"As I was reading the comic for the 100th time the woman of the foster couple, seeing the story I was reading was about a redheaded woman like my mother, grabbed it out of my hands and threw it across the room yelling at me to get over it, my mother was dead and long gone, and she was my mother now. It couldn't have hurt more if someone had jammed an icepick into the base of my skull."
In several places, in conjunction with Firehair I write that both my mother and her sister had beautiful long red hair. In that they were so close together age-wise and looked so much alike almost everybody mistook them for twins. Although I do not remember much about my mother I remember my aunt very well, and because of their look alikeness I always felt I had a good idea of what my mother looked like. In conjunction with Firehair, as a young boy I always held a certain affinity towards her character because I liked to believe that my mother, with her red hair and all, would have been like her, maybe even, since I never went to her funeral, found by Indians and saved.(see)
Not unlike any number of other kids my age, as a young boy growing up, I held an inordinate amount of comic book heroes and super heroes in high esteem. While most of my peers seemed to lean heavily toward Superman and Batman, at the top of my list was Captain Midnight, followed more-or-less a couple of rungs down by Captain Marvel and the Spirit. I did, however, have another comic book hero right up there with my favorites that fell into the heroine bracket. Her character centered around a woman who, according to the storyline, had been found near death and saved by Native Americans. She was then adopted into the Dakota Tribe who gave her the name Firehair because of her red hair.
Although I knew of and followed most of the comic book and movie western heroes such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash LaRue, and the Durango Kid, Firehair more-or-less came into my life through subterfuge. While there is a lot of truth to the fact that almost every male of my era and of my age knew who Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was, more so for attributes other than her jungle survival skills, Firehair, seemingly equally endowed with similar attributes, albeit sagebrush oriented rather than jungle oriented, was somewhat different --- at least for me.(see)
In 1950 my father and Stepmother went on an extended two-year trip to Mexico and South America. Once again our de facto family was split up and I was sent to live under the care of a foster couple --- the third, not counting relatives, since my mother got to ill and died.
In the time period we are talking about here I was older, around 11 or 12, with history. Placing me was getting harder and harder. We had pretty much ran through every friend, family member, and shirt-tail relative we could find. With my father, stepmother, brothers and grandmother all elsewhere with lives of their own and my Uncle just on the cusp of returning to Santa Fe and not able to take me, I was basically left hanging. Without many options, after some heavy negotiating that bordered on pure begging by my uncle he was eventually able to convince the woman who had agreed to care for my younger brother to take me in as well.
I don't recall if I started an even school year or not when my younger brother and I moved, but I do know by April 1951 I was fully ensconced, however good or bad, and my uncle was long gone. I can easily pinpoint April of 1951 because on Friday, April 6th the science fiction movie The Thing was released and the next day I rode my bike for miles from our neat and prim tract home, clear up to the suspect area corner of Imperial Highway and Vermont Avenue, the closest place the movie was playing. She had told me not to go or take my brother, of which I did both and she was livid. I remember that date specifically because I got in a lot of trouble that weekend --- although, if I remember correctly, the movie was worth it.(see)
One day I traded two or three comics for a copy of Rangers Comics #63 dated February 1952 (linked below), a comic I wanted for two reasons. One, the lead off story was about Firehair, who I had not seen anything on since leaving the ranch I was living on under the auspices of my uncle. And secondly, it had a section on Billy the Kid, whose gravesite I had gone to with my uncle on one of our travels as well as a story on the lost continent of Atlantis, a story that unknown at the time, would play a major role between me and a man I came to call My Merchant Marine Friend. As I was reading the comic for the 100th time the woman of the foster couple, seeing the story I was reading was about a redheaded woman, grabbed it out of my hands and threw it across the room yelling at me to get over it, my mother was dead and long gone, and she was my mother now. It couldn't have hurt more if someone had jammed an icepick into the base of my skull.
As soon as I saved a few bucks, and after my dad, who visited for a few hours one afternoon, told me that my stepmother, or ex-stepmother as case may have been by then, had returned from South America as well and was in the process of taking up residence on a huge new ranch she just purchased or was in the process of purchasing in the Mojave Desert, I packed up a handful of necessities including the comic book and ran away in search of her.(see)
AN OEDIPUS COMPLEX OR JUST A COMIC BOOK?
In the opening paragraphs at the top of this page, speaking of my real mother (my biological mother as opposed to my stepmother) I write:
"(I)n conjunction with Firehair, as a young boy I always held a certain affinity towards her character because I liked to believe my mother, with her red hair and all, would have been like her, maybe even, since I never went to her funeral, found by Indians and saved."
A number of readers of my works, some tongue-in-cheek some obviously more serious in their tone, leaning towards a certain creepiness even, have a tendency to read more into what I have written in the previous quote and into any intention included or not included in my meaning therein. Although I do not particularly recall thinking about it while writing what I have presented here regarding Firehair, nor do I recall thinking of it previously, now that it has been brought to my attention I do get a kick out of the tongue-in-cheek side, not so much so the other side.
What they are getting at and what I am talking about is graphically illustrated in the page below from one of the Firehair stories. Their attention is directed toward a time when Firehair was a priority in my life. Since there IS a sort of a sensuous Sheena, Queen of the Jungle look about her, as the virile young boy I was growing up, they ask, was my application of interest in Firehair superimposed over my own mother more Oedipus in nature than otherwise?
RANGER COMICS #37 OCTOBER 1947
The whole Oedipus Complex is a huge Sigmund Freud thing. Freud was big into egos and such. On my side of things, the Zen side, dissipation of the ego or non-ego is what has always been in play. So too, in my early years when most of the above was going down, because of my staunch interest in such western heroes as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, et al, I really sort of fell under the general guidelines most of them advocated called the Cowboy Code of the West which sort of preempted or didn't really allow much room or fertile ground for such things as Oedipus Complexes to take root.
For me personally, at least as I saw it, Firehair notwithstanding, the Freudian psychoanalytic theory called the Oedipus Complex, of which Freud superimposed over the even more questionable straw-woman of 'mother fixation' never seemed to enter into any of my early endearments toward those of the opposite sex --- although there are those who would, could, and as I have pointed out, in their opinion, have cited otherwise.
A YOUNG BOY'S EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES
Chronologically, my first major infatuation experience that I can remember, at least that I bring up in my writings, is found in two places: The Wanderling and His Uncle and Fifie Malouf. That infatuation experience, and I remember it well, revolved around a woman who was a country western singer --- and of which it is true --- was much closer in age to what my mother would have been than she was to me.
It all started sometime after the death of my mother when I was just a kid and sent to live with a foster couple that owned a flower shop. Around that same time, not far from their shop, a huge onetime ballroom that had fallen on hard times during the war was converted into a western-swing dance venue that was soon pulling in 10,000 visitors on the weekend.
It wasn't long before the flower shop couple discovered it could be quite lucrative to sell corsages and boutonnieres to couples attending the dances, so they put me to work circulating through the crowd selling flowers --- sometimes being on the floor as late as midnight. During that period of my life there was a female vocalist that sang with a couple of the headliners that, even though I was a kid, I had become deeply smitten with. I don't recall her name, however, as I remember her, and although she wasn't, she looked an awful lot like a cowgirl version of a popular movie star of the time named Veronica Lake. Long platinum blonde hair, ruby-red lips, and dressed in the finest female western singer regalia --- white cowboy boots, above the knee white satin skirts, fringed all the way around with hundreds of little strings, topped with white satin western-style blouses with snap buttons, big embroidered red roses and arrow-ended pockets.
1940s PLATINUM BLONDE MOVIE STAR VERONICA LAKE
(please click image)
Whenever the cowgirl came on stage to do one of her numbers and I was selling flowers I would go sit on the edge of the stage and just stare at her. Somehow, and I do not remember how, we began talking and over time we became friends. She always told me she would marry her boyfriend someday and take me away with her, living happily ever after. Of course, such was not the case. It not happening continues to tug at my heart even to this day and remains one of the biggest disappointments of my life.
My second infatuation occurrence circulated around a person I never really met. Again, she was a grown woman and the author of a book about the Flying Tigers titled The Lady and the Tigers. Her name was Olga Greenlaw. I read her book when I was a very young boy and through her writings, which I read over and over, I discovered from every angle that she was exotic, fabulously beautiful, sometimes cunning and albeit, usually underplayed, smart-as-a-whip. Her preeminent standing in the Flying Tigers stemmed initially from her marriage to Col. Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the Flying Tigers. However, over time, because of who she was, the right person in the right place at the right time, it took on a life of it's own. To this day, in some fashion I am not over her.
During the same period of time that Olga Greenlaw was making waves in my budding male imagination there was a trio of girls in the same grade-school class I was in named after months or the year, April, May and June. One of the months and I developed sort of crush on each other. However, I don't remember as much about her as I do events that transpired because of her. I'm not even sure which month she was. So said, I am leaving the month girl out of the equation. The events though are another thing.
There was a boy in the same class who liked one of the month girls too, and because of our shared interests we got to know each other. For pocket money he used to go around back alleys collecting empty beer and pop bottles, turning them in for the deposit and a couple of times, after we got to know each other, I went with him, an endeavor that was all new to me. Pretty soon he and another buddy and I were towing a wagon through the alleys collecting large numbers of bottles, of which in turn we turned in for cash at a variety of places.
One of those places was a bar not far from where I lived. We would go to the door in the alley in the back of the bar and an old Chinese man who washed dishes and such would count the bottles after which the bar manager would give us money. In the process, the young nine or ten year old boy that I was got to know the elderly Chinese man with the following results:
"Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar 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 by B-29 Superfortresses of the United States Army Air Force 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, 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 the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while 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."
The Green Lama so mentioned in the quote was a 1940s comic book superhero whose alter ego was one Jethro Dumont, a rich New York City resident and man about town, who, if necessity demanded it and he recited the Jewel Lotus Mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum", he would, not unlike Billy Batson saying Shazam and becoming Captain Marvel, underwent a startling and dramatic change after repeating the mantra, becoming the Green Lama, acquiring not only the ability to fly, but also super strength and invulnerability --- even to having bullets bounce off him a la Superman and Captain Marvel. The Green Lama and the "Om Mani Padme Hum" mantra came up one day because the old Chinese man had a whole stack of near-new mint condition Green Lama comic books he kept in a small storage area in rear area of the bar, of which to recount the story of the 'girl Buddha' he dug out the comics.
During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering.
THE DRAGON LADY ONE OF MY FIRST LOVES
If you discount a long standing infatuation with another woman from Asia, the fictional Dragon Lady in Terry and the Pirates, so exquisitely depicted above, the third of my early infatuation occurrences transpired when my uncle and I were on a road trip through the desert southwest, and as previously I was still a young boy. During the trip it came about that my uncle had a few things to take care of that involved some Native American tribal spiritual elders. In the process of those dealings he left me with a bunch of kids, and of which I then ended up riding in the back of a pick-up truck with.
On our way to meet the tribal spiritual elders we were flagged over by a man of Native American descent standing on the opposite side of the highway beside a pick-up truck. The man crossed the road on foot to our side while my uncle told me to join the others with his truck. A young teenage girl, probably no more than age 14 with long black hair flowing behind her, ran part way across the road and grabbed my hand as the other truck just barely began to move forward in a U-turn. Following her lead I jumped onto the tailgate and crawled into bed of the pick up, of which already had a number kids in it. The following is how I describe it at the source so cited:
"After the young teenage girl reached her hand out to me as I was crossing the road and pulled me into the back of the truck she brought the tailgate up and hooked a partially hose-covered chain into a couple of holes to hold it closed on her side. When I attempted to do the same on my side, the bouncing of the truck made it difficult for me to accomplish the task. She moved over and placed her hands on mine guiding the hook into the latches. In the process, as if touching my my hands was not enough, her face came so close to mine we nearly touched. I had never come so close to a girl's face before. I think if I would have blinked, my eyelashes would have brushed across her cheekbones. She scooted back to her side and sat leaning against the truck bed wall directly across from me pulling her knees up under her chin and crossing her arms around them with her hands on each of her elbows. She wore a long skirt, mid-calf in length or ending just above her ankles. The way she was sitting the skirt rose up from the truck bed and across her knees in a U shape turning back down toward the bed returning underneath her. In doing so her legs, held closely together from her barefeet on up, were completely exposed. When the truck stopped she turned to reach her arm over the railing of the truck bed and moved her feet apart to stand up. I clearly saw she had no underpants on and everything else about her. I fell in love that day for the first time."(source)
It was not long after the above occurrence involving a real life young Native American girl that the fictional character of Firehair came into my life. I was in the fifth grade or so and living on a ranch in the Mojave Desert owned by my stepmother. Down the road on the next closest ranch lived a much older boy than me who had five sisters, two of which were right around my same age. The boy collected every cowboy-western comic book he could get his hands on and had hundreds of them neatly stacked in brand new turned-up orange crates made into shelves in his room, each book in pristine condition and always kept in order by title and chronological by month, date, and number. I used to go to his place whenever I got a chance to check out his sisters in various stages of dress and sit around all day reading comics, of which among his collections were all the issues that Firehair had appeared in up to that time.(see)
Reading comic books that carried within their contents stories that were mostly well written with favorable impressions of Native Americans such as found in Firehair, the Flying Frontiersman, and especially so Tommy Tomahawk, a college educated Native American said to be a member of the Cherokee Tribe that led a squadron of U.S. Army Air Corps P-40s marked the same as the Flying Tigers against the Japanese in the South Pacific, wasn't my only introduction to and knowledge of Native Americans.
By the time the incident with the young Native American girl and myself transpired, although I was originally from a small Southern California beach community with probably zero Indians, I was an old hand knowing and being around Native Americans on a mutual interactive level. World War II had hardly been over by a year, with me still well under ten years old, that I started traveling around the desert southwest with my Uncle and began interacting with Native Americans. It was during those same early travels, after having visited several of the seven pueblos that made up the Seven Cities of Cibola, that I learned of first hand and actually met Navajo Code Talkers.
Little did I know that those easy going comic book reading days were numbered, ending with my stepmother's ranch being sold, my dad and stepmother going to Mexico and South America for a two year stretch and me once again being thrown into or under the auspices of another foster couple. It was during that time my next infatuation happened as found in the quote below from the source so cited:
"When I was in the 7th and 8th grade the school I attended was a combination junior-senior high, meaning the 7th grade ran straight through to the 12th grade at the same school. The junior high classes operated the same as the high school classes, that is different classes and teachers at different periods with some levels and teachers overlapping. I developed a really strong crush on a girl by the name of Betty Allen. We walked together between classes. I carried her books. We sat in the quad and talked. The only thing was she was going with and was the girlfriend of guy in the 11th or 12th grade, a guy who went by the nickname 'Blackie.' He pulled me aside one day throwing me up against the wall and making it clear Betty was HIS girl and to stay away from her. I learned quickly never to have designs on the girlfriend of a guy who had a nickname, especially if it was something like 'Blackie.'"
BRENDA ALLEN: Madame, Prostitute Par Excellence
Bracketed around or near the same time frame as my 7th and 8th grade my dad and stepmother divorced, my uncle went back to his old stomping grounds in the Santa Fe, Taos, New Mexico area, and, after running away from the foster couple more than once, I ended up living with my grandmother in a southern California beach community just in time to start high school. However, even though my dad and stepmother were divorced I still spent the summers while I was in high school on a new ranch my she bought after the divorce. During the summer on the ranch between my junior and senior year I write of the following, which would in the scheme of things fall somewhere into my fifth infatuation occurrence and found at the source so cited:
"There was as well a young girl that joined me on the ranch that summer, a year younger or so than me and the daughter of a woman my stepmother hired to entertain nightly in the bar. The two were there about eight of the twelve weeks that summer with the woman billing herself as Irene at the Organ. In that the girl's mother worked late into the night every night and slept most of the day, she left the girl just as unattended around the clock as me. In the process the two of us became nearly inseparable. Sort of cowgirl-like, looking all the same as Woody's friend Jessie in the animated Toy Story films, she had a haircut like a boy, dressed like a boy, and built like a boy, except for some noticeable differences that became quite evident between the two of us as the summer wore on."(source)
As a ranch it was a little on the sparse side in what I would call standard ranch fare --- it had been completely rebuilt and refurbished from a run down onetime dude ranch, with a brand new rather long fully stocked bar, food service facilities, swimming pool, dance hall, live entertainment, along with rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends. It also had at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, plus like I like to say, a flock of ever present hostesses --- several of whom took me under their wing and one or two that may have been slightly more friendly than they should have been considering my young age, the youngest at the time at the very least being six years older than me.
One of the summers on the ranch in my spare time, usually late at night, I built a Heathkit shortwave radio that actually worked when I was done. When I say I built it, I did have some on and off help on occasion. From time to time a certain particular hostess would drop by while I was working on the set and assist --- although I must say she spent more time exposing her rather bountiful cleavage and the rest of her breasts than soldering wires.
During that same summer on the ranch I was building the Heathkit shortwave radio my stepmother and I also flew to Searchlight, Nevada, doing so in a twin engine Beechcraft Queen Air, and of which both the plane and pilot provided us by the famed aviatrix and stunt pilot Pancho Barnes. My stepmother was on some kind of a business trip, at least that was how she referred the excursion to me. What the manner of her business was I'm not sure, however she met with a man named Willie Martello the owner of a casino in Searchlight called the El Rey Club. Since Pancho provided our air transportation I figured she must have been involved in some fashion. Pancho Barnes or not I know hostesses were.
While I was waiting for my stepmother and Martello to finish their discussions I was waiting in the café portion on the casino. While sitting there a really sharp looking dish of a babe probably about 32-35 years old, maybe a little older, hard to judge the teenager I was then, but loving the cleavage all over, stepped up to the table and without even saying a word pulled out a chair and sat down. She lit a cigarette turning her head upwards and in profile blowing the smoke toward the ceiling then turned towards me jerking her head almost like a mechanical robot or the bride of Frankenstein, asked how it was I knew the woman I came in with. When I told her she was my stepmother she seemed surprised, blurting out a loud laugh with overtones of being almost startled than anything, saying in a mockingly-sad way, "You poor boy."
She knew my stepmother alright, plus we even had a couple of a mutual acquaintances, Brenda Allen, saying she had worked for her at one time, and Pauline Page, who used to work for Fifie Malouf. During our conversation the following happened:
"(When my stepmother) saw me chit-chatting with the lady she didn't seem very happy, asking the woman just what exactly the two of us were talking about and why. With that the woman, the two of them seemingly knowing each other in an adversarial fashion, got up and said, 'Fuck you Queenie, you don't mean shit around here!' while at the same time throwing the contents of a half empty glass of ice water in her direction, albeit totally missing. When it appeared the woman was about to lunge toward my stepmother following the water mishap, Martello, seeing my stepmother was pulling a nickel plated .25 semi-automatic Baby Browning out of her purse and with me ducking for cover, maintained the distance between the two by slightly nudging my stepmother around before she got close enough for contact, saying he would take care of it. With that, Martello hustled us both out of the club. He had a driver take the two of us and our pilot, who had been playing blackjack in the casino, back to the airport about two miles south of town. Waiting on the tarmac was the twin engine Beechcraft Queen Air we flew up in. However, instead of leaving like I thought we would, we just waited."
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL
The next time I bring up anyone specifically, at least chronologically, happened a little less than two years later as found in Buddhism In America Before Columbus wherein for the first time I make mention of a person I call my high school girlfriend:
"At the high school I attended the graduating class had what they called 'Senior Ditch Day,' wherein a regular school day was officially set aside to ditch and go somewhere as a class en mass. My senior year the class selected Catalina Island as our destination. During that high school excursion I participated in all the usual tourist stuff with my girlfriend and buddies: go on the inland motor tour, ride the glass bottom boat, hang out at the beach."
She shows up again in the following quote at the source so cited:
"For one of my high school art classes, which was about the only classes I took in those days, I had to design an album cover, so I chose Howard Rumsey. At the time, the girl I was mostly inseparable from, a fellow artist and, although from a staid family, leaning toward a quasi-bohemian lifestyle as soon as she left her house, selected for her album cover Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. I can still remember to this day how little I knew about anything in those days. Here she was, someone I thought as a contemporary and she knew about Scheherazade and stuff like that and I had never heard of it."
HOPE SAVAGE: The Beat Generations Missing Woman
The same girlfriend shows up when I present a whole ream of information regarding several of my high school "chums" in Tike Karavas of whom of which I went to high school with too. She shows up post high school in several places as well, invariably connected with an all summer long trip a buddy and I made to Mexico --- almost always repeating the same line in some form or another, typically reading thus:
"(T)he draft was still looming over my head and the fact my longterm semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help. When my buddy, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a leave of absence from my job on the boat and go for it."
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
If you go back a couple of paragraphs to where I'm talking about the daughter of Irene at the Organ during the summer between my junior and senior year on the ranch, you will find that in theory, although I was gone for the summer, in essence I was, or still would be, "going with" my high school girlfriend, even though during that summer Irene's daughter and I were spending an awful lot of time boy-girl wise discovering some noticeable differences that became quite evident between the two of us as the summer wore on. Even though my girlfriend and I were close for the last two years of high school she never learned from me nor did I ever tell her about the girl on the ranch. As it was, my high school girlfriend and I never did really reach a point where the two of us were truly discovering noticeable differences at a similar level as Irene's daughter and myself, at least over any protracted period of time --- and probably why the hunkering down stud at college made so more headway than me. C'est la vie.
"For a vast number of young men growing up around the same time I did, after reaching a certain age, they were uprooted from whatever they were doing by the then in place friendly Selective Service System, otherwise known as the draft, and plunked down into the military. And so it was for me. Following a crowded ruckus-filled overnight 400 mile train ride from the induction center in Los Angeles to Fort Ord I, along with several hundred other potential GIs, at 4:00 AM in the morning, was herded into one of a whole line of cattle trucks and taken to what they called the Reception Company Area. Then, after being issued two pairs of too large boots along with several sets of too large olive drab shirts and pants, and having the good fortune of completing eight weeks of basic without incident I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia to attend the U.S. Army Signal Corps School for what they called Advanced Individual Training, or AIT."
WASHOE ZEPHER, the Wanderling
POST HIGH SCHOOL, POST ARMY
Then, the last few times chronologically pretty much ends it. The first, although it was many years after Olga Greenlaw was in the picture, I was visiting my stepmother having taken a girl there for her to meet. In a few line mention of the girl, whoever she was, in the annals of history she disappeared and never heard from again:
"The next time I caught up with my stepmother I brought a girl-come-woman with me who at the time we were very serious together, even talking rings and wedding dates. I figured if my stepmother didn't scare the crap out of her she must OK. All that worked out, it's just we didn't. However, when the two of us were leaving that day my stepmother pulled me aside and out of earshot whispered, 'She looks a lot like Olga, you know.'"
Around the same time the above was going down, after coming home from the military and seriously returning to study-practice, my Mentor sent me to South Kent, Connecticut and the compound of Alfred Pulyan, a man of great spiritual prowess. When people who know of Pulyan they invariably refer to him as an American Zen Master without the Zen nor the Buddhism, yet Enlightened in the Finality of the Absolute in the same tradition as in the spiritual Awakenings attributed to the ancient classical masters.
My mentor appreciating Pulyan's method, which fell somewhere halfway between what he had been attempting to impart to me and the full-on staid precepts of Zen, always thought his methods might initiate for me, a breakthrough. However, just after I returned from the Army and sought out my mentor, and before going to see Pulyan was even remotely in the cards, he really didn't want anything to do with me, saying the military "had brought out the beast in me." He mellowed over time, especially so after he reneged enough to allow me to introduce him to a gorgeous raven-haired beauty I had met in college. She had just turned 21 by a few months when we met and I was a little beyond my mid 20s although well shy of 30. He liked her immediately and thinking of the Samsara world that a woman of such enormous beauty could see something in me, I might still after all, have some inkling of redemption left, he thought of Pulyan.
One of the people in the compound was Pulyan's Teacher, a woman who should have been roughly age 60, but not looking a day over 30. She was the person responsible for Pulyan's transformation, and it was she I spent most of my time with. Prior to Pulyan's Awakening he was an unknowing seeker along an unknown path, investigating any and all routes for a solution to his angst, real or imagined. One day in the process of those investigations, he was exploring what he had heard was a new or unique approach to psychotherapy when he came across a young woman that was somehow different from all other people he had ever met. In an intellectual joust on his part he confronted her with all his knowledge of science, philosophers and the like. Like an expert swordsman or kung-fu master she blocked and parried each blow, leaving herself unscathed and himself defeated. Although she claimed no teacher or any lineage it was apparent her Attainment was deep and to reach the same level of Attainment he decided to dedicate any further seeking to be guided under her auspices --- a decision that ended up leading toward her becoming Pulyan's teacher and his Final Fulfillment.(see)
ENTERS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
In the previous mentioning of the El Rey Club above, I was talking about the first time I was there, and barely even a teenager at that. The last time I was at the El Rey Club was actually about ten years later, the year before I was drafted. I remember it specifically. It was May 1st 1961. I had spent the weekend of April 29-30, in Las Vegas and when the weekend was over, instead of driving straight back to Southern California I circled around to Hoover Dam then down to Searchlight thinking I might take in a little gambling and maybe even partake in a few extra curricular activities on the side.
When I was in Vegas for the weekend I visited a friend of my stepmother's named Johnny Roselli, a high ranking member of the mob who, through my stepmother, I had known personally since before I was 10 years old. While at the El Rey, in a similar or like fashion, as a courtesy call, I met with the club's owner Willie Martello as well. No sooner had Martello left than a man associated with Roselli stepped up out of the crowded casino wanting to know the nature of my business with Martello. In that it was innocent enough it was soon all easily resolved. However, when I was leaving the same man blocked my car by pulling directly behind me as I was backing out, all the while waving something in the air and yelling that he had something for me. When I got out to see what all the fuss was about he handed me an already opened envelope addressed to Roselli. Inside was an 8X11 white sheet of paper that had only a small few line typed note in the center asking Roselli if he knew how to contact me and a business card of a L.A. lawyer that had "Call me. Brenda" written on the back. In a pure coincidence, turn of fate or maybe even karma, I just happened to be in Vegas the same time he got the note. Roselli sent his gorilla to stop me, not catching me until reaching the El Rey Club. My meeting with Martello at first took precedence over the note.
The Brenda on the back of the business card referred to Brenda Allen, a long time old friend of my stepmother. She had been in Los Angeles for sometime dealing with some proceedings related to her divorce and wanted to meet with me for reasons undisclosed. I had met with her a year or so before in Long Beach and she requested we meet at a certain time and date outside her old place on East Ocean Avenue. When the time came I was there, but she wasn't. I gave her a couple of hours, then, since I was on Ocean Avenue I thought I would go down to the Long Beach Museum of Art for a while then come back and see if she showed up. In the end she never did, nor did I ever see or hear from her again.
In the meantime, as I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing. Having lost a total sense of dignity and somehow feeling a need for air I immediately went outside, crossing the short distance across a park adjacent to the museum overlooking the ocean. Within minutes if not seconds, for reasons I am yet to fathom to this day, the woman was suddenly standing next to me saying something like, "Didn't you like the exhibit, you left so abruptly." I don't recall what my answer was or how one thing led to the next, but soon the two of us were agreeing to have lunch together, although instead I ate breakfast, at a little restaurant she knew just a couple of blocks away called The Park Pantry.
During small talk while eating I told her I was at the museum because I was supposed to meet a friend of my stepmother's who was going through a divorce, only she never showed. The woman told me after nearly ten years of marriage she herself was going through a divorce and only recently separated. From that, in a quick finger counting mathematical sequence I figured she would have to be 26 or 27 or maybe 28, making her at least four years older than me, although to look at her I would never have guessed it. She told me she was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Long Beach and graduated from high school in Long Beach practically the same time she got married and, even though she was in the process of divorcing she had children, including one only eight months old. Seeing I didn't flinch at the thought of kids or an infant, she continued. She was separated from her husband and although it was atypical for her to be in the area generally, on that particular day she was or had been visiting family and friends and was in the process of revisiting old haunts in Long Beach in a nostalgic sort of way. She said she may have been to the museum before, although she couldn't remember a specific instance, but in that she always liked the building and location she stopped in for no other reason except to do so, then she saw me. She said when I left so abruptly she was overwhelmed with the strangest inner feeling, as though she had found something valuable I had lost and she had to return it --- yet she had nothing except for that strange feeling that felt so real.
The rest of the year slipped by, and possibly because of that strange feeling that felt so real and the strength of it's strangeness, we were able to override any number or mitigating factors, to such a point we saw each other as much as possible. Then, sometime around the middle of the following year I received a confirmation letter from the Selective Service informing me I would be inducted two or three months before the end of the calendar year and would have to report on a given date at a given time and place. The second I showed her the letter, except for one rare occasion, reality hit and I never saw her again. Less than three weeks before I was inducted she met some USC dude who in the following year while I was still in the army, having barely a year of service behind me and being nothing but a lowly PFC, she married --- a play on the old gone off to college (him) while I remained nothing but a dunce working stiff (in the Army) trick.
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When people see photographs of the person I met in the museum, especially the photograph above, people that know the gorgeous raven-haired beauty I met in college and took to see my mentor, swear she is the exact same person. Although she is a near exact duplicate, I can assure you such was not the case, any doppelgänger aspects being pure coincidence. As it was I didn't start college until after the Army. To this day, except perhaps for the above aforementioned raven haired beauty and possibly a more recent exception, the museum lady still ranks as the absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally met in my life. To see how I remember her that day at the museum click the above image.
In reference to the above, a man claiming to having known me in the past, or at least coming in contact with me on more than one occasion at one time or the other, and, after reading any number of my works online, including these included here in Firehair wherein I recount a number of early infatuation experiences, asked why I have left out a certain high-profile person he saw me in the company of a number of times in later years, namely in the early to mid 1980s --- mentioning her by name. The her he spoke of was one Phyllis Davis, of which I write the following in the opening paragraph on her page so linked below:
"Phyllis Davis was an actress of extraordinary beauty and true natural talent, who, without the need to ever break through into the A-list category so clamored for by the entertainment media and it's toady sycophants, had, through her own subtle wiles and abilities, developed a unique set of ties and connections with Las Vegas, the Hollywood TV and movie industry, and some say even the mob."
PHYLLIS DAVIS: Thailand, Terminal Island, Terminal Cancer
Along the way Davis, at one point in her life, had also developed a semi-interest in Mediums, the psychic-world and psychics, especially so one Char Margolis. Although not straight-line directly related, Davis had also became enamored, at least short term or on-the-side with what she had heard regarding the possibilities innate to the supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. In the process she was directed toward me.
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
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He was right. So, what happened? If you have ever read what I have written about a woman named Brenda Allen as well as a few paragraphs back, you would have run into the fact that just before high school I had a crush on a certain young blonde that was at the time the girlfriend of a guy in the 11th or 12th grade nicknamed "Blackie." I mention he and his buddies pulled me aside one day and threw me up against the wall making it clear that the girl was HIS girl and to stay away from her. I also said I learned really fast never to have designs on the girlfriend of a guy who had a nickname, especially so if it was something like "Blackie."
The Siddhi enamored lady of later years became un-enamored with Siddhis quickly, or at least after a short passage of time, apparently because forthcoming results were not quick enough along with the difficulties in mastering them, the regimen, etc., and moved on. About that same time, with me remaining around peripherally because of a personal request to do so, I was yanked off the street one day by a couple of heavyweight growlers almost in the same way as the aforementioned Blackie had done with me in my youth, and told, "Rosselli's dead you monk-ass prick, you got no protection so bug off."
"According to the Buddha and how the sutras are said to present it, to manifest or execute the abilities of Siddhis, a stringent regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
SIDDHIS: Supernormal Perceptual States
Phyllis Davis, in an honest assessment of herself, unlike most, must have questioned if she could meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places, and for her to do just that, that is, become a frequenter to lonely places, she and I ended up in the jungles of Thailand together. For more, please see:
THE COLLEGE YEARS
JOHNNY ROSELLI: MAFIOSO
JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS
THE BLACK CONDOR: THE MAN WHO WAS ABLE TO FLY LIKE A BIRD
RANGER COMICS NO. 63 FEBRUARY 1952
SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE
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HOW HE BECAME A MOUNTIE
ON THE RAZOR'S
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.
In the paragraph this footnote is cited from, in drawing a conclusion between Firehair and my mother, I write that both my mother and her sister had beautiful long red hair and were so close together in age, as well as looking so much alike almost everybody mistook them for twins. Initially, as a young boy, because of their red hair and the high esteem I held both of them in, I always carried a certain high affinity towards Firehair's character. I go on to say I have repeated the same or similar like statements in a number of places scattered throughout the web, almost always in conjunction to Firehair. For those who may be so interested, below are three of the most notable examples:
The paragraph so referenced is a kind of modification of the following quote below that can be found on any number of my pages located here and there around the web. The original paragraph showed up first and foremost in the Roy Rogers and Andy Devine page linked below, most likely derived in some fashion from my so-called Profile page, also linked. On the list are all kinds of cowboys, superheroes, etc., et al, in one form or the other, that have had some sort of a connection or impact in my life, be it major or minor, positive or negative. Good hunting:
"Like so many young boys growing up during my era I loved cowboy-western movies and the actors that showed up in them. As well, right up there with westerns were Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, especially Tarzan and the Huntress, Warner Brothers cartoons, Leonardo Da Vinci, 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. But still it remained, the cowboy western movie stars and heroes such as the Durango Kid, Lash LaRue, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, their horses Champion and Trigger, and their sidekicks Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, and Andy Devine were the ones that in the end interacted in my life in real life."
What happened to me immediately after I ran away from the foster couple is pretty much summed up in the paragraph in quotes below from the source so cited. Basically, without anyone's knowledge, I took a Greyhound bus north to the Mojave Desert searching down and eventually locating my then just divorced-from-my-father stepmother, or ex-stepmother as the case may have been, at her newly acquired ranch in the Mojave following her return from a two year sojourn to Mexico and South America:
"Although impressed that I ran away just to be with her she thought it best to get in touch with my dad and see what she should do next. Unwilling to talk with my grandmother she called the woman of the foster couple I ran away from, who she knew and was friends with, hoping to find out if I should be returned to them or to locate my father, telling the woman that I was in good care and everything was OK. The woman of the couple, Aunt Pauline, told my stepmother to 'keep the fucking little asshole, I don't give a shit what happens to him.' Then she added, 'Don't forget his prick of a little brother, either.' My stepmother, taking into consideration there were no subtle or hidden messages in her response, being quite clear as well as taking her at her word, contacted my uncle to see if he had any idea where my dad was. He didn't, but told my stepmother if she could find no other solution and she could get me to Santa Fe he would deal with situation until everything could be hammered out. With that, having no success locating my dad for whatever reason, rather than sticking me on some grungy multi-day cross desert bus ride to my uncle's and not knowing for sure if I wouldn't just get off somewhere on the way, she arranged for the same former World War II P-47 pilot that flew my uncle and me to Sacramento a few years before to fly me to Santa Fe, ensuring, she hoped, I would be less likely to get out mid-trip."(source)
To pick me up my stepmother had the pilot fly into a nearby, albeit long abandoned tumbleweed infested and rock strewn one time military airfield out in the middle of nowhere called Victory Field. The plane was a pilot in front, passenger in back two seater World War II trainer called a North American AT-6. It was the first time I had ever been off the ground and into the air in any kind of a World War II aircraft, so for me the trip to my uncle's was not only highly memorable, it was also as well, white-knuckle exciting.
As for the pilot, who had flown my uncle and me to Sacramento and then just me to be with my uncle in Santa Fe a few years later, he basically came into the picture when my just into his teens older brother and cousin hopped a freight train on the Southern Pacific mainline near our ranch and didn't get off until reaching the Sacramento yards some 500 miles north and getting caught in the grasp of a railroad bull that was going to beat them with a club. The pilot flew my uncle and I to Sacramento so my uncle could pay off the railroad bull and get my brother and cousin back. On our return trip we flew over the Sierras to an abandoned, remote rock strewn airstrip south of Reno in the middle of the night to pick up a mysterious no questions to be asked woman covered head to toe wearing dark glasses and fly her to Las Vegas --- a woman that turned out to be an incognito movie star thought to be June Lang. The whole story can be found in:
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
SANTA FE LOCOMOTIVE #3774
The following, as found on the fan page so cited, is fairly typical of what is considered about Sheena and her persona:
"Sheena, unlike Wonderwoman(created to target young girls as the main audience), had a target audience of young boys. Wearing only the smallest fur and leopard costumes, this blonde heroine swung into the hearts and minds of young boys that came back monthly for another issue."(source)
SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE
(issue #1, spring 1942)
A few people have come forward with emails asking me if the female vocalist could have been a country-western singer of the era by the name of Betsy Gay. What I have been able to determine from the information and background material I have seen so far, including photographs and various biographies, it does not seem so. For some reason, from what I remember about the female vocalist, Betsy Gay just doesn't fit the bill --- plus the timing isn't right. It has been reported that sometime in 1946 Besty Gay left the Los Angeles music scene to tour the east coast. Texas Jim ran a contest to find a female vocalist to replace her. Who that replacement was I have not been able to find out. When Betsy was asked who replaced her she wasn't quite sure, but thought it might have been Becky Barfield. As for the information I have been able to garner on Barfield, like that of Betsy Gay, she does not seem to fit the bill either.
COUNTRY SINGER CINDY WALKER CIRCA 1946
Personally, for the record, although many say it would be a stretch, I still have a tendency to lean toward Cindy Walker, a country-western singer and song writer of some repute. She came to Los Angeles with her parents from Texas in 1940 at the age of 22 not returning until 1954. Interestingly enough, it has often reported she never married. However, in an interview with the New York Times shortly before her death, without giving any details, Walker stated she did at onetime have what turned out to be "a very short-lived marriage." Love is a funny thing and not every minute of Cindy Walker's life was etched in stone. If she was in love with the ex-marine, no telling how she may have conducted herself. In 1941 Walker signed a five year recording contract with Decca based on the strength of a demo she sang titled "Lone Star Trail." The Decca contract led to her recording several songs and working with Texas Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys. For a few years Texas Jim's Redondo Barn would have been a perfect forum.
CINDY, A BOY'S LOVE AS I REMEMBER HER
THE DRAGON LADY
LAI CHOI SAN, THE DRAGON LADY, IN HER FIRST APPEARANCE, SUNDAY DECEMBER 23, 1934
One of the pages I have on the internet follows the adventures of a former pilot for the Flying Tigers turned rogue who, like Tommy Tomahawk, continues to fly his P-40 against the Japanese invaders of Free China during World War II long after the Tigers were disbanded. Called the Lone Tiger, he and his story is illustrated by master artist-cartoonist Wally Wood. Although the Lone Tiger and the P-40s are drawn and presented in a serious tone, Wood himself was a one-time major cartoonist for Mad Comics. One of his most famous stories is a spoof on Terry and the Pirates called Teddy and the Pirates. Milton Caniff, who himself was famous for drawing Terry and the Pirates had in his mix of characters a woman he called the Dragon Lady, based on a real-life warlord of the seas, a pirate queen by the name of Lai Choi San. When the person I call my Mentor in all my works was a young man he was traveling back to India from the Himalayas overland through China. He departed China towards the Philippines via the South China Sea. In doing so, after meeting Lai Choi San, he traveled on one of heavily her armed junks and got to know her fairly well, of which, over time he related to me. In Woods satirical rendition of Terry and the Pirates he draws my all time favorite visual presentation of the Dragon Lady who he calls the Dragging Lady:
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TERRY AND THE PIRATES
In the above cartoon Woods draws my all time favorite visual presentation of the Dragon Lady he calls the Dragging Lady and drawn not too different than I have always depicted her myself. In later years, staying in a similar but serious theme Wood turned his artistic talents toward a person he called The Infamous Madam Toy as shown in the graphic below:
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Although the dates and times are such that it could not occur, and NOT a Dragon Lady in any classical sense of the word, Woods could have modeled his 'Dragging Lady' almost directly off Madame Ky, the wife of the former Vietnamese Air Vice Marshal and onetime vice president of Vietnam, General Nguyen Cao Ky. To wit:
THE BEAUTIFUL MADAM NGUYEN CAO KY CIRCA 1964
MEETING WARLORDS, ET AL
In 1962 Wood also contributed his creative skills to a series of baseball-like collectable cards called Mars Attacks. As the cards related to me, one of those Mars Attacks collectables played heavily in what I have written about regarding the possibility of a Roswell ray gun. My uncle is said to have found what was for all practicable purposes a hand-held weapon at the Roswell crash site, only to hide it away by burying it some distance up and behind the debris field. Years later when he told me about the existence of such a weapon the first thing I saw in my minds eye was the disintegrator used by the Martians as shown below in the collector series:
THE ROSWELL RAY GUN
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THE COLLEGE YEARS
Both as a graduate and undergraduate student in college I had the good fortune of meeting many people, students, teachers, professors, et al, that because of our interlocking college connections one-way-or-the-other, played significant enough roles in my life that mention of them have shown up in several of my works. The raven-haired beauty I introduced to my mentor as so cited in the above main text, well she and I eventually married.
The onetime philosophy major I knew in college but who had somehow morphed into a big time computer geek that shows up in Adam Osborne, well, she and I met when she just started college at age 18 --- and we are still friends to this day. In an offhand sort of way she played a major role bringing Osborne and I, who I had met at the ashram of Sri Ramana in India when we were both kids and hadn't seen in years, together as adults. Osborne himself at the time was morphing --- or had morphed into Steve Jobs of Apple computers chief nemesis and adversary during their early years in Silicone Valley --- so much so that Jobs felt compelled to phone him personally and out-and-out call him an asshole.
Following a ten-year continuing series of unexplainable minor but escalating life threatening and life interfering strokes, Osborne returned to India, passing away there in 2003 at age 64.
Another example of a person that wouldn't be in my life if it wasn't for college is mentioned in Stephen Hawking. Years after our graduations she just happened to become a person high enough up within the scientific community of the U.C. system that I was sure she would be attending some function or the other surrounding Hawking and would be able to arrange a meeting with him, and did. She is also the same person that is a conservation biologist with a PhD emphasis in endangered species that shows up in High Mountain Zendo
Although not of the female persuasion, but influential non the less, is an old Army buddy that I talk about in The Strange Odyssey of the German U-boat U-196 who pulled me out of an about to be zipped-up body bag when both of us somehow discovered I didn't quite fall into the already fully dead category. Years later I was cutting across Arizona from Phoenix to Flagstaff on my way to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see my Uncle who was quite ill. In the process of that cutting across I went through the mile-high old mining town of Jerome hoping to catch up with him who living there at the time. After the Army we attended the same university on the G.I. Bill taking several classes on and off together and hanging out. As time went on our interests diverged and we ended up going our separate ways. However, like I say in U-196 I did catch up with him for a few days in the old mining town in Arizona where he ended up living.
Of course, last but not least, there is always the following, a fabulously beautiful student and oft-time professional model I met in college the same time my army buddy and I was there. Mostly coffee, walks, and many hours of talk, especially one morning early just she and I along the net-laden fishermen docks in San Pedro with the pre-dawn fog just lifting and the tuna boats getting ready to leave. The smell of diesel exhaust, the distant sound of seagulls, her still in a cocktail dress from the night before, barefoot on the wooden wharf, hand carrying her red spaghetti strap stiletto high heels. Then with our spring semester waning, the summer upon us and classes and the semester over she eventually moved on and I never saw her again. She going on to bigger and better things and in the process marrying some way-out-of-my-league Olympic gold medal winning dude. I heard she went on to have a couple of daughters, or so I've been told. I know that her father, Tomio, known as Tom, who she introduced me to many years ago, passed away late in the year 2013. Most importantly though, as far as I am concerned, is that her dad received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 2010 for his service to the United States during World War II.(see)
LELAND'S 2-D ART CLASS, CSULB SPRING OF 1965
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BEFORE COLLEGE THERE WAS:
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
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If you go a couple of paragraphs down in the main text from the paragraph this footnote is linked to you will run into the following sentence:
"Little did I know that those easy going comic book reading days were numbered, ending with my stepmother's ranch being sold, my dad and stepmother going to Mexico and South America for a two year stretch and me once again being thrown into or under the auspices of another foster couple."
A year or so passed with me living with the aforementioned foster couple when I decided to run away from home. I did so after hearing that my stepmother, actually my ex-stepmother by then as she and my dad had since divorced, bought a new ranch in the Mojave Desert almost as soon as she returned from her two year travels in Mexico and South America. Without approval or anybody's knowledge I took a Greyhound bus to the then little town of Palmdale hoping to come into contact with someone who might know where she was. By the time I got to Palmdale it was a little to late to learn much so I went to the ranch that neighbored the ranch I used to live on seeing if the owner could put me up for the night, which considering my situation, they were most willing to do.
The son of the owner, that is the brother of the five sisters, and I immediately began reading comic books just like we used to do a few years earlier when I lived down the road, with the brother digging out one specific one he insisted on me reading. He told me the first time he saw the comic he thought of me specifically and always hoped he could share it with me because of a story I told him once that he never forgot, a story about a flying machine I built based on a Leonardo Da Vinci design that I actually flew.
In the comic book that he was so compelled to have me read, issue #4 of the DC comic dated March-April 1951 called Tomahawk with a cover story titled The Flying Frontiersman, featured a story in which the main character, Tomahawk, in 1771, uses a flying machine based on a Da Vinci design and almost like the one I built and flew, to battle a renegade Native American bent on stirring up a war between the Indians and settlers.
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ON THE RIGHT, OVER A HALF CENTURY LATER
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD 1951
SCENE FROM THE ORIGINAL TERRY AND THE PIRATES AS DRAWN BY MILTON CANIFF DATED JANUARY 27, 1935.
At the end of the summer of 1953, just as I was about to start the 10th grade or so, the August - September #6 issue of the comic book Mad came out. Inside #6 was a story, drawn by my all time favorite non-animator cartoonist Wallace Wood, that spoofed or satired big-time the long running comic strip Terry and the Pirates, with Wood in his spoofing, calling it Teddy and the Pirates.
Although I had followed Terry and the Pirates a good portion of my life, and knew how Milton Caniff, the artist-cartoonist of the strip, presented Terry's world that he and his so-called Pirates lived in, Wood's top-half opening drawing below, showing his version of an underbelly far east like milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere along with the rest of the story hit me like a hammer, with me, the teenager that I was, sucking up his version as my version and as my version, the real version. Ten years later, thanks to Uncle Sam and his friendly Selective Service, found me in Rangoon, Saigon, and Chiang Mai, as well as other such places, even meeting warlords. Those ten years after high school, especially in and where I traveled, having gone from a teenager to an almost mid-twenties GI, my vision not only didn't wane, but was bolstered and grew. Notice the tommy guns, stabbings, hand grenades and exotic women. So too in the second panel, i.e., lower left hand corner, the two crashed P-40 Flying Tigers.
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The biggest draw for me to Terry and the Pirates besides the milieu and perhaps being in love with the Dragon Lady, was that the characters were eventually drawn into the events surrounding the China-Burma-India theater during World War II --- and especially so Milton Caniff's use of U.S. Army Air Corps Curtiss-Wright P-40's carrying markings similar to the Flying Tigers, as found, for example, in the following Terry and the Pirates story:
MY MEETING WITH COLONEL GREENLAW:
A few years after graduating from high school but before being drafted, a buddy and I went on road trip throughout Mexico. We bought a 1951 Chevy panel truck we fixed up like a camper and drove down the Baja peninsula crossing by ferry to the mainland from Santa Rosalia, eventually going as far as the Yucatan before turning back toward the states. During the trip, which is fully outlined at the link cited after the quote below, I sought out Colonel Greenlaw who was living in Baja Mexico at the time. Even though where he lived was a rather remote area, it was fairly convenient because our route took us almost right past his place. A little detour and we were there. To wit:
"After leaving Ensenada we continued south on some pretty crummy roads eventually turning eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia, taking a ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas. On the road south just before it turns more eastward across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia we turned on Highway 18 not far from Guerrero Negro as I wanted to catch up with a man I hoped to meet who was said to live at a place called El Arco. The man was Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the onetime second in command of the infamous Flying Tigers of World War II fame. I had read his wife's book Lady and the Tigers (1943) and heard somewhere along the way that Greenlaw lived there. Since I was close by and most likely would never be back I made it a point to look him up, spending a couple of days."
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
When I was eight or nine years old I went on an almost all summer long excursion throughout the desert southwest visiting a variety of major and minor historical sites as well as fossil and archaeological sites all across Arizona and New Mexico with my uncle. One of the places we visited when we got to New Mexico was Fort Sumner, stopping there specifically for me to see the gravesite of the infamous western outlaw and bad guy Billy the Kid.
Because of a few highly memorable adventures and people I met during that excursion I created a couple of web pages devoted to it. One of the pages revolves around a post high school teenager I met named Tommy Tyree. Tyree worked on a ranch for a man whose dad's brother, in 1908, shot and killed Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who had in turn shot Billy Kid in 1881. Because of such Tyree was a minor historian of Billy the Kid. However, his major claim to fame was his stature as a witness to the events surrounding the alleged crash of an object of an unknown nature that came out of the night sky during the summer of 1947 related to what has come to be known as the Roswell UFO. The other page, because of my visit to Billy the Kid's gravesite, I have dedicated it to Billy the Kid. On that page I use a graphic of a fairly famous oil painting done in 1937 of the Kid by a fellow desert southwest artist and friend of my uncle named John W. Hilton, of whom, through my uncle, as a kid I both met and as well, saw the original painting.
BILLY THE KID BY JOHN W. HILTON, 1937
In an article on the net about Col. Harvey Greenwall said to have appeared in Cabo Life Magazine, reportedly states that the same artist, John W. Hilton, painted a mural on Greenwall's wall a year or two before I visited him --- during the same period Hilton was gathering material for a book he was writing titled "Hardly Any Fences," a book that dealt with his various travels in Baja California from 1933 to 1959. In a chapter or section of that book, published in 1977, titled "South to El Arco," in his own hand, Hilton presents a slightly different version of any attempt at what could possibly be misconstrued as him having painted a full wall mural:
"I took a liking to Harvey Greenlaw at once. His house had a dirt floor but there were murals on all of the walls painted and drawn by artists and would-be artists who had stopped by to visit him. I added some cereus and cactus plants on each side of a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This gave her a local touch, we thought."
Two years later I was working as crew on the marlin boat come yacht of the multi-millionaire heir to the Halliburton oil fortune, David J. Halliburton Sr. On the way back from Cabo San Lucas I talked the skipper into pulling into Scammon's Lagoon not far from Guerrero Negro for a quick dirt bike trip over to Greenlaw's place in El Arco. However, except for a housekeeper who didn't know where he was and didn't know when he would be back, the place was empty, my trip to see him too no avail.
Greenlaw, who was born November 14, 1897 in Wisconsin, died January 10, 1982 in Baja California, Mexico after residing in Baja for almost all of his post Flying Tigers life. See:
COL. HARVEY GREENLAW
NOTE: The opening quote at the top of this footnote shows up as a footnote in Of Cobras, Scarabs, Maseratis, and Zen except I make reference to some of the conversation between Greenlaw and myself.(see)
A few years before my mentor sent me to Pulyan's compound, while in the military, in the court of a Laotian warlord, I was requested to participate in, without many options to opt out or do otherwise, a ceremony that circled around the heavy use of opium. Dressed in local garb I layed on the floor on my side with a thin, three-foot long pipe, attended to by an ancient man that assisted me through the various paces. A couple of times afterwards, on my own and with others, I participated in a much less formal ritual called "chasing the dragon," but instead of a pipe, using a matchbox. That was ages ago. Those days, as well as any other such youthful indiscretions, are long gone and long over. The thing is, when the effects of the opium took over, it was like I had disappeared or no longer existed, having melded into the larger whole. Yet my eyes still took in, in a very high super-clear intensity, all of my surroundings. Where or what my eyes were connected to or how they were able to work or record my environment --- and for me to still know about it I don't know --- as there did not seem to be a back of my head or even a head.
Early on I can remember engulfed and removed from everything, but still looking down and seeing my toes barely sticking out of what seemed to be a wavering silver or mercury surface spreading out before me with a shimering reflection almost mirage-like with me somehow floating without weight or body. It was warm, embracing, enticing, and euphoric.
When I first met Pulyan's teacher, although not everyone seemed to be attracted to her on the same level I was, that was the way it seemed to me. Warm, embracing, enticing, and euphoric --- with no back to my head and what there was of me, if there was a me, melded into the whole.
MEETING WARLORDS, ET AL
KHUN SA: THE SECOND WARLORD