the Wanderling

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and isolated conditions, fought courageously and successfully against overwhelming odds using what was thought to be outdated aircraft, the venerable P-40 Tomahawk, to help stem the onslaught of overwhelming numbers of Imperial Japanese invaders into China during the early stages of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."

For those who may be so interested in that portion of her life, with the slight glances filled in and done so through the words of such larger than life personages as the 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:

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Olga Greenlaw's book, engorged with subdued titillation or none at all depending on who you are or what you are reading into it, was published and released in 1943 during the height of the war with, at the time, no one knowing which way it was going to go. Her book, little known or fully appreciated now, 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, not everybody realizes --- or puts together --- that 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.

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For your own edification 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:



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)





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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


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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. 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.

For more regarding any potential proclivities surrounding Olga Greenlaw with fellow cohorts or others --- real or imagined --- please see the following:


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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 same paragraph as the one above 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)

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:


After my stepmother loaned me her copy of "The Lady and the Tigers" I read it over-and-over, almost becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years.

I learned to read at an early age. When my three-year-older than me brother was 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 learning period he had assigned school books and while I read some of those books, a good portion 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 Los Angeles mentioned previously, 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 becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years. However, much to my dismay in later years, in Olga's book unfortunately, she mentions Christman only twice, both times in a brief few word sentence and neither time using his first name, only initials. The thing is he died a horrific death in the line of duty flying for the Tigers and I didn't learn about his death and how 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."*