The Lady and the Tigers is the title of a book published in 1943 extolling the virtues and exploits of the Flying Tigers, the name given to the American Volunteer Group, or A.V.G. The A.V.G., operating under extremely rough and isolated conditions, fought courageously and successfully against overwhelming odds using what was thought to be outdated aircraft, the venerable P-40 Tomahawk, to help stem the onslaught of overwhelming numbers of Imperial Japanese invaders into China during the early stages of World War II.
The author of the book was a woman by the name of Olga Greenlaw who lived the adventures of the Flying Tigers from day one. By all measures by most who came across her or knew her, she was invariably considered exotic, beautiful, covertly cunning and provocatively ingenuous. For others who simply cast the smart-as-a-whip Olga Greenlaw's preeminent standing in the Flying Tigers as being based solely on her marriage to Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the Flying Tigers, they were usually in for a rude awakening. Even if that was the case initially, over time, because of who she was, the right person in the right place at the right time, it wasn't long before her being there took on a life of it's own. For more regarding Olga's husband see my meeting in Baja Mexico a few years after high school with Harvey Greenlaw.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, followed within hours of a formal declaration of war by the U.S.A. against the Japanese Imperial Government, most members of the Flying Tigers knew their days were numbered as being the informal ragtag fighting machine that they were. True to those feelings the A.V.G. was disbanded July 4, 1942 and quickly replaced in it's stead by the U.S. Army Air Force. The head of the original Flying Tigers, Claire L. Chennault, retained his leadership role, but only a few members of the original group joined him in the replacement unit designated as the China Air Task Force. By March of 1943 the Task Force became 14th Air Force and in the meantime most of the former members of the Flying Tigers who moved on were taking their chances elsewhere in the wide open happenstances of World War II.
Such was the case with Olga Greenlaw. As might be expected, with someone as beautiful as Olga Greenlaw, especially so having been thrown into the circumstances of war in far flung places surrounded by daring young mostly single men who could die at any minute, stories of her life in those years is rife with controversy, few of which she herself elaborates on in her book except for slight side-glances or hints. When Olga returned to the U.S. she took up residence in Los Angeles, more specifically the Hollywood area. In doing so it wasn't long until she was coming into contact with my Stepmother. In regards to same the following is found in the Flying Tigers link so cited below:
"My stepmother, rich, powerfully influential in certain circles and at the top of her game in those days, after reading Olga's book, because of how worldly and exquisite Olga was, among other things, in a round about way, even offered her a job, telling Olga she could make lots and lots of money in a very short period of time. But, my stepmother, apparently misjudging any long running easy going possible proclivities she mistakenly gleaned from Olga's book and the depth of need for money, she was turned down. Olga basically saying thanks but no thanks, she was adept enough on her own and didn't need my stepmother."
On the day I met the woman who would become my stepmother for the first time and she saw my avid interest in "The Lady and the Tigers" I had removed from the shelves in her library, she loaned me her personal signed copy. I read it over-and-over, almost to the point of it becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years.
She also gave me a second book, Damned to Glory by Robert L. Scott. Scott was a World War II double ace flying first for the Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group (A.V.G.), then continuing on with them when they morphed over into the Army Air Force. I know I don't say a lot about Damned to Glory throughout most of my works, always it seems going on-and-on about The Lady and the Tigers, but that's because most of what I write about when it comes to P-40s has to do with the Flying Tigers. Usually when I mention Scott's Damned to Glory it is in conjunction with the P-40 Ghost Ship.
I had learned to read at a very early age. When my three-year-older than me brother was in the process of learning to read in the 1st grade I was learning to read right along with him. By the time he reached the 3rd grade I was reading 3rd grade books as well as if not better than he was. During that period he had of course, assigned school books. While it is true I read some of those books, most of my reading material stemmed from comic books.
A majority of those comic books were, at least in the early stages, published during World War II and much of their content reflected that. Since I lived right on the coast of a southern California beach town that was constantly being harassed by Japanese submarines and experiencing if not only practice air raids and blackouts on a regular basis but also real ones as well, the war in the Pacific took on a real life significance --- including me gaining a high standing regard for the Flying Tigers, a high regard that still stands today. Like I say at the top of the page the glowing reports of the P-40 wielding Flying Tigers successes against the Japanese in China was like a beacon of shining light.
So said, not all the engagements between the Flying Tigers and the enemy ended in the Tigers' favor, and a lot of the time the ones that didn't were not always trumpeted on a massive scale.
On January 23, 1942, almost one month to the day before the February 25, 1942 flyover of the mysterious airborne object known as the Los Angeles UFO causing or being a part of the Battle of Los Angeles, an American Flying Tiger pilot named Bert Christman was killed in action over Rangoon, Burma. Christman was a cartoonist well known for the national syndicated comic strip Scorchy Smith, a mid-1930's strip having similarities both in style and execution as Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates, often taking place in China with warlords and stuff. Christman left his cartooning duties, joined the U.S. Navy, became an air cadet and served on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. He resigned his commission volunteering to became a pilot for the Flying Tigers --- all before the start of World War II.
After my stepmother loaned me her copy of "The Lady and the Tigers" I read it over-and-over, almost like I say, becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years. However, unfortunately, much to my dismay as I would discover in later years, Olga, in her book only mentions Christman twice, both times in a brief few word sentence and neither time using his first name, only initials.
The thing is Christman died a horrific death in the line of duty flying for the Tigers and I didn't learn about his death and how it happened until years later, especially so, he being a cartoonist and all. Christman had his P-40 basically shot out from under him over Rangoon right in the middle of a serious dog fight with the Japanese, and on the way down, still in the air and in his chute, they machined gunned him to death, killing him dead bigger than shit:
"On Friday, January 23, 1942, 72 Japanese aircraft attacked Rangoon. Christman was one of the 18 planes that were launched to intercept them. He would never return. Christman's plane had come under fire and been hit in the engine. He was forced to bail out once more. This time, however, as he hung in his parachute and decended to the ground, a Japanese pilot strafed him. Bert was hit in several places and probably died as a bullet passed through the back of his neck. He was buried the next day at the church of Edward The Martyr in Rangoon. His remains were returned to Fort Collins after the war, where he was laid to rest on Saturday, February 4, 1950."
FOR MORE ON BERT CHRISTMAN
AS WELL AS THE ABOVE QUOTE SOURCE SEE:
LT. BERT CHRISTMAN
THE FLYING TIGERS
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND
There was another pilot Greenlaw wrote about I remember quite well for more positive reasons. First, unlike how I feel about how she dealt with Christman, I like what she wrote about the second pilot, and secondly, many years after the war, thanks to what she wrote, I actually met him.
The pilot was William McGarry, known as Black Mac while flying for the Tigers. The two of us met during a sand storm one day at a gas station outside a quickie mart in Coachella Valley sometime in the early 1980s while I was returning from a trip exploring around the Anza-Borrego Desert near Agua Caliente Springs in California. I had become privy to what I thought was some possibly relevant information regarding the so-called Lost Viking Ship that at the time I felt was information well worth pursuing. Although the information turned out to be a false lead and quite bogus, the fact that I went to the Anza-Borrego in the first place ended up being quite a little goldmine for me personally in that I happened across McGarry. I mean what could be better, lost Viking ships in the desert and P-40s.
Although I am not quite sure specifically how it first came up, but as soon as I found out McGarry flew for the Flying Tigers I remembered him right away, stemming almost exclusively from something Olga wrote, something I, as a not yet 10 year old boy never forgot. The following, speaking of Black Mac, that is, McGarry, being shot down over Chiang Mai, Thailand, March 24, 1942 is found in The Lady and the Tigers, pages 308-309:
"I wonder what happened to him --- probably a prisoner. But the Chinese scouts found a body in the same location or thereabouts where Black Mac bailed out when Jack Newkirk got killed --- in March.
"The body was unrecognizable, as there was nothing left, the ants had eaten all the flesh, but the uniform the bones were covered with was an A.V.G. flying suit with the insignia still on it."
Prior to Greenlaw's book being published word came through as to McGarry's fate. At the bottom of page 308 the following was inserted: "Since this was written, it has been officially announced that W.D. McGarry is a prisoner of the Japanese." However, you might imagine what I, as a young boy thought of when I first read about the jungle ants gnawing the flesh completely clean right off the pilot's skeleton leaving nothing but bare bones laying inside the flight suit, all the internal organs gone. Some image. More about McGarry can be found on my Phyllis Davis page. Davis and I ended up in Thailand together, with me, a few days prior to leaving Thailand, visiting the Tango Squadron Museum at the Air Force Base situated on the opposite side of the entrance to the Chiang Mai Airport. There, on display I was able to view firsthand the remains of McGarry's P-40 as it looked when it was hauled back to the museum after laying undisturbed on the jungle floor for 50 years.
TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI
Christman, Newkirk, and McGarry notwithstanding, Greenlaw's book, little known or fully appreciated now, she, hoping for the best at the time, added enormously to alleviating much of the war weariness that blanketed the country, all the while continuing to expand the well earned legend of the Flying Tigers. So too, although not everybody realizes --- or puts together --- the title of Greenlaw's book is actually a very clever play on the title of a onetime famous short story called The Lady or the Tiger? written in 1884 by Frank R. Stockton as the lead story to a collection of twelve stories. The connection is that in Stockton's story there is no given ending. As to Greenlaw's book, although we know the ending or outcome now, that is of World War II, at the time her book was written and published in 1943, like the no known outcome of Stockton's story, there was at the time no known outcome to the war.
For those who may be so interested in the portion of Olga's life where my stepmother may have been right or wrong regarding any long running easy going possible proclivities she mistakenly gleaned from Olga's book, with the slight glances filled in and done so through the words of others such as the larger than life hard drinking, hard fighting and the then soon-to-become U.S. Marine fighter ace Colonel Greg Boyington, who was a member of the Flying Tigers before moving over to the Marines, as well as solicitations from Los Angeles' top madam Brenda Allen, please click the following graphic:
OLGA GREENLAW, CIRCA 1943
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Below are click through links to free online fully unabridged PDF versions of Olga Greenlaw's 1943 The Lady and the Tigers as well as that of Frank R. Stockton's 1884 The Lady or the Tiger? as well as a couple of things of mine that may be of interest. The "S" in her name Olga S. Greenlaw on the cover as author stands for Sowers, i.e., Olga Sowers Greenlaw, Sowers being her maiden name:
THE LADY AND THE TIGERS
THE LADY OR THE TIGER?
In 1954 the companion comic book to Mad Comics, Panic, in issue Number 2, published a comic book parody of Stockton's story. Even though there was a conundrum comparison between the two stories as I state it above between what Greenlaw wrote and Stockton wrote, there was no actual physical Flying Tigers comparison. The artists and authors of the Panic version however, were able to work the Flying Tigers into the story, and of all things, flying the daunted P-40, the same aircraft flown by the A.V.G. throughout their endeavors in China. What is funny about the whole thing, and Panic's take on the story is hilarious, although dated in their ending, is how closely they stick to the story as written by Stockton:
The above ends basically the same as the original Stockton story ends, without a final solution, just as there was no known solution to the war at the time Olga Greenlaw published her book. Of course the artists and story writers at Mad/Panic created their own solution to the problem, and of which even included an A.V.G. Flying Tiger.(see)
THE ORDEAL OF LIEUTENANT STONER
THE P-40 GOOSE SHOOT
P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN
JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS
AS FOUND IN PREVIOUS QUOTES ABOVE BY OLGA GREENLAW
P-40: THE OBSOLETE WAR HERO
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.
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I remember well being a young boy reading The Lady and the Tigers for the first time and my stepmother telling me she knew Olga Greenlaw the author of the book. I was never privy to the full extent of any interactions the two of them may have had in those days and it was well into adulthood before my stepmother and I discussed her at any length. By then Olga had long since moved on and my stepmother, or ex-stepmother as the case may be, she and my father having long since divorced, had fallen on hard times.
My stepmother, except for owning and living on 88 acres of sparse Mojave desert land that rose up off the valley floor into even more sparse foothill-like mountain-desert land, was for the most part, indigent. In those years I would drop by to see her and leave a few bucks whenever I could. Each time with her always politely refusing, even though when I was a kid she had unselfishly and without question lavished thousands upon thousands of dollars on my brothers and me as we were growing up. In the end I always just put it in some indiscriminant spot on the table or some such place when it was time for me to leave.
The property she owned and lived on was overrun by goats, about 2000 she guessed, that she was supposedly raising for some Argentine goat buyer. He had unloaded several truckloads of goats in some sort of a deal with my stepmother and never came back. In the meantime they had pretty much gone about repropagating themselves ad infinitum. She herself lived in a small trailer crudely fenced off to keep the goats out. In the meantime the goats had just about eaten and destroyed almost anything and everything they could reach. The onetime property main house had been completely gutted, the goats having broken every window, knocked down every door and tore apart every piece of furniture, even eating most if not all of the electrical wiring.
When I would go see her, even though the gate was locked and I would honk the horn until she came down and opened it, because of the goats I always left my car on the outside of the fence and walked in.
Typically when I visited I would bring a few six packs of ice cold Lucky Lager beer and on hot summer evenings around sunset through moonrise and beyond we would kick back on what was left of the porch of the main house looking out over the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert stretching out below us and watching the ever turning slow grind of the circumpolar stars wending their endless track around the north star, drinking beers, laughing, crying, and BS'ing about the old days way into the early morning hours.
One night in conversation it came up about the time that I, just entering high school and barely into my teens, packed up my stuff and ran away from the foster couple I was living with --- ending up at my stepmother's ranch totally unannounced and out of the blue. In that she and my father had only just divorced, she wasn't really sure if he would go for the idea of me being there. Unable to reach him she contacted my dad's brother, my uncle, who said he was willing to take me until things could be worked out. In that my uncle lived in New Mexico and I was on my stepmother's ranch in the high desert of California and she felt time was at an essence, she arranged for me to be flown to Santa Fe. She had a pilot she knew fly into a close-by one-time, albeit long abandoned military airfield called Victory Field and pick me up. The pilot, a former P-47 Thunderbolt jockey was flying a two seat 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 as well white-knuckle exciting.
From the experience of that trip across several states in an AT-6, thanks to my stepmother, for me it was a short jump in conversation to P-40 Flying Tigers, the book Lady and the Tigers, and thus then Olga Greenlaw. Although my stepmother was unable to remember whatever happened to the book, she said for years she couldn't see it without thinking of me. I told her I loved that book and Olga too, telling her in the early days I modeled almost every girl I ever liked on her. My stepmother said she was a beautiful woman and almost every man that ever met her fell in love with her.(see)
She said Olga had a fairly tough time at first after her return from the Far East, saying even though she had a semi-success with her book initially so much was siphoned off the top by agents and others she barely saw any of the profits. My stepmother, rich, powerfully influential in certain circles and at the top of her game in those days, after reading Olga's book, because of how worldly and exquisite Olga was, among other things, in a round about way, even offered her a job, telling Olga she could make lots and lots of money in a very short period of time. But, my stepmother, apparently misjudging any long running easy going possible proclivities she mistakenly gleaned from Olga's book and the depth of need for money, she was turned down. Olga basically saying thanks but no thanks, she was adept enough on her own and didn't need my stepmother.
It wasn't all gloom and doom for Olga. Not long after divorcing Greenlaw she landed on her feet quite well, leaving all the Terry and the Pirates and accompanying war and Asian milieu behind. She fell in love with then married one Paul H. Owsley in 1946, a well-to-do Los Angeles business man, partner-owner of the highly successful up-scale Penny-Owsley Music Center on Wilshire Boulevard.
The following is one major mishap regarding an event in their marriage related to the 1952 Tehachapi earthquake as found at the source so cited:
"Eleven people were killed in and around the Tehachapi area as a result of the quake. One of those killed was a young girl my same age named Florence Ann Fillmore. At the time of the quake she was asleep in a guest house along with several others on an over 700 acre ranch 12 miles from Tehachapi owned by a man by the name of Paul H. Owsley. She was crushed to death when the roof fell on her. Florence Ann Fillmore's half-sister, by having the same mother albeit a different father, was a woman who before marrying Owsley was named Olga Greenlaw --- and of whom my stepmother knew.
"Greenlaw, who was at the ranch that night, had written a book published in 1943 about the American Volunteer Group, better known as the A.V.G. or the Flying Tigers. She had been with the Tigers from day one and her book, The Lady and the Tigers, covered the Group's history from just before they were formed clear through to being disbanded and shortly thereafter. Mostly because of my stepmother along with the use by the Tigers of the venerable World War II fighting machine, the P-40 Tomahawk and any existence thereof, the book and the downstream outflow from it all, even to this day, continues to play a prominent roll in my life."(source)
Most of my connections with Olga Greenlaw was through my stepmother who knew both her and Boyington personally, neither of whom I ever met. I did however, meet Col. Harvey Greenlaw at his place in El Arco on the Baja Peninsula, staying a couple of nights and discussed elsewhere in a footnote on this page. I even met one of the artists, who my uncle knew, that contributed to a mural on Greenlaw's spur-of-the-moment impromptu mural wall in his dirt floor house. The summer after the quake, which would be the summer of 1953, I spent on my stepmother's ranch in the high desert near Muroc Dry Lake and Edwards Air Force Base. One morning bussing tables after breakfast I overheard, and have never read or seen elsewhere similar comments, several Navy men from the China Lake naval facility talking about Olga, re the following from the same source as the above quote:
"Going about my business on one of those Sunday mornings and virtually unseen, I overheard in passing --- and compeletly out of context --- one of the China Lake Navy men mention something about a 'Flying Tiger lady' who worked, or had worked at one time, somewhere on the base. When I questioned him about it everything he told me seemed to lean toward the person being Olga Greenlaw, onetime of the A.V.G., or Flying Tigers, who wrote the all time definitive book on the Flying Tigers, The Lady and the Tigers (1943). Apparently, and what I didn't know at the time, she had divorced Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the A.V.G., remarried and moved to Inyokern (or possibly nearby Cummings Valley where her new husband owned an over 700 acre ranch) and taken a job at the China Lake facility. If she was still an employee at China Lake at the time of the conversation I either don't recall specifically or it was never made clear. So too, if she ever made it to my stepmother's establishment or Pancho Barnes' Happy Bottom Riding Club is not known either. However, knowing what I know of Olga Greenlaw now, and considering the timimg of it all, she most likely showed up at at Pancho's."
For more regarding any potential proclivities surrounding Olga Greenlaw with fellow cohorts or others --- real or imagined --- please see the following:
OLGA GREENLAW, PROCLIVITIES ET AL?
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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 Greenlaw'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)
OLGA GREENLAW, PROCLIVITIES ET AL?
How close my stepmother may have been in accurately determining any long running easy going possible proclivities or how they may have been cross transferable into any area of use to my stepmother in some fashion may by questionable, but so too is what depth Olga may or may not have participated in such actions relative to the A.V.G. or anybody else for that fact. Even for those who knew her long term it is still open to debate, running the gamut from merely a few provocative non-reciprocal glances, gestures or remarks on her part to running rampant with no pants on through the majority of the male A.V.G. contingent to anybody else she could find. Examples of the first is found in her own book in her own hand. Examples of the second can be found in Bruce Gamble's book BLACK SHEEP ONE: The Life of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (2003) and Jerome Klinkowitz's book PACIFIC SKIES: American Flyers in World War II (2004), both writing of the former Flying Tiger Greg Boyington. Gamble writes:
"Boyington began courting trouble soon after he reached Toungoo, a result of his attraction to Harvey Greenlaw's wife. In this he was not alone; plenty of other AVG men, Claire Chennault included, vied continuously for Olga's attention."
Klinkowitz is a little more blunt. Speaking of Boyington he writes:
"He squabbles endlessly with Chennault's chief-of-staff, Harvey Greenlaw, and begins an adulterous affair with Greenlaw's wife Olga, the group's diarist."
For the record, the Chennault referred to by both of the authors in the above quotes was of course Claire Chennault, the commander of the Flying Tigers.
A close business associate come friend of my stepmother, Brenda Allen, the preeminent madam in the greater Los Angeles area during the war and several years after, was also vying for Olga for reasons not much different than my stepmother. "Among other things, in a round about way, she even offered her (Olga) a job," sounds innocent enough, but when done so by people such as Allen and those of a similar ilk they had to be super careful how such offers were promulgated and what was meant by a job.
In 1948, about four years after her offer to Olga, Allen, who was rumored to have upwards of 114 girls in her harem and to have never really stumbled during all the years of her operation, was caught in a more-or-less vendetta type of sting put into place by disgruntled members of the Los Angeles Police Department (read: not on her payroll). She was charged with and arrested for what is called pandering, a felony. The charge of pandering, at least under Section 1 of the act in relation to pandering, provides a variety of situations in of which a person can be deemed guilty. The strength of the first clause of Section 1 circulates around the term or word "procure." Procure as used implies within it's context the use of persuasion, solicitation, encouragement and/or assistance in achieving the unlawful purpose of pandering --- with the key word being "achieving" meaning in the end result, to have actually accomplished the goal. The LAPD sting inferred Allen had done just that, thus her arrest. The following is from the Brenda Allen site linked above:
"In a trial without a jury Allen was found guilty of pandering and sentenced to five years, the sentence to be served at the State Institution for Women in Tehachapi. Later it came out the female police officer lied under oath and, even though she personally admitted to the act of perjury, the sentence against Allen was not rescinded. Allen filed an application for probation which was granted on condition that she serve one year in the county jail in addition to five years probation. In May, 1949 she commenced to serve her time. Less than four months later, Friday, September 2, 1949, Allen was released from jail on order of the California Supreme Court based solely on the fact that the police officer had perjured her testimony."
Although my stepmother, like Allen, may have been way off-base relative to any possible proclivities she ascribed toward Olga Greenlaw, and I still like to think she was even to this day, she had done so only after having received a strong proclamation of those potential proclivities from a source who was at one time, known to have been fairly close to her. It all started totally unrelated with the death of a L.A. cop as presented in the quote below:
"My brother's stay at the military academy lasted only to the end of the following school year. It seems a Los Angeles police officer was shot and killed on the streets of Chinatown during a gambling raid and somehow my stepmother felt responsible for ensuring his widow or the woman he was closely associated with and her young son were properly cared for. Somewhere along the way my stepmother learned the woman, who wanted to leave the city, had previously inherited a rundown dilapidated piece of property in Idaho that had been at onetime a working ranch. My stepmother hired a crew to fix up the place, make it livable with reliable running water and even paid to have the electricity extended to reach the ranch as it had not yet got that far. Then she sent the woman, her young son, and if not with the two of them initially, within a short time, my older brother, for whatever reason, to live there. "(source)
Sometime in early 1947, after hearing through the grapevine of my stepmother's concerns and actions relative to her assisting those of the slain officer gunned down the year before during a gambling raid in Chinatown, another L.A. police officer who prior to the war had been a sergeant, but upon his return following the war had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant, outside the chain of command, contacted her.
The lieutenant was Frank Walton. Walton, as a LAPD sergeant before the war, either had contact with or knew my stepmother in some fashion or knew the slain police officer or both. He had served with the Marine ace Greg Boyington in the Pacific during World War II. The two of them were collaborating on a book regarding their wartime ventures and in the process, Boyington, experiencing hard times, had, along with his new wife, moved into a spare bedroom in Walton's house. Boyington, said to be on a bond tour, was basically an outpatient on medical leave for injuries incurred while facing a soon to be given discharge (August 1, 1947). As a Marine he had garnered more kills than anybody --- counting ones he earned as a pilot for the Flying Tigers before moving over to the Marines --- and was known through reputation and action as a hard flying, hard fighting, and hard drinking fighter pilot. His hard fighting and hard drinking may have been overlooked or given leeway participating under the heavy blanket of war, but night after night returning home with his wife to Walton's small house at all hours drunk, yelling, arguing, and raising a ruckus was more than beginning to take a toll on everybody and everything, including getting any work done on the book.
Not knowing if my stepmother's motives in helping those of the slain LAPD officer was altruistic or not and not wanting to know, BUT knowing she had connections all over the city at all levels, including the ownership of a number of houses for a number of reasons, he approached her on an unofficial level to see if, on the sly, she might have something she could put a down-on-his-luck war hero into. Intuitively, thinking the young police lieutenant seemed to have what it took to be on his way up in the force and could possibly use his services one day, she said she would see what she could do. A few days later a courier handed two envelopes to Walton, each containing a key, each envelope clearly marked with an address in the San Fernando Valley, Burbank area, with a note telling Walton the rest was up to him.
Several days later my stepmother, who really didn't know one way or the other what she had or didn't have, others taking care of such things, went by both addresses to see what, if anything was going on, finding each of the houses empty. She had only just gone into the second house to look around when, unbeknownst to her, Boyington parked outside. My stepmother's bodyguard (also her driver), seeing Boyington coming toward the house after suspiciously looking around and not knowing who he was or why he was there, stepped behind him as soon as he entered the door sticking the barrel of his fully loaded .45 automatic in the small of Boyington's back. When Boyington explained who he was and why he was there everything was soon resolved. My stepmother sent her bodyguard to get a few cold beers, of which then she and Boyington spent a good part of the rest of the afternoon sitting around on a couple of empty boxes in an otherwise vacant house talking and drinking until it got dark.
Although my stepmother was familiar as to who Boyington was, he having flown for the Flying Tigers and a war hero and all, any specific information she garnered had come some years previously reading Olga Greenlaw's book. As the time moved on, and since my stepmother had met Olga, she eventually brought her up. After imbibing a ton of beers over the span of the afternoon Boyington told my stepmother that Olga --- calling her, if one were to tone down what he said into a milder form of euphemisms, would become something like fornicating hooker --- cheated him out of three official kills and fifteen hundred bucks, saying she and he had 'romped around' on three occasions after which following a falling out, she (or, as I suggested to my stepmother later, somebody who didn't like the fact that they 'romped') cooked the books by deleting evidence of the three kills with, he said, losing out on the fifteen hundred bucks, $500 for each of their encounters.
According to what my stepmother told me, the contents of that 1947 conversation with Boyington is where she drew her conclusions regarding Olga Greenlaw. At what time in the scheme of things my stepmother tendered her offer to Olga is not known. However, if it was after the meeting with Boyington, which all of the above seems to imply, and while it is true Olga had divorced Harvey Greenlaw, she had remarried early in the year of 1946 --- something of which my stepmother may or may not have known, or didn't care about one way or the other, since it was all business to her.
Thirty years later, in the 1980s, Boyington, in a letter to a well regarded aviation and Marine Corps historian, thought to be Frank Olynyk, Boyington, albeit not using the same so colorful language he used telling the story to my stepmother, defending his claim of six planes shot down while with the A.V.G., pretty much repeated the same story. According to A.V.G. historian Dan Ford, who apparently became privy to the contents of the letter in some fashion, and editorializing by throwing in for some reason that Boyington reached his conclusion somewhat wildly, writes that Boyington:
"(C)ame closer than anyone else to boasting of a liaison with the executive officer's wife. As he told the story, Chennault's 'secretary' was also the Old Man's mistress, and Boyington too enjoyed her favors on three occasions. After he quit the AVG, he went on, his bonus account was docked $500 for each encounter—and that, he concluded somewhat wildly, was why his record was short-changed to the extent of three Japanese aircraft."(source)
In another letter, this time to V. Keith Fleming Jr., the editor of Fortitudine a periodical of the Marine Corps Historical Program, dated July 23, 1981, Boyington expressed his deep concern in a follow-up regarding the works of Robert Sherrod that appeared in the magazine. Boyington said that the magazine had "permitted Robert Sherrod to move virtually unshackled in his rather clumsy attempt to create seeds of doubt concerning myself and my war record." In the letter he blamed Chennault for lowering his total from six to three-and-a-half kills asserting that his associates had persuaded Chennault to take such action. In neither of the two letters did he however, mention Olga Greenlaw by name, stating instead it was Chennault's 'secretary' or formulated by Chennault and his associates, meaning of course in both cases, Olga Greenlaw, especially if you take into consideration what Boyington had relayed to my stepmother.
THE WANDERLING: OF OLGA GREENLAW, FIREHAIR, AND
A BUNCH OF OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES!
AND NOW THIS:
Many people that read what I have presented regarding Boyington and what he had to say to my stepmother regarding Olga a little iffy in that they feel Boyington held Olga in too high of a regard, maybe even loved her, to cast her into such an unfavorable light. However, all one has to do is turn to the so-called book of fiction he wrote published in 1960 titled Tonya to see what he really thought about Olga and the Flying Tigers. Tonya is a thinly disguised Olga and what he writes about her a far more than iffy.
"I told her I loved that book and Olga too, telling her in the early days I modeled almost every girl I ever liked on her. My stepmother said she was a beautiful woman and almost every man that ever met her fell in love with her."
I remember well when I first heard of Olga Greenlaw. I was a very young boy, probably not even ten years old. I had pulled a copy of Olga's book Lady and the Tigers down off the library shelf of my yet-to-be stepmother and just in the process of beginning to glance at it when she, my yet-to-be stepmother, walked into the room and saw me looking at the book, telling me she knew the author:
"With that she crossed over to a desk centered in the room located in distance not far from the far wall. On the other side of the desk, the chair side, she pulled opened the second or third drawer on the lower right removing an envelope from a folder. In the envelope, as I was soon to learn, was a black and white 5X7 glossy photograph of Olga Greenlaw. After showing me the photograph she put it back in the envelope placing the envelope in the back of the book between the back hard cover and the last page. I must have looked at that photograph a million times and especially so when I reached 15 or 16 years of age. Its a wonder, the teenager that I was then, I didn't go blind imagining what was at the end of her legs where they ran up to."
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.'"
OLGA GREENLAW, CIRCA 1939
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.
(please click image)
CONGO BILL JOINS THE FLYING TIGERS