As a young boy growing up, not unlike any number of other kids my age, I held a number 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 the Spirit and Captain Midnight, followed a couple of rungs down by Captain Marvel. 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.
In several places, in conjunction with Firehair, I have written 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. I go on to say, again in 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.
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 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 I moved in with my younger brother, but I do know by April 1951 I was fully ensconced, however good or bad, and my uncle was long gone. I can pinpoint April of 1951 for sure 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 and not to 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, in my estimation 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)
AND NOW THIS:
Back to Firehair --- in one of the many lead in pages to Firehair I have scattered around on the net one of them opens with the following:
"Although I knew of and followed most of the movie western heroes such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Durango Kid and Lash LaRue, in the comic book realm most of my interests leaned toward the Spirit and Captain Midnight. 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 --- as was how I initially came across her and the rise of her impact on my life."
In the opening paragraphs at the top of this page, speaking of my real 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?
The whole Oedipus Complex is a big 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, cited otherwise.(see)
THE BLACK CONDOR: THE MAN WHO COULD FLY LIKE A BIRD
RANGER COMICS #63 FEBRUARY 1952
SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE
(please click image)
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.
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
Chronologically, my first major infatuation experience that I can remember and 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 she looked a lot like a cowgirl version of a popular movie star of the time named Veronica Lake, with 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
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.(see)
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 Colonel 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, 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, 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, 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 and especially so Tommy Tomahawk, a college educated Native American said to be a member of the Cherokee Tribe that flew a P-40 Tomahawk and led a squadron of Flying Tiger marked planes 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 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.
During 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.
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."
The same high school girlfriend shows up again post high school in several places, 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."(source)
Then, last two 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:
"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 the compound of Alfred Pulyan, a man of great spiritual prowess, 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 thinking Pulyan's method, laying somewhere half-way between what my mentor had been attempting to impart and the full on staid precepts of Zen, might initiate a breakthrough. However, before seeing Pulyan was even remotely in the cards, just after I had returned from the Army and sought out my mentor 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 when he allowed me to introduce him to a gorgeous raven-haired beauty I had met in college. She had just turned 21 two months before and I was somewhere past my mid 20s headed toward 30. He liked her immediately.(see)
DEATH OF THE EGO:
A Buddhist View
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
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)
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD 1951
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. For me, the question is still open.(see)
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:
(for larger graphic click image then click again)
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:
(please click image)
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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During my college years, both as a graduate and undergraduate student, I had the good fortune to meet many people, students, teachers, professors, et al, that because of our interlocking college connections one-way-or-the-other, they 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 --- morphing into Steve Jobs of Apple computers chief nemesis and advisory during their early years in Silicone Valley --- so much so that Jobs out and out called 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
There is also my 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 there is always the following, a fabulously beautiful student and oft-time professional model I met in college. Mostly coffee, walks, and many hours of talk, especially one morning early just the two of us along the net-laden fishermen docks with the fog just lifting and the tuna boats just 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 thin-strap red 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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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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BODY BAG DAYS, ONE YEAR EARLIER, SPRING OF 1964