the Wanderling

As far as my dad was concerned my older brother, my dad's first born, was like a prince. In my young mind as I saw things, or how I felt it in my bones, my dad lavished, if not all, an inordinate amount of his time, affections and care towards him, leaving me feeling shortchanged in the bargain. In order to counteract that lavishness and have my dad aim some of that affection in my direction, I did everything I could to gain or establish an equal level of worthiness. The difference was that my older brother received his worthiness, at least as I saw it, with no effort on his part, but I had to continuously prop up mine diligently, making any outcome dubious or short term without my constant input. Thus entered into my young childhood me being a Junior Air Raid Warden.

During World War II, on our block and for several around, my dad was an air raid warden, a position he not only relished, but a fine one at that. My older brother didn't care about it one way or the other, but I saw it as a window of opportunity to upgrade my status in my father's eyes. If my solution did or didn't work relative to my dad is nothing I have any real recollection of, however I liked it. On my own initiative and a little help from my mother, I became a Junior Air Raid Warden primarily on the basis of responding to an ad similar to the one below and reading comic book stories such as Edison Bell's Junior Air Raid Wardens, also below. In the process of doing so, amongst my peers and adults on the block, I raised my importance beyond any recognition simply from just my dad, making me understand for the first time, sadly though, that there was a much wider world of significance out there.

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Although we had a few practice air raids and blackouts that my dad had participated in as an air raid warden they were all fairly orderly. The first real one however, was nothing but utter chaos. My family and I were living in a then small beach town along the southern California coastline named Redondo Beach, a suburb of and not far from the city of Los Angeles, when on the night of Wednesday, February 25, 1942, a huge, giant airborne object of an unknown nature cruised directly over the top of our house, an object that was easily the size of a Zeppelin. Before reaching Redondo, the giant object had overflown a good portion of the whole of Los Angeles causing nothing but area wide blackouts, anti-aircraft fire all over the city, reeking havoc all up and down the entire L.A. basin --- an object of which I along with my entire family were clearly able to see that night. Guns and sirens and searchlights were all over the place, and even though it was two or three in the morning almost the whole block got up and went outside to see it.

Even with all that going on, from as soon as the night it happened to right up to this day, people are still questioning why no U.S. planes were ordered into the skies to apprehend the object on it's approach. In an article written by Paul T. Collins for FATE Magazine, Volume 40, Number 7, Issue 448, and published in July, 1987 titled World War II UFO Scare, the following by Collins is found:

"Planes of the Fourth Interceptor Command were, in fact, warming up on the runways waiting for orders to go up and interview the unknown intruders. Why, everybody was asking, were they not ordered to go into action during the 51-minute period between the first air-raid alert at 2:25 AM and the first artillery firing at 3:16?"


Anybody who is familiar with or has read any amount of my online works knows that as a kid I was big on box top and the like offers, especially so the radio premium offer such as Ovaltine's Captain Midnight Code-O-Graphs, and more specifically so the 1942-1945 Photo-Matic version that figured so prominently throughout my childhood into adulthood. For our purposes here of course, at least as it relates to air raids and blackouts, wasn't a Code-O-Graph at all, but another Captain Midnight radio premium offer called Magic Blackout Lite-Ups. The offer was specifically designed for wartime blackouts, consisting of two sheets of paper impregnated with glow-in-the-dark luminous chemicals. The idea was to glue a small strip of the material at light switches, stair steps, flashlights, etc. so they would be more readily seen during blackouts.


Another box top offer that was really huge for me, and probably the most infamous in the history of box top offers, was Quaker's deed to one inch square of Yukon land offered through the Klondike Big Inch Land Company. I still have my original deed from the Big Inch Land Company. The third box-top offer that was also big in my life was also a Quaker cereal promotion called Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit. It was from my early childhood during the war years like the Code-O-Graphs but unlike the other offers I didn't actually have one myself, the girl next door who babysat my brothers and me had one and I use to go over there and play with it for hours.[1]

"With so much of my life in flux month to month, year to year, the regular listening to Captain Midnight on the radio and decoding secret messages, provided me with a strong, solid continuance and lifeline in an otherwise tumultuous world. People and families seemed to come and go, Captain Midnight seemed to stay."


The Junior Air Raid Warden Kit I sent for, although not a box top offer per se' did fall into a similar or like category, that is, getting it in the first place through a comic book ad. What was different with the Junior Air Raid Warden Kit was that it's application of use was raised to a higher level. Captain Midnight was a fictional character. True he had all kinds of adventures but they were all make believe. Now, while it is true the air raid kit I sent for was a "toy," air raids themselves were REAL. The chance of attacks were not fictional, but an actuality. Living on the coast we were constant hostage to the possibility of attack. Christmas day, December 25, 1941, practically within eyesight of my home in the California beach community where I lived, a Japanese submarine, the I-19, took up a position in the narrow channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland just off Point Fermin near San Pedro where my dad worked in the shipyards. Laying in wait at periscope depth in sight of the fully operational military installation of Fort MacArthur, without warning, the I-19 torpedoed the unarmed U.S. freighter SS Absaroka followed then by a nearly clean escape. A clean escape that encompassed going right past by my place just off the coast before turning west to dive into the deep marine channel not far off the Redondo Beach pier. All those Japanese submarines that plied their way up and down the California coast, and there were a bunch of them, were aircraft equipped, capable of launching airplanes on a moments notice, so we had to remain vigilant, not just play.[2] [3]


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As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

Footnote [1]

Because I enjoyed the Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Cockpit toy so much, and played with it so often Mary Lou decided to downsize it from our or her use to my use exclusively. She did so by upgrading to a different much more sophisticated model. Where the Capt. Sparks Pilot Cockpit was a cereal box top offer, and a good one at that, the new one was a big bucks go to the store and buy it model called an Einson-Freeman Pre-Flight Trainer. She didn't actually give me the old Capt. Sparks one per se' after she got the new one, but for all practical purposes it became mine --- although she never allowed me to take it home. I remember specifically the new one because it didn't have a square joystick like the one I played with, but a circular steering wheel. I also remember she didn't allow me to use it much, leaving me relegated to the use of the old one, which I recall was fine by me.

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Although I didn't actually own the Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit, the one I write about all the time, Mary Lou's, which was practically mine, did however, play a major role in my later adult life because it justly confirmed what I could or could not remember from my early childhood. Why what I could or could not remember even comes up is because what I have presented in the previously linked BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: 1942 UFO.

One of the major historians of the battle C. Scott Littleton, even though he cites what I have to say extensively throughout his works (usually uncredited) he usually adds that his source (me) as being too young to remember what I reported. To counteract his thoughts on the subject I have presented throughout what I have written a whole series of things I remember from the era, of which one is the following:

"I remember a lot of things, up to and well before that period of time in my life. For example, my mother nursing my brother who was three years younger than me. Seeing barrage balloons floating in the sky tethered to the ground over the shipyards in Terminal Island where my father worked. Because metal was not available for toys during wartime, the lifesize cardboard toy fighter plane-type cockpit --- colored on one side with dials and printed only in black and white on the backside --- with a movable square cardboard joystick that the girl next door owned."

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Please notice it you have clicked the above image the newspaper advertisement that shows up promoting the Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit is in a newspaper dated November 6, 1941 almost one month to the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that ushered the U.S. officially into World War II. Notice as well, even though I stress cardboard vs. the lack of metal toys because of the war, that the pilot training cockpit, albeit cardboard, was already anticipating the oncoming war and lack of metal. Most of the above information, graphics etc., by the way, are thanks to the following:




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Footnote [2]


A half a world away on that exact same Christmas day in 1941 that the Japanese Imperial Submarine I-19 was busy unleashing torpedoes against the unarmed McCormick Steamship Company's 5,695-ton American lumber carrier SS Absaroka in the channel between Catalina Island and the mainland off Point Fermin and practically within sight of the Redondo Beach pier if not in sight, the Japanese launched a massive air attack against the Flying Tigers.

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Their early warning system allowed the Tigers just enough of a chance to scramble 18 P-40 Tomahawks of the Third Pursuit Group's Hell�s Angels, then, after reaching altitude, in a lightning fast attack, they came screaming out of the sun catching the unsuspecting Japanese pilots and crews almost totally off guard, or at least until it was to late. The following paragraph by Russell Whelan in his book The Flying Tigers, Viking Press (1942), sums up the results:

Final accounts of the victories varied widely. Officially credited to the A.V.G. were thirteen Japanese bombers and ten fighters, a total of twenty-three planes. Leland Stowe, the American war correspondent who flew to Rangoon immediately after news of the astounding Japanese defeat reached the outside world, reported that the Flying Tigers had brought down at least twenty-eight planes. They estimated six additional victories over the Gulf of Martaban, where the Japanese aircraft had sunk without evidence. In any case, it was established beyond doubt that of the one hundred and eight Japanese planes participating in the two Christmas Day raids, the Flying Tigers had knocked out at least thirty-six. In addition, the Japanese had lost not less than ninety-two pilots and bomber crewmen, as compared with none for the A.V.G.




Footnote [3]


Every now and then I get an email from someone who tells me, after having visited the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and carrying on a casual conversation with museum staff mentioning something they recalled from material of mine regarding some aspect of Redondo Beach they came across, it is not always received with full 100% substantiating results --- in other words, it gets pooh-poohed. See:



As a kid it seems like a large portion of almost everything I learned came from reading comic books. Over and over, even today in the stuff I write I often refer back to something I read at one time or the other in a comic book, that is, except maybe for one major time when there was not just comic books involved, but the coming together of BOTH comic books AND Saturday afternoon matinee movies of the day. In that particular incident I designed, built, and flew a Da Vinci-like flying machine at a height well over two-stories above street level --- before crashing --- as described in Tarzan and the Huntress.

Besides comic books I was also big on box top and the like offers. As I viewed it, comic book ads were a quick jump from box top offers, falling into a similar or like category. After I answered the comic book ad to become a Junior Air Raid Warden, and at the time I don't think I was even in kindergarten yet, the rest was easy. After the war my uncle would take me to a giant army surplus store called Palley's. Every time we would go I always returned with a bunch of World War II army surplus stuff like canteens, pistol belts, parkas, infantry backpacks and Army M43 folding shovels. Not only that, in later years, albeit still a kid, I put them to work as found in the following:

"Traveling in the desert I carried a World War II pistol belt with a G.I. canteen always filled with water, and along with the canteen, a pouch hooked to the pistol belt. I had a couple of those 'Carlisle' first aid pouches and I used to carry all kinds of stuff in them. Stainless steel pocket knife with a fold-out fork and spoon. Compass. Waterproof matches. Always in the pouch as well was one of my most prized possessions, a pocket-sized sun dial gizmo called a Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch, a one-time radio-premium offer given me by the grandfather of the girl who used to babysit me when I was even a littler kid."

The Roswell Ray Gun

When my uncle returned to Santa Fe and I started living with a foster couple, comic book mail order took up the slack. Notice in the ad below, in those days, a kid could even order knives, machetes, and axes if they were so predisposed. The graphic that follows of a backpack, pistol belt, et al, is just like all the stuff I used to order. Since I was just a kid with no mother and father and living with a foster couple at that, the question always comes up, "Where did I get the money?" Not being totally truthful about my age, through the influence of my stepmother, I got a job at a place called The Normandie Club.