Carlos Marcello and President Kennedy

My research takes me to strange places….

                         Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   If you follow this column you know that I usually write about all the good in the world and despite current events I believe that the good really does outweigh the bad. This week’s story however is about the dark side and a man who many believe may have changed the world back in 1963.

Carlos Marcello was born in Tunis, North Africa in 1910 and immigrated to the United States in 1911. He began his criminal career as the mastermind of a crew of teenage gangsters who robbed banks in the New Orleans area before he was captured and did five years in prison for armed robbery and assault and battery. In 1938 he was arrested again for the sale of 23 pounds of narcotics and received another prison sentence along with a $76,830 fine. Marcello served just 10 months in prison and upon his release he became associated with Frank Costello, the leader of the Mafia in New York. By the late 1940s, Marcello had taken control of the Louisiana gambling industry and with his partner Meyer Lansky began buying up the big gambling casinos in the area. Marcello became the Godfather of the New Orleans mafia soon after, a position he would hold for thirty years.

On March 24, 1959 Marcello was ordered to appear before a Senate Committee investigating organized crime. Serving as Chief Counsel was Robert F. Kennedy, brother to then Senator John F. Kennedy. Marcello refused to answer any questions relating to his background, business activities and associates and during the hearings he developed a lifelong hatred of Robert Kennedy. After John Kennedy was elected President, Marcello stated that he planned to have the President murdered and that then his brother, who had become Attorney General, would no longer be a problem.

On April 4, 1961 Attorney General Robert Kennedy had Marcello arrested and extradited to Guatemala- the country he had falsely listed as his birthplace. Before long Marcello was back in the US where he told several under cover informants that President Kennedy would soon be dead and his brother would be out of a job.

G. Robert Blakely, Chief Counsel to the House Select Commission on the assassination, published a book in 1981 called “The Plot to Kill the President.” In the book he says that just before Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, another mafia leader associated with Marcello, Santos Trafficante supposedly met Jack Ruby in New Orleans to visit about “a problem” that Marcello was having. This meeting was followed by another meeting with alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Blakely claims that there was in fact a conspiracy and that both Lee Harvey Oswald and another unidentified gunman killed the President following Marcello’s orders.

Soon after his appointment as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had singled out Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana and Carlos Marcello for prosecution. He planned to make an example of the three as part of his campaign to destroy organized crime. According to Blakely his three targets had laid out a plan for the President’s assassination.

Marcello was reputed to have called Bobby the “tail of the dog” and John the head, saying “if you cut the head off a dog the tail will die but if you cut the tail off the dog can still bite.” Their hatred toward the Kennedy brothers had gone far beyond business and become a matter of honor, a Sicilian vendetta against their enemies. In sworn testimony

Undercover agents said that Marcello had uttered a traditional Sicilian curse when talking about the Kennedy brother, “take the stone from my shoe” along with several other death threats.

After President Kennedy died the FBI investigated Marcello and he stuck to his story that he wasn’t an organized crime figure at all but just a plain old tomato salesman and real estate investor. However a story that appeared in the New York Ties on January 14, 1992 claimed that Marcello and Jimmy Hoffa had both been involved in Kennedy’s assassination.

In 1981 Marcello was indicted for racketeering and mail fraud in a scheme to bribe state officials and he was imprisoned in 1983. After suffering several strokes, he was released in 1989 and spent the rest of his life in his white marble two story home overlooking a golf course in Metairie, LA. He died on March 13, 1993.

The Warren Commission investigating President Kennedy’s death had long concluded that there was no direct link between Ruby and Marcello, or was there?

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….






The Choctaw Kid and Whitey Bulger at Alcatraz

This is an excerpt from a recent column about two famous-or infamous- prisoners at Alcatraz.

At Alcatraz the other inmates called him the Choctaw Kid and at 18 he was famous for being the youngest person ever imprisoned there. His fame increased in 1946 when he and two other inmates participated in the so-called “Battle of Alcatraz” when the three tried to escape resulting in the deaths of three other inmates and two prison officials as well as the wounding of dozens of others. His partners Sam Shockley and Miran Thompson were sentenced to death following the failed attempt but the Choctaw Kid was spared. Because of his young age and as he hadn’t directly participated in the murders he was given a 99 year sentence.

The Choctaw Kid was now more famous than Al Capone and he remained at Alcatraz in a segregated unit until the prison closed in 1963. Through the years several movies and documentaries were made about the “Battle for Alcatraz”. The Kid himself served the remainder of his time at several different prisons until he died of AIDS in 1988 at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He was buried in a pauper’s grave but the following year Massachusetts organized crime boss James “Whitey”  Bulger arranged to have his remains removed and reburied in an expensive bronze casket in the kid’s hometown of Daisy, Oklahoma. Bulger and the Kid had become close friends while he was in Alcatraz. You see the Choctaw Kid who was of Choctaw Indian descent was born in Daisy on January 14, 1927 and Whitey wanted his friend to be buried back home where he was simply known by his given name of Clarence Victor Carnes. Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….


Pueblos, Ojo Caliente and Santa Fe

               I’ll be passing through this area again soon. Maybe you can join me- more details coming soon.

                     Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back. Ohkay Owingeh is a pueblo sixty miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico that dates back to 1200 A.D. Historians say that the Tewa people moved here from the north during a great migration to the area known as the “Pueblo IV Era.” This was the next leg of our trip after we left the UUBar Ranch.

According to Wikipedia “Pueblo is a term used to describe modern (and ancient) communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material. These structures were usually multi-storied buildings surrounding an open plaza. There are 21 currently federally recognized Pueblos that are home to different tribes.

In 1598 Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Onate captured the pueblo and renamed it “San Juan de los Caballeros”. Over time the pueblo became known as the San Juan Indian Reservation until in 2005 the Tewa Indians who still inhabit the pueblo reclaimed its original name Ohkay Owingeh which means “place of the strong people.”  Today Ohkay Owingeh is the headquarters of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council and is home to one of the largest Tewa-speaking populations in the country.

Traditional arts and crafts such as pottery making are still an important part of the pueblo’s economy. And like so many tribes around the country, they also operate a hotel and casino just outside Espanola. During my travels I had the opportunity to stay at the hotel for a few days and I discovered that it was perfectly situated for day trips. Ghost Ranch and Georgia O’Keefe’s home in Abiqui are just about 20 minutes north, Ojo Caliente is thirty minutes to the west and Santa Fe is less than 1 hour south. Rooms start at just $39 per night and combined with a great pool and restaurant you really can’t beat it- especially in a tourist area.

With flute music playing gently in the background, Indian artists selling their wares on the shaded porch of the historic Palace of the Governors and tourists from around the world going from shop to shop, my next stop was Santa Fe.  The town was founded ten years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and prior to that the Anaszi people had settlements that dated back to 1610. These settlements have been excavated in areas underneath present day Santa Fe and the structures and artifacts are protected by law.

On January 6, 1912 as President William Howard Taft signed the bill that made New Mexico the 47th state, looking out over the Jemez, Ortiz and Sangre de Cristo mountains he must have known that more people would come in search of the natural beauty and spiritual aura that had been attracting travelers since 1610. For us it’s an easy eleven hour drive to this magical place.

Although I have visited Santa Fe many times, every time I go I always find something new of interest. On this trip I took my first Pedi-cab ride around the plaza which was fun and informative and would go great in Bartlesville. If you haven’t heard of them, a Pedi-cab is a small cart with a bench seat that is powered by a person on a bicycle. For $20 I got a tour of the major sights around the heart of town and a good spiel about the history of each one.

I also discovered an arts district which I hadn’t been to before. Canyon Road is one of the original main roads in Santa Fe and it is home to numerous art galleries, artists’ studios, shops and restaurants. I only had time to sample a few but you could definitely spend an entire day checking out the area.

Before I go I need to mention that Bartlesville resident Doris “Coke” Meyer has just published her much anticipated memoir about her uncle Will Rogers. I Called Him Uncle Will is available on and Coke will also be having several book signings in the area.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……..





Ojo Caliente and the Fountain of Youth

            Watch this website for details on upcoming group trips and discount tickets for this area in September and December.

                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  I am continuing from last week with my meeting with a 150 year old man in a place Spanish explorers called “warm eye.” This area lies west of Taos and had a deep spiritual meaning for the early inhabitants that continues to this day. Tribal stories about the creation describe six foot tall “earth babies” who howl at night, ghost cows with wings, giant midgets, flying spiders and canyons filled with the ghosts of men killed in the great conflict of the 1800s between sheep and cattle ranchers.

Archaeologists have proven that the first human settlements were built here in the 1400s and had thousands of inhabitants. In the 1500s the Spanish in search of gold and the fountain of youth discovered the hot springs and named the area “Ojo Caliente.”

Although the Spaniards did not find gold, they did find a fountain of such importance that the local tribesman said it was a gift from the gods. Zebulon Pike who explored the region after discovering Pike’s Peak in 1807 called the hot springs “a great natural curiosity.”

In 1846 Antonio Joseph who was an influential citizen of the territory noticed the waters and heard the many stories of their healing powers. A man of means, in 1868 he moved to Ojo Caliente and opened the first natural springs health spa in the country. The spa was an instant success and wealthy people came from all over the region to be healed by the miraculous waters that bubbled to the surface.

Still in operation today, and more popular than ever, the springs have been tested and shown to contain four different minerals: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic. I have been told that these are the only hot springs in the world with this combination of minerals.

Through the centuries everyone who has come here has soaked in the same waters, drunk from the same stream and inhaled the same steam filled air.

At 61 and after a life full of injuries I decided to give the waters a try and I figured even if the myths and legends weren’t true a good hot bath would do me good. After soaking in a number of different pools I wanted to try the mud bath which is said to draw out the impurities in your system. With no one speaking above a whisper and all of us covered in what I believe is sacred mud, I lay down and baked in the sun.

Six hours later, whether it was the 7,090 ft. elevation, the desert climate, the mud, the yoga or the massage, I think I may have briefly reversed the aging process. I seemed to hear spirit voices from the past in the gentle music playing in the background and when I opened my relaxed eyes I saw what appeared to be a 150 year old man covered in mud but then again all of us who had dried mud all over our faces and bodies looked to be 150.

If you decide to turn back time you can learn all about this 143 year old spa on their website In addition to the healing waters, Ojo Caliente Resort offers hotel lodging, guest cottages (some with private hot spring pools), a full service restaurant and wine bar, massages, facials and body treatments.

I am planning a special group trip to this area in the fall and also the week before Christmas which may include free day passes to the spa, ½ price lift tickets at Angel Fire and Red River and lodging at the UUBar Ranch.  I’ll keep you posted as the dates draw nearer.

Oh Kay Owingeh is the pre-Spanish name for this Indian tribe whose pueblo is just up the road from Santa Fe and I’ll be bringing you stories from both places next week.. Till then I hope to see ya down the road….