From the publisher
October 9-15, 2017
By Jay Edwards
“As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint”
– Sympathy for the Devil, Jagger & Richards, Beggar’s Banquet album (1968)
Last week’s column about the 1968 protests at the Olympics in Mexico City got a response from an older friend that was pretty accurate - “Man that was a crazy year.”
But crazy sometimes takes a while to ferment.
In 1928 a child was born in Alton, Illinois, to a couple named Lucille and George. In 1935, George, known better to his friends and non-friends as Speedy, passed a hot check and soon after decided it might be a good idea to move the family to Missouri. Eight years later, Speedy and Lucille’s boy would drop out of school when he was 15, later joining the Army, near the end of World War II. While there, it was said that he had trouble with the strict codes of conduct.
In 1949 he was arrested in California, and convicted, for burglary. He moved back to Illinois in 1952, where he tried reviving the burglary career, on a taxi driver, which got him two years for armed robbery.
In 1955, he was convicted of mail fraud after stealing money orders in Hannibal, Missouri, and then forging them to take a trip to Florida. He served four years at Leavenworth. In 1959 he was caught stealing $120 in an armed robbery of a St. Louis Kroger store and was sentenced to twenty years in prison for repeated offenses. He escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1967, by hiding in a truck transporting bread from the prison bakery.
Following his escape he stayed on the move throughout the United States and Canada. He made it to Alabama, where he stayed long enough to buy a 1966 Ford Mustang and get a driver’s license. He drove the car to Mexico, stopping in Acapulco before settling down in Puerto Vallarta on October 19, 1967.
Using the alias Eric Starvo Galt, he attempted to establish himself as a pornography director, filming and photographing local prostitutes. Frustrated with his results and jilted by the woman with whom he had formed a relationship, he left Mexico on or around November 16, 1967.
He arrived in Los Angeles three days later, where he attended a local bartending school and took dancing lessons. His chief interest, however, was the George Wallace presidential campaign. He spent much of his time in Los Angeles volunteering at Wallace’s campaign headquarters in North Hollywood.
He considered immigrating to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where a white minority régime had unilaterally assumed independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. The Rhodesian Government expressed its disapproval at his idea.
On March 5, 1968, he underwent facial reconstruction (rhinoplasty). On March 18, he left Los Angeles and began a cross-country drive to Atlanta.
Not long after arriving, he was soon on the road again, driving his Mustang to Birmingham. There, on March 30, he bought a Remington Model 760 Gamemaster .30-06-caliber rifle and a box of 20 cartridges from the Aeromarine Supply Company. He also bought a Redfield 2x-7x scope, which he had mounted to the rifle. He told the store clerks that he was going on a hunting trip with his brother. When he made the purchase, he gave his name as Harvey Lowmeyer.
After buying the rifle and accessories, he drove back to Atlanta. An avid newspaper reader, he passed his time reading the Atlanta Constitution. One day he read that the Reverend Martin Luther King was planning a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, which was scheduled for April 1.
On April 2, 1968, Speedy and Lucille’s boy, alias Eric Starvo Galt, alias Harvey Lowmeyer, christened James Earl Ray, packed a bag and drove his Mustang to Memphis, Tennessee.
Jay Edwards is publisher of the Daily Record. Contact him at email@example.com.