A son goes looking for answers. Who killed his mother wasn’t the question that the author set out to answer, or even one he knew to ask, when he started researching her life…but it is the question that emerged and it simply will not go away.
When Rose Cherami (aka Melba Christine Youngblood Marcades) was 35 years old she gave up her five-year-old son, Michael. Once grown and established at the highest levels of music academia, Dr. Michael Marcades, Rose’s son, set out to answer some questions as to who his mother was and why she died so young. In the process, he hoped to establish a better understanding of her life and to gain some palpable connection to her. During this journey, he pieced together the fragments of Rose's troubled life - her secret dealings with mobsters, assassins, the FBI, prostitution rings, as well as her struggle with addiction and violence. The book chronicles her entire life – from childhood to her mysterious death. Her story spans the width of the country and the depths of
abuse, misery, humiliation, and the greater depths of her love for her son.
Despite her young age, Rose had already seen enough of life’s deprivations for three lifetimes. It often seemed more like Hollywood than reality, especially when Michael's research connected Rose to the JFK assassination. Evidence confirms that she warned authorities and others about the assassination plan before it happened. Based on true, documented events, the REVISED SECOND EDITION invites the reader into a world hidden behind the mystique of the Kennedy era.
Many will identify with a mother’s love often thwarted by her struggle to overcome her demons, the cruelty of life towards those on the fringes, and the apathetic destruction of people by national politics. This book will speak to anyone who has searched for information about a parent, struggled with the consequences of family addiction or has pursued historical truth beyond narratives recorded in contemporary textbooks.
Walk with Michael as he searched for his mother. The journey revealed a truly amazing, mysterious story that will linger with you.
Glimpses of Rose Cherami, real name Melba Christine Youngblood Marcades, first appeared to me in the opening scenes of Oliver Stone's movie 'JFK' in the early 1990's. I was provided with further details of this case at JFK Lancer's November in Dallas conference in 2003 by Bob Dorff and Jim Olivier. Although I was aware of the publication of the first edition in 2016, it was the authors Skype link to Dealey Plaza U.K. in 2020 that really drew me to obtain a signed copy of his second edition direct from Dr. Michael Marcades.
Although this is a real life biography of his mother, a work that has involved decades long research, 'Rose Cherami: Gathering Fallen Petals' contains fictional dialog to assist the flow of this harrowing life story, but with a solid factual base. In that respect, this book is somewhat unique in comparison to other books in the JFK assassination canon, unless we include the Warren Report.
Joan Mellen's back cover review warns readers to 'expect nightmares'. 'Crit' had a short life spent with alcoholism, prostitution, heroin addiction, multiple police arrests, imprisonment, hospitalizations and involvements with organized criminal enterprises, as well as her inability to look after her son Michael.
I think that it is the way this story has been starkly written that makes it hard to lose sympathy and understanding with the character of 'Rose Cherami'.
As regards the JFK assassination involvement she can be included along with Joseph Milteer, who seemed to possess fore knowledge of JFK's killing. Her knowledge of Ruby and Oswald (or possibly an Oswald double) stands on solid foundations. A further revelation is her final demise, a far more frightening scenario than the opening scene in Stone's movie.
However, leaving the JFK aspect to one side, this book stands testimony to a woman who just had to keep on keeping on throughout her long and crazy escapades. The result is a compulsive page turner!
JFKAssassination Group UNITED KINGDOM (London)
Rose Cherami: Gathering Fallen Petals, by Dr. Michael Marcades with Norma Kirkpatrick
In Rose Cherami: Gathering Fallen Petals, Marcades gathers, and then snaps into place, the pieces of a misspent life by the woman he only vaguely knew as his mother. A woman who, just prior to President John Kennedy’s visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963, announced to a Louisiana State Police officer that men she had been traveling with—men who, like she, worked for Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby—were going to “kill Kennedy when he comes to Dallas.” Did letting that explosive secret slip lead to her death less than two years later? Your guess is as good as any.
Imagine you never really knew you mother, that when you were barely old enough to know who she was, she left you with your grandparents to raise, and that she died while you were still a young boy. Growing up, you heard bits and pieces of information about her. Vague comments, rich with subtext but poverty-stricken in detail. “Whispers” about “mysterious absences” and “hints that she was an unsettled soul who chose the wrong role in life.”
Wouldn’t you want to know more, to find the missing pieces and fit them together to fill out a complete picture of the woman who gave you life?
Now imagine that, as a grown man, you devote yourself to uncovering the mystery that was your mother. To find the missing pieces—to discover who she was, to better understand who you are and where you came from. But what if those additional pieces paint a far darker picture than you ever imagined? Drug mule. Addict. Prostitute. Thief. Insane. You don’t even know what name to call her, as she went by so many, starting with her birth name of Melba Christine—“Crit” for short—and ending with Rose. Rose Cherami. The name she bore as she lay dying on an east Texas highway.
So, what do you do? Do you stop digging, delete the bad, and try to just remember the good? Or do you continue to search? To find the truth. But will the truth really set you free? Or will it chain you to a sordid past, even if it’s not your own?
That’s the dilemma Dr. Michael Marcades faced as he began his journey to learn about his mother’s tragic life. The picture that emerged was both devastating and fascinating at the same time. And it placed his mother squarely in the middle of one of this country’s greatest crimes: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In Rose Cherami: Gathering Fallen Petals, Marcades gathers, and then snaps into place, the pieces of a misspent life by the woman he only vaguely knew as his mother. A woman who, just prior to President John Kennedy’s visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963, announced to a Louisiana State Police officer that men she had been traveling with—men who, like she, worked for Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby—were going to “kill Kennedy when he comes to Dallas.” Did that explosive secret lead to her death less than two years later? Your guess is as good as any.
Now the plot thickens. It’s a conspiracy theorist’s dream, but it begs the question: What if it’s not just a theory; what if it’s real? And how does that play into Rose’s own tragic, and mysterious death, on that lonely east Texas highway less than two years later? Accident? Or murder?
Written in the style of a novel, mixing fiction to fill missing gaps in a meticulously researched record of fact, Rose Cherami: Gathering Fallen Petals tells the story of an imperfect woman as narrated by a loving son. The facts of Rose’s life surely must have been painful to uncover, but Marcades ensures that her story is, in fact told, with all her secrets laid bare, and that she is not just a footnote to a piece of history. Rather, she is a living, breathing contradiction who, like the rest of us, is neither all bad nor all good.
Though Rose’s journey may have started with promise, it took a wrong turn somewhere and ended in tragedy. But no life is totally wasted. Marcades is Rose’s living legacy. He is the proof that she passed through this world and left something good behind. “I know, in the eyes of many, she was a woman of questionable character who lived a bizarre life,” he says. “Nevertheless, she gave me life, and in spite of her absence, or perhaps because of her absence, I have done my best to live it well.”
Marcades then concludes this about his own journey of self-discovery through discovering his mother’s tragic journey: “Though I can’t return to the past, or change it in any way, it brings me some degree of peace to have shared the experiences of my life with others who perhaps are looking for the same peace and acceptance within their own ambivalent lives.”
And that’s a journey worth taking.
Acclaimed author, retired attorney, adjunct professor of Constitutional Law
and Entertainment Law at University of Texas - Arlington
Reviewer for New York JOURNAL OF BOOKS
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AFP Article - April 28, 2020
Rose Cherami Article
THE JOURNAL OF HISTORY AND DEEP POLITICS
Jan. 2020 Issue
PODCAST: Apr. 2020 with Donald Jeffries, JFK actress Sally Kirkland, J. Gary Shaw, Bob Wilson, Michael Marcades
PODCAST: Apr. 2020 with DEALEY PLAZA, UK, host Bart Kamp, London
Video from the JFK movie on the inclusion of Rose Cherami in the movie.
Available via SIXTH FLOOR Website.
Oral History Project Interview with Dr. Michael Marcades, son of Rose Cherami.
6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX
Full INTRODUCTION by J. Gary Shaw
from CHERAMI SECOND EDITION
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