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ONE MAN’S GRIEF photo by Robert Jackson PENN JONES OF MIDLOTHIAN . . . firebombed in 1962. Many are the Texans whose deeds are recounted, whose praises sung, in our state’s press. But what of those who, though they are known throughout the nation, and, even, the world, are generally unheard of in their home state? And what of those who labor steadily, day by day, in their own ways, for a more enlightened Texas? The Observer begins, with this article on Midlothian’s remarkable editor, Penn Jones, Jr., a series that will appear, from time to time, considering the lives and deeds of some extraordinary Texans whose activities have gone largely unnoticed in their home state. Jones, the editor of a small weekly near Dallas, has become one of the leading critics of the Warren Commission Report and has an international reputation for his work. Robert Bonazzi, who wrote this article, has several others in this series planned for future issues of the Observer. Bonazzi is a native of New York City who moved to Houston at age four, in 1946. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston, where he is now doing graduate work. He has published fiction and poetry in 23 magazines and is the editor and publisher of Latitudes, a literary quarterly which he established this year. Bonazzi intends to edit and write and, perhaps, teach at a university. 12 The Texas Observer Midlothian Each of us remembers what we were doing that day; where we were the moment the news reached us. We were numbed. Not only by the murder of our President, but by the photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin. Hard as some of us tried, and sure as the evidence seemed to be, we were not all certain Oswald had acted alone. We were appalled and frustrated. Then, without warning, Oswald was murdered on television. It was videotaped, and each playback was the same. Robert Bonazzi That almost childlike grimace! And Oswald died each time we watched. We continued to watch and the nightmare grew; complexed itself with doubt upon doubt. We waited for it to be over. Incongruously, he hoped for Monday. It came and we leaned back into our lives. Buried ourselves in work. We struggled with our minds to accept the stark facts: a President dead, an assassin lynched, and a misguided avenger imprisoned in the Dallas jail. We ordered coffee and waited for life to stand up and walk again, of its own accord. PENN JONES, JR., did not wait for life. “I went home and cried for two days. Then. I went back to Dallas and started knocking on doors and asking questions.” Jones began his investigation into the Kennedy death unaware that others were working on it, too. “I was the only man I knew of in Texas working on the assassination, I knew more people in Texas working on the Lincoln assassination than on the Kennedy assassination. It’s an indictment of the American press that no newspaper was working on the assassination. I’ve spent more money than any paper in the state on the President’s death since the Ruby trial, up until this recent significant flurry in New Orleans. “Thomas Jefferson said it didn’t matter how much an editor lied, that enough other editors would tell the truth to offset his lies. I agree with ‘Jefferson, when he was speaking. You see, when Hartford, Connecticut had 1,300 people, it had 13 papers. Dallas has 800,000 people with one newspaper. Well, actually there are two newspapers, but they’re tweedle dum and tweedle dee. So Jefferson’s words don’t apply today.” Penn Jones’ diminutive weekly, the Midlothian Mirror \(810 circulation at can newspaper diligently testing the truth of the Warren Report. Not only has Jones worked tirelessly in Dallas, but he has studied the .26 volumes of Commission Hearings. One set is on his living room floor, its pages cornered. Upstairs there is another set. At the Mirror office, there are three more sets. “I urge citizens to not only read the Report, but to read enough of the testimony first hand in order to make up their own minds. I have five sets of Hearings, five Reports, and five copies of Sylvia Meagher’s Index. I think they are that important. I have been urging Congress to do a massive paperback reprint. We have 10,000 libraries in the United States, and at most, only 8,000 sets of Hearings were printed, less than 4,000 sets sold. It shows how little interest there is. Of course the price is high, the Report and the Hearings, 26 volumes, cost $76. I bought fifteen sets originally and shipped a set to France, one each to Austin and New Orleans. I have these other sets here to loan to anyone interested in studying them.” Jones studies the Hearings for “three hours a day, and then I have to drive out to the farm and piddle around some to get my wits back.” His farm is 60 acres of ruined land, but it has a comfortable house \(which his wife, stream large enough for a boat, and slopes almost large enough to be hills. . “The land is no good for farming anymore. The former owner ruined it when he lived here. Knew nothing about crop rotation. But it’s just a resting place, a place for the kids to use. Most of all, it’s a place to get away from the telephone,” Jones says. And the phones continue to ring. Usually they ring with information from Dallas or New Orleans; or from Paris, asking for information. Also they ring with complaints from the local conservative citizenry. HAVE WORKED hard for my enemies,” Jones says, “and I deserve every one of them.” He has been called the “conscience of the community” by his supporters \(Jones figures about 40% the others. Once he criticized the town’s officials for paving the streets in the Negro section with nails. Actually, it was gravel which contained countless pounds of discarded nails. Jones picked up 50 pounds off the streets and displayed them in the window of the Mirror office. Perhaps this dropped his support to 35%, he jokes. Such episodes have occurred regularly since Jones bought the Mirror in 1945. “I was determined to run a weekly newspaper. So we bought the Mirror after I got out of the army. There were 1,100 people in Midlothian then. The I