The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Rowland Charles Rolland

1426 (30)
Afternoon, February 12, 1969
FEBRUARY 12, 1969
ROWLAND CHARLES ROLLAND, a witness for the State, after first being duly sworn by the Minute Clerk, was examined and testified on his oath as follows:
Q: For the record, would you state your full name, please?
A: Rowland Charles Rolland.
Q: Mr. Rolland, where do you reside?
A: Houston, Texas.
Q: In the month of November 1963 where did you reside?
A: In Houston, Texas.
Q: And in that month what was your occupation or business?
A: I was President of Winterland Ice Skating Rink, Incorporated and also General Manager.
Q: Was that business establishment also located in Houston, Texas?
A: Yes.
Q: Mr. Rolland, do you recall being at that location, that is your place of business, on the day of November 23, 1963?
A: I do.
Q: Do you recall approximately what time of day or night you arrived at that location?
A: Yes, I was there that morning. That afternoon we had from 1:00 to 3:00 -- we give lessons to Girl Scots, which I handled this procedure. I left at approximately 3:25 to 3:30, somewhere in that neighborhood, to go for lunch. Our doors opened and we started selling tickets at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon for public skating. Skating started at 3:30. I left after seeing that the ice had been resurfaced for this session and went out to eat and was gone approximately 45 minutes I would say.
Q: Would you approximate the time you returned?
A: Somewhere between 4:00 and 4:15.
Q: How long had you been in that business at that time?
A: I have been connected with ice rinks and the ice business since 1946.
Q: Are you a professional skater?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Now, Mr. Rolland, calling your attention to the time you returned to the ice rink, did you have occasion to meet someone?
A: Yes.
Q: Who was that?
A: A very unusual thing, Mr. Dave Ferrie. The reason this is such a memory to me was because of the way he approached me. He had called the week before or several days before asking about our services. We get many calls from people coming from out of town because ice skating is an unusual thing to many people and they like to try the sport.
Mr. Ferrie made quite a point, actually he made a little bit of a pest of himself at the time.
Q: Mr. Rolland, I am going to show you an exhibit marked for purposes of identification S-10 and ask you if you recognize the person depicted.
A: Yes.
Q: Who is that person?
A: Mr. Dave Ferrie.
Q: Is that the man you are now talking about?
A: Yes, would you like a description of him?
Q: Yes, go ahead.
A: He had red hair, wore a toupee, sort of ruddy complexion.
Q: When was, approximately how long after you returned to the ice rink did you first meet Dave Ferrie?
A: Practically upon walking in I was told several people -- that --
MR. DYMOND: I object to what was told to him.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection.
Q: Did you have a conversation with Ferrie at that time?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What was that?
A: He came in and made known he was there, his party, himself and two others.
Q: Was he with anyone at the time?
A: He was by himself when he came up but later he brought two others over and introduced them to me but I do not recall their names and frankly he came back and talked to me. I was waiting on people and he made quite a point of the fact he was there --
MR. DYMOND: I object to his conclusion.
THE COURT: You can testify as to how many times he met with you or spoke with you, but you are drawing a conclusion.
Q: Mr. Rolland, after this first encounter or introduction by Ferrie, did you have occasion to talk to him again that same afternoon?
A: Yes.
Q: How many times?
A: Approximately five.
Q: And what was said on these occasions by Ferrie?
A: Unh, nothing except to let me know he was there.
MR. DYMOND: I object to that Your Honor, as the witness is interpreting what [sic] said. If he knows [text missing] him say it but no [text missing].
THE COURT: I sustain the objection.
Q: Mr. Rolland, is there a public telephone in Winterland Ice Rink?
A: Yes, there is.
Q: And approximately where is that located in the ice rink?
A: Near the entrance.
Q: And principally where were you during the time that Dave Ferrie and his companions were in the ice rink?
A: The area in which I worked and handled was around the entrance because that is where the Pro Shop, a Skate Counter, Ticket Window and office and telephone is centrally located in that area, and if you need a diagram of this I will be happy to give it to you.
THE COURT: Are you going to have the gentlemen sketch a diagram?
MR. DYMOND: No objection.
THE COURT: Beg pardon?
MR. DYMOND: No objection.
THE COURT: How would it be convenient, do you wish to leave the witness stand or can you do it there?
THE WITNESS: I can do it anywhere.
THE COURT: Mr. Dymond, you want to step up here?
THE WITNESS: (Complying with request by drawing an illustration.)
Q: Mr. Rolland, would you just explain the diagram to the Court?
A: Yes, this is the entrance to the ice rink, double doors. This is glass. This is the ticket window area with our offices, the Skate Shop, the skating area itself, the Pro Shop with the window in here. This is all open in this area.
Q: Go ahead.
A: Mr. Ferrie, this over here being public telephone, Mr. Ferrie spent the majority of his time in and around this area over here.
Q: Where did you or would you have spent the majority of your time?
A: I was either at this window in the Pro Shop or in the work shop and at one time Mr. Ferrie did ask for me, and I was back sharpening a pair of skates and had to come back to the window.
Q: Where did the two gentlemen or persons that accompanied him to the ice rink spend their time?
A: They spent most of their time skating. They did skate.
Q: To your knowledge did David Ferrie even rent any skates on that occasion?
A: No, he did not buy a ticket of admission for skating purposes.
Q: Did you ever see Dave Ferrie use the public telephone?
A: Yes, I did, a number of times.
Q: Did Dave Ferrie, to your knowledge, ever receive a telephone call at the skating rink?
A: Yes, he did.
Q: Were you in a position to hear any conversation which he might have had?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Can you approximate how many times Ferrie used the public telephone?
A: Approximately three.
Q: Now approximately how long was David Ferrie at the ice rink while you were present?
A: He left at approximately 5:45.
Q: Did you actually see him leave?
A: Yes. Excuse me. He made a point outside once again to --
MR. DYMOND: Object. Just a moment --
A: (Continued) I wouldn't say made a point but he spoke to me outside saying they were leaving and they would be back that evening, he and his two companions.
Q: Did you see him later on that evening?
A: No, he never returned.
Q: Mr. Rolland, did you report these activities of Ferrie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
A: Yes, I did. Oh, I guess the men from the FBI spent about one hour and a half with me.
Q: Approximately when was that?
A: It was on a Sunday morning, the following week.
Q: Mr. Rolland, did you have occasion at that time to have a conversation at all with the two persons who accompanied Ferrie to the rink?
A: No, I was introduced to them and that was all. No conversation.
Q: And I think you said Ferrie did not rent any skates?
A: That is correct, he did not skate. He spent most of his time walking around in the lobby, looking in the Pro Shop and watching the skaters. He made a number of trips to the telephone booth and then to his two companions and he was talking to his companions and talking to me on a number of occasions.
MR. ALCOCK: You know my next number?
THE CLERK: Twenty-six.
MR. ALCOCK: No, I didn't introduce twenty-five.
THE CLERK: Twenty-five is going to appear in the transcript.
MR. ALCOCK: It will? Then it will appear as being not filed so now it would be No. 26 then.
Your Honor, in connection with the testimony of this witness the State offers, introduces, and files in evidence, having marked same for purposes of identification as "State-26," a diagram, a sketch of this witness of the ice rink.
MR. DYMOND: No objection.
THE COURT: Let it be received.

THE COURT: Is the State and Defense ready to proceed?
MR. DYMOND: We are ready.
MR. ALCOCK: We are ready, Your Honor.
THE COURT: I believe the witness has been tendered for cross-examination.
Q: Mr. Rolland, when did you first contact or get in touch with any member of the District Attorney's staff here in New Orleans?
A: When did I?
Q: Yes.
A: I did not, they contacted me.
Q: When was that, sir?
A: I do not recall the date.
Q: Could you tell us approximately, I don't expect you to be exact on it but about how long ago?
A: A year after the incident happened possibly.
Q: A year after '63?
A: I am guessing at this and I am not sure. I do not recall the date.
Q: When you estimated a year after the event you mean a year after the visit by Dave Ferrie to Winterland Skating Rink?
A: Yes.
Q: That would be approximately 1964 then, is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: What particular individual from the District Attorney's office contacted you?
A: I believe it was Andy Sciambra.
Q: Mr. Sciambra, is that the gentleman you see in court?
A: Yes, that is the gentleman. He is the one that contacted me.
Q: And you are quite certain that was roughly November '64, is that right?
A: I said I do not remember the date. It is approximately one year after that, I believe.
Q: You don't think you could be a year wrong on your estimate, could you?
A: Would you repeat that question?
Q: Would you think you could be as much as a year wrong in your estimate?
A: I don't think so.
Q: You wouldn't possibly be two years wrong, could you, sir?
A: I don't believe so.
Q: And you would be just as certain of that as you are of the rest of your testimony?
THE COURT: Even though the State hasn't objected, you may rephrase your question.
Q: I want to be certain you are not being misled on this, Mr. Rolland, but is it your testimony that you were contacted by Mr. Sciambra approximately one year after the visit by Dave Ferrie to your Winterland Skating Rink?
A: If you don't mind I want to take just a moment.
Q: Perfectly all right.
A: To recall events.
THE COURT: Mr. Dymond, may I make a suggestion. Do you have anything that may assist the witness in refreshing his memory?
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, I don't think it's my purpose to refresh his memory.
A: I could tell you where we had the meeting and I could give you the time, but far as date, no.
Q: I'm not asking you for a precise date at all but I am asking that you tell me within a period of say six to eight months, how long after the visit by Dave Ferrie to your Winterland Skating Rink were you contacted by Mr. Sciambra?
A: I said approximately one year.
Q: Approximately a year and you stand on it?
A: That is give and take and we met at 3700 Kirby Drive in the coffee shop. We sat in the booth, I even can tell you what booth if you would like.
Q: I just want to be sure that my question was clear and was it, sir?
A: Yes.
Q: Now how long have you owned this Winterland Skating Rink or were you President of it?
A: I was President of Winterland Skating Rink from 1962 until 1964.
Q: I see.
A: Would you like a little more information?
Q: No, that will be enough. Now with respect to your description of Mr. Ferrie which the record will show you did offer to describe him and did describe him, did you not?
A: I believe I did.
Q: You said he had on a toupee?
A: Yes.
Q: And by that you do mean false hair?
A: That is right.
Q: And you say it was a reddish-brown?
A: Reddish in color.
Q: Was that well groomed or very messy looking?
A: Quite curly is the way I would explain it.
Q: Would you term it spotty?
A: What is your definition of "spotty"?
Q: Appearance of having pieces of hair missing from it.
A: I didn't pay that much attention to it. I was quite busy 'cause Saturday afternoon is a very busy day for us.
Q: Now you say Saturday afternoon is quite a busy day for you, is that correct?
A: Correct.
Q: Would I be correct in assuming this incident took place on a Saturday afternoon?
A: I believe so.
Q: You say that is the reason you didn't have time to very closely observe Dave Ferrie, is that right?
A: That is right.
Q: Because it was Saturday afternoon and you were unusually busy, is that correct?
A: Well, any time you are open for business you are busy, aren't you?
Q: You picked Saturday, you did sir, and isn't that a busy day?
A: One of the busiest. The whole weekend is busy, Sunday too.
Q: Didn't you give that for a reason to remember it was a Saturday, because it was just a busy day?
A: I believe so.
Q: And you stand by that, sir?
A: Right.
Q: Now let me ask you with respect to David Ferrie's eyebrows, do you recall anything unusual about them?
A: They were unusual, but I can't explain in what way.
Q: You do recall they were unusual?
A: Like possibly they were plucked or some shape.
Q: You say quite possibly, you saw them?
A: Yes.
Q: Were they bushy?
A: You mean wide, bushy eyebrows?
Q: Let me help you just a minute. May I have the pictures of Ferrie, please. I don't know the number.
Q: I show you first a photograph that has been marked for identification as State-8, Mr. Rolland, purporting to be a photograph of Dave Ferrie after his decease and ask you to observe the eyebrows on that photograph.
A: Yes.
Q: I also show you another photograph marked for identification State-10 likewise purporting to be a photograph of Dave Ferrie and ask you to observe not only the eyebrows but the back of the hair on this photograph.
A: Okay.
Q: Having seen these photographs are you able to give us any more detailed a description of the appearance of Dave Ferrie's eyebrows?
A: They appeared to me, what I recalled full, they weren't plucked out but they were shaped like up, like a woman does hers, in a sense of the word.
Q: You would say they were full?
A: That is correct.
Q: They were very much as they appeared in those pictures, is that correct?
A: Right.
Q: Do you remember what type of clothing Dave Ferrie had on that time?
A: Sports jacket, sports coat, a pair of slacks and shoes.
Q: What color were the garments if you remember?
A: Nothing outstanding as far as color.
Q: Do you remember what color they were or not?
A: Offhand, no. I want to say he was wearing a maroon shirt for some reason.
Q: Is it true?
A: I would say he was wearing a maroon shirt, that is the only thing I remember about him.
Q: I understand that you were present when they arrived?
A: No, sir.
Q: They were there when you got back?
A: Right.
Q: From having lunch, is that correct?
A: Correct.
Q: And as I understand your Direct testimony you were introduced to the two men who were Ferrie's companions, is that right?
A: That is correct.
Q: Do you remember their names?
A: No, sir.
Q: Are you able to describe either one or both of them?
A: Young fellows, that is all.
Q: You say young, and would you mind approximating their age based on their appearance?
A: Between 20 and 25 I would say.
Q: Would you be able to point out any distinguishable appearances between the two companions, that is would you be able to distinguish one from the other?
A: Between the two fellows and Ferrie?
Q: No, between the two fellows as between the two, was one taller than the other or heavier or any other appearance?
A: No, they were built pretty much the same as I recall correctly and I believe one was light complected, brownish hair, and the other was medium complexion.
Q: And both appeared to be roughly the same age?
A: To me, yes. I was not paying a whole lot of attention to them.
Q: You recall how they were dressed?
A: I believe they were wearing blue jeans.
Q: Blue jeans?
A: Yes.
Q: Both of them?
A: I think so.
Q: How about shirts, what color shirts did they have on, do you recall?
A: I do not recall.
Q: How about jackets or coats?
A: I don't recall them having a jacket, either one of them.
Q: Was this a cold or warm day?
A: Very warm afternoon.
Q: As I understand your testimony you returned to your skating rink at Winterland between 4:00 and 4:15 in the afternoon, is that correct?
A: That's correct.
Q: And when you arrived there these three men where there already, is that right?
A: That's right.
Q: Are you reasonable certain as to that time of day?
A: Yes, sir, quite certain because of our scheduling which we have.
Q: Do you feel I would be safe in saying you could not be more than 15 to 20 minutes off on that?
A: That is why I said between 4:00 and 4:15.
Q: So you would definitely stand on that time?
A: That is correct.
Q: Now you say Dave Ferrie used the telephone there, the pay phone in your place?
A: Right.
Q: And you said he used it about three times, was over by the phone using it?
A: He may have used it more.
Q: Could it have been as many as six?
A: Very possibly. I was busy.
Q: As few as one?
A: No.
Q: It would have been more than three?
A: Somewhere around three times that I saw him. I saw him and he could have used it more.
Q: Would I be safe in saying that he used it definitely three times?
A: I believe I said that before.
Q: I believe you said about three times.
A: I will say definitely three times.
Q: Were you able to overhear any of his conversations between these three or six people he might have called?
A: Have you ever been in a public ice rink during a public session?
Q: No, I never have.
A: We have music playing, many children around --
Q: You were real busy?
A: -- going back and forth, assisting the customers, waiting on customers, but I was quite aware of what was going on.
Q: Still you had time to note a number of phone calls?
A: I saw him standing over there by the phone a number of times and using it because I had to pass across that way. If you take a look at the diagram you will see why --
Q: I am familiar with the diagram. Did you see [sic]
A: Yes, I did.
Q: How many times?
A: I know of two times.
Q: Did you see him put them in the third time?
A: No, I saw him using the phone three times.
Q: You're sure that wasn't a continuation of the second conversation?
A: It was a long one if it was.
THE COURT: Mr. Dymond, may I interrupt you a second? Under Article 369, unless you have a purpose I say it is irrelevant --
MR. DYMOND: I have a right to test the witness' credibility.
THE COURT: I am aware of that fact but I think you have covered that subject and I suggest you go on to another subject.
MR. DYMOND: I will get off the nickels, Judge.
Q: Now you say that Ferrie walked around the center part of your establishment, that is the part other than the ice rink area, is that correct?
A: Correct.
Q: And he did not participate in the ice skating, is that correct?
A: That is correct.
Q: Well, where else was there for him to go if he didn't want to skate?
A: He could have gone where the visitors from out of town watch the skaters or he could have walked down to the coffee shop.
Q: He didn't go there?
A: I never saw him go down there.
Q: And you thought it was real unusual that he didn't go?
A: What I thought was so unusual about Mr. Ferrie is that most of the time people come in town and you don't know it and then you might get a card saying they were there or saw or liked your establishment but nobody ever makes it a point of being sure you know they are there, that is, not a public place.
Q: Do you know if Mr. Ferrie had any other friends walking around your establishment?
A: No, I don't.
Q: Who else would he have had to talk to if not you that he introduced himself to?
A: He could have talked to persons working in the ticket office, some of the fellows around the Skate Shop, there were all types of people standing around that had children he could have talked to.
Q: And you considered it unusual he didn't do that?
A: Let's say the only people I saw Mr. Ferrie talk to were either myself or the two boys.
Q: Let me ask you this Rolland: did you consider it unusual that you got a phone call from Mr. Sciambra on this case almost two years before they started their investigation on it?
A: So I was off on the time. Is that correct? Is that correct? Good. Thank you.
Q: Thank you.
MR. DYMOND: That's all I have.
Q: How many times did Ferrie introduce himself to you?
THE COURT: I didn't hear the question.
Q: How many times did Ferrie introduce himself to you?
A: Approximately four or five.
Q: He mentioned his name on four or five occasions?
A: Yes, sir, he did.
Q: Did you consider this strange?
A: Quite strange.
Q: Did you have an interview with a Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent some week or two after that?
A: Yes.
Q: And who were you talking about?
A: Talking about Dave Ferrie because it was so obvious that --
MR. DYMOND: I object to that, Your Honor.
THE COURT: I sustain that. He stated already the time he spent there.
Q: You testified you saw him leave the ice rink?
A: Yes.
Q: And did you have a conversation with him when he left?
A: I did, outside the ice rink and they got in their car and drove off.
Q: Just the three of them?
A: Yes.
MR. DYMOND: I object to leading the witness, Your Honor.
Q: Did Ferrie remention his name at that time?
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, I again object to the leading of the witness.
THE COURT: Rephrase your question.
Q: What did Ferrie tell you at that time?
A: He said he enjoyed the skating. He said that he would be back and then he left, they drove off in the car.
Q: Do you recall Mr. Rolland, when the President was assassinated?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: Would it have been about that time?
MR. DYMOND: We object to this. That is improper Redirect and nothing was brought out in Cross-Examination that would permit that.
THE COURT: The objection is overruled.
MR. DYMOND: To which ruling Counsel objects and reserves a bill making the entire testimony of the witness, the question propounded by the State, the Defense's objection and reason for it, and the ruling of the Court and the entire record part of the bill.
Q: Do you recall in relation to the time that Dave Ferrie was in your ice rink when the President was assassinated?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: When was it?
A: Very close to the time that the President was assassinated.
Q: Do you recall the specific day?
A: The day after.
Q: Ferrie was in your rink the day after?
A: That is correct.
Q: Now do you recall whether or not Sciambra contacted you prior to the assassination of the President or after the assassination of the President?
A: Mr. Sciambra?
Q: Mr. Sciambra, to my right.
A: Right, he contacted me after, in fact I was no longer with Winterland at the time when he contacted me.
Q: When did you leave Winterland?
A: In September '64.
Q: Can you approximate for us, Mr. Rolland, using today as your point of reference, how long ago Mr. Sciambra contacted you?
A: Several years ago.
MR. ALCOCK: No further questions.
Q: One moment. You say Mr. Ferrie introduced himself to you five times?
A: I said a number of times and each time there was quite a point made out as to who he was.
Q: Didn't you say five times?
MR. ALCOCK: I object, Your Honor.
MR. DYMOND: The witness is not responding to my question.
MR. ALCOCK: He has a right to explain the answer.
MR. DYMOND: He has a right to explain it but I asked him nothing about the rest.
THE COURT: Let me advise the witness. Any answer, Mr. Rolland, when they ask you a question you can either say yes or no and that's if it calls for a yes or no, and you will be permitted to explain your answer no matter how long it takes.
THE WITNESS: Thank you, sir.
Q: Didn't you say that he introduced himself to you about five times?
A: I said about five times, yes.
Q: Yes. In what words, how did he introduce himself to you upon these occasions?
A: Through conversation.
Q: Did he say "I am Dave Ferrie" five times or what?
A: He pointed out his name like "I, Dave Ferrie this or that" in conversation.
Q: How about the first time he introduced himself to you, what did he say then?
A: Then he said, "I am Dave Ferrie. I am the one that called you from New Orleans about a skating party and I have my party here."
Q: Was there anything unusual about that, that first introduction?
A: Yes, 'cause when I talked to him on the phone that it is a public session and just come in and skate.
Q: You thought it unusual for him to identify himself when he comes in?
A: At a public skating session? I sure do. It happens very, very seldom.
MR. DYMOND: That's all I have.
THE COURT: You are excusing Mr. Rolland from the effects of the subpoena?
MR. ALCOCK: Yes, sir.
(Witness excused.)
THE COURT: Call your next witness.