Espionage, double identity and drama in Haverstick book talk

Engaging her audience while reading an excerpt from her latest book, “A Woman I Know,” was author Mary Haverstick, who spoke to a packed audience.

Leila Hawken

Espionage, double identity and drama in Haverstick book talk

KENT — Filmmaker, determined researcher and storyteller are a few terms to identify the talent of author Mary Haverstick.

Her latest book, “A Woman I Know,” was selected for the ongoing book talk series sponsored by Kent’s House of Books, held at the Kent Memorial Library Thursday, Feb. 29..

A widely recognized documentary filmmaker now living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Haverstick’s original intent was to create a film based on the life of aviation pioneer Jerrie Cobb, one of a select few female astronauts trained at NASA, although never afforded the chance to fly into space.

Multiple interviews created a deepening rapport and relationship of trust with Jerrie Cobb, but always Haverstick applied innate instincts, the faithful heart and inquisitive mind of a documentarian engaged in research to frame her story.

During what turned out to be 12 years of research, that story mushroomed into one of espionage and CIA involvement as Haverstick discovered a strangely parallel life in the person of June Cobb, who had a career as an aviator and spy operating in South America and Castro’s Cuba, where she worked as an interpreter within Castro’s Community regime. On Nov. 22, 1963, June Cobb had flown a charter flight to Dallas, Texas. The question was “Who was Jerrie; who was June?”

“I was the furthest person to engage in conspiracy theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” Haverstick said.

The likely double identity lived by Jerrie Cobb and June Cobb, uncovered by Haverstick’s meticulous research, yielding 100 pages or so of footnotes, led to an intensely confrontational interview between Haverstick and her subject Jerrie Cobb. The excerpt that describes that interview was selected for reading aloud during the book talk, capturing the audience with dramatic intensity.

“This conversation was the most momentous conversation of my entire life,” Haverstick said with certainty of the climactic conversation with Jerrie Cobb.

“It’s a tough conversation with anyone who has a double identity,” Haverstick said of the tension. She described it as an emotional conversation that exhibited the behavioral signs of someone being deceptive.

“I established the double identify through clear evidence,” Haverstick said.

“That conversation was seminal,” Haverstick added, then the task became to bring the difficult, convoluted, murky information to the public.

The recounting of the conversation that Haverstick termed “a fateful interview” occurs among the early chapters in the book, with documented proof filling the rest of the chapters, preparing the reader for the examination of the 1963 presidential assassination, dissecting film footage using modern technology.

“I’m not sure where to go from here,” Haverstick said, noting that she still awaits receipt of documents from a long-standing Freedom of Information Act request for still-sealed assassination files.

“I had a responsibility to carry this forward,” Haverstick told the audience.

“A Woman I Know” does just that.

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