Testimony Of Charles Joseph Le Blanc

The testimony of Charles Joseph Blanc was taken on April 7-8, 1964, at the Old Civil Courts Building, Royal and Conti Streets, New Orleans, La., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel l of the President's Commission.

Charles Joseph Le Blanc, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

Mr. LIEBELER - My name is Wesley J. Liebeler, I am a member of the legal staff of the President's Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy Staff members have been authorized to take the testimony of witnesses by the Commission pursuant to authority granted to the Commission by Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and Joint Resolution of Congress No. 137.
I understand that Mr. Rankin, General Counsel of the Commission, wrote you last week advising that we would be in touch with you concerning the taking of your testimony, and at he included with his letter a copy of the Executive order and the joint resolution to which I have just referred, as ell as a copy of the rules of procedure of the Commission governing the taking of testimony of witness. Is that correct?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - I understand, Mr. Le Blanc, that you were. ' employed by e William B. Reily Coffee Co, the William B. Reily more precisely, and still are.
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - That your were employed by that company during the time that Lee Harvey Oswald was also employed by it. Is that correct?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Before we get into the details, would you state your full name for the record, please.
Mr. Le BLANC - Charles Joseph Blanc.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where do you live, Mr. Blanc?
Mr. Le BLANC - 2824 South Roman .
Mr. LIEBELER - Is that here in New Orleans?
Mr. Le BLANC - New Orleans.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where and when were you born sir?
Mr. Le BLANC - November 1, 1929 New Orleans, La.
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you lived here in New Orleans all of your life?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, I lived in Metairie for--oh, I would say all but the last 10 years.
Mr. LIEBELER - Then you moved to New Orleans?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - By whom are you employed?
Mr. Le BLANC - William B. Reily Coffee Co.
Mr. LIEBELER - And how long have you worked for them?
Mr. Le BLANC - Nine years.
Mr. LIEBELER - In what capacity are you employed by them?
Mr. Le BLANC - What do you mean? What I---
Mr. LIEBELER - What do you do?
Mr. LIEBELER - Maintenance man.
Mr. LIEBELER - You work as a maintenance man?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - What do you do in that job?
Mr. Le BLANC - General maintenance.
Mr. LIEBELER - You keep the machinery in running order?
Mr. Le BLANC - The machinery and different office equipment that needs to be fixed.
Mr. LIEBELER - What kind of machinery do they have over there?
Mr. Le BLANC - Packaging machinery for the coffee.
Mr. LIEBELER - For packaging coffee?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do they grind the coffee up too and mix it and blend it?
Mr. Le BLANC - They roast it, grind it, and then it goes into these hoppers, and then down to the packaging machinery.
Mr. LIEBELER - It is packed in cans or in paper sacks or----
Mr. Le BLANC - Cans and bags.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or both?
Mr. Le BLANC - Cans and bags.
Mr. LIEBELER - How many maintenance men, approximately, do they have working over there?
Mr. Le BLANC - Let's see; four.
Mr. LIEBELER - Four?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes, four.
Mr. LIEBELER - Is that the usual number that they have?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes, that is about it mostly.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember that Lee Oswald was employed by the Reily Company?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Tell us, as best you can recall, when you first met Oswald and what your relationship with him was, what kind of a person he was, what he, did.
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, when they first hired him, well, they brought him to me, because I was to break him in on his job, so I started the procedure of going--start from the fifth floor on down, work a floor each day with him to take and get him broke in on the job and start showing him the routine, .how to go about greasing. The first day, I mean when I was showing him, it look like if he caught on to it, all right, if he didn't, it was still all right. He looked like he Was just one of these guys that just didn't care whether he learned it or he didn't learn it. And then after I took and---we usually go by the week, because usually after a week anybody with any mechanical knowledge, there is nothing to it, because all it is is finding the grease and oil fittings and we put him on his own. I put him on the fifth floor and told him to take care of everything on the fifth floor and I would be back shortly to check. I would take and put him up there, and about a half hour or 45 minutes or so, I would go back up and check ho w he is doing. I would go up there and I wouldn't find him.. So I asked the fellows that would be working on the floor had they seen him, and they said yes, he squirted the oil can a couple of times around different things and they. don't know where he went. So I would start hunting all over the building. There is five stories on one side and four on-the other. I would cover from the roof on down and I wouldn't locate him, and I asked him, I said, "Well, where have you been?" And all he would give me was that he was around. I asked him, "Around where?" He says. Just around," and he would turn around and walk off. On one occasion when I was in the shop and I was working on some sort of piece of machinery I can't recall what it was at the present time and he come in the shop and he was standing there by me and watching me and I asked him. I says, "Are you finished all your greasing?" He said yes. So he asked me, said, "Well, can I help you?" I said, "No, what I am doing don't need no help." So he stood there a few minutes, and all of a sudden he said, "You like it here?" I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "Do You like it here?" I says, "Well, sure I like it here. I have been here a long time, about 8 1/2 years or so." He says, "Oh, Hell, I don't mean this place." I said, Well, what do you mean?" He says, "This damn country." I said, "Why, certainly, I love it. After all, this is my country. He turned around and walked off. He didn't- say any more. And then after that a lot of times I would be looking for him and the engineer would be looking for him, and on quite a number of occasions when it would get to be a coffee break time, we usually go next door to the Crescent City Garage to get a Coke, and there he would be sitting in there drinking a Coke and looking at these magazines.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have a regular break time?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the shop?
Mr. Le BLANC - We had 9 o'clock in the morning and 1:30 in the evening. Each one of them was a l0-minute break.
Mr. LIEBELER - What time did you usually start work in the morning?"
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, I stared on different hours there for awhile. For awhile when he was there, I think I was around 8 to 5, and I pretty well stayed those hours as long as----
Mr. LIEBELER - Oswald was there?
Mr. Le BLANC - While Oswald was there.
Mr. LIEBELER - Except for the break periods, you were supposed to be at your job----
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the plant?
Mr. Le BLANC - In the plant That is right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now what kind of supervision did Oswald have in .his work? You said that you took him around and tried to teach him how to do the job, but then after you finished breaking him in, at least as far as the fifth floor is concerned, he would be pretty much on his own, wouldn't he?
Mr. Le BLANC - No. I mean from the I started him on the fifth, and then he would work his way on down to the flint floor. See? The way I broke him in, I told him, "Make sure that you have got everything on that one floor," and I said, "If it takes you a day to do it, let it take you a day," I said, "but make sure that you have got everything greased and oiled and cleaned." And that is What he was supposed to do, and I told him, I said, "Then if you get finished the fifth floor, or whatever floor you are on, you can always work to the next floor." And then in the evening at 3:15 when the lines shut were down, we had these three machines that had to be cleaned, oiled and greased every day .and sometimes twice a day it all depends on how they ran and he had to see to it that each evening at 3:15 they was cleaned and greased.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now did he have anybody keeping track of him as a general proposition? He really didn't, did he? I mean, he was just----
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, the majority of the time he had somebody over him, but as a practice, I mean after you got broke in on your job, well, they wouldn't look after you keep looking after you. They figured, well, you knew your job and you would go ahead and do your job. But after awhile, well, they seen he was drifting off. Right to the last day before they let him go, why, we kept an eye on him, because we seen then that he wasn't doing, the work that he was supposed to be doing.
Mr. LIEBELER - He really wasn't doing the work?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - He wasn't greasing the machines?
Mr. Le BLANC - No. And you see, we have a greasing log that when you grease the machine you log it the day that you grease it, and actually a lot of times think he might have put stuff down in the log that he didn't even get to sometimes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Just so I can get an idea of what kind of work he was doing, how were the machines greased? Did he have a grease gun or cups and----
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes; well, we have an air grease gun and we also have these hand-type grease guns.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you used just regular Alemite fittings and grease guns?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - So I would imagine from time to time he ended up with the grease on his hands and it was a greasy job?
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; it was a dirty job.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he ever complain about that?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, he would complain now and then. I would tell him, well, that goes in with the job of oiling and greasing.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now. was he just basically an oiler and greaser, or was he classified as a maintenance man?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - That is a different thing?
Mr. Le BLANC - He was hired as an oiler and greaser and helper.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he seem to have any kind of mechanical proficiency at all? I mean, could you tell? Did he seem to know his way around machines?
Mr. Le BLANC - It didn't look like he had. I think--I mean I don't know--I think he had that in his application, that he was mechanically inclined, but it didn't show up that way.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have any other conversations with Oswald that you can remember?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; I tell you, he was a boy of very few words. He would walk past you and wouldn't even ask how you are doing, or come and talk, like a lot of us, we would stop and maybe pass a few jokes or just talk a little with each other, ,but him--I think it was 3 months that he was with us---still, I think if he said 100 words to me, it was plenty, because even when I was breaking him in he wasn't the type boy that would ask you different things about the machines. I was doing all the talking and he was just looking.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did these absences of his occur pretty much all the time, or did it get worse as he stayed there?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, toward the last it be n to get pretty regular, and that is when I think they decided to let him go. And another thing I recall: He had this habit, every time he would walk past you he would just [demonstrating] just like a-kid playing cowboys or something--you know, he used his finger like a gun. He would go, "Pow" and I used to look at him, and I said, "Boy, what a crackpot this guy is!"
Mr. LIEBELER - That is what you thought?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes. Right off the bat I said, "This is a crackpot"; right off.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he seem to just use his fingers like that, as a gun, as a joke, you mean, or----
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, I didn't know what to think of it, you know, because he--on quite a number of times he would do that, you know. If you would walk past him, he would do that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he smile or laugh, or what?
Mr. Le BLANC - No. When he would do it, he wouldn't even crack a smile. That is what used to get me. If somebody would be doing something in a joking .manner, at least they would smile, but he was one that very seldom would talk or would smile either, and that is why I could never figure him out.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald have any other associates or people that worked with him closely in the plant, or would you say that you probably worked with him as closely as anybody else?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, I imagine I was about the closest, myself and the other maintenance man.
Mr. LIEBELER - The other maintenance men? There were three more?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, there is the engineer, and they had this other boy.
Mr. LIEBELER - What is his name?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, the engineer is Emmett Barbe---I think you all have a statement from him--and then the other boy was Arturo Rodriguez.
Mr. LIEBELER - Of Mexican or Puerto Rican background?
Mr. Le BLANC - He is Mexican, I think.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know whether Oswald was associated with Rodriguez outside of the plant at all?
Mr. Le BLANC - No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - You don't have any way of knowing?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald ever talk to you about his family?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; that was something he very seldom talked about, and myself and the engineer, Emmett Barbe, we always were talking about our families. He had quite a bit of sickness and I had quite a bit of sickness, and a lot of times we would be talking about our families and kids, and Oswald, he never would bring in his family, and it was a good while after he was employed with us that I actually found out he was married, because I didn't think he was married because he never did talk about his wife or kids or nobody.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have a lunch break----
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - During the day, you had a lunch break?
Mr. Le BLANC - We had 11 and 11:30. Now at that time I don't know whether we just had the 11:30 or we had two breaks--I can't recall--but I think it was two breaks, lunch breaks, 11 and 11:30.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald eat lunch with anybody? Do you remember?
Mr. Le BLANC - Not that I know of. He had never eaten with me, I know.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where do you usually have lunch?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, myself, I bring mine; but most of them that don't bring their lunch, they usually go down to the corner restaurant.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald bring his lunch, or did he eat in the restaurant?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, no; I think he went down to the corner restaurant a lot of times.
Mr. LIEBELER - Is that Martin's Restaurant?
Mr. Le BLANC - Martin's; yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you have any idea what he used to have for lunch?
Mr. Le BLANC - No, sir; I don't.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you have any idea how much he spent for his lunch?
Mr. Le BLANC - No, Sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - What kind of a place is Martin's, a pretty inexpensive place or----
Mr. Le BLANC - It is a reasonable place for regular factory--most .all the factory workers around there eat there. It is pretty reasonable.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever form any opinion of Oswald? You mentioned that you thought he was probably a little bit of a crackpot or somewhat of a crackpot for playing this game with his fingers like he was shooting a gun, but just generally what did you think of this guy?
Mr. Le BLANC - I just--I used to always .think--I didn't know whether he was right or whether he had troubles on his mind or what. I mean, I couldn't actually figure what was actually wrong with him, because, I mean, we would go on break and sit on the driveway on the bench. Usually among the maintenance we always usually a lot of times sit together and we would talk over the job or something, but he would sit on the bench, and he looked like he would be staring into space, and sometimes you would think he was looking right at you, and if you would happen to go to say something, he wouldn't answer you. Looked like that is how far his mind was .
Mr. LIEBELER - He seemed to be thinking about something else?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes; and looked like his mind was far away at all times.
Mr. LIEBELER - There weren't any of the men there that, as far as you knew, he ever really talked to----
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or anyone he ever opened up to in anyway?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you talk about Oswald with-the men over there since the assassination?
Mr. Le BLANC - What is that?
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you talked about Oswald with the other maintenance men or the other men at the plant?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; I tell you, we hadn't talked very much, because we just--we left things as was.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never had any conversations with anybody that you can remember, speculating as to whether Oswald really did this or whether he was capable of it, he was that kind of a guy?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, the most talk was around the plant a lot of times, that they thought he was actually too stupid to actually pull something like that. They didn't think he even had enough brains to pull a foolish thing like that, because that is just the kind of a person he looked to be.
Mr. LIEBELER - He didn't seem to be particularly intelligent or----
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he seem to be interested in his surroundings or just sort of a----
Mr. Le BLANC - Like in his greasing records, one time something could be spelled right, and just a little ways away he might have to use the same word and it would be all misspelled. I don't know whether he didn't know how to write or he just didn't care how he put it down.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever question him about that or indicate to him that he was misspelling words?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, on a couple of occasions I told him if he could write plainer, it would be a lot better for me to cheek, because a lot of times if something would go wrong with a machine, we would. go to that greasing log and check when is the last time it was greased, and when you would look at his writing, it would be like Greek, you couldn't hardly understand it.
Mr. LIEBELER - What did he say about that?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, he would look at you and turn around and walk off.
Mr. LIEBELER - He wouldn't say anything?
Mr. Le BLANC - Wouldn't say nothing. That is what used to get me. I used to---if I bawled him out about not greasing something, ordinarily a man would tell you, well, I will try to do better, or, that is the best I could do, or something like that, but that is what used to get me so mad when he would give me no answer whatsoever, and that is when I told him one day, I said, "You are going to end up driving me crazy if I am going to have to keep up with this guy, because he don't give me no answer whatsoever if I bawl him out about his job or anything."
Mr. LIEBELER - Who did you tell that to--Mr. Barbe?
Mr. Le BLANC - Well, I think it was Barbe I told that to.
Mr. LIEBELER - He is a sort of a--what engineer, plant engineer?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes; he is the plant engineer.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never mentioned to Oswald the misspellings in the words that----
Mr. Le BLANC - No; I didn't mention misspelling. I figured, well, maybe the boy can't spell so good, and I figured, well, as long as it was close, I might be able to understand it, but there was a couple of occasions he would put things down and I would have to actually ask him what it was, because it wasn't nowhere near the name that the machine would actually be.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you noticed that sometimes he would spell things right and sometimes he would just spell them wrong?
Mr. Le BLANC - Sometimes he would spell them wrong and sometimes he would spell them right. That is what I couldn't understand about him.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever discuss that with Mr. Barbe or anybody?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; when Mr. Barbe noticed it was the day after the assassination when the agent was there and we were trying to get all the possible information we could get off of it, you know, and that is when we got the greasing records of when he was there and went through them, and that is when he seen a lot of misspelling.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know whether those records were turned over to the Secret Service or the FBI?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes; they were turned over.
Mr. LIEBELER - The greasing records were?
Mr. Le BLANC - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you think of anything else that you can remember about Oswald that you think might be helpful? I am about out of questions myself. Do you have anything else that you remember----
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or that you think I should have asked you about?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well, in that case, I want to thank you very much for the cooperation that you have Shown us and for your patience.
Mr. Le BLANC - Any way I could help, I was glad to.
Mr. LIEBELER - I want to thank you very much, Mr. Le Blanc, both personally and on behalf of the Commission. We appreciate it very much.
Mr. Le BLANC - Because before he was killed, I told the investigators that if there was any way that I could help them to solve this thing--because we was pretty well shook up about it to think that somebody at our place, that worked at our place, had to pull a stunt like that, and we were out to get down to the bottom of it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever hear Oswald talking politics with anybody, or did you ever talk politics to him yourself?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; around election time or anything like that, sometimes a conversation or something would come up, but he never would bring up a conversation about any politics .
Mr. LIEBELER - You never heard him say anything about President Kennedy?
Mr. Le BLANC - No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never had any question come up as to racial problems or integration problems? He never expressed himself on that?
Mr. Le BLANC - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Are there any Negro employees over there at the plant?
Mr. Le BLANC - Oh, yes; there is a number of them, quite a number of them.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald demonstrate any particular animosity toward them, or did he seem to treat them differently from the rest of the men?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; he went along just like if they was white, I mean just the way he went about with us, not saying anything. That was the same way with them, looked like.
Mr. LIEBELER - He didn't think that he was either--that he felt particularly differently about the Negro employees than the other men?
Mr. Le BLANC - No; it didn't look like it. You know what I mean, with his attitude.
Mr. LIEBELER - I think we have covered it. Thanks a lot