Pilar’s Story
As Told by Her Daughter, Lourdes

Copyright © 2018 Richard Eaves and H. Mark Pittman 

Pilar was a beautiful, strong-willed Cuban girl who was an unsung hero of the Cuban Revolution. Pilar’s mother was a Spanish Jew named Helena who arrived in Cuba sometime in 1937 or 38. To survive, Helena becomes a “taxi” dancer at one of Havana’s dance halls. Later, she becomes a high-class prostitute at Casa Marina, one of Havana’s most lavish bordellos that cater to the rich and famous. Ernest Hemingway is an occasional client, and during one visit in 1939 Pilar is accidentally conceived.

According to Lourdes, Helena believed that she and Hemingway were to be married, but war broke out in Europe and Hemingway rushed off to cover it before they were able to marry.

Of course, that was not true. Hemingway was already married and separated from his wife Pauline. He was having an extra-marital affair with Martha Gellhorn, an American writer whom he had met when they both were covering the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Helena was nothing more than a few nights of fun to Hemingway, and he never acknowledged that Pilar was his daughter, even when Helena showed up at his house in Havana in 1942 trying to get child support. Helena never forgave him for turning his back on his child.  Apparently, neither did Pilar.

Pilar was born in 1940. Very little is known about her childhood aside from a few anecdotes shared by Lourdes. Apparently, Pilar was destined to be a part of the Cuban Revolution, because fate kept pulling her to it.

July 26, 1953
Let the Revolution Begin

Early on the morning of July 26, 1953, Pilar boards a bus with her fellow students for a day trip to the historic San Pedro de la Roca Castle south of Santiago, Cuba, where she attends boarding school.

Pi bus
Pilar and fellow students board a bus for a day trip to San Pedro de la Roca Castle near Santiago.

The bus will have to go past Moncada Barracks, one of the largest military facilities in Cuba.

At the same time, Fidel Castro is leading a 16-car convoy filled with armed college students on their way to attack the Moncada Barracks. Their trip is delayed by a traffic jam.

Castro and six other cars make it through the traffic. However, Castro doesn’t realize that nine of the cars have been left behind, and he continues on to Moncada Barracks. With Castro’s forces split almost in two, the attack will be a total disaster. All of the attackers are killed or captured. Fidel and his brother Raul are among the prisoners.

attack
In the attack on the Moncada Barracks, Castro’s forces get split in a traffic jam. Many of the attackers are killed. Some are captured, including Fidel and Raul Castro.

The bus Pilar is riding on passes the Moncada Barracks less than two hours after the attack. Dead bodies are still strewn along the street in front, and the buildings are riddled with bullet holes.

Pi Moncada Espin
Moncada Barracks was riddled with bullets following the attack. Four years later, rebel fighter Vilma Espin displays the “26 Julio” battle cry on her arm band.

To Fidel Castro and his followers, July 26, 1953, is the official date of the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. 26 de Julio will become the rallying cry for Cuban revolutionaries, much like “Remember the Alamo” was for Texas revolutionaries.

Pilar Meets JFK

In 1956, Pilar returns to live with her mother at the Casa Marina bordello after her school is destroyed by Hurricane Hilda. One night while her mother is engaged for the evening, Pilar is taken from her room without her mother’s knowledge and forced to go to the top floor of the bordello where the Gold Room is located. The Gold Room is reserved for very special events for the super wealthy, for only they could afford such lavishness. The walls of the Gold Room are lined with copies of great paintings by Goya, Manet, and Ingres. All are nudes, of course. After all, it’s a brothel.

casa marina
The Casa Marina brothel (red building) has seen better days. When JFK and Grant Stockdale have sex with Pilar here in 1956, it is one of the most opulent in the western hemisphere.

Pilar, who is still a virgin, has been rented for the evening to two visiting dignitaries from the U.S. One of them is a wealthy executive from Miami named Grant Stockdale. The other is a junior senator from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy. The senator has come to Cuba on the guise of a “fact-finding” mission. The real reason for his trip is to have sex with young girls, one of whom is Pilar.

Pilar is humiliated and degraded by the experience. Her mother, Helena, is livid with rage when she discovers what has happened. Helena gets in a shouting match with the bordello owner and a violent fight ensues. Helena is killed in the altercation. Pilar takes revenge by killing the bordello owner with a butcher knife while he sleeps. She then steals his money and rushes out of the bordello, never to return.

The Revolution Comes to Pilar

Pilar tries to start a new life by enrolling in college. She is very intelligent and enters college at the age of seventeen. She enrolls at the Catholic University of St. Thomas de Valenzuela in Havana. During her first semester, she does well in most of her courses but struggles with math.

Her counselor advises her to hire a tutor and gives her the name of Jose Echeverria, a graduate student at Havana University. Echeverria does not have a telephone, so Pilar has to go to his apartment to inquire about his schedule and fees. It is March 13, 1957.

Jose
Student activist Jose Echeverria leads an attack on the Presidential Palace and the National Radio of Cuba.

Pilar doesn’t know it, but Jose Echeverria is a radical student activist leading his own revolt against Batista. He is not at his apartment at the moment. He is in the middle of a raid on the Presidential Palace and the National Radio of Cuba studios where he will deliver a brief speech to the Cuban people titled “Three Minutes of Freedom.”

After reading his speech on the air, Echeverria and his comrades rush out of the radio station and start back to the university. The police are on their way to intercept them. As fate would have it, Pilar, Echeverria, and the police all arrive at the same place at the same time.

When the police pull up, Echeverria and his comrades open fire with their pistols. The police return the fire with their automatic weapons. Pilar is caught in the middle.

Echeverria
Echeverria is killed in the raid. Pilar, an innocent bystander, is mistaken for one of the attackers and is placed under arrest.

Pilar drops to the ground and curls into a ball defensively as a gunfight erupts around her. Echeverria and his comrades are shot and killed. When Echeverria is hit, his gun falls to the ground right next to where Pilar is lying. Thinking that Pilar is one of the rebel students, a policeman grabs her by the hair and drags her to a police car and arrests her.

On the way to the station, the policemen pull into an alley and try to rape Pilar. She manages to get one of the officer’s guns and kills both policemen in self-defense.

A woman in a nearby apartment witnesses the event and helps Pilar escape. The woman lets Pilar hide out in her apartment for a few days and then sends her to see Celia Sanchez, the highest ranking woman in Castro’s revolutionary army. Celia has the dangerous job of recruiting new fighters and getting them to Castro’s army in the San Maestra Mountains in eastern Cuba.

 Celia Sanchez
Celia Sanchez is one of the leaders of the Cuban revolution. She recruits new fighters in Havana and transports them to Fidel Castro’s rebel army in the San Maestra Mountains.

Celia takes Pilar and several other recruits to Castro’s encampment. It is a two-day journey. Late in the afternoon of the first day, Celia’s group encounters a Batista army unit, and a battle ensues. Pilar proves herself to be a valiant warrior by killing one of the soldiers with a machete.

Pilar Meets Fidel Castro

It is early the next morning when Celia Sanchez arrives at the encampment with her new recruits. Fidel Castro is pleased to see them all, especially Pilar. He invites her into his tent and personally tries to help her strip out of her dress and into military fatigues. Pilar sternly rebuffs his advances. He is taken aback. Women rarely, if ever, refuse the great Fidel Castro.

Pilar Becomes a Sniper

Military life does not suit Pilar. She is a loner who does not bond well with her unit. She questions authority. She does not work well as part of a team. However, she is an excellent marksman. Her commanding officer transfers her to a sniper unit where she will have more independence. She becomes a “lone wolf” whose assignment is to stalk and kill army officers and high-ranking government officials. She has the authority to kill at will.

Pilar quickly becomes one of Castro’s top guns. After six months in the mountains, she is assigned to work in Santiago and Havana and reports directly to Castro. Because she is a woman, she arouses less suspicion as she moves around the country to reach her targets. During the 20 months she serves, she is credited with more than 30 kills.

Castro Ike Nixon
As Castro celebrates victory, Eisenhower and Nixon plot his overthrow.

After the war ends, Castro realizes that staying in power will not be easy. He has become public enemy number one of the United States. Eisenhower and Nixon begin trying to undermine and overthrow his regime as soon as he starts cozying up to the Soviet Union. The thought of a Communist nation just 90 miles from U.S. shores is terrifying, and something has to be done about it.

Castro also makes an enemy of organized crime by abruptly closing their casinos and expelling their members from Cuba. The Mafia doesn’t give up easily and joins forces with the C.I.A. in trying to oust Castro.

Castro’s predicament is dire. He has the Mafia, the C.I.A., Cuban exiles and American corporations gunning for him. He is outnumbered, outgunned and outspent, so he will have to outwit them. He doesn’t wait; he immediately takes the offensive, but not overtly. Castro knows he can’t do anything that will give the United States an excuse to invade.

His plan requires the ultimate in secrecy. Just days after he comes into power, Castro begins laying the groundwork for one of the world’s most secret clandestine operations. He personally chooses a group of elite soldiers to become assassins of the highest order. The group is so secret that not even Raul Castro or Fabian Escalante know about it. (Raul and Escalante head up the Cuban DGI, which will become one of the greatest spy and espionage networks in the world.)

Pilar is one of the first to be chosen. She is beautiful, young, intelligent, and has no aversion to killing. She also thrives on operating alone. Pilar’s lineage also works in her favor. With an American father and a European mother, Pilar is Anglo. Being white will give her a big advantage in America in the 1960s. She will be able to move around the country at will.

Pilar Meets Lee Harvey Oswald

training
Pilar is sent to Russia for advanced training in espionage and assassination.

In April, 1959, Pilar is sent to the Soviet Union for special training in espionage and assassination. She is given individual training by Russia’s KGB at a special school in Minsk. She receives sniper training from female soldiers, some of whom served as snipers in the Red Army army during World War II. One of Pilar’s mentors was Lyudmila Pavlichenko who is credited with killing 309 German soldiers.  The Germans called her “Lady Death.”  She takes a special interest in Pilar.

After eight months of intensive training, Pilar goes to language school where she meets a young American named Lee Oswald.

Oswald Minsk
The Russians send Oswald from Moscow to Minsk.

Oswald is immediately drawn to Pilar, not just because of her beauty, but also because she is a Cuban Communist. Oswald is fascinated by the Cuban Revolution and asks her many questions about Fidel Castro and life in Cuba. He appears to be an intelligent, engaging gentleman, and Pilar enjoys his company.

At the end of February, 1960, Pilar completes her training and returns to Cuba. A few days later, on March 4, 1960, the French freighter La Coubre explodes in Havana harbor, killing more than 100 people. The ship was unloading arms and ammunition for the Cuban military. Castro accuses the United States of blowing up the ship. The U.S. strongly denies any involvement, but Castro isn’t buying it. To Castro, it is a cruel act of aggression, and it validates his decision to dispatch espionage agents to the U.S.

Pilar is prepped and readied for assignment. Her identity is scrubbed clean. Should she be killed or captured, no one will ever be able to trace her back to Cuba. She becomes a girl without a country, a female Jason Bourne.

Pilar Meets Jack Ruby

Not long after the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April, 1961, Pilar goes to Havana Harbor to meet her U.S. contact. It is Jack Ruby. His first assignment is to get her into the U.S. Ruby has been a Castro supporter from the earliest days of the revolution, not out of conviction, but profit. Ruby made a good living running guns for Castro’s rebels during the war, and now he is helping Castro stay in power with the promise of a huge financial bonus.

Ruby drops Pilar off in Key West, Florida. From there, she goes to Miami, and then on to Washington, D.C., where she takes a job at the posh new Quorum Club that Bobby Baker has just opened in the Carroll Arms Hotel. She goes under the name of Patricia Sunyer.

Pilar meets JFK. Again

The girls who work at the Quorum Club are expected to do more than just serve drinks to the politicians and distinguished members of the club. They are expected to serve all the needs of the club’s clientele, which also happens to include the President of the United States.

jfk Ellen
Pilar meets Ellen Rometsch, one of the Quorum Club prostitutes and an East German spy. Ellen introduces Pilar to JFK.

Pilar meets Ellen Rometsch one of the party girls at the Quorum Club. Ellen is a beautiful East German spy who is one of JFK’s favorite girls. Ellen introduces Pilar to JFK, and the three of them engage in a raucous “menage a trois” one evening in the White House (quite possibly in the same bed JFK shared with his wife, Jackie). JFK does not recognize Pilar as the 16-year-old virgin he was with at the Casa Marina brothel in 1957.

Pilar Meets Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra

Pilar and Ellen are invited to a weekend party at the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe. Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford and several other guests also will be attending. Pilar thinks this might present a good opportunity to kill JFK, so she takes along a poison pill that she gets from a Russian agent in Washington, D.C. Ellen is unaware that Pilar is a Castro agent.

MM Frank
Pilar is invited to a sex party at Sam Giancana’s Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe where she tries unsuccessfully to poison JFK.

The first night turns into a wild, drunken party, during which, Pilar slips the poison pill into JFK’s drink. However, in all the excitement, one of the other guests in the room accidentally picks up JFK’s glass and takes a drink from it. Within minutes, the man is dead. (The man’s body is removed through a tunnel in Frank Sinatra’s room. The next morning, a maid finds the body in another room, and the cause of death is ruled a heart attack.)

Pilar Returns to Cuba

A short while later, Marilyn Monroe mysteriously dies. Pilar is not sure if Marilyn’s death is related to the Cal-Neva incident, but she decides to disappear, nonetheless. Pilar goes to Mexico, and from there, returns to Cuba to lay low for a while.

Carlos Marcello is determined to prevent JFK from serving a second term. Attorney General Robert Kennedy has stepped up his attacks on organized crime, and Marcello is feeling the pressure. And he hasn’t forgotten Robert Kennedy’s judicial kidnapping in 1961 when Marcello was taken to Guatemala and essentially dropped off in the middle of the jungle.

Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante start making plans to carry out the vendetta. They know that JFK will be on the campaign trail in the fall, and they think that’s when he’ll be most vulnerable. They call on their friends at the C.I.A. for help.

Fidel Castro also is planning a big event for JFK. U.S. sabotage efforts are taking a toll on the Cuban economy and Castro’s peace of mind. He is in constant peril. He is determined to end it. He sends three hit teams to the U.S. Pilar is one of them.

Pilar Moves to New Orleans

In March, 1963, Pilar returns to the U.S. and settles in New Orleans. Her assignment is to infiltrate the Carlos Marcello organization in order to use their resources to help get to JFK. Santo Trafficante will help her gain entrance. Trafficante, who is Fidel Castro’s old friend and confidant, recommends her to Marcello, telling him of her reputation as a cold blooded killer during the revolution. Of course, Trafficante doesn’t tell Marcello that Pilar is loyal to Castro; he tells him just the opposite, that she turned against Castro after her parents were killed by his supporters following the revolution.  With Trafficante vouching for her, Pilar is chosen to work for the Marcello organization, possibly as the first female “hit-girl” in mob history. 

Jack Ruby introduces Pilar to Frenchy Brouillette, a low-level hoodlum who works for Carlos Marcello. Ruby introduces her as Miranda Lopez, the daughter of a former land overseer for United Fruit Company. As the ruse goes, her father had been murdered by Castro’s rebel forces during the early years of the revolution, and she fled Cuba when Castro came into power. Now, she is supposedly dedicated to killing both Castro and Kennedy

pilar meets frenchy

Jack Ruby introduces Pilar to Frenchy Brouillette, a low-level hood who works for Carlos Marcello. Frenchy puts her in touch with Guy Bannister.

Frenchy introduces Pilar to Guy Bannister, a former FBI agent and private detective who will serve as the conduit between Pilar and the Marcello mob. They meet at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. Bannister makes a pass at Pilar, but when she firmly rebuffs him, he backs off. They never meet in person again. Bannister instructs Pilar to use a certain dry cleaner on Poydras Street to send and receive messages. Bannister’s messages to Pilar will be in her clean laundry.

Like everyone in this melodrama, Guy Bannister is not what he seems to be. He is pretending to work for Carlos Marcello. However, he is really working for Robert Kennedy, who, as Attorney General, is supposed to be the the chief law enforcement officer of the nation. Quite the opposite is true. Robert Kennedy is engaged in all sorts of criminal activities, from authorizing the theft of firearms (from an armament bunker in Houma, Louisiana), to the unlawful sale of weapons (to rebels trying to overthrow the government of Guatemala), to kidnapping (Carlos Marcello), to plotting murder (Fidel Castro). Obviously, Marcello doesn’t know about Bannister’s relationship with RFK or Bannister would be dead. But Marcello trusts no one. Therefore, all of Marcello’s correspondence with Bannister is done with coded messages from Nofio Pecora, one of Marcello’s top lieutenants. Bannister then passes the messages on to Pilar. Little does Bannister know that he is passing Pilar information about the plot to assassinate JFK. He thinks he is passing her information about a plot to kill Fidel Castro.

Bannister Marcello
Guy Bannister (L) is Pilar’s go-between with mob boss Carlos Marcello in New Orleans.

In the summer of 1963, Marcello gets more details about JFK’s travel plans from his C.I.A. contact, David Atlee Philips. JFK is tentatively scheduled to attend a premiere of the movie PT 109 in Los Angeles in June. JFK also is scheduled to visit Soldier Field in Chicago early in November; Tampa, Florida, in mid-November; and a make swing through Texas late in November. Marcello plans to have assassination teams at every stop along the way. Marcello passes the word to Pilar. She will be on one of the hit teams in Texas.

When Pilar picks up her laundry late in July, she finds an envelope tucked inside a dress pocket. The envelope contains a coded message with JFK’s itinerary and motorcade route in Dallas.

Pilar Starts Planning for the Big Event

Pilar immediately makes a trip to Dallas to check out the city. She spends an entire week there in August, 1963, scouting the area. She drives the motorcade route numerous times, making note of the buildings, parks and wooded areas that might provide cover for a shooter. She checks out escape routes. Nothing is very promising except for Dealey Plaza, but that area also has drawbacks. It is situated at the very end of the parade route, and avenues of escape will be limited.

Pilar comes up with an idea that makes escape entirely unnecessary. Her plan is brilliant. All she needs is an office in the right location.

Pilar pays a visit to the Texas School Book Depository. It won’t work. About half the building is open area used to warehouse books, and the remainder is office space for large publishing companies that sell textbooks to public schools.

She walks across the street to the Dal-Tex Building. It is occupied mainly by fashion designers and manufacturers. If she can find a vacant office here, this building would be the perfect spot for a sniper’s nest.

Pilar contacts Jack Ruby. They meet at the Egyptian Restaurant on Mockingbird Lane. Pilar tells Ruby that she needs an office in the Dal-Tex Building that faces either Houston or Elm Street. Ruby is curious as to why she needs the office. Pilar explains that she has decided to go into the fashion footwear business with a new line of women’s boots and is relocating to Dallas to be closer to the industry. She wants an office in the Dal-Tex Building for prestige, since a number of other clothing and accessory companies are housed there. Also, it must be an office window, because Pilar is a bit claustrophobic, and she also needs the light for her design work. Ruby doesn’t believe her but knows better than to press her for the truth. He has no choice but to help her.

Pilar begins executing her plan. She places a special order with Jack Ruby. If anybody can get what she needs, it’s Ruby. She orders a vintage Russian Mosin M1890/30 rifle with scope and silencer, and 50 rounds of subsonic ammunition. This is one of the rifles she used in Cuba, so she knows it well. It also was the rifle of choice of many of the Russian women snipers who helped defeat the German army in World War II.

sniper rifle
This is the sniper rifle Pilar will use to shoot Kennedy. It is a Russian made Mosin M1830/30 with a silencer and scope. She used this rifle very effectively during the Cuban revolution and is confident it will do the job in Dallas.

It takes Ruby nearly three weeks, but he finally manages to find the exact rifle Pilar is looking for. He figures Pilar is planning a hit in Dallas, but he has no idea that her target is the president of the United States. He wonders how she will manage to conceal such a long rifle. He is surprised when Pilar has him deliver the rifle to Frenchy Brouillette in New Orleans.

A few days later, Pilar meets Frenchy at a remote vacant farm owned by Carlos Marcello near Lake Pontchartrain to check out the rifle. It appears to be in good condition. Pilar fires dozens of test rounds and makes adjustments to the scope. When she finishes fine tuning the scope, the rifle is very accurate, and using subsonic cartridges with the silencer attached, it’s no louder than a pellet gun when fired. The bullet doesn’t crack the sound barrier, so it makes no noise at all as it cuts through the air.

Next, Pilar goes shopping for used office furniture. She buys an upright four-drawer file cabinet and has Frenchy take it to an auto chop-shop in Metairie for modifications. This is the same shop Marcello’s organization uses to modify cars for transporting drugs and guns. They’re expert at taking things apart, making changes, and putting them back together good as new.

A welder shortens the tracks and drawers to create a hidden compartment at the back of the cabinet where the loaded Mosin sniper rifle will be hidden. When the time comes, Pilar will be able to remove the top of the cabinet, lift out the gun, get off a shot, put the gun back inside the compartment and put the top back on the cabinet in less than two minutes.

Meanwhile, Jack Ruby calls. He has found a small office on the third floor of the Dal-Tex building that looks out onto Houston Street. The owner will go month to month with no lease for $300 per month, paid in cash, absolutely no checks, which is more than okay with Ruby. There’s just one small problem. The office is right behind the fire escape which might obstruct the view from the window. Pilar goes to look it over.  As it turns out, the fire escape is no problem at all. In fact, it’s a plus. There’s a very good view down onto Elm Street from the office window, and the fire escape will help hide the open window. She tells Ruby to rent the office.

Late in September, Pilar returns to the chop-shop in Metairie. She has with her the Mosin sniper rifle with scope and silencer. The crew shows Pilar how to lift the top off the cabinet. Then they clip the gun inside the hidden compartment and set the top back in place. It’s very simple. Pilar runs through the drill a number of times until she’s comfortable with the process. Finally, she loads the gun with five rounds of subsonic ammunition, puts the safety on, and lowers the gun into the hidden compartment at the back of the file cabinet. The next time Pilar removes the gun, she will use it to fire at JFK from the third floor window of her office in the Dal-Tex Building.

Pilar Moves to Dallas

Dallas Dealey Plaza
Pilar moves to Dallas and sets up shop in Dealey Plaza in advance of JFK’s visit.

In late September, 1963, Pilar moves from New Orleans to Dallas. She rents a one-bedroom furnished apartment on North Marsalis in Oak Cliff, a short hop across the Trinity River bridge into downtown Dallas. She can be in her office in Dealey Plaza in less than 10-minutes.

Sometime during the first week of October, a large van from New Orleans with two Cajuns hired by Frenchy Brouillette pulls up in front of the Dal-Tex Building and parks in the loading zone on Elm Street. They come to the third floor. It is busy with women hunched over sewing machines making clothes for Miller-Cupaioli and Edward-Barry, two companies that take up the entire third floor, except for the administrative offices along the west side of the building. One of the offices is vacant, save for a small table with a telephone. This office is used by the Dallas Uranium and Oil Company, of which Morty Freedman is a majority stockholder. Morty also owns part of Miller-Cupaioli and Edward-Barry. Morty’s the guy who rented the office to Pilar without the knowledge or consent of the other owners who are mostly silent partners.

Pilar’s hand-lettered sign on the door reads, “Lana DiOrio Fashion Footwear.” Pilar, alias Lana DiOrio, is waiting inside. The movers bring up a drawing table, swivel chair and a four-drawer file cabinet. They also bring up an RCA hi-fi phonograph in a mahogany cabinet. Pilar is in business. All she has to do now is look busy, blend in, and wait for the big event.

Killing Time

Pilar immediately settles in at her new job. She needs to make the office look “worked in,” so she goes to an art supply store and buys sketch pads, pens and pencils, and a large portfolio case. She spends her days working on sketches of women’s boots. By the end of October, she has dozens of sketches tacked to the walls. The office has taken on the look of an actual design studio. Pilar, herself, has become a fairly accomplished designer. Many of of her creations are stylish and sophisticated.

Her own appearance is just the opposite. She goes out of her way to make herself unattractive in order to repel any would-be male suitors. She puts her hair up in a bun, uses no make-up and wears a pair of horn-rim glasses partway down her nose. Her wardrobe is mainly second-hand clothes she buys at the Goodwill Store on the other end of Elm Street (known as “Deep Ellum”). Her taste in clothing is peculiar, belying the sense of fashion she displays in her sketches.

Pilar also makes it appear that she is a chain smoker. She buys Winstons by the carton at the 7-11 near her apartment. She keeps a cigarette burning in the ashtray at all times so the office reeks of cigarette smoke. This will help mask the smell of gunpowder when she fires at JFK from inside her office a few weeks from now.

When Pilar grows tired of drawing just boots, she starts sketching women in various professions wearing boots on the job. On one occasion, she sketches a woman soldier in fatigues, standing at attention with her rifle on her shoulder. But instead of the clunky military issue combat boots, Pilar’s soldier is wearing a pair of knee-high rhinestone boots.

She facetiously names her boots “Kombats.” She even writes a slogan: “Real Women Wear Kombat Boots.” She sketches a sexy looking cheerleader with pom-poms doing a high kick in a pair of stiletto heel fashion boots. She writes a headline to go with it: “Go. Fight. Win.”

Pilar has unwittingly designed a line of high-fashion women’s boots and worked up a rough ad campaign while killing time, waiting to kill the President of the United States.

Pilar puts up a very good front in her new career in fashion footwear. She comes to the office each day at nine o’clock and leaves each day between five and six in the afternoon. She usually brings a sack lunch to work and eats alone in her office.  On days when the weather is good, she takes her lunch across the street to Dealey Plaza. She avoids dining in restaurants as much as possible. A woman dining alone sometimes attracts attention. When she’s in her office, she spends all her time sketching and re-sketching various boot designs.

She rarely has visitors, but one day Morty Freedman drops by to say hello. Pilar suspects he’s just being nosy.  Morty is very impressed with Pilar’s work and offers to introduce her to some of his contacts in New York. She doesn’t want this guy nosing around her office, so she curtly declines his offer, saying that she already has a sales agent in New York and Paris. Freedman thinks she’s a bit uppity and never bothers her again.

On another occasion, Jack Ruby drops in. When he sees all her sketches, he becomes less suspicious of her intentions. She appears to be a genuine fashion designer. Pilar doesn’t want Ruby poking around in her life either, and she tells him in no uncertain terms that pop-ins are unacceptable. She tells him that she is extremely busy trying to make a deadline for a show in Paris and to please not come to her office uninvited. Ruby isn’t accustomed to having women speak to him in such a manner, and he bristles at her tone. However, he knows better than to tangle with her and leaves without further incident.

Publisher’s Note: We are not certain of Pilar’s actual name. Her daughter, Lourdes, never referred to her by name, instead calling her simply “my mother.” Mark Pittman saw the name “Pilar” written on one of the photographs in Lourdes’ room. Also, Pilar was the name of Ernest Hemingway’s boat (named after his second wife who was nicknamed Pilar).

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