Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #268

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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…

Pacific Clipper Route      As for the Pacific Clipper, the first thing Captain Robert Ford did, once they had landed at LaGuardia Robert Ford-001harbor 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.

Pacific Clipper Take-off    After him, his crew and remaining passengers, et al had left Karachi, their odyssey Pan Am Clipper2continued 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.

Ford Map-001 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 china_clipperdo 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.

Pan Am ClipperPan Am Hat-001fords-flight-route1937 CC P.I.-001

As in the case of their country, they find: a lesson not learned  is the hardest lesson of all.

End of Chapter Fourteen


Author’s note:

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:

Captain Robert Ford’s Factual Pacific Clipper Story

Pacific Clipper-001



Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #268


page 251 (end ch. 14)

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #266

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #266

… “PAA should not stand for Postmortem American Airlines.” Words can be weapons, particularly when used by a professional like Lyn…

Words are Weapons-001

“She’s not onboard, Miss Hanes,” reports 1st Officer Brown, Sara’s escort for the evening and not feeling real good about now. “It seems she never made it back.”

Lyn is wondering if life is about to imitate art. In her book tentatively titled, Constance Caraway: The 1937 CC P.I.-001Hawaiian Spy, Fanny Renwick disappears while following the man in the blue suit. Lyn is hoping upon hope that Sara is merely lost, just as Fanny had after being spotted and subsequently ditched by the blue suited suspected spy.

Sure, that is it. She will turn up soon, all safe and sound.

“We’re not leaving until we find her, are we Captain? The mechanics haven’t completed repairs on that cylinder in number three engine.” Rod Brown is seriously concerned about Sara and not just because she was his “date”. He had had his eye on her ever since they left San Francisco. It is without reciprocation that he now acts.

  “Don’t worry, Rod. She can’t have gone far. I have already informed the British authorities about Miss Fenwick and you can head up a search team of your own. Now get cracking, we’ve only about 24 hours before we have to take off for Karachi.”

          “Pakistan?”

          “Yet another glamorous destination. Pan Am should make you guys pay for an around-the-world tour like this one.”

fords-flight-route

“It seems that your Miss Fenwick is not the only person who has been reported missing,” reports a British Army security person to 1st Officer Brown and Carolyn. “Another civilian, a Ceylonese woman and one of our Army nurses vanished about the same time.”

          “All women, what’s up with that? Is there some sicko out there?” Rod Brown fears a rapist is on the loose.

          “Normally, I would make the same assumption folks, but we have had no previous reports of assaults onwomen, especially since the disappearances were in the vicinity of Embassy Row. We are not talking back alleys or poorly lit streets.”

          “What about that blinding light we’ve heard about? Is that cause and effect or just coincidence?” Lyn is leaving no stone unturned.

          “We don’t know Miss, although our base radar did spot a strange blip on their screens at the same time as the light. When the light went out, the bogey was gone. Frankly, nothing in our skies can move that fast.”

“Three people do not just vanish into thin air, Sergeant. I suggest you redouble your search. PAA should not stand for Postmortem American Airlines.” Words can be weapons, particularly when used by a professional like Lyn.

“We need to get some answers soon. We will be leaving for Pakistan early tomorrow. I want that woman found.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pan Am Clipper-001

Episode #266


page 249

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #258

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #258

…You know, I’ve heard there are cannibals in New Zealand, just waiting for a couple of softies like us, no doubt…

New Zealand

Cannibal Camp New Zealand

“We will be back in time for Christmas, I promise,” reassures author Carolyn to her reluctantly would-be travel companion. “Since when have you become a homebody?”

“Why can’t we just fly to Hawaii and fly back?” Sara Fenwick is trying her best to convince Lyn to make a short trip. If they were to fly the Pacific Clipper, they are not scheduled back to San Francisco until December 14, 1941.

“Sara, we haven’t had a holiday for years and what a great excuse to escape these endlessly cloudy days. I1937 CC P.I.-001 have heard that the South Pacific is marvelous this time of year.” She is doing her best to sell an ambitious trip, much of it over open seas, but one that few people have the opportunity to experience. It would be a valuable tool in the growth of Constance Caraway, Private Eye. She will be going to Hawaii as an agent for the government, to investigate possible espionage by certain military personnel stationed on the island of Oahu. “Don’t you remember what a hoot of a time Mary Pickford and Judith Eastman had? Their trip to Hong Kong took ten years off old Judith. In fact, if she had not broken her hip last month, she would be coming with us.”

“If it adds ten years to my age, you will rue the day!.” She is being worn down, slowly but surely. “You know, I’ve heard there are cannibals in New Zealand, just waiting for a couple of softies like us, no doubt.”

“The Pacific Clipper has a crew of eleven big, strong men, Sara.”

“Well, that is the clincher for me. Eleven muscular fly boys.” Men do have their uses. Benign chivalry is one of them.

After 24100 miles from San Francisco to the Islands (Hawaiian) and then many more miles and islands later…

“I don’t think I will ever tire of the true blueness of Pacific water,” proclaims Carolyn Hanes as they rise Fanny-001into the air, once again, leaving Pago Pago Samoa. They are New Zealand bound; 1726.169 measly nautical miles and then the “turnaround”, in flying terms.

For her part, Sara Fenwick may never look at a glass half-full again. She will be happy when this is over.

“Look, Sara, a humpback!” Lyn has become an expert on whale species. A whale is a whale is a whale to Sara, certainly dissimilar to Constance Caraway’s right hand gal, with an eye for a good picture, Fanny Renwick.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pan Am Clipper2

Episode #258


page 242

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #257

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #257

…Every Captain in my Clipper fleet, including the Atlantic routes, is getting one of these, it is marked, PLAN A – TOP SECRET – FOR CAPTAIN’S EYES ONLY

FOR CAPTAIN'S EYES-001

In early December 1941:  

 “The Japanese are driving right for Hong Kong. What the hell are we supposed to do about the Clipper?” wonders Terry Trippe, not exactly thrilled with Japan’s policies in the Pacific. His island hopping enterprise depends on safe skies and tranquil seas. The ocean currents are tumultuous and the south sea air is fraught with turbulence.

          “Why would that little bunch of islands be dumb enough to take on Uncle Sam?” asks Captain Robert Ford, one of Pan American Airway’s skilled pilots. His flying boat is the Pacific Clipper, which stays well south of Hong Kong, reaching Auckland, New Zealand before backtracking to California.

Pacific Clipper Route

“We didn’t do anything about Hitler when we had a chance. Look where that got England… and France… and Poland. Shit, John, if you ask me, we should have joined the war, you know, declared war when Britain was bombed, not just supplying them with arms and goods. Are we going to allow Japan to the same damned thing?” Terry Trippe echoes the sentiments of many of the interested observers around the world. He has gone so far as planning for the worst case scenario. “Every Captain in my Clipper fleet, including the Atlantic routes is getting one of these.” It is marked “PLAN A – TOP SECRET – FOR CAPTAIN’S EYES ONLY”.

“You know something, something big, don’t you?”

Foresight is one of Terry Trippe’s stronger traits.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pacific Clipper-001

Episode #257


page 241

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #253

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #253

…Judith Eastman probes the mind of Pan American chief Terry Trippe, who by his interest in spanning the globe, brings him a keener perspective on affairs international…

The Pan Am Globe in the lobby of the Miami Science Museum

Reality generally tops fiction, hands down, especially for those aboard the Pacific Clipper. Their stop in Honolulu was a dream, thanks to the surprise passenger for the trip, Pan American Airways young President Juan “Terry” Trippe. What was first an airmail flight, Trippe has expanded it into a passenger getaway par excellence. If their visit to the Territory of Hawaii is an indicator, they can throw a schedule out the window. “I mean to show Mary Pickford a good time,” claims Trippe, likely to keep that promise, even though Mary has already drawn the line when it comes to any amorous advances. Well, there is always Hong Kong. He will have his choice of girls there.

As the mammoth flying boat lands in one South Sea island harbor after another and the novelty of non-stop fun is wearing off, Judith Eastman takes the opportunity to corner their youthful host for the purposes of picking his brain; the man is nowhere near as “flighty” as he has been coming off until this late in 1935. They will be turning the calendar forward one year tomorrow, the occasion for reflection on the state of the world at large, is there to be had.

“Do you sense that there is something simmering down below us, Terry?” Judith probes the mind of the Pan American chief, who by his interest in spanning the globe, brings him a keener perspective on affairs international.

“Oh, yeah,” he replies, reaching for his attaché, pulling out a very official looking packet bearing both the Pan Am heading and United States Army coat of arms. “Take a look at this.”

Judith brings down a pair of spectacles from her silky white hair. She reads the ten page document from cover to cover before commenting, “If I am following this correctly, there is a world-wide alert and yet the world isn’t in on it.”

“That’s about it, Mrs. Eastman.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Juan Terry Trippe by David K. Stone

Episode #253


page 237

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #248

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #248

…”The new movie we’re producing for MGM is titled, Mutiny on the Bounty,” Pickford states proudly…

Mutiny on the Bounty

Clark Gable playing Fletcher Christian in “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Charles Laughton plays Captain Bligh.

“Is that gorgeous husband of yours in it?”

“No, Frank Lloyd signed up a couple of young unknowns like Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. Competition for the really good actors is downright fierce.”

“I am sure they will carry the day, Mary. And it is so nice actually hearing their real voices.” Mary Pickford spent the bulk of her career moving her lips, which produced nothing but lines of text at the bottom of the big screen; a shame considering that she has deeply sexy voice, betraying her diminutive stature.

“It is time to make your way to your seats, ladies,” one of the eleven crewmen urges politely.

“I do not believe I have gotten your picture as yet, young man.”

“You did so, Madame, out on the dock.”

“Oh my, all you good looking men in those snappy uniforms look so much alike,” Judith explains, as one of the flight stewards does a double take, after getting a better look at the second party.

  “Are you… uh, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?” he stumbles for the right proper name.

          “Mary Pickford, yes.”

          “Yeah, her too.” He rifles his jacket for a pen and paper, anything to record their meeting. He takes off his white Pan American Airlines hat. “Would you be so kind as to sign your same on my flight cap?”

   “This will be a first…”

          “Barney, Barney Sawicki.”

          “All right Barney-Barney Sawicki, how do you spell your last name?”

          “Just one Barney, ma’am and it is spelled S-A-W-I-C-K-I.Pan Am Hat-001

          “I was pulling your leg, sir.”

          “Say, could you just put, ‘To Barney, All my love, Rebecca?’ I must have seen it a hundred times. You didn’t know it, but you were my first love. I was only seven, but that didn’t matter.”

“I’m flattered, I think.” Mary had done some math in her head. It can be rough being an icon or rather, is it disturbing to be referred to as a fictional character instead of one’s real name; no matter. “There you go Barney and thank you for reminding me how long ago I played Rebecca.

“Oh, by the way, my traveling companion played Rebecca’s teacher, you remember Miss Emily Maxwell, don’t you?”

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Miss Emily. My grandpa had it bad for you! Grandma was a teacher and didn’t like you much, ‘cause grandpa said they didn’t have teachers like you when he was a kid.”

Judith does not know how to take that comment.

“Sign right here on the bill, okay?”

First stop: Honolulu.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pan Am Clipper

Episode #248


page 233

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #247

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #247

…Mary Pickford has made the drive up to San Francisco to meet Judith, after having accepted an invitation to fly on the one of the first transpacific flights, eventually bound for Hong Kong…

Meanwhile Caption-001

Pearson Eastman Journal-001“Oh how I wish I were your age again, Mary Pickford.” Judith Eastman reflects backward to when she was forty years old, though as regrets go, she has little reason to complain. It has been three years since she lost her partner of more than a quarter of this century. Even in his absence, she is grateful for the time she had with him and regrets not meeting him earlier in her life, yet in was not nearly long enough.

Those 26 years seemed to fly by, likely hastened by the frenetic pace of publishing a national monthly, the P-E Journal. Sure, they could have delegated more of the responsibility to very capable people, but that would have blotted out some of the greatest experiences two people could ever hope to share. She was not quite Mary’s age when Harv Pearson turned her world upside down. “My brother, God bless his soul, kept making the camera smaller, but today it seems ever heavier without the love of my life.”

Just then, one by one, the four – 1600 horsepower engines of the Pacific Clipper begin to roar, china_clipper
drowning out any words of encouragement the recently retired actress tried to give. She was going to tell Judith how young she looks and acts and how she hopes she can age as gracefully, without the Hollywood trend of plastic surgery. That is why when she reached forty, she turned her attention entirely to United Artists and her equally retired husband, the still dashing Douglas Fairbanks.

Pickford has made the drive up to San Francisco to meet Judith, after having accepted an invitation to fly on the one of the first transpacific flights, eventually bound for Hong Kong. The British crown colony has become truly an international trading center, as well as the cultural capital of the orient, and is on many’s must-see list.

“I am so glad that you invited me, Jude. I haven’t had a holiday for years. It seems every time Doug and I schedule a trip, some producer comes up with a film that will be the one. This time it is something titled, Mutiny on the Bounty.”

          “Is that gorgeous husband of yours in it?” Judith has known Fairbanks since he and Mary married in 1920, secretly fantasizing that he would swashbuckle her someday. She allowed herself that frill, mainly because she knew that this was a harmless dream about her best friend’s mate, who happens to look good flashing his pirate-parts. (hee-hee)


Alpha Omega M.D.

BOOK PIC CLIPPER 001

Episode #247


page 232

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