i.e., 1:00, meaning whoever was issued it had until 1:15 to get on any "connecting" bus, provided only that it didn't return the user to their point of origin
- The 0 - 15 - 30 - 45 minute cuts are repeated so there is never an acute angle
- The "binding" (apparently a staple) is at the "bottom" end of the ticket. This means that the driver tore from the top of the transfer, using the blade mechanism to rip it straight across the desired times, so the transfers got longer as the day got later (preventing someone from getting additional time to board the next bus: you can only shorten the ticket and invalidate it, you can't "cut it longer"). Those shown in the FBI exhibit have apparently been torn from the staple, judging from the somewhat ragged looks of them.
The only difference between the tickets is the number that's (apparently) stamped on the ticket. This can be one of two things: a sequential "serial number" for each ticket or, as its location might imply, a number associated with a particular bus, i.e., "THRU CAR" 004459 or 004451.
Let's take a deductive stab at that question.
If the number relates to a particular bus or bus line or bus driver (a "car"), then much of the rest of the information on the transfer is redundant if not entirely unnecessary and costly. If, for example, the transfer was issued "thru car 004459" in the case of the "Oswald ticket," then there would be no question as to what route or driver issued the ticket because it could only be one or two of either (one driver might use two different busses in the course of a day for whatever reason, or a bus might be assigned to a different route for whatever reason, either of which could be a shift change.
Using McWatters as an example, he drove a second, evening shift on a different route, which is how he came to be found driving by DPD HQ that evening (I think he stopped at home in between shifts, if I remember correctly). So no matter which bus he was on, he would have the same tickets. Or, conversely, if the number related to a particular bus, then those transfers would still be with the bus he'd driven earlier, being issued by a different driver.
If either of those things are true, then using a punch that was unique to each driver was a waste of someone's money and was totally unnecessary since the number relating to either the bus or the driver would be just as easy as if not easier than trying to figure out which driver had what-shaped punch.
Likewise, if it identified the bus or the route, there was no need to punch the route that it was issued from (e.g., Lakewood, as the "Oswald transfer" is punched) except to tell a driver that the transfer was not issued on the same route or "connecting lines except to the vicinity of the starting point." However, after a relatively short period of time on the job, I'd hazard that most drivers would quickly come to know the identifying "thru car" numbers assigned to those routes whose "starting points" were in the vicinity that the new bus was heading toward. Punching the route number/name on the long side of the transfer might have been easier to recognize (figuring that the "Lakewood"-stamped ticket was near their own route might be easier to translate in a driver's mind than that "004459" was such a route and this was a ticket they shouldn't take).
More to the point, why would there be a six-digit identifying number
for a bus route when there were only 21 routes
that could have
issued a transfer, according to the list. Why not simply put a big "23" on each Lakewood transfer and be done with it? Why have two
means of identifying a route, one cryptic and one relatively small, when one big one
Are there any other considerations that I'm not thinking of here that would suggest a use other than
that six-digit number being a serial
number, unique to each ticket? The only other note worth making is that the ability to use these "route-numbered" tickets for a longer period of time is obviated by them being stamped with the date of issuance: once "within 15 minutes of" midnight hit, they were no good anymore.
The FBI exhibit has a handwritten "receipt" accompanying it, apparently from the shape of it having been written on the blank back side
of a ticket, possibly but not necessarily the back of the ticket marked "004451," but more likely written on another
transfer ticket, either the last
one in the book or the one preceding
this serialized one. It is almost definitely on the back of a transfer ticket judging by the location of the V-notch at the stapled end of the ticket being on the side opposite
that of the "working" side with the times, etc., on it.
It seems to me that a "receipt" would be given by
the FBI to
whomever they got it from (and maybe such a thing exists or existed, but obviously not in FBI files), but this seems more for identification purposes than actual "receipt" purposes. It reads:
Receipt for the book of transfers from which transfer was issued to Oswald the accused assin [sic] of Pres. John F. Kennedy.
There is what appears to be a signature or signatures below that. It could be a second copy made from
the FBI to
the bus company (so the FBI would have a copy of what they gave out?), or not. The first signature line seems to be initials, possibly J.A. and a last name that begins with an "R", tho' I can't make out if whatever is to the immediate left of the "R" is. It looks like the last name ends in "tt" or maybe "lt" ("LT"), and the middle letter could be an "n" or maybe a "u" or maybe something else. It looks like two
letters precede whatever that is.
line, however, looks a little less ambiguous. I first thought it was "Stu"-something until I recognized that the "last name" appears to be "Foreman." Instead of "Stu," the first part might well read "Sta," short for "station," i.e., "Station Foreman." If so, that would indicate that the station foreman who gave the book of transfers to the FBI was using this "receipt" to indicate what it was that he was giving to them. This could possibly be verified (and translated) through the surviving bus company, DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), which is the same company twice removed by ownership from the entity that existed in '63, or through an historical society or club of retired drivers, both of which exist and are reasonably accessible.
Or maybe there was
a Special Agent Stu Foreman of the FBI. But I'm guessing not.
Here's where it gets a little dicey, if that's the right word I'm thinking of.
The "receipt" is for "the book of transfers from which transfer was issued to Oswald."
This indicates both that a book
of tickets was given to the FBI (or maybe it was DPD originally?), and that Oswald's transfer was issued out of that book
of transfer tickets.
If that is so, then an important question arises: how did the station foreman have a transfer that would have been issued before the one issued to Oswald?!?
The only way that seems
possible - presuming the "thru-car" number was a serial
number and not a route or bus or driver number as above, i.e., the same on every ticket in the book
- is if they were serialized in reverse
, in which case this ticket 004451 was issued - or rather, not
issued - within eight transfers after
Oswald's. I don't think McWatters was asked how many tickets he gave out that day, so it is possible
that was the case, but frankly, I don't know of anything that's kept together in a booklet or a roll - like raffle tickets - that's serialized in reverse. Does anyone else?
Another possibility is that, for whatever reason, the driver kept the first
ticket of the book intact, and started issuing tickets on any given day with the second
ticket in the book, 004452 in this case. Ticket books were only about 1/4" or so (possibly 3/8" or 1/2") thick when new, so it is also possible that the book started at 004400 or 004401, but that means that an "odd" ticket from the middle
of the book - or somewhere deeper into the book than the first
ticket - was inexplicably kept intact.
If that doesn't make sense, then there exists a possibility
- and seemingly a reasonable one, in its own unreasonable sort of way - that ticket 004459 was removed from beneath
tickets that McWatters kept on his second-shift bus while it was parked in front of DPD, removed in its entirety and either torn before leaving the bus or torn somewhere else, either way so as not to leave a shorter
ticket mixed in with longer ones, which might more likely be noticed by the bus driver than one that was simply not there at all (I'm more than fairly confident that bus drivers didn't pay attention to the ticket numbers as they tore them off).
(This "earlier" ticket also didn't bear McWatters' punch-marks, which could presumably - and possibly only
- be accomplished on the bus where McWatters' punch was. Nobody could have punched it if McWatters had the punch with him inside DPD, and a second trip to the bus to belatedly punch the ticket - or return the punch - might have looked odd, but then, who would question it? The other question that arises is why the "Oswald ticket" is apparently punched as a "23. Lakewood" ticket when there is also a "30. Marsalis" route designation on the transfer. Was that the route that McWatters was on for the second
shift and the one that was on the front of the bus? Oops. Or did the Lakewood bus also go down Marsalis? As a kid, we had at least four routes that went up the same main route, each farther than the one before....)
There may be other possibilities that I'm not considering or even thinking of, and if so, the floor is open to other ideas.
If there are
no other possibilities, the time that McWatters was driving by DPD HQ, if known, and was detained should be examined to see how it fits in with the discovery (or "discovery") of the bus transfer in Oswald's pocket. If that
fits, then comes a question of motive (there certainly was opportunity
, since we can hardly imagine whoever was on McWatters' bus hanging around waiting for him to return, however long that might take ... and from the riders' perspective, God-only-knows why the cops stopped him and brought him inside in the first place: maybe he wasn't
coming back!): why would anyone want to put Oswald on a bus right after the shooting?
Nobody knew about Mary Bledsoe on Friday evening, and Whaley didn't claim to have known his fare had previously been on a bus. If Oswald had been
on a bus and didn't
take a transfer - as Jones' statement and Bledsoe's later "dis-"recollection would have it - then maybe it was only to create a "trail," but of what
and to what end?
This is an interesting find, Lee. If it's ever been noticed or explained before, I'm dumb to it.