Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

…George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of  industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life…

captains of industry

 “That damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him,”  George Eastman recalls the events.

  “And I was across the country, oh what kind of wife can I be!?” She is distraught. “Why didn’t he let us know he was coming home? I would not have gone away in the first place.”

 “He is upstairs. The hospitals are full. Here, put this on, we don’t need anyone else sick.” He hands her a mask.

 “Is it that bad? I mean if the hospitals are full, that would be thousands.”

“Didn’t you read the papers in California?” George asks like she came from another planet.

“No, had no time, just heard talk of us winning some big battles in Europe.”

11,000 are dead in Philadelphia alone.”

 She hangs her head. “That is why the streets are deserted isn’t it?”

“People are afraid to talk to anybody. And poor Harv, he was shaken badly when he came home, only ten men survived on the Navy ship he crossed the ocean in. He was putting together a story when it got him.”

“Oh, my God – I want to see him,” she rushes to his side.

“You may not recognize him, lost a lot of weight, and he sleeps all day, it’s all I can do to get him to take in fluids, but I think he’s getting a little better.” George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of the photographic industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life. “The good news is that he has made it past the first day. Most people who die go fast, mostly younger too.”

“He’s got a strong heart… oh, Harv I am so sorry I wasn’t here for you, can you ever forgive me?” She kneels beside their bed, sobbing, not expecting an answer.

“Do you think I would die without being able to ask my partner why she abandoned our magazine, to be a movie star no less?” Harv Pearson’s speech is slow, but lucid.

“I can’t hug you, you rascal, but when I can, look out.” She looks back at George, mouthing a hearty, ‘thank you’.

MeanwhileThe Spanish influenza leaves as quickly as it had struck, erasing thirty million lives along the way, in time to allow dancing in the streets when the Armistice is signed and the Great War ends on November 11th.

  The balance of power has shifted… for now.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Colorized photo shows the German delegation, as they arrive to sign the Armistice provisionally ending World War One, in a train dining car outside Compiegne, France. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

Episode #219


page 204 (end ch. 11)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

…Upon leaving Orange County California Judith is faced with one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles…

Rocky Mountain Railroad Excursion by Howard Fogg

The three day return trip is doubly melancholy for Judith Eastman; she leaves something behind and she doesn’t know what to expect when she gets home, having been gone over three weeks. She stares blankly out her window during the day, tosses and turns in her Pullman at night. Reality has indeed settled in.

If she were in a taxicab, she could tell the driver to step on it, but a train has its own plodding pace, 60 mph, downhill, full throttle. And sure as there is a downhill, there is an uphill to match. Upon leaving Orange County California you discover one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles. At the highest elevations, snow has taken over the mountain peaks, very pretty indeed, but two months from now, passage over the mountains is touch and go. Even a thousand horsepower has trouble with four feet of fresh fallen snow.

But once you have passed the Nevada Territory, the leeward deserts and wasteland, the locomotive is faced with a thousand miles of seemingly level terrain. Of course the quality of sight-seeing goes downhill with the land, with nothing but endless waves of windblown prairie grasses. Throw in the occasional bison and a rodent hunting hawk for every acre, you have the American heartland in a nutshell.

Judith just stares past it all, homesick and alone.

Rocky Mountain Steam Train by Max Jacquiard

What she finds at home will not comfort her.

“Harv is very sick,” tells brother, George Eastman, wearing a surgeon’s mask who greets her along with her old dog.

“Hello, Frisky,” she acknowledges her faithful pet. “Sick? Where? Paris?”

“No, he came home four days after you left, seemed fine and sorely happy to be back, even worked at the office for a couple of weeks.” George gathers the courage he will need. “Then that damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #218


page 203

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #217

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #217

…“No, I’m afraid I must return to the real world,” tells Judith Eastman…

Variety Pickford-001

 “Bravo! What a scene!” Mary cannot contain herself. “Oh, I wish there were a way to record that scene with every little sound, all that raw emotion.”

The movie’s director is almost in tears, of the joyful variety. He has witnessed Judith’s steady improvement, the way she has started to use body language and that face; able to express a full compliment of moods.

Her final scene even impresses the not easily impressible Harry Langdon.  His last words to her, “I will work with you any time”, are different from his first, “I will not work with an untrained, unknown East Coast frump.” He lied about the frump part, eating those words faster than he can chew.

“Thank you all. I really enjoyed the experience and I am going to miss you. My magazine work will surely now seem boring.”

“You are going to stay until we are done shooting aren’t you?” Mary half asks half urges.

“No, I’m afraid I must return to the real world. I am surprised I was able to concentrate with my husband on the other side of the world.”

“My people will arrange for your return train, and I’ll instruct payroll to cut you a check for your performance.” Businesswoman Pickford takes control. “And please promise me that if I have a role tailor-made for you, that you will answer my call.”

“I cannot promise you absolutely, but I will do almost anything for a friend.”

The pair embraces warmly, but briefly. “Scene 84 to set 5 please, places everyone,” barks the director.

“That’s me, Judith. Have a safe trip and give your husband my best. He is a lucky man.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #217


page 204

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #214

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #214

…There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk…

Deaths ships-001

‘Masters of the Seas’ by William Lionel Wyllie (Text added)

Judith Eastman and Mary Pickford do not put 10 miles behind them on the way to California, when a telegram arrives at the Pearson-Eastman residence. No one is home. It goes undelivered. Had she been there, as Harv had assumed, the piece of yellow paper would have read:

My Project 17-001

MY DEAREST JUDITH  stop  HAVE LEFT PARIS  stop SHOULD ARRIVE NEW YORK 10/7  stop  CANNOT WAIT TO HOLD YOU  stop  LOVE HARV  end

He will regret not sending the telegram from Paris.

In spite of the coming missed communications, so begins an, albeit, short career as a naval officer aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Chesapeake Bay at the age of 63. Those eight days were gratefully uneventful, at least below the waterline.

Above it, it was another story. There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk, or so it seemed. The deck by deck segregation worked for a couple of days, but the devil’s disease finally took hold of the Chesapeake, racing from one sailor to the next. The pattern of taking those in their prime, 20 to 30 years old holds true, men who are or would have been husbands and fathers.

Had they had to go to battle stations, a number of stations would have gone unmanned, such was the carnage. They were a floating sitting duck.

  Word from the other ships in the convoy varies. They seem to be the worse-off naval vessel–it could not get much worse. While the troop-transports hold their own, they are ticking time bombs, likely infectious to anyone who comes in contact with them in the States.

The Chesapeake medical officer finally had the good sense to issue every last surgical mask to those who remain, realizing that one does not have to touch a carrier individual, that it is a dreaded airborne virus; the best possible method of transmission.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #214


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #211

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #211

…D.W. Griffith, the best cinematizer around, envisions movies with sound. Can you imagine not having to have an orchestra in the theater…

Orchestra Pit

“I am feeling guilty. Harv may be on the western front, knee high in mud or maybe worse.” She does not know that, in fact he is quite safe and the tide of the war has turned for the Allies.

     “Look at it this way: you will be doing your part to boost moral at home. The movies are a wonderful vehicle for people to escape, even if it is only for an hour or so. Rebecca will make the audience think of everything that is sweet and innocent.” Miss Pickford believes that with her whole heart and she is right.

Judith Eastman starts to see the point. Her magazine also entertains, through the pictures she so skillfully takes. They do not just inform. Silent films just happen to be more whimsical. “I think I am so used to the cold-hard facts, that movies seem friv…”

DW Griffith“Frivolous. That’s all right, you can say it.” She has heard that before. “There are people that say movies will never last, just a craze.

“Personally, I believe silent films are just the beginning. D.W. Griffith, the best cinematizer around, envisions movies with sound. Can you imagine not having to have an orchestra in the theater… and no subtitles? People could hear my voice, your voice!”

“Do not be offended, but I will not have long movie career. I have invested too much time in photography and my word, the Journal, to portray school teachers and who knows who. I am not getting any younger, Mary.”

          “Our makeup artists can make me look 15, Judith, and you don’t look a day over 40 without any.” Mary fiddles with Judith’s hair, trying out different of the newest styles. “You may take a liking to being a pampered actress.”

          “Let us not jump the gun. The horse belongs in front of the carriage. Never count your chickens before they hatch, when a lion lays with…”

          “I hate to keep interrupting, but I cannot take any more wisdom and we must get you packed or we or I will miss the next train to Tinsel Town.”

          “I have to tell my brother George where I am going, oh and I must turn over the magazine to the assistant editor. How long will I be gone?”

One month of chumming around and traveling with America’s Sweetheart. Who would have thought?


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #211


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #210

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #210

…I actually read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to a niece of mine when she came for a visit, way back in 1904, before I married Harv…

Rebecca by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Rebecca by Jessie Wilcox Smith

The influenza even affects the War Bond effort, halting the star-studded fundraising events. Viewed as just another way to allow the virus to spread and rightly so, the motion pictures industry pulls their precious stars from the field, of raising money for the war. As a result, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’s production is moved up, in light of the stars’ availability. Mary Pickford is being rushed to the studio and guess who she takes with her – Judith Eastman , the unlikely new face on the silver screen; no time for casting, only Mary Pickford’s word that she has the perfect person to play Rebecca’s beloved school teacher, Miss Emily Maxwell. She had originally thought her to be a good older sister, Hannah, but upon discovering that the youthful looking Judith was indeed 55 years of age, she reconsiders.

Mary Pickford on the set of the film of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (c) 1917 Apis/Sygma/Corbis

“You must be going daft. Mary, you want me to take the train out to Los Angeles with you, just like that?” Judith asks.

“You can play the part of Miss Maxwell and write the greatest article about film making ever.” Mary Pickford sounds as perky as she looks. “Did you read the book?”

Rebecca_of_Sunnybrook_Farm_Emily Maxwell  I actually read it to a niece of mine when she came for a visit, way back in 1904 or so, before I married Harv.” She thinks fondly about her dear husband, wondering where he is and what he will think when he finds out she is in California making a movie, with Mary Pickford no less. “As I recall, Emily Maxwell was Rebecca’s biggest supporter – A teacher – I guess that is not an outlandish notion.”

“That is what I want to hear!” exclaims the 25 year old star. “You are going to have the time of your life and we will be getting away from that awful influenza.

“I am feeling guilty. Harv may be on the western front, knee high in mud or maybe worse.” She does not know that, in fact he is quite safe and the tide of the war has turned for the Allies.

“Look at it this way: you will be doing your part to boost moral at home.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #210


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 205

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #205

… The addition of an American presence, an earnest participation that more than offsets the withdrawal of Russia from the fray, spells trouble for the Central Powers with a capital U-S-A…

In Paris, Harv is leading a small army of correspondents, making the P-E J the qualified source for news on the western front. While his wife rubs elbows with the stars, he wears a heavy cast iron bowl on his head. He dodges cold raindrops and the hail of gunfire. But the Great War is beginning to grow on him, due in part that he has learned how slowly it actually moves, especially when you are privy to intelligence information; not many “Verduns” up anybody’s sleeve without some foreknowledge.

The addition of an American presence, an earnest participation that more than offsets the withdrawal of Russia from the fray, spells trouble for the Central Powers with a capital U-S-A. She is slow to anger, but as in the Spanish-American set-to, you best not “Yank” on the tail of a hellcat. The dough boys have landed in France, almost three months since that April 1917 declaration of war; time to redraw the lines on the western front.

The Western Front

At sixty-three, the age when most people retire from a life of toil and travail, Harv Pearson is punctuating his already rich abidance, the sound of gunfire never out of earshot. Some of those rounds of ammunition are fired from the air, synchronized, parting the whirling blades of airplane propellers.

Col. Billy Mitchell (earlyaviators.com)

He meets a man of lofty vision, one of the most intriguing characters of the American military, accidentally on purpose, while seeking stories overlooked by other war correspondents. Colonel Billy Mitchell is the maverick commander of our wing of the Allied Air Corps and has been busy lobbying for this new form of waging war. There is, however, no verifiable history to support his claims. So much of his opposition comes from traditionalists who have never left the terra firma, save jumping out of the way of a lethal bouncing grenade.

Here in Britain, where most of the airfields dot the rolling countryside, there is less resistance to change, seeing that urgency is higher on the priority ladder. And there are the French, the self-proclaimed inventors of the airplane, who have had Americans flying in their ranks for a couple of years now and are the most comfortable in the sky.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #205


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