John McCaslin

There was much response to our Lake Tahoe "Cal Neva Lodge" item from last week and rumors that John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy - in the company of Frank Sinatra and crime boss Sam Giancana - carried on trysts with Marilyn Monroe, as she suggested in tape recordings recently made public.

John Jekabson, of Oakland, Calif., tells The Beltway Beat that he worked at the Cal Neva during the summer of 1962, the year in question.

"There are a lot of myths and tall stories about that time and place," he writes. "At that time, I was a 21-year-old college student making money during the summer as a busboy. I worked the graveyard shift - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m."

As we'd written after our visit beneath the lodge last week, Jekabson recalls "extensive tunnels under the club," but he says they were mainly used to carry food and supplies, not to shuffle VIP guests of Sinatra and Giancana undetected between the casino and its cabins.

"They were old and dank, and certainly not the least bit romantic. I never encountered any 'unauthorized person' down there," Jekabson said.

As for Giancana, a silent partner of Sinatra's at the lodge, "I remember him as dressed in a golf outfit, with white loafers and a pink shirt, always walking with a group, and seeming oblivious to the people that worked there," he says. "We were distinctly told never to talk to him or approach him without first being asked.

"Sinatra was there and would sometimes saunter through the kitchen area, but always in a group. The other people that I remember were Lena Horne, Eddie Fisher, Joey Bishop, Joe E. Brown (who had just been in Marilyn's film 'Some Like It Hot'), a comic by the name of Soupy Sales, whose schtick was to throw pies in people's faces . . . .

"No mention, or glimpse, was ever made of . . . the Kennedy brothers. I think someone on the staff would have leaked to the rest of us if the president of the United States, the attorney general of the United States and Hollywood's top glamour star were there," Jekabson notes.

As for any hanky-panky, one early morning at 3 a.m. the busboy answered a "room service" call from Sinatra, placed from one of the showgirl's cabins.

"But none of this was through any secret tunnel," he insists. "And I didn't even get a tip, as all he said was 'leave it outside the door.'"


Let's hope the private security officers protecting the U.S. government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) - 695 million barrels of oil stored in underground salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana - now have permission to shoot to kill any terrorists who might drop in unannounced.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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