It must surely rank as one of the most peculiar moments in the WC's many pages of witness testimony:
Mr. BALL - Do you have any idea how long it was from the time you heard those three sounds or three noises until you saw Truly and Baker going into the building?
Mr. SHELLEY - It would have to be 3 or 4 minutes I would say because this girl that ran back up there was down near where the car was when the President was hit.
Mr. BALL - She ran back up to the door and you had still remained standing there?
Mr. SHELLEY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Going to watch the rest of the parade were you?
Mr. SHELLEY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - The Vice President hadn't gone by, had he, by your place?
Mr. SHELLEY - I don't know. I didn't recognize him. I did recognize Mr. Kennedy and his suntan I had been hearing about.
Mr. BALL - How did you happen to see Truly?
Mr. SHELLEY - We ran out on the island while some of the people that were out watching it from our building were walking back and we turned around and we saw an officer and Truly.
Mr. BALL - And Truly?
Mr. SHELLEY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Did you see them go into the building?
Mr. SHELLEY - No; we didn't watch that long but they were at the first step like they were fixin' to go in.
We know from the Darnell film that Shelley's sighting of Baker and Truly actually happened around half a minute after the shooting.
Yet here we have Shelley himself giving us a time estimate that is extravagantly outsize.
The peculiarity is only compounded, however, when we hear the person who was with Shelley out on the 'island' backing him up in this time estimate:
Mr. BALL - You heard the shots. And how long after that was it before Gloria Calvary came up?
Mr. LOVELADY - Oh, approximately 3 minutes, I would say.
Mr. BALL - Three minutes is a long time.
Mr. LOVELADY - Yes, it's---I say approximately; I can't say because I don't have a watch; it could.
Mr. BALL - Had people started to run?
Mr. LOVELADY - Well, I couldn't say because she came up to us and we was talking to her, wasn't looking that direction at that time, but when we came off the steps--see, that entrance, you have a blind side when you go down the steps.
Mr. BALL - Right after you talked to Gloria, did you leave the steps and go toward the tracks?
Mr. LOVELADY - Yes.
Three minutes, as Ball correctly notes, is indeed a long time for Lovelady to be estimating for his and Shelley's departure from the front steps.
In fact it's plain absurd.
While one might--at a stretch--credit one witness's memory going badly askew due to the shock of an assassination, being asked to believe that the time sense of this witness's companion was off to precisely the same extent (3 minutes for the departure from the steps; between 3 and 4 minutes for the sighting of Baker and Truly) will surely tax the credulity of even the most trusting of readers.
How do we explain this shared error on the part of Shelley and Lovelady?
Why are both misremembering in such unbelievably synchronised fashion?
Their error cannot have come from WC prompting, for the timeline the Commission had painstakingly put together via a series of rigged time trials already accommodated perforce a realistically early entry into the building by Baker and Truly.
I submit that Shelley and Lovelady are giving us evidence of very early coaching by DPD men and/or FBI agents.
For, as we have seen, the case/admission was made on the evening of the assassination that Oswald had been 'stopped' by the officer at the front entrance.
When Jesse Curry blithely announced this fact to news reporters that evening, he can have had no idea just how how troublesome a hostage to fortune he was giving. The disastrous evidence of the Darnell film was not yet known at this stage, so the first tack was simply to delay Baker's entry into the building to a point that would give Oswald time to make his descent from the sixth floor and 'escape'.
If this meant working on a couple of witnesses to Baker and Truly's entry, then so be it. (Cf. what Sandra Styles told me about the authorities' informing her that the first officers to reach the building did not arrive until some 15-20 minutes after the shooting.)
Unfortunately, no one thought to mention to Shelley and Lovelady ahead of their WC appearances that they could revert to their real memories and just tell the truth: we left the front entrance less than half a minute after the last shot.
As we shall see presently, the WC will have its own dirty work to do on Shelley and Lovelady, this time in relation to the Vicki Adams problem.
But for now let's turn to what happened in the first few days after the assassination to the original plan of extending the timeline so as to contrive a scenario consistent with Oswald's descent and guilt.