Oh Yes She Was!

Oh No She Wasn't!

Oh Yes She Was!

Where Were You When the President Was Shot, Beverly?

An examination and appraisal of the known facts by Ian Griggs


Introduction

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding witnesses to the Kennedy assassination concerns a mysterious young woman who became known as The Babushka Lady. She can be seen clearly on the Zapruder film and also on various other movie films and still photographs taken in Dealey Plaza on 22nd November 1963. She was one of the few witnesses who was not immediately identified - thus the rather odd nickname which she acquired due to the 'babushka' or triangular headscarf which she was wearing that day.


"Babushka Lady" (arrow) in frame from Muchmore film

The question which The Babushka Lady provokes has become much more than just: "Who is she?" It has become much more positive: "Are The Babushka Lady and Beverly Oliver one and the same person?" Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of The Babushka Lady is the fact that she appears to be filming the motorcade. Her position on the south side of Elm Street close to eyewitnesses Charles Brehm, Jean Hill, Mary Moorman, etc. means that her film would almost certainly be a mirror image of the Z-Film.Perhaps more important than the presidential limousine itself would be what could be seen behind it. The background to The Babushka Lady's film would inevitably include the Texas School Book Depository (perhaps including the so-called sniper's nest window) and the grassy knoll.

The question of The Babushka Lady's identity remained a total mystery following the death of the President. Nobody came forward to claim that they were the mysterious eyewitness and furthermore, nobody could suggest who the lady may have been. There it remained, and perhaps would have continued to remain, were it not for a chance meeting between renowned assassination researcher J Gary Shaw and a young lady called Beverly McGann shortly after a church service at the First Baptist Church of Joshua (a small Texas town 20 miles south of Fort Worth) in November 1970.


Beverly Oliver's Claim

The aftermath of this meeting is widely known and has been well-documented in many books. Beverly McGann (nee Oliver) related to Gary Shaw how she had filmed the motorcade and the assassination from a point on the south side of Elm Street. As anybody who knows Gary would be aware, he did not just accept this stranger's story without question. No - being aware that she had not had an opportunity to see the Zapruder film (and The Babushka Lady), he took her to Dealey Plaza and asked her to indicate exactly where she had been standing on the fateful day. To Gary's amazement, she did not hesitate but went straight to the point where The Babushka Lady can be seen on the Z-Film. (I comment further on this exercise in a later paragraph).

Perhaps it is appropriate that fellow researcher Richard Sprague was present during this significant experiment. Richard had been responsible for naming the unknown witness 'The Babushka Lady' back in November 1963.


Controversy

The controversy over Beverly Oliver's claim to be The Babushka Lady has raged unabated from that day to this - and remains one of the most vehemently debated aspects of the Kennedy assassination mystery. Whilst there are parts of Beverly's account which I find difficult to understand, I firmly believe that Beverly Oliver and The Babushka Lady are one and the same person. Like many researchers of my acquaintance, on both sides of the Atlantic, I have frequently become involved in heated discussions (arguments?) concerning this question. I am delighted to report that no matter how involved some of these discussions have become, I have not yet ended up exchanging blows with anybody.

I have something of an advantage over many researchers, particularly those outside the United States, in that I have had the pleasure and privilege to meet Beverly Oliver and her husband Charles Massegee on several occasions. I like to think that we trust and respect one another and I am proud to call Beverly Oliver my friend. Perhaps it may be thought that this tends to colour my opinion that Beverly was The Babushka Lady. I would refute that and stress that by speaking with Beverly regularly over the past couple of years I have come to know someone who is, in my opinion, one of the most open and honest people I have ever encountered.


Proof Needed

The ultimate and indisputable proof that Beverly Oliver and The Babushka Lady are identical would obviously be the appearance of the all-important movie film. The circumstances under which Beverly claims it was taken from her by FBI Agent Regis Kennedy are too well documented for me to repeat them here. Suffice to say that Beverly still harbours hope that one day it will emerge and be returned to her. Wishful thinking perhaps - but Beverly is a strong lady of great faith and she will never give up hope. There have already emerged several small suggestions that the film really does exist and that it is perhaps still secreted away in the depths of the National Archives or maybe somewhere more sinister!

So how can we establish for certain whether or not Beverly's claim to be The Babushka Lady is valid? The obvious and irrefutable answer is that we cannot. Beverly knows - and if she is not The Babushka Lady, then the real one knows! Other than that, we can only examine the existing evidence, much of which remains uncorroborated, and either agree that Beverly Oliver is The Babushka Lady or that she is not. If you do not feel that they are one and the same person, then I challenge you to confront Beverly and call her a liar to her face! This is a classic black-and-white case and there is no middle ground. To quote (or rather, misquote) a German friend: "The answer is yes or no. You cannot say a girl is slightly pregnant".

In an effort to help the doubter make up his mind, allow me to present both sides of the argument as I see them. This is a straightforward process in which we outline those factors which suggest that Beverly and B-Lady are one and the same - and then list those factors which suggest the opposite.


Beverly Oliver IS The Babushka Lady

  1. Beverly Oliver claims that she was on that spot, filming the motorcade.

  2. The Babushka Lady as portrayed on the Zapruder Film bears a remarkable resemblance to Beverly Oliver (height, weight, age, etc.). As I have pointed out in a previous article published in the British research journal Dallas '63, The B-Lady appears to have a somewhat ungainly stance. Beverly Oliver has a slightly deformed left foot.

  3. Other films and still photographs also show a 'B-Lady' who looks remarkably like Beverly Oliver.

  4. An FBI document dated 25th November 1963 describes what it calls "B-Lady" and adds that this female is "taking pictures from an angle which would have, undoubtedly, included the Texas School Book Depository in the background". Nobody else has ever been identified as being that person. (Copy of this document is in Beverly's possession).

  5. Another document, apparently from the National Archives JFK Collection and appearing to be part of an official investigation (date unclear), closes with the following intriguing sentence: "Can the Freedom of Information Act shake the Babushka Lady's film from the FBI files?" This would appear to corroborate Beverly Oliver's account of the seizure of her film by SA Regis Kennedy. (Copy of document in Beverly's possession).

  6. Until her chance meeting with researcher J Gary Shaw, Beverly had never sought or obtained publicity of any kind; nor did she seek to 'cash in' on her claim. Her story was published in autobiographical form with the help of Dallas author Coke Buchanan in 1994 but surely if she were seeking publicity she would hardly have waited for 31 years!

  7. In my opinion, and that of most people who have met her, Beverly Oliver is an honest, God-fearing lady who has no reason to lie about this.

  8. In view of the fate which appears to have befallen certain other people who claim to have seen or experienced something important pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, it is courting danger to make such claims lightly.

  9. With no prior knowledge of the content of the Z-Film, Beverly took researchers to the exact spot in Dealey Plaza where The Babushka Lady stood. I find it doubtful that she had ever read any of the books on the subject of the assassination and thus would have knowledge of the B-Lady's position. She could, of course, have seen individual frames from the Z-Film as they were reproduced in Life magazine, etc. but that had been several years earlier and it is doubtful that she would have been able to locate the exact spot.

  10. Nobody else has ever come forward and claimed to be The Babushka Lady. If her claim is false, then obviously Beverly is risking total humiliation and ridicule should that ever happen.

  11. Nobody has ever come forward to state that Beverly Oliver was anywhere else at the time of the assassination. Like 10 above, such an occurrence (an alibi in reverse) would totally destroy not only Beverly's claim concerning this event but also her total credibility. Who is going to risk that?

  12. As far as I am aware, there has never been any claim from the FBI that Beverly Oliver's story is untrue and the agency has never denied that it was responsible for the seizure of her film.


Beverly Oliver is NOT The Babushka Lady - She Is a Liar!

  1. The film which Beverly claims to have shot has never been produced to the public or to anybody in the research community. It has still to be located and viewed. Does it exist?

  2. Beverly claims that she shot her movie using a Yashica Super-Eight magazine-loading camera which had been given to her by boyfriend Larry Ronco. There have been strong claims that such a camera was not available to the public in 1963.

  3. Beverly Oliver is unable to produce the camera. When I discussed this with her in 1993, she told me that together with other personal belongings stored in a trunk, it had been stolen several years before.

  4. She was not readily identified or named as an eyewitness on 22nd November 1963 and she did not come forward of her own volition. (Perhaps this fact could equally be used to substantiate the claim that she was there!)

  5. Nobody has come forward to confirm Beverly Oliver's claim that she was in Dealey Plaza that day.


Now You Decide

Those, as far as I can present them, are the facts. There are significant points on each side - although the 'yes' points do heavily outweigh the 'no' points. As I have stated above, it is my personal opinion that Beverly Oliver and The Babushka Lady are the same person. Your view may agree with mine or it may differ. I think only one living person really knows the truth - Beverly Oliver-Massegee herself!


Notes and Acknowledgments

Since all the above information is readily available to serious researchers it would be pointless to include a long list of sources. I would, however, acknowledge the work done by Coke Buchanan in collaboration with Beverly Oliver which has produced the book Nightmare in Dallas (published by Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, PA in 1994) upon which I have leant heavily.

I also acknowledge with thanks the time which Beverly Oliver-Massegee has given me and the fact that she has always found the patience to answer my questions.


Addendum

Shortly after completing this article, I submitted it to Beverly Oliver-Massegee for her comments. She echoed my overall sentiments and added the following observation: "No one has had the nerve or 'class' to call me a liar to my face. They only do it behind my back or print it in books they have reason to believe I will never read".

I feel those two sentences sum up my own opinion perfectly!

*************
Ian L Griggs,
24 Walton Gardens,
Waltham Abbey,
Essex EN9 1BL,
U.K.

(Tel: 01992-719805)

e-mail:
igriggs@easynet.co.uk


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