On the third page of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, discussing my early childhood interest in human powered flight, I tell how my older brother loved to build model airplanes and continued to build bigger and better models until eventually he was constructing huge gas engine powered remote control six-foot wingspan B-24 Liberators. He was also the apple of my father's eye. My Uncle, noticing the situation, decided I too could impress my dad, only through art. I then go on to say:
"The seed for impressing my dad sprange from an obsession with the artist Leonardo Da Vinci combined with a scene I saw in a 1947 Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie titled Tarzan and the Huntress wherein Tarzan's son Boy builds a glider-type plane capable of flying while carrying him. Before Boy has a chance to test it, their chimp Cheetah, apparently seeing the glider's potential, steals it. Hanging on for dear life Cheetah jumps off some rocks covering quite some distance through the air before eventually crashing into the trees and falling to the ground."(source)
After seeing that scene I HAD to build and fly my own glider. Under my uncle's guidence and a seemingly unlimited supply of money provided through the graciousness of my Stepmother, I researched and studied everything I could find on Leonardo and his flying machines. Then, gathering all the info we put about building our own machine by combining our 1948 ideas with Leonardo's fifteenth century ideas and Otto Lilienthal's 1894 ideas of some four-hundred years later.
My uncle drew a lifesize outline of the craft on the floor of the studio and from that the machine grew into an over fifteen-foot wingspan glider capable of supporting a man like Lilienthal's, or a ten year old boy like myself, in flight. I am not sure what his exact plan for the machine was, but one day without my uncle's knowledge a friend of mine and I hauled it out of the studio and up to the top of the second story apartments across the compound, and hanging on for dear life, launched it. The following paragraph, again from page three of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, I describe the results of that attempt:
"Initially the flight played out fairly well, picking up wind under the wings and maintaining the same two-story height advantage for some distance. Halfway across busy Arlington Street though, the craft began slowing and losing forward momentum. It began dropping altitude rapidly, eventually crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house across the way. Other than a few bruises and a wrecked machine, nothing was broken, although as it turned out, my dad wasn't nearly as proud of me as intended. I never forgot the thrill of that flight and carried that thrill and Leonardo's dreams into my adulthood." 
I was around ten years old or so when I attempted the flight. As stated previously, I am not sure what my uncle's exact plan for the machine was, that is, were we building it to actually fly the thing or not, and if so, was I the one that was going to be the solo pilot. For me there was no doubt, but, rather than receive a no vote or being stonewalled, I just took it upon myself to haul it up to the top of the roof of the two-story house and launch out across Arlington Street.
The flight made the local press with a reporter doing an interview with my uncle and showing me next to the wrecked craft. Two nights later my uncle and I were in the garage contemplating repairs of the flying machine, now hanging securely from the rafters, when a man in a dark suit and a hat stepped in through the open garage doors from the darkened alley. He talked to my uncle in muted tones for a few minutes, then, stepping back out of the garage, flashed a pen-sized flashlight on and off down the alley a couple of times. A few seconds later a sharp-looking light green Lincoln Continental convertible with the top up and headlights off slowly pulled up in front of the open garage doors. A tall lankey man dressed to the nines like he was on his way to a high-class nightclub or something crawled out of the back of the car on the passenger side and came around the front of the car just barely staying out of the light. My uncle and the two men talked in the alley a few minutes then my uncle and the lankey man came into the garage, all the while the two of them looking up and walking around under the machine while my uncle pointed out some of the crafts finer attributes. After a short time my uncle motioned me over and introduced me to the lankey man. His name, Howard Hughes.
Interestingly enough, even though I was just a kid, unbeknownst to my uncle I knew Hughes on sight as I came within seconds of meeting and talking to him a year or two before. Early one morning around June 12, 1946 or so I was outside the the old High Spot restaurant in Hermosa Beach at the top of the hill where Gould Avenue rises up from the beach and intersects with Pacific Coast Highway hanging with the ex-marine taxi driver I was staying with at the time. The two of us were planning to spend the day catching up with, watching, and following the giant Hughes flying boat, the so-called Spruce Goose, being transported by truck and trailer in pieces from Culver City to Long Beach.(see) The ex-marine was sitting on the front fender of his cab with one foot on the bumper drinking his morning coffee and I was drawing circles in the dirt with a stick when a black sedan pulled off PCH into the parking lot. A tall lankey man in a hat and wearing a brown leather jacket got out and looked around for awhile and in the process making eye-contact with the ex-marine followed by a slight head-tip toward each other. The taxi driver told me the man was Howard Hughes, the owner of the flying boat we were going to see and that I should walk over to talk to him. I didn't.
This time Hughes talked to me. He asked me about building the craft, the flight, and what flying it felt like. After a few minutes he headed back toward the car. Just as he was getting into the back seat he turned and told me he had wrecked more than one airplane himself, then he said, "Say hi to your mom for me."
Oddly, by the time of my wayward flight I was already well on my way toward a fascination regarding the ability to fly, flying machines, giant flying creatures, giant feathers, et al, that seemed to dominate in later life. My uncle stated many times that he felt the reason for such a fascination, or destiny as he called it, went back to an incident that involved the fly over of a giant airborne object that I witnessed as a young boy. The object, of an unknown nature and an unknown origin, was seen by literally thousands of people along the coast of California barely three months into World War II. Eventually to be called the Battle of Los Angeles or as I call it the UFO Over L.A., the incident is mostly forgotten now except by maybe myself and through the works of the event's most major chronicler and eyewitness, C. Scott Littleton --- whose critiques of MY eyewitness accounts of are explored in Littleton Vs. The Wanderling.
As for the battle, during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942 the whole city of Los Angeles and surrounding communities were in an uproar as thousands of rounds of anti-aircraft shells were expended in an attempt to pull down whatever it was in the sky that night. The slow moving object, said to be as big or bigger than a Zeppelin, was caught in the glare of the searchlights from Santa Monica to Long Beach and seemed impervious to the the constant barrarge of shells. It eventually disappeared out over the Pacific after cruising along the coast and cutting inland for a while. The huge object was never clearly explained and was basically hushed up without response from the authorities.
BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES, 1942.-- 800 FOOT ZEPPELIN-SIZE UFO
FLEW DIRECTLY OVER THE TOP OF THE WANDERLING'S HOUSE.
The giant airborne object was just one more thing in my young life, a young life that included inspiration from the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and a never ending flow of Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, Warner Brothers cartoons, astronomy, the cosmos, rockets to the Moon and Mars, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, along with a myrid of comic books and cowboy western movie stars such as the Durango Kid, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers. My interest in Da Vinci and hence then flying machines started at a very young age, Tarzan I'm not sure. I do know it was well before seeing the glider scene in Tarzan and the Huntress.
My stepmother was quite wealthy and picked up the tab on most if not all of my learning experiences and childhood adventures. For it all to unfold in a timely manner and with the correct guidance she also picked up the tab on my uncle overseeing me. Inside a good portion of those folds you could almost always find somewhere lurking nearby my godfather, one or both of my two brothers, my first cousin, a boy around my same age somehow related to my stepmother by the name of Richard, and a kid we called Bub President Hudson. The kid, and the reason I bring all of this stuff up, was the son of some movie actress my uncle knew that went on-and-on continuously all day and night telling us that his mom was a spy and that she went to school with Tarzan.
Bub President Hudson was a very young boy, the youngest in our group. Where he came from none of us knew, he just showed up one day and started living with us. How he could have come up with such a story about his mom being a spy and going to school with Tarzan by just making it up out of whole cloth as well as having the last name Hudson, is beyond comprehension if it was not so --- especially if you take into consideration and compare what he said in relation to the background of an actress my uncle knew named Rochelle Hudson.
Rochelle Hudson (1916-1972) was a starlet at 13. She was also a longtime family friend of Edgar Rice Burroughs the author/creator of Tarzan The Ape Man. Reportedly snubbed by her schoolmates because of her rising fame as a movie star, she became close friends of the Burroughs family, often given rides to school by Burroughs' son Jack and going on vacations with them.
The only problem with the whole Bub President Hudson scenario relative to Rochelle Hudson is that she was not known to have had any children.
As for Leonardo Da Vinci and all this flying stuff, in the end it was basically a huge metaphor for things to come, of which I get into somewhat more throughly in Codex Atlanticus. As it was, my Mentor, the person I study-practiced under in things Zen after my uncle was no longer in the picture, either before or after his stay at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and I believe it was before, traveled to Bijapur to meet with another Indian holy man, Siddharameshwar Maharaj. The Maharaj taught that the only way one can reach Final Reality, that is, Enlightenment, is through what he called Vihangam Marg, the bird's way. For me, at the time, of course, I knew nothing of such things. I only know who the holy man is now because I was able to put together bits and pieces of information such as time and place with such clues as "the bird's way." The holy man had related to my mentor that only by hearing and practising from the teachings of the Master and thinking over it, just like the bird flies from one tree to another, can one attain Awakening very fast. This is the shortest way to achieve the Final Reality. In that initially I had made little or no progress toward Enlightenment my mentor told me of Siddharameshwer's method.
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE
Their Life and Times Together
THE- WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
LEONARDO DA VINCI: HIS FLYING MACHINES
ZEPPELINS: HIGH ALTITUDE WARSHIPS
ROY ROGERS AND ANDY DEVINE
HUMAN POWERED FLIGHT
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.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
ON THE RAZOR'S
ARLINGTON STREET AND BERKELEY SQUARE
Please note the mention of "Arlington Street" in the above quote. As a young boy with several years under the auspices of my Stepmother growing up in, or at least operating out of as a base of operations, the so-called Adams District of Los Angeles, of which encompassed Arlington Street where it crossed Adams, there was an exclusive gated area called Berkeley Square and close by, near the corner of Western and Adams, a huge bricked in compound where some guy had his own private domed observatory. When I went back twenty years later seeking out my infamous two-story high Arlington Street launch site, I discovered that the Santa Monica Freeway, which didn't exist when I was a kid, ran eight or more full lanes wide right through the old neighborhood, completely wiping out Berkeley Square and other houses for blocks around."Lavish mansions stood prominently along West Adams Boulevard and nearby Berkeley Square housing the affluent. They were symbols of stateliness and elegance, designed by the best architects of Europe and the US."
Berkeley Square was an exclusive gated neighborhood located in Los Angeles, California, just east of Arlington Street between West 21st and West 24th, bordered on the west by South Gramercy Place. The neighborhood is now gone and covered by the 10 FWY, but from 1920 through to the early mid-1950s was full of dozens of large and expensive mansions.
SEE: BERKELEY SQUARE: Historic Los Angeles
The history of Berkeley Square from the earliest times to it's demise is pretty much a matter of record as testified to in the above link EXCEPT for one property, the house at #10 Berkeley Square. The following is extrapolated from the segment on #10 as found in BERKELEY SQUARE: Historic Los Angeles:
Charles F. and Ture (nee, Aiken) Stern moved from 2151 West 21st Street near Berkeley Square to #10 Berkeley Square around 1923. In 1942 the Sterns moved to Beverly Hills, and then to Glendale. Who lived at #10 after the Sterns is something of a mystery. There are no listings for the house in available city directories during the '40s. There is a classified ad in the February 6, 1949, Times offering it for sale for the then lofty sum of $20,000.
Even before the death of my mother and what seemed a never ending ongoing series of events I ended up living with a foster couple that I had never seen or heard of in my life who owned a flower shop in downtown old Redondo Beach.
Not liking the arrangements for reasons I am not able to remember, I ran away from home. Without anybody knowing where I was or having anybody's consent I ended up staying with an only recently discharged World War II ex-Marine taxi driver that had fought his way up through all the islands in all the major battles in the Pacific from Guadalcanal northward.
Over and over people have asked just who was that marine? After all I was just a kid not even ten years old and he was a grown man. Was he a friend of the family, a relative, somebody I knew from the past?
The answer is he was none of those things. I basically just met him out of nowhere. A huge old dancehall on the waterfront called the Mandarin Ballroom was renovated in April of 1946 and a fairly well established western bandleader by the name of Texas Jim Lewis approached the Redondo Beach City Council to run the newly renovated ballroom under a new name: Texas Jim's Redondo Barn --- which they approved. Lewis turned it into a western swing venue with himself and his Lone Star Cowboys playing at the top of the card, sometimes with as many as 10,000 people showing up on the weekends.
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. They also discovered that by putting a tray full of gardenias on a strap around my neck like a cigarette girl and have me walk through the crowds in the dance hall, the cute little kid I was, sold lots of flowers.
There was a female vocalist that sang for Texas Jim or possibly Spade Cooley that, even though I was a kid, I had become smitten with. I don't recall her name and research has come up with little or no positive results, 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, just below the knee white satin skirts with big embroided roses and arrow-ended pockets on white satin western-style blouses with snap buttons.
Whenever she 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 to each other and over time I told her my tale of woe. In any case, her friend was the marine. Between sets and after the show the three of us would go down to the Wagon Wheel Cafe, basically just below the dancehall to get something to eat. One day I decided to run away. I gathered up what few things I had and went down to the waterfront and got in the shotgun side of the marine's taxi and never left his side to speak of until my grandmother came and got me. The singer always told me she would take me away with her someday and my dream was that she and the marine would get married and we would live happily ever after. Of course, such was not the case. I never saw either of them again after my grandmother took me back with her the day she found me. For more on that particular aspect of my life see:
THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana