Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #276
…Carolyn is wearing a so-called leather bomber jacket she had been given by a returning B-17 tail gunner…
Constance Caraway… rather Carolyn Hanes is waving both arms above her head, on the tarmac of the commercial terminal at La Guardia Airport. The roar of a taxiing twin engine Douglas DC-3 camouflages her, “Over here, Captain Ford!”, but he spots her nonetheless. He swings the impressive plane around, signaling a big thumb’s up, and a welcome sight in the window above the Constance Caraway P.I. in big bold yellow. He looks as dashing as she had remembered, an opinion slightly tainted by his heroic escapades.
Once in place, and propellers at rest, Robert Ford climbs down the cockpit ladder, his plane’s only entrance beside the cargo bay doors. Lyn has abandoned her bags and is there to apply a hardy embrace. She is wearing a so-called leather bomber jacket she had been given by a returning B-17 tail gunner.
“Is that a bullet hole there?” He puts an index finger into Lyn’s upper left arm. “You didn’t, did you?”
“Join the Air Force, oh my, no?”
“Another Constance fan?”
“Yes, he was so cute, says he would read my stuff on the way back from a bombing run. Now, Bob, he was just a boy.” She reacts to Ford’s sideward glance.
“Well you look like a real flier, Lyn. What do say to taking my baby for a little 1600 mile spin?”
“Very good, Lyn, that’s what’s in our flight plan… oh, here comes the fuel truck.”
“76 octane?” Lyn reels in a Clipper memory.
“76? There isn’t a runway in the world long enough if we used straight gasoline. These engines are spoiled rotten, 110, no less, and not in five gallon cans either.” His Clipper recollection includes fueling it with five gallon cans… all four thousand gallons.
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #268
…After Captain Ford, his crew and remaining passengers, et al had left Karachi, their odyssey continued for another ten days…
As for the Pacific Clipper, the first thing Captain Robert Ford did, once they had landed at LaGuardia harbor on January 5 1942, was to radio Colombo, Ceylon and the British Embassy there. He did call his family, knowing that Pan Am had done so in advance for him, but it is the fate of a woman he barely knew that haunts him, and as it turns out, will continue to haunt him for the rest of his life.
After him, his crew and remaining passengers, et al had left Karachi, their odyssey continued for another ten days, across the Arabian Peninsula, the sands of the Sahara, the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the tip of South America, then finally and mercifully, New York City.
The loss of one passenger will taint the joy of flying, for a flyer without parallel. Instead of retirement, he is granted two weeks leave and a reassignment to an Atlantic Clipper route. He will do so dutifully, if not unceremoniously.
In the two-week layover, he writes out a complete debriefing for his friend, Lyn, so she can fill in the blanks for her war mystery, The Hawaiian Spy. He promises a visit to Tallahassee on his summer vacation. Not an altogether disagreeable notion, even for her. Friendship is friendship, after all.
As in the case of their country, they find: a lesson not learned is the hardest lesson of all.
End of Chapter Fourteen
What I enjoy most about writing Historical Fiction is being able to weave stories, like Robert Ford’s Pacific Clipper WWII ordeal, into the fabric of ***Alpha Omega M.D. – Granted he never actually had a passenger go missing from his Pan Am Clipper on the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), but what fun it was to include characters Carolyn Hanes (Constance Caraway) and Sara Fenwick (Fanny Renwick) in on one of the most amazing stories that no one knows about.
One sunny Sunday, while knee-deep in writing this book, I came upon a feature article in the Chicago Tribune’s Travel Section. Somewhere in my old-fashioned stack of research material is that article. At the time, I could not put it down, nor could I let it rest.
As it is with the construction of any book, one writes one-day-at-a-time and a once well-planned story takes a sudden turn. And so it did; from a story about a kindly Southern doctor – to a fictional fiction writer who takes a holiday aboard one of Pan American Airways flying boats, WWII breaks out, she loses her companion and blah, blah, blah etc…
I would like to thank the faithful readers of the Writing is Fun-damental (WIF) blog, for allowing me to share my book, along with this amazing story with you. – Gwen
*** THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR – ISBN 978-1-4691-9018 Xlibris Publishing
For the real story behind the Pacific Clipper, (Daley, Robert, 1980, An American Saga, Juan Trippe and His Pan Am Empire, Random House, New York) follow the link below:
Alpha Omega M.D.
page 249 (end ch. 14)
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #236
…In Herbert Love’s world there is only black and white; grays exist only in the clouds of a dreary day or the color of his favorite suit…
What can you say about Herbert Love? Certainly not enough can be put in earthly terms, whereby only God in his holy wisdom can fathom the depth of such a person as Herb. If it were only for his impact on a single family, the Campbells, or just A.O. for that matter, his time on this world was well spent.
But it goes well beyond helping to free a family from slavery, or giving the Tallahassee area a fine, fine physician. There is the legacy of his stint as Secretary of Agriculture. It has and always will be an example for those who have followed. He was a man of conviction, never once betraying his morals or beliefs.
In Herbert Love’s world there is only black and white; grays exist only in the clouds of a dreary day or the color of his favorite suit. There is right and there is wrong and very little in-between. You would be surprised how amazingly uncomplicated life is when you live within that reality. Straightforward, upright, just; three words that best describes the man who is sorely missed in the midst of his dear country’s most trying times.
Very the same can be said for his life’s partner, Phoebe. A wise man once said, ‘There is nothing on this Earth quite like a godly woman.’ And he could not have been more right. Her sweet quiet spirit touched everybody that knew her. Not high profile, just highly noble.
And the humbly and freely shared her wisdom with the young women of greater Quincy, some going so far as to suggest that she found a school for young ladies. The advent of the emancipated woman, so-called flappers, empowered by the right to vote and generous exposure of the female knee, had really taken its toll on ladylike demeanor. Had she been younger, she would have welcomed that formidable challenge. Instead, a few lucky mothers were able to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that their girls rubbed elbows with the very best. That is why perhaps the finest acting performance of all time is her portrayal of Cinderella’s wicked step-mother, otherwise trivializing a glorious septuagenarian tenure.
The Loves were special people. Neither did one dwell without the other, happily consorted, having reaped their bountiful harvest and going on to the greater reward in the Heavenly Kingdom. The world of 1935 is a poorer place without them.
“Black and White” is a song written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson. The most successful recording of the song was the pop version by Three Dog Night in 1972, when it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #230
…”Hell, give ‘em a vote and before you know it, they’ll elect one of their own“…
Led by the fiery Paul, 300 women and growing, others joining along the one-mile walk from the city park to the capitol building, make their way noisily, some toting signs and banners. Only the deaf, dumb and blind are able to ignore this feminine spectacle, the rest either dumbfounded or unable to get their automobile or carriage around the protesters.
One of those inconvenienced is the chief of police, Sam Schuster. He has had a couple of his men watching what he thought was going to be a small dainty meeting. But he is on his way home, home to a dinner-less kitchen table, now thwarted by a huge crowd, Model Ts backed up for as far as the eye can see.
There is plenty of time for him to figure out what he can charge organizers with, though he is wise to let this run its course, for fear of being beaten by purses and parasols. On average, the chief runs a tight ship, nonsense and mischief are usually short-lived. He considers this nonsense on a very large scale. ‘We want the right to vote, ha, that’s a good one. What does a woman know about politics? Hell, give ‘em a vote and before you know it, they’ll elect one of their own.’ He is speaking to himself, about to change his mind. ‘This is bullshit–I’m going to break up this skirt party, arrest that woman fillin’ their heads with foolishness.’
He gets out of police car, puts on his official police hat, grabs his TPD megaphone and wades into the sea of estrogen driven humanity. He goes unnoticed, for the most part; an occasional dirty look cast his way, until he has achieved the podium on the stairs of the Capitol there for all the five hundred to see.
He turns to the crowd, speaking in the amplified cone, “Please disperse immediately! You are illegally blocking traffic!”
Alice Paul thinks on her feet, telling them, “That’s all right ladies, let’s go inside!” She turns straight away, followed directly by her audience. It is like cattle on the drive and Sam Schuster does not know what do, stumbling, mumbling, finally trampled into the concrete like so many ants.
When the dust clears, he shakes off his grogginess and heads for his car, well if he had one. It is not where he left it, the traffic jam having since broken up, and someone is joyriding in a black Model T Ford with big white a star and the letters TPD on each door. “Someone is going to pay for this… that Paul broad, yeah, I’ll walk her to the station if I have to!”
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #212
…Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office…
… far from the glamour of the movies, Harv Pearson has witnessed the wonder of America’s contribution to the Great War, Col. Billy Mitchell in particular. On one day in late September, watching from the ground, he sees the sky above is filled with allied airplanes, spanning the horizon and headed for Saint Mihiel. They will total 1400 or more, he learns from Mitchell and quite a sight to see at that.
The sound of all those rotary engines will forever echo in the recesses of his mind. War produces sights and sounds that no peacetime event can and places a stamp on the human souls therein.
It also helps when you are on the winning side and thanks to American contributions, i.e. the air war, submarine warfare and fierce ground assaults. An end to the Great War can be seen.
Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office, leaving a skeleton staff to tie up the many loose ends. Personally, he is thankful that they had not lost any of his rotating reporters to the war, which is not the case for other news organizations. In fact, they are the only journalistic presence not to lose a correspondent.
For his last assignment, Harv is going to go back to the U.S. on a convoy ship, under the command of Rear Admiral William S. Sims. Sims has been at it for longer than most anyone, coordinating the transport of war materials, then troops since back in ‘15. He too is making his final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
He has a wealth of stories to tell, many of them end with the sinking of one of many defenseless civilian ships. Until the Navy was allowed to convoy, a safety net surrounding as many as 10 supply ships, millions of metric tons is lost to U-boats… and the bottom of the ocean.
“How many ships have you been on that have been struck by a torpedo?” asks Harv after they have been under way for a day.
“8 too many, Mr. Pearson,” he relates with a stare straight ahead; he refuses to think about what is below the waterline of his boat, leaving that vigilant task to his around-the-clock submarine spotters. “If a cat has nine lives, I don’t want to use up that last one”
“It helps that we are traveling on a destroyer, does it not?” Harv is looking for reassurance, wanting to avoid John Ferrell’s fate at all cost. He had a bird’s eye view then and that impression haunt him long after the last shot of this horrible war is fired.
“Well yes, 5 of the boats I was aboard that got hit were civilian and before 1917. I guess the odds eventually even out.”
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #206
…We must shoot down as many Albatross’ as we can – every one of them is a greater threat to our boys than two battalions of Huns…
European Allies have had Americans flying in their ranks for a couple of years now and are the most comfortable in the sky.
“Wright” or wrong, you cannot dispute effectiveness of aircraft and if men like Billy Mitchell do not advance the cause, the Germans would have controlled the skies, perhaps changing the course of world history.
Harv Pearson is seated in the rear of a room of military men, commanders all, planning an offensive beginning at Saint Mihiel on the Western Front. Mitchell, just a colonel, is prominent in the September 1918 meeting, urging to use just about every available aircraft, ‘to chase retreating German forces into tomorrow.’
“We have the opportunity break through that damned Siegfried Line! Doesn’t it make sense to shoot down as many Albatross’ as we can – every one of them is a greater threat to our boys than two battalions of Huns!” Billy Mitchell will use any means to make his point, including the press and their widening audience.
“Colonel Mitchell, you have been in Europe longer than any other adviser, what are some of the others uses for the airplane, other than those hair-raising dogfights?” asks Harv, the only reporter in the room.
“If they would listen to me, I would sink every ship that they have, but they don’t think our bombs can do it, that’s bull***t!”
“What if the ships are in the middle of the Atlantic? The current range of airplanes barely allows you to fly to Belgium and back?”
“We could land them on boats.” He is thinking on the fly. “Our aces can land in the middle of a herd of cattle, why not on a ship!”
Harv does not know what to say, getting more of an answer than he was prepared for. As far as he knows, there are no ships with an airfield for a deck. What others are whispering may be true, ‘Billy Mitchell is an extremist, bent on unproven things with little regard for his superiors.’
“Gotta go, Pearson; more Albatross’ to shoot out of the sky.” There is a hint of glee in his voice. Was he going to fly a mission? Harv wouldn’t put it past the fiery flying enthusiast.
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #118
…Overwhelmed, surprised, lightheaded, exhausted and downright grateful to be home are they, standing hand in hand, friendships forged by fire and sharpened one against the other…
On this day, it is Herbert Love and the Leon/Gadsden Nine who stand and wave to the adoring masses. Such is the power of the printed word, preceding them with truth-ly tales and a few innocent embellishments, sprinkled with a little imagination.
One particularly inciting article would be considered old news. Fulton Allanson IV had ferreted out an account of the liberation of the Campbell family from the clutches of Jefferson Smythwick and Fort Sumter South. Thanks to Amanda Campbell and Martha Ferrell, a special Saturday edition of the Tallahassee Democrat is printed, solely dedicated to that amazing act of liberating love.
When you add that stimulating story to current heroic escapades and a compelling pattern emerges. These are, by no measure, ordinary people. There is something about them that must be different, so different that one can only dream of such feats. The status quo is resigned complacency when compared to inspired motivation.
However cherished and immortalized, the balconied nine are privately embarrassed by the pomp attention. Overwhelmed, surprised, lightheaded, exhausted and downright grateful to be home are they, standing hand in hand, friendships forged by fire and sharpened one against the other.
When William McKinley finally speaks, people listen, “Are there any greater heroes than these fine nine people?” igniting yet another five minute ovation.
A few of the many who were helped or saved, such as James and Abbey and the humbled young debutantes of Tallahassee are there at the fore on the ground and cheering the loudest. Martha and Agnes Ferrell, Frieda Endlichoffer, Laura Bell, Amanda Campbell – husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are right behind them, joyous to be a reveler, instead of a mourner.
“Thank you all for your graciousness. It makes for a homecoming that none of us will likely forget,” tells Herb Love for the group. “And I would like to say that I am proud to count William McKinley as my friend! He is as fine a man as I may ever meet!”
McKinley has since boarded his train, joining an irresistibly juicy photographic opportunity (the back deck of the back car draped in American flaggery) with the most genuine intentions of course. He introduces each of the nine; from a list he has been given, though he could probably do it by heart. The nine are as individual as they are unique, easily distinguished from the other, even you had not seen them before: a mayor and his wife, a businessman, a journalist, a pharmacist, a school administrator, a cigar maker and his son, the protégé of an elderly German doctor.
Wow! The crowd is ten thousand strong. What a party! But only those, in those twenty minutes short of an hour at the railway depot, really believe he was inviting everyone.
“I was there with you in Philadelphia, when the Republicans acclaimed their support for you,” Herb grabs the megaphone, really getting into this campaigning thing, “and me and my good friends will be there with you and sweet Ida, when you are once again proclaimed President of our fine country!”
Alpha Omega M.D.
Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #77
…The USS Maine had come to Cuba to protect American citizens from pro-Spanish mobs, wanting nothing less than independence…
“What the hell was that?” demands Captain Sigsbee from the smoking bridge of the Battleship USS Maine of the helmsman, who already realizes he has no control of this troubled ship. There is no time for him to speculate. The explosion that has rocked the huge boat now topped by another even more powerful blast. “Abandon ship! Man the lifeboats!”
“Where is Commander Gaskel?” asks Captain Sigsbee about his second in command (Martha Ferrell’s brother) amidst a mad scramble of sailors from deep within the bowels of the ship.
“He helped me and some other guys out of the boiler room, sir,” answers one of the lucky ones. “We thought he was right behind us.”
A captain knows his boat intimately. The only two areas that can produce such explosions, assuming it was not sabotage, are the boiler room and the munitions cache. They are too close together for comfort, but Sigsbee has a notion to retrieve survivors and for a moment it looks like the worst is over. Just then, a final blast rips the stern front the bow, just to the rear of amidship. The stern is more heavily weighted by the coal driven turbines and finds the bottom of Havana harbor first.
The fore of the ship lingers on the surface long enough for the remaining bridge crew and finally Captain Sigsbee to make the last seaworthy lifeboat. One minute more separates the reunion of the bow with its anchor, concluding the disaster in no more than twelve minutes total.
(Music: Sleeping Sun Artist: Nightwish Subject: USS Maine)
They had come to Cuba to protect American citizens from pro-Spanish mobs, rioting against self- government, wanting nothing less than independence. What or who caused the stay of the Maine to come to a crashing end after only three weeks, will be debated and disputed for longer than the lives of those who survive.
Alpha Omega M.D.
Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 89
…Find the nearest firehouse Fanny, get help, Eddie has taken two to the gut…
Eddie notices a black Cadillac ironically similar to the one that ran them off the road on the way back from Tolentine. It is parked at the side entrance to O’Malley’s. Inadvisably, he does not share this useful tidbit with his employers, letting them out two blocks to the south as he was instructed.
It is a sound plan; evaluate then act.
“What the hell is he doing, he doesn’t have a gun?” Constance laments.
This was not part of the plan.
Eddie jumps out the passenger side door and storms into the building.
Constance has broken into an all-out gallop in a futile attempt to stop him, her Beretta is drawn. Shrieks at her determined comrade go unheeded.
Shortly after he disappears inside the side entrance, she hears two sharp reports, then silence. She polishes a hole onto a side window to see inside. There is a single man’s body lying next to a person bound and gagged on a chair.
She motions to Fanny has to go around to the rear of the single story structure to secure that exit.
Without hesitation, Constance charges into the skirmish. The element of surprise is on her side.
Luckily, Engine #4 is around the corner on Division Street.