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 #212

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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…

“The Last Victory” by Roy Grinnell.

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 Related imageairplanes, 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.

Rear Admiral William S. Sims

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.

Historical Image

USS Chesapeake Bay (DD61)

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.

Were there an American naval presence around the English Channel, John Ferrell may be preparing to become the father-of-the-bride for Maggie Lou.

“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.

Episode #212


page 199

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


page 192

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #203

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 203

…Woodrow Wilson does what he had hoped could be permanently avoided. The addition of American forces changes the Great War into the 1st World War…

The United States of America is about to be pushed to the brink. That very January, the crafty British have intercepted what amounts to a German proposed alliance with Mexico; making promises of regained territory and financial aid, in return for Mexican aggression should their neighbors to the north lose neutrality. Unrestricted submarine warfare is added to that brazen new strategy. They will be sinking a few more ships, but they are going to find out that Poncho Villa is no Attila the Hun.

Even a dove has its breaking point; kindly cooing will turn into fearsome protection of its nest. Woodrow Wilson does what he had hoped could be permanently avoided. The addition of American forces changes the Great War into the 1st World War.

Ironically, April 1917 also marks the opening of the Pearson-Eastman Journal’s War Bureau in Paris. The war, whichever tag you place on it, has dominated their pages ever since the untimely demise of John Ferrell. Never mind the fighting, the string of human interest stories is unending and Harv Pearson has inserted personality into an otherwise faceless and grossly inhuman exercise.

And for the first time since their meeting, back in ‘01, they are working independent of the other. It is not a palatable arrangement, each month of life apart is subtracted from their total, but they will find that spreading out their unique talents is expeditious.

Patriotic border

 Judith is handling the domestic front, watching the nation pull together for a patriotic cause. With most of the healthy men rushing to save Europe from advancing German forces, women take up the slack, working in the factories and shipyards, tilling the land, caring for the sick. Some of the pictures she takes are strangely surreal, the face of America changing in unrecognizable proportions.

Other of her photojournalistic endeavors take on a familiar pretense, as she rubs elbows with stars of silent motion pictures; some rocketing to larger than life status. Movies have captured the imagination of America and indeed the world, giving millions of people shared experiences. Theaters may be hundreds of miles apart, but the magical motion sequences are the same.

One easy way to support the boys “over there”, is to buy Liberty Bonds, even though investors would get a higher rate of return from railroad issued paper. To further entice greenbacks from prosperous pockets, movie stars are asked to be headliners at bond rallies. The biggest names in silent films answer the call, taking time out of their busy schedules to contribute to bolster moral: Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton, and Rudolph Valentino.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin selling Liberty Bonds

Episode # 203


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