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the Wanderling

"Along with the P-40, as a young boy growing up, I loved Leonardo Da Vinci, Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, especially Tarzan and the Huntress, Warner Brothers cartoons, astronomy, the cosmos, rockets to the Moon and Mars, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, along with a myriad superheroes, especially the 'mortal' type such as the Spirit and Captain Midnight. So too, of western comic book heroes and cowboy movie stars such as Firehair, the Durango Kid, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, their horses Champion and Trigger, and their sidekicks Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, and Andy Devine."


"Originally, I was not a man of the east, nor as a young boy was I seeped in things of the east. Although I was taken to India at an early age I was born in America and raised in America as an American boy pure and simple, hence my early childhood is tinged with reminisces and things from that background."


Up until the start of high school the only real possessions I dragged about with me in a continuing fashion throughout my childhood and in good order was a Buck Rogers U-235 Atomic Pistol and a collection of free premium offers from Ovaltine called Captain Midnight Code-O-Graphs. Around the time I reached high school or so they all started getting shunted aside for a growing set of higher priorities, primarily cars with dual carburetors and girls with dual other things.

All the girls I knew then (or wished I knew) and all of the cars I had (or wished I had) are long since gone, but from my childhood I still have, albeit now a little rustic as so am I, the same U-235 Atomic Pistol and the same Code-O-Graphs. So said, I have written a whole page about Captain Midnight, his history and the Code-O-Graphs that shows up elsewhere, but this page, as the title suggests, is dedicated to the history of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

For all practical purposes Buck Rogers was born in the fertile mind of a man by the name of Philip Francis Nowlan (1888-1940), a science fiction author and a quasi prophet of things to come. At the age of 39 Nowlan wrote what amounted to a short novel titled "Armageddon 2419 A.D." It was published August of 1928 in a popular fiction magazine of the time called Amazing Stories. In the first four paragraphs Nowlan pretty much lays out the synopsis of the story as follows:

"Elsewhere I have set down, for whatever interest they have in this, the 25th Century, my personal recollections of the 20th Century.

"Now it occurs to me that my memoirs of the 25th Century may have an equal interest 500 years from now—particularly in view of that unique perspective from which I have seen the 25th Century, entering it as I did, in one leap across a gap of 492 years.

"This statement requires elucidation. There are still many in the world who are not familiar with my unique experience. Five centuries from now there may be many more, especially if civilization is fated to endure any worse convulsions than those which have occurred between 1975 A.D. and the present time.

"I should state therefore, that I, Anthony Rogers, am, so far as I know, the only man alive whose normal span of eighty-one years of life has been spread over a period of 573 years. To be precise, I lived the first twenty-nine years of my life between 1898 and 1927; the other fifty-two since 2419. The gap between these two, a period of nearly five hundred years, I spent in a state of suspended animation, free from the ravages of katabolic processes, and without any apparent effect on my physical or mental faculties."

The full unabridged "Armageddon 2419 A.D" story is available for your reading pleasure in its entirety free and online at a couple of sources. One version is actual scanned pages from the original Amazing Stories. That can be reached by clicking the Amazing Stories graphic above then scrolling down the page and using the Previous and Next icons. A second scanned version can be found by clicking HERE and scrolling down the page. Page can be expanded using the icons. The other is in easy to access and easy to read HTML format found in the Project Gutenberg archives by clicking HERE.

On January 7, 1929, roughly six months after Nowlan's story was published in Amazing Stories, it was published in comic strip form, with Nowlan scripting the stories and laying the groundwork for the strip with a simplified version of the same story line from "Armageddon 2419 A.D" --- except that his hero, Anthony Rogers, was renamed as Buck Rogers:

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Having captured the public's fancy, powers that be came to the conclusion that the character of Buck Rogers was commercially viable enough to attract a large enough audience to support a regularly sponsored radio program. Hence, on November 7th 1932 Buck Rogers aired as a radio serial on CBS under the title "The World in 2432." The story line pretty much followed the same cast of heroes and protagonists developed for the comic strip. The show was known for its use of sound effects including a regiment of marching robots and the crashing rocket ships.

The first comic book appearance for Buck Rogers was in the October 1934 issue of Famous Funnies #3 in a four page story titled "Just as Buddy and Alura Gave Up All Hope" with the script credit given to Nowlan. In 1940 the first full length cover-to-cover comic book version of Buck Rogers was published, again by the same outfit that produced Famous Funnies. That first issue was, however, made up of basically a compilation of previously published comic strips.[1]

As for any early background or history of Buck Rogers prior to exiting the cave in the 25th century, it is, for the most part, rather thin. In the evolution of Buck Rogers through the various media and incarnations his background history grew, mostly from others than Nowlan. However, in the beginning, like I say, initially it was rather thin. The quote below is from the opening panel of the very first comic strip as shown in the graphic above:

"I was twenty years old when they stopped the World War and mustered me out of the air service. I got a job surveying the lower levels of an abandoned mine near Pittsburgh, in which the atmosphere had a peculiar, pungent tang, and the crumbling rock glowed strangely. I was examining it when suddenly the roof behind me caved in and..."

Notice that Philip (Francis) Nowlan is given credit as part of the strip, that is, the writing part. Hence, the very opening statement wherein it says Rogers had, when the World War stopped, been "mustered out of the air service," it comes from the pen, hand and creative mind of Nowlan himself, not some hack want-to-be script writer. What is being said is that Anthony "Buck" Rogers was a pilot during World War One not unlike Captain Midnight and oddly enough, in real life, my own mentor.

It is acknowledged that Rogers was in the air service, but from that where is it stated that Rogers was a pilot? Actually, the artist Richard Calkins, most likely under the direction of Nowlan, indicates such through his drawing in the same first panel that the written quote comes from. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, Calkins shows Rogers wearing an aviators helmet and goggles together with a World War One bi-plane painted with the markings of a combat fighter, making clear there is much more to Rogers' statement beyond simply being mustered out of the air service. Rogers, the pilot he was, was much like the person I selected as my mentor in real life during my final two years of high school. He had crossed into Canada at age 16 and joined the Royal Flying Corps flying for the British long before the U.S. entered the war. It was pure coincidence that two of my childhood heroes, Captain Midnight and Buck Rogers, albeit fiction, had similar backgrounds.[2]

Buck Rogers moved from the pages of books to comics to the silver screen in a 12 episode film serial in 1939 with Rogers being portrayed by actor Buster Crabbe, known previously in his screen role as Flash Gordon. In 1953 the serial was put together into a full-length theatrical release called "Planet Outlaws" only to be retitled for television in 1965 under the title "Destination Saturn." For your viewing pleasure I have provided YouTube links farther down the page to both the 12 episode serial and "Planet Outlaws."

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Although for me as a young boy growing up the U-235 Atomic Pistol never rose to the level in my life as the Code-O-Graphs, it was out-and-out my favorite toy after having somehow inadvertently loosing my Photo-matic Code-O-Graph.(see) As well, the U-235 played a huge role in one of my biggest adventures, the revealing by my uncle to me on his death bed of a long-held secret about an object he found on the so-called debris field related to the 1947 Roswell Incident --- an object he said that had all the characteristics of a disintegrator pistol --- a ray gun if you like.[3]

And so it unfolds. My mother died when I was quite young. However, even before her death, because of her illness my father continued to have to work more and more hours to pay for mounting medical expenses. Through it all he found it extremely difficult to care for my two brothers and myself and work the hours he did. At first he dealt with it with regular day-to-day babysitting, then overnight and weekends with my grandparents and neighbors. Along the way a couple that just happened to be visiting our next door neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner, and of which we were invited to, offered to help by taking one of us kids fulltime. A few days later I was selected and basically fostered out, moving away from my brothers and family even before my mother passed away.[4]

It didn't work out nearly as well as my father had hoped, as the couple, without getting my father's approval, whisked me off to India over a several months period and then, upon return to the states, giving me up, but not to what was left of my family. Still not much more than a tot I even got caught up in a train wreck out in the middle of the Arizona desert in the middle of the night on the way back to California, a wreck that killed four and injured more than 100. Because of the injuries to the person or persons I was traveling with I was left without adult supervision until a Native American tribal spiritual elder interceded to watch over me --- and watch over me he did with some rather startling results. See:


Following all of those events it was a real hardship to keep me with anybody as I kept running away from whoever I ended up with, often staying with people of a suspect nature that I selected myself --- that is until about age 8 or so when I fell under the care of my Uncle. After that up to around age 12 I had a fairly stable 4 years.

My dad remarried a few years after my mother died and called the family, that is, my brothers and I, back together. My Stepmother, who was quite wealthy at the time, was the one that put my uncle and I together long term. Apparently my grandmother had tried dealing with me on-and-off and found I seemed to do my best when my uncle was around. My stepmother made an offer he couldn't refuse, my uncle inturn packing his bags and moving from Santa Fe to California to oversee me.

A few years later my dad and stepmother divorced and my life and times with my uncle came to a screeching halt. He went back to his old haunts in Santa Fe and I went to live with another foster couple which again didn't work out with me again running away. Eventually I ended up at my grandmother's just as I started high school. Except by phone it was 17 or 18 years before my uncle and I caught up with each other again, and after that we saw each other many, many times.

I had been in and out of the Army, the Peace Corps, spent a good portion of my life Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery and graduated from college. During those years, without me realizing it, my uncle had somehow slipped from the bearded young man he was with a ten-year old boy in tow tramping across the desert to having crossed into his mid 80s.

Now, instead of looking for Teratorn fossils, interacting with tribal spiritual elders, or searching down bits and pieces of crashed UFOs, I was sitting in a chair beside my now pretty much bed-ridden uncle as he was inching towards the end of his days. Out of the blue and completely out of context he asked if I remembered the toy ray gun or disintegrator pistol I used to have as a kid. First thing I thought of was my Buck Rogers U-235 Atomic Pistol which I told him I still had and that it was still in fairly good shape except the red flasher up in the little windows didn't work so hot any more. He looked puzzled as if he didn't know what I was talking about telling me the ray gun he was making reference to didn't have little red windows. Picking up a scrap of paper I sketched out what the gun looked like. He inturn, after seeing my sketch, drew his own picture of what he remembered the pistol looked like. Right away I knew what he was talking about. It wasn't the Buck Rogers U-235 Atomic Pistol but another toy gun I had as a kid called the Hiller Silver Atom Ray Gun. See:



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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so 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]

Above is the cover of the first comic book dedicated fully to Buck Rogers cover-to-cover with an issue date of 1940. As mentioned previously it is primarily a compilation of previously published comic strips, basically strung together creating a book.

For those of you who may be so interested there is an online site that has scanned the individual early black-and-white daily strips starting from the very beginning, presented in an easy click-through day to day basis. To go to that site click HERE. Once at the site if you click FOLLOWING STRIPS it will take you to the next days strip, one after the other.

For full color Sunday strips, published in order starting in March 1930, click the links below:

  1. SUNDAY COMICS: Golden Princess of Mars

  2. SUNDAY COMICS: Fish Men of Planet X

  3. SUNDAY COMICS: Mysterious Saturian

  4. SUNDAY COMICS: Marooned On Venus

Footnote [2]

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The person that eventually became my Mentor was a real-life fighter pilot during World War I as well as the role model British author and playwright William Somerset Maugham used for Larry Darrell, the spiritual traveler and main character in his novel The Razor's Edge. The air war in Europe in those days wasn't all dog fights and blowing 800 foot long Zeppelins returning from bombing runs over England out of the sky. For both sides, after leaving the aerodromes, much of the time was spent flying for miles and miles over farmland with no encounters with the enemy at all. Maugham has Darrell saying, repeating an almost direct quote from my mentor, the following:

"I loved flying. I couldn't describe the feeling it gave me, I only knew I felt proud and happy. In the air I felt that I was part of something very great and beautiful. I didn't know what it was all about, I only knew that I wasn't alone any more, but that I belonged. I felt that I was at home with the infinitude."

Feeling much the same about flying as my mentor did in the above quote, when I was around ten years old I built a glider-type airplane initially inspired from three primary sources, a 1947 black-and-white Tarzan movie titled Tarzan and the Huntress, the drawings of flying machines as found in the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as the actual machines made by early flight pioneers such as Otto Lilienthal.

One day I took the completed craft to the top of a nearby two story building and holding on for dear life, jumped off. At first the flying machine held fairly steady, maintaining altitude and covering a rather substantial distance. Then suddenly the craft stalled, I lost control and it dropped like a rock from a pretty good height, crashing into the front porch and through the windows of neighbor's house across the street. The machine escaped any real major damage and so did I.

Even though the flight ended not as smoothly as I hoped, primarily because of lack of experience on my part, or as the case may be, none at all, and as I discovered, perhaps the lack of any sort of actual flight control mechanisms as well, I considered my attempt a success --- especially so because of the distance covered before I lost control. I always felt my mentor and I were able to strengthen our bonds as friends initially because of his interest in flying and my early childhood attempt at manned-flight, re the following from the source so cited:

"Although I never attempted another similar human-powered flight after that, my mentor loved the story, and I think it was an early key to our initial philosophical bond."(source)

There is a slight caveat to my 'never attempted another similar human-powered flight after that' found in the above quote. That caveat circulates around what is called the 'Washoe Zephyr,' sometimes referred to as a 'devil wind.' The Washoe Zephyr occurs on a regular basis on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with an extremely strong portion on the east side of the paralleling Virginia Range, most notedly around Virginia City. Unlike the typical thermally driven slope-flows which blow upslope during the day and downslope at night, the Washoe Zephyr winds blow down the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon against the local pressure gradient. The Washoe Zephyr figured prominently in my reconsideration of a second flight attempt. For more on that second attempt, please see:


Let Me Travel Through the Air Like a Winged Bird

Footnote [3]


"Late in the night of July 4, 1947 a mysterious object of an unknown nature and unknown origin came in out of the north-northwest sky over the desert flatlands of New Mexico traveling at an incredible high rate of speed. It streaked across the ink-like darkness in an ever descending trajectory all the while shedding bits and pieces of metal and foil only to end up slamming into the cold granite boulders along the lower north slope of the Capitan Mountains some fifty miles west of Roswell."


Of the same event, writing of myself, the following is presented at the source so cited:

"I was, however, fast asleep in my sleeping bag somewhere in the desert near Fort Sumner on the night of, it is thought, Friday, July 4, 1947, when around midnight my uncle, who had been sitting up pondering the stars and possibly his insignificance in the overall scheme of things, through a smattering of clouds, saw a brilliant meteor-like object streak across the night sky arcing downward to the Earth toward a fast moving lightning infested stormy horizon, all the while dissipating a string of quickly extinguishing small glowing hunks or particles dropping in it's wake."(see)


Within hours a close friend of my uncle, the famous astronomer and meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz, contacted him informing him that mysterious pieces of super-lightweight I-beam like metal scraps, apparently connected somehow with the mysterious object, had been found strung out along the remote desert floor near Roswell inscribed with an unknown writing on them. My uncle, taking me with him, went to investigate. It was during the follow-up days of that investigation that my uncle secretly and unknown to anybody else, came across what has since come to be known as the Roswell Ray Gun.


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Footnote [4]

Even though my home was thousands of miles away from the raging turmoil of the battlefronts during World War II, living practically on the beach along the Pacific coast we were constant hostage to attack. Although most people don't know it or they don't remember it, the hostilities of the war visited our shores more than once, and sometimes so close it was like it was in our front yard. Japanese submarines prowled the waters all up and down the coast with shipping being hit, torpedoed, damaged and sunk. The mainland being hit with shells, bombs, and by air attacks. A two-man Japanese midget submarine washing up on shore next to the pier in the town where I lived and said to have had two dead Japanese officers inside. Sure, it was nothing like what was happening in either of the two major theaters, but happening none the less.


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After successfully consolidating their wartime efforts in Burma, the Japanese, in April of 1944, launched a major invasion into India. Although I was born and raised in a southern California beach community, as a very young boy I was traveling in India with a couple I had been fostered out to because of debilitating illness faced by my mother at the exact same time as the Japanese invasion. Like thousands of refugees that fled ahead of the Nazi onslaught in Europe, if the Japanese invasion attempts into India has not been slowed down and eventually stopped by the likes of U.S. Army General Joseph W. Stilwell on the ground and members of the American Volunteer Group, the A.V.G., known as the Flying Tigers, in the air, I too may have been a refugee caught up in events much larger than myself, trying to escape the onslaught of the Japanese. See:


Within a few years of the end of the war, as a young boy in the fourth or fifth grade or so, I used to pull a Radio Flyer through the alleys around the neighborhood a few days a week collecting pop and beer bottles for the deposit. After collecting a wagon load I would turn them in various places around of which one was a bar. In the process of pounding on the back door to get someone to trade the bottles in for cash I got to know the dishwasher there, an elderly Chinese man.

Noticing he would meditate in the alley sometimes I started going by the bar and meditate in the alley with him --- even without the necessity of turning in soda or beer bottles for the deposit. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly (to me) Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan, China by the United States during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, she would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of one of the air raids he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while he was within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

It was many years later, as an adult, before I heard of the same bombing related events and the "girl Buddha" from an outside source as related to me by the dishwasher, a confirmation of sorts of the events as well as the name of the "girl Buddha," Kuan Yin.

As for the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, it was brought up in the first place because of a 1940s comic book superhero called The Green Lama that used the mantra much like Billy Batson used Shazam to become Captain Marvel --- to invoke superpowers --- and, in the Green Lama's case, like Captain Marvel, gaining super strength, invulnerability, the ability to fly, and even being impervious to bullets to the point of being bulletproof. The old dishwasher had a six or eight copies of the Green Lama all in like-new mint condition, of which, for whatever reason, he gave to me.