Kerry Thornley and the ‘Fair Play For Cuba’ Handbills

A young Kerry Thornley
in New Orleans.

On August 13, 1962 Kerry Thornley was arrested for “placing advertisements on telephone poles” in the New Orleans French Quarter in violation of a city ordinance, a minor infraction for which he was fined $15. For this egregious offence, the cops hauled his ass off to jail, which seemed rather severe, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on account of Kerry shooting off his mouth, as he was often wont to do in his younger years.

Kerry Thornley's arrest report for the advertisements on the
telephone pole caper, August 13, 1962.

In early 1968, Jim Garrison’s investigators questioned the arresting officers in the case, neither of whom could remember the exact message of the advertisement Kerry posted on the telephone poles. This incident led Garrison to theorize that Kerry had distributed Lee Harvey Oswald’s infamous Fair Play for Cuba propaganda—although Big Jim never actually took the time to determine the exact nature of the advertisements, or to identify who had employed Kerry for this job. In his grand jury testimony, Kerry identified specific individuals he had worked with passing out these advertisement flyers—leads Garrison apparently never pursued. Or if he did, nothing came of them.

It should be noted that Kerry’s arrest for this telephone pole caper occurred a year before Oswald was making his Fair Play For Cuba mischief in New Orleans. Never one to let the facts dissuade him, Garrison later informed Gaeton Fonzi (of the House Select Committee on Assassinations) that: “…police records can be changed and there’s the possibility the arrest was in 1963, which would put it four days after Oswald’s arrest for handing out FPFC leaflets.”

Oswald's Fair Play for Cuba flyer.

Whatever the case, Garrison (in On The Trail of the Assassins) seemed to be merely jumping the Thornley shark, as it was actually Harold Weisberg who crafted the tenuous theory that Kerry was the individual who picked up Oswald’s Fair Play For Cuba (FPFC) handbills, information purportedly obtained from interviews Weisberg conducted with Douglas Jones—owner of Jones Printing Company in New Orleans—and Jones’ secretary, Myra Silver.

The first problem with this scenario is that Thornley was in California when Weisberg placed him picking up the FPFC handbills, this according to Kerry’s Warren Commission and Orleans Parish Grand Jury testimonies. This was the same timeline that Garrison also endorsed mainly because it dovetailed with his theory that Kerry—in early May of ’63 while on his way to California—stopped over in Texas to fake those funky photos of Oswald holding his trusty Mannlicher-Carcano and then on his way back to NOLA in late August spent a few days in Mexico City on or around the same time that Oswald or someone pretending to be Oswald visited the Russian and Cuban Embassies.

Myra Silver’s statement, page 00001, to the Feds regarding the individual who picked up the FPFC handbills. Silver identified the pick-up date as May 29, 1963 during the period Kerry Thornley was in California. Silver's statement is among the many articles related to the Garrison Investigation that can be accessed at www.archives.gov/research/search/. The notes on the document were written by Jim Garrison, or one of his assistants.

Myra Silver's statement, page 00002, to the Feds regarding the individual who picked up the FPFC handbills. Silver identified the pick-up date as May 29, 1963 during the period Kerry Thornley was in California. Silver's statement is among the many articles related to the Garrison Investigation that can be accessed at www.archives.gov/research/search/. The notes on the document were written by Jim Garrison, or one of his assistants.

Douglas Jones—in his FBI statement—describes the individual who ordered and later picked up the FPFC handbills as a “husky type person” which was the polar opposite of Kerry Thornley, who—throughout his life—was a long, skinny bean pole of a guy. (Unless he was wearing a fat guy disguise!)

Douglas Jones' statement to the Feds regarding the FPFC caper. Includes Garrison's notes.

In his unpublished memoir, Mailer’s Tales, Harold Weisberg recalled presenting Douglas Jones and Myra Silver with “about a hundred miscellaneous pictures including several of Oswald.” From these photos, Jones and Silver supposedly selected Kerry Thornley as the individual connected to the FPFC handbills, all part of his recurring role as a purported Oswald double and all around CIA bad guy.

Also in Mailer’s Tale, Weisberg claimed that he had tape recorded his interview with Jones and Silver, and then placed the tape in his files, which was later “…burglarized by a man who had free access to them and who was also working, unknown to me, for David Lifton.” Because of this—Weisberg claimed—it “ended any chance I had of carrying what Jones and Silver told me forward.”

A young and intense David Lifton.

As for the positive identification of Thornley’s photo by Jones and Silver, we must once again rely solely on the word of Harold Weisberg, who admittedly had photos of Kerry Thornley doctored, and who afterwards claimed that his recording of Jones and Silver had been heisted from his files by an unnamed party working under the diabolical direction of dastardly David Lifton!

Read David Lifton’s take on Kerry Thornley and the Garrison Investigation here.

For the whole crazy story check out Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation.

This entry was posted in book, jim garrison, kerry thornley, lee harvey oswald, photo, warren commission. Bookmark the permalink.

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