Nashville has two known home-grown racist terrorist bombers. One was not in town for my bombings.
The other was.
I’m still mostly of the opinion that the guys they arrested for Hattie Cotton probably were the guys. But the other two bombings are not so clear cut. In the JCC bombing, we know it had to be someone J.B. Stoner knew, because J.B. Stoner organized that whole “Confederate Underground” terror plot throughout the Southeast.
We don’t know much at all about the Looby bombing, just that the person who did it needed to be in Nashville to do it, obviously.
So, in the 60s, Robert Pittman Gentry was involved in Klan activities down in Jacksonville (the site of one of the bombings from the Confederate Underground campaign). He probably was one of the people who blew up the home of a first-grader integrating a school in Jacksonville and he admitted to shooting a black man. He also admitted he was in Birmingham (the site of another Confederate Underground bombing) on the day of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, though he wouldn’t say why he was there. He testified before the HUAC. J.B. Stoner was his lawyer at the HUAC hearings AND I think at the Jacksonville first-grader bomb plot trial. At least, Stoner defended some of the men accused.
When John Kasper was first in Nashville, he stayed at the home of Robert and Carrie Wray. Robert worked at Avco, which was what Vultee had become. Avco has morphed into something else by now, but it’s still a defense contractor making things that fly for the government.
Robert Gentry complained to the Tennessean that his connections to the Klan had cost him his job at Avco (Gentry moved back to Tennessee after the Florida first grader bombing). Is that a coincidence? That Stoner’s client and Kasper’s friend both worked at the same place? Or did Wray know Gentry?
A thing I’m beginning to seriously wonder about is whether this world is as large as people have presumed. I mean, right? One of the reasons these bombings are unsolved is that “it could have been anyone!!! Every white person was racist.”
And most white people at the time were hella racist. But how many people could you count on to be violent and silent? Especially for this long?
Another pair of loose ends I can’t quite make tie together, but I can’t stop feeling like they might tie together is that Gentry’s people were Barneses and Colemans.
The Blackwells and the Crimmonses, who were the suspects in the Hattie Cotton bombing, have Barnes and Coleman relatives.
The geography doesn’t work. Gentry’s people are from Rutherford County. The Blackwells and the Crimmonses’ people were from northwest Davidson County. I haven’t found common ancestors. But it’s a huge coincidence that nags at me.
And yet, I don’t want to get mired in false conspiracies. Barnes and Coleman are common enough last names. One of the black kids who integrated Nashville’s first grade in 1957 was a Coleman.
Still, it gives me the impression that this is a smaller world. That the people willing to do violence would have been known in racist circles.