Sometime in the spring of 1982 I had gone to northern California to lend support to a friend of mine whose love-of-her-life was slowly dying of congestive heart failure while waiting for his name to rise to the top of the transplant list. In the process of that support I bumped into a onetime childhood friend of mine by the name of Adam Osborne, the grown son of Arthur Osborne, a well known and well received author of a number of excellent books about the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. I had not seen Adam Osborne for nearly 40 years. He had, for business reasons, only recently moved into the area and was on a direct track to become, at least initially, a multi-millionaire and one of Steve Jobs of Apple Computers chief adversaries.
When I last saw Adam he was a young boy basically growing up at the ashram of Sri Ramana and it is there where the two of us met. In reminiscing about our childhood he brought up the fact that the two of us had circumabulated the holy hill of Arunachala together. He said some years before he had been contacted by a man of deep spiritual attainment by the name of William Samuel and that Samuel recalled the two of us along with himself and Osborne's mother and a few others had performed Giri Valam, circumambulation of Arunachala.
At the time of the circumabulation Samuel was a U.S. Army officer imbedded as an advisor in Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Chinese Army, the military arm of the Kuomintang (KMT), fighting with them under General Joseph Stilwell during World War II primarily in western China. Late in the war Samuel crossed through Burma into India for reason that have been pretty much summed up in the Japanese Invasion of India During World War II, ending up for a week or two, unrelated in any fashion to his military duties, but most likely R & R, at the ashram of Sri Ramana. In general conversation he related to Osborne that the circumabulation occurred on the night of the full moon in April of 1944. In all the time that passed since having been refreshed that I had been at the ashram as a young boy, Osborne telling me of Samuel's comments was the first time I ever had a concrete day and date pinpointing when I was actually there.
In April 1944 the moon was full on Saturday April 8th. That would put me still at the ashram proper in early April, but on my way home onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean, by previous reckoning as figured out in British Ship MV Tulagi, toward the end of May, 1944 and most likely back in the states sometime in June, 1944.
During my way to, in, and return from India the woman of the couple I was traveling with wrote at least three letters to my father that I know of. The last of those three letters had been postmarked as having come from Liverpool, England. The conclusion drawn by most people is that the ship we sailed on from India, or at least the couple themselves with me in tow, ended up in Liverpool and most likely left from there, but not necessarily so, for the U.S.
The problem is with the dates. As they play out as described above, that is, leaving India at the end of May 1944 and arriving in the U.S. sometime in June, is that the whole area around England and into Europe, air, land, and sea, was a virtual battle zone. True, the Battle of Britain had been won in England's favor, the Blitzes had basically been stopped, and except for the continuing onslaught of V-1 rockets slamming into the southeastern portion of the island and V-2s into London, it was beginning to smooth out. However, Europe was in shambles and England herself was faced with a new kind of turmoil, especially so at that time, in and around Liverpool.
There was a massive build up of troops and material going on all over England all aimed toward the proposed upcoming D-day invasion --- with a majority of everything being funneled through the western side of the island, especially so Liverpool. Not having a real handle on the availability of trans Atlantic passenger ships or civilian travel to America at the time, the only thing I can think of is that the couple, traveling under Australian passports, were very adept at getting to or from wherever they wanted. During that period there were literally hundreds and hundreds of loaded to the gills inbound ships that once unloaded began pilling up all over England and any that were returning for more war related materials or just returning were headed back to America basically empty. If not a standard mode of civilian transportation, finagling a ride officially or unofficially under such circumstance most likely would not have been that difficult regardless of what had or had not been perceived as the status quo.
As far as Indian Ocean and cross Atlantic passenger travel is concerned during those war torn years, even as improbable as it sounds it was feasible and did happen. So too, as scary as the couple's return trip sounds, only six months before they made it to India unscathed. Although records are aplenty for one to search down and prove that such wartime transportation allegations actually transpired, the example I am most familiar with regarding shipboard passenger travel between India and the U.S. during that era involves members of the A.V.G., otherwise known as the Flying Tigers. When their unit was disbanded July 4, 1942 and replaced by the Army Air Force only a handful of the original members decided to stay on. The rest were left to their own vices to find their own way back to the United States from the far west of China and Burma. Most traveled across India by train to Bombay or Karachi, and after considerable delay, a vast majority booked passage on the USS Mariposa, paying a then $150 U.S. dollars simply to sleep below deck in warehouse, bunk-like accommodations. The A.V.G. second in command, Colonel Harvey Greenlaw and his wife Olga Greenlaw, who wrote the definitive book of the Flying Tigers The Lady and the Tigers and who eventually played a major role in my life, returned on the Mariposa at the same time as well, with however, it is suspected, somewhat better accommodations. The USS Mariposa departed India August 6, 1942 and after a brief stop in Capetown, South Africa arrived in New York on September 7, 1942.
Somehow, the couple, regardless of being surrounded by events of world-wide proportions, like members of the A.V.G. two years before them, were able to get to America, on what ship or how I don't know, apparently arriving somewhere along the east coast, most probably the city of New York. Not wanting to return me to the west coast because my immediate family had disintegrated, plus I guess, possibly face any potential wrath from remaining family members that knew about the situation and or who may have misinterpreted their intentions, took it upon themselves to just dump me off unannounced at my grandmother's house on my dad's side in a small little town located in the lower southeast corner of Pennsylvania --- a grandmother who I had never met in my life nor ever even heard about.
Before going to India it seemed that no matter what, the couple wanted me. After being there it was as if they could not get rid of me fast enough. For the most part, it seemed, as the very young boy that I was, was fortunate they just didn't abandon me somewhere along the way. After all, except possibly for the neighbors who introduced them to my mother in the first place nobody in my previous everyday life I am aware of knew who they were, what they were doing, or where they were going. They caught my dad at a highly vulnerable time with waning strength to deal with my dying mother and caring for three young kids. What their intentions or long term goals were, still to this day, is not clear. Again, I have to underscore how fortunate I was that the couple had the wherewithal to not just abandon me somewhere along the way, say in England or India without passport or papers, but instead delivered me to my grandmother on my father's side in the U.S.
In the last of the three letters from India where I mention it was mostly about bringing me home they intimated, without trying to scare my dad, as if something was wrong with me, that something happened like I was sick. They wrote that I kept saying things like I could see but that there was no me, that it seemed like the whole back of my head was gone but I could still feel it with my hands, that I was both dirt (earth) and sky.(see)
Then somehow, after returning to the states and being left with my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania, my uncle told me, and he didn't remember how or how long it took, I was returned to California to be with my grandmother on my mother's side.
Some years later, within days of the death of his mother, my Uncle went back to Pennsylvania to straighten out her estate. Going through her personal effects he came across a few things in a small box that related to me that I must have left behind and she in turn saved (I was the only grandkid of her three children she ever met). Included with the items were some travel papers, ticket stubs, a Captain Midnight decoder badge, and a passport. Prominently displayed on the photo page was a picture of me with the woman of the couple --- listed as her son. Here was my grandmother on my father and uncle's side, with me claiming to be her grandson and me being the ONLY grandchild-offspring from ANY of her three sons she ever met, ironically keeping all those years stored away amongst her treasures, a passport saying I was instead, the son of some man and woman she never heard of.
Almost as ironic as the passport and the photo therein was the decoder badge. True, just a toy and small potatoes in the overall scheme of things, it just so happened the badge, ironically enough and probably one of the reasons she kept it, was designed to carry a photo of the owner in a little square at the top. The one my grandmother kept and so treasured away had a picture of me as a young boy circa 1943 prominently and clearly displayed in the opening.
My uncle duly returned the Captain Midnight Decoder Badge, which, albeit having a slight surface tarnish, was otherwise in excellent shape in like-new operable condition, and of which I still have. I never saw the passport in question nor do I have any idea as to what happened to it. It would have been a treasure trove of information had it fallen into my hands as an adult. The most my uncle could remember when I queried him about the passport years later was that he had seen it among the things he found at his mother's and that the photograph inside the passport was a picture of the woman and myself.
Although the couple left me at my grandmother's house, how or why her passport would fall into the hands of my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania for any reason at all is not known. However, if the woman was American and stayed in America she might not need one. Also, if she did need a passport and she was pictured with a son and no son was evident, that could cause a problem. So too, if she was Australian or an American traveling with her Australian husband she may have had a second passport --- an Australian one or possibly an American one without a picture of a boy.
I have no idea how close the couple or the woman of the couple got with my grandmother. There are some things I am just not privy to. I don't know if they were there only minutes, that is, just long enough to drop me off and split or were there for weeks. As far as I know, the woman of the couple, realizing it was no longer a viable proposition to haul around a passport with a picture showing her seemingly as a mother holding her child like some renaissance painting of the Madonna, especially a child she would no longer be able to account for, simply chucked the passport in the trash --- with my grandmother duly retrieving and keeping it for unknown reasons.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LIVERPOOL LETTER:
After the death of my uncle, his son (my first cousin) came across the letters from India including the Liverpool letter quite by accident one day while placing into storage an old roll-top desk that belonged to his father. The letters, of which my uncle never mentioned during my various visits with him over all the years before, possibly unbeknownst to him or anyone else then forgotten by all, had fallen down behind and between the end of a broken drawer and the bottom of the back wall of the desk.
Apparently the three letters found by my cousin in the roll top desk were originally in an unopened manila envelope addressed to the home address where my family was living while my mother was still alive. The envelope was postmarked from the Pennsylvania town my grandmother on my father's side lived, intimating, because it had been postmarked --- and the fact that my cousin had it --- that the envelope had been mailed from Pennsylvania alright, but must NOT have been received by someone on the California end. My cousin, in first finding the large envelope in with all the other the letters and able to feel something inside, and hoping it might be money, opened it. What he found was the three letters from India.
It is my contention that after my grandmother on my father's side received the letters from India, in that they were addressed to my father, upon collecting the three of them, she simply placed them unopened in the large envelope and mailed them off to my family home in California. The envelope apparently arrived sometime after my mother's death, we moved, and my father disappeared. It was then most likely routinely "returned to sender" via the post office, only later to be found by my uncle when he traveled to Pennsylvania upon the death of his mother. The reason the large manila envelope raises concerns is because when my cousin found it, it too, had NOT been opened. Most likely what happened was when the envelope was returned to my grandmother, she knowing what was in it because she was the one who mailed it in the first place, simply threw it into her junk without any need to open it, possibly thinking she would give it to my dad when she saw him. When he never showed up, having the large envelope must have slipped from her mind and she just forgot about it. Then upon her death, after finding the unopened large envelope addressed to my dad, my uncle must have passed it along to him, and of which he never opened it or read the letters either, only to end up in a trunk I delivered to my uncle from my dad in July, 1972. 
When my older brother and I heard about the letters, in that our cousin exhibited a strong reluctance to part with them for reasons either of us were not fully able to fathom, we went to his place located out in the middle of the raw-land desert between Santa Fe and Albuquerque to go through them. At the time it never dawned on either of us to record any specific dates about anything one way or the other. So too, even after I discovered my mistake for having not done so I just figured they would remain an easy access as I saw it, my cousin having no reason to hinder my brother or me. However, even if that were so, that is, easy access and non-hindrance, all that was going to change.
A year or so later when I called and asked my cousin to relay the India postmark dates and especially so the Liverpool dates, he said it would take a couple of days to find the letters. When he called back he said he was unable to locate any of the letters.
My uncle and his son were not close. However, although I am not familiar with the particulars surrounding heirs and those who would have been in line for legal receipt of my uncle's effects, it appears the bulk of it either went to his son --- or his son, being the closest bloodline survivor --- simply took it. The thing is, my uncle's ex-wife (the second of three wives, a curandera) showed up on his son's doorstep saying she had the right to any inheritance. My uncle died in 1989 and prior to his death, even though he and I crossed paths many, many times since 1968 it had been at least ten years since I had seen or heard of his wife. Matter of fact, I didn't even know she was still alive, let alone in the picture. The following is what is written about her from the source so cited:
"He was married to a Native American woman thought to be a powerful curandera that was held in awe by most that came within her presence. Tall and straight-backed, with perfect posture and beautiful skin, instead of taking steps she appeared to almost glide when she walked. People were reluctant to sit near her table and the help was afraid to serve her. Some said they had seen a glass of water slide across the table to her hand without her even moving her arm."(source)
My cousin detested his father's second wife. According to what has come down to me, while my uncle and his first wife, my cousin's mother, were still married and thought by my cousin --- then in his childhood --- still a happy mother and father couple, my uncle began spending more and more time with the curandera, a liaison that eventually led to a separation, then in divorce from his first wife. My uncle was married a third time as well, but it was never made clear if he ever really married his second wife or if they did, if they ever divorced.
I never met my uncle's first wife that I recall nor his third, but, from the time I first met his second wife as a young boy up until the time I knew her on a more regular basis --- roughly from 1968 through to 1978 --- my uncle maintained not much more than a loosly related association with her and was, for all practical purposes, separated if not divorced. Although he seemed to hang out a lot with her, the woman he was loosly separated from was a Native American of the Little Shell Plains Ojibwe and a Fourth Level Midewiwin, a super-secret Ojibwe Medicine Society. The first time I recall meeting her it was in passing, and for the most part she never payed much attention to me one way or the other, although I sensed something very "different" about her. She reminded me of a lightning or thunderstorm raging in the distant mountains. You only felt safe because you weren't there, although you knew if you were, the storm had the power to wash you away or destroy you by the might of it all. Although personally long disassociated from the tribe for reasons not known, as a fourth level Midewiwin my uncle's wife was still a powerful curandera in the tradition of La Catalina, and like la Catalina, as mentioned above, held in awe by most that came within her presence.(see)
When I requested the information regarding the postmark dates on the letters from India my cousin told me his father's ex-wife showed up at the door basically out of nowhere demanding what she considered her due. When he laughed in her face and refused, telling her to get off the porch and off his property, he woke up three days later laying face down naked in the rocks and sand of a wadi miles from his house. When he returned home he discovered the place was trashed like a tornado had torn through each of the rooms. Heavy stuff like chairs and dressers were scattered all over both inside and outside the house, with lighter stuff such as clothes and papers found as far away as a mile in circumference from the house. It took him weeks to gather up and straighten out the place. In the process he discovered a lot of stuff missing, mainly with no rhyme nor reason, but it wasn't until he went looking for the letters specifically that he found that they were unaccounted for.
AND NOW THIS:
Unrelated to the letters specifically, the question is often asked, since my original visit as a young boy have I returned to the ashram? The answer is yes, twice. My first return visit was recorded in at least one authorized ashram related publication. Since that first return and much more recently, I was traveling in the broad general area for reasons unassociated with the ashram and decided to return again, my second return visit, or in actual count my third time at the ashram. I slipped onto the ashram grounds anonymously amongst a group of visiting tourists or devotees on pilgrimage to partake of the myriad of fragrances, sounds, and the light and dark of the shadows as the sun transited the sky. I could easily see young Adam Osborne and myself, barefoot, running across the dusty dirt covered common area.
The first return visit, the visit that was recorded in the ashram related publication, happened under very mysterious circumstances, with strong references pointing back toward the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time, lost and hidden in a remote area of the Himalayas and known to outsiders under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la. For those who may be so interested please see footnote .
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE
Their Life and Times Together
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.
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.
There has been some confusion as to William Samuel and any meeting or interaction he may or may not have had with Sri Ramana. While many of his supporters and followers insist such was the case, that is, he and Ramana DID meet, in his own writings he himself has taken a somewhat more circuitous route, not actually identifying his Indian holy man by name. To wit he writes:
“Some years ago I was honored to be the first American student of a renowned teacher in India. For fourteen days a group of us sat at the feet of this 'Master,' during which time he spoke not one word—not so much as a grunt—until the final day when he bade us farewell and assured us we had learned much. And to my surprise, I had. It took months before the seeds of those silent days began to sprout one by one, revealing that there are indeed many things for which the uptight, recondite babble of books and teachers is more hindrance than a help.”
WILLIAM SAMUEL: The Awareness of Self-Discovery
For those who may be so interested there are three major sources that substantiates quite strongly in favor of a William Samuel and Sri Ramana meeting. One source can be found in a whole segment on William Samuel found in Enlightened Individuals I've Met. The segment is sub-titled Four Special Cases, Samuel being one of the four special cases because, even though he is known to have reached a very high state of Spiritual Attainment, the meeting occurred some eight or ten years prior to his known date, time and place of his Awakening experience. The second source, Sri Ramana's Western Disciples, offers a much more in-depth synopsis through a series of footnotes as well as inferring the possibility of an Indian holy man other than Sri Ramana. The third source gets into not only when Samuel was at the ashram, how it was he was even able to be there since the dates of him doing so coincide with the Japanese invasion of India linked to previously in the main text above. Please see also:
ENLIGHTENED INDIVIDUALS I'VE MET
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
As for Samuel's Enlightenment experience itself, that is, the time, place and circumstances as well as the triggering event as recorded by Samuel himself in his own hand, please see:
A SOLDIER'S STORY
The following quote, from a page about World War II U.S. Navy Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Ralph A. Multer, although not stating unequivocally that during the war there were literally hundreds and hundreds of loaded to the gills inbound ships that once unloaded began pilling up all over England, it does imply that the numbers were such there was enough ships returning to America to form up convoys. Please note in the quote that the convoy left Avonmouth, England toward New York:
"At 9:35 PM on February 21, 1943 after leaving Avonmouth, England toward New York in convoy, approximately 550 miles west of Fastnet, Ireland, in the dark of night and without warning, the German submarine U-664 launched several torpedoes toward the lumbering ships with direct hits against a steamer and a tanker. One of the two ships hit was the Rosario in convoy position 11. The first torpedo slammed into the Rosario on the starboard side at the Number 2 hold; a few seconds later a second one hit the starboard side at the Number 4 hold. Immediately the ship began to list heavily to starboard, taking on water and sinking so quickly that the crew was unable to launch the lifeboats."
The Indian Ocean, of which I traversed by ship to and from India later in the war, was pretty much a forgotten backwash at the very beginning of the war. The Germans had the Atlantic covered and the Japanese basically had all of the Pacific as their stomping grounds. However, as hostilities continued and the allies became better at sub hunting and the convoys became more and more secure and difficult to penetrate, the Germans and Japanese were squeezed out of the north Atlantic and Pacific into the much safer (for them) Indian Ocean. Hence, by 1944, the same period of time the ship I was on was crossing the Indian Ocean, greater numbers of both Japanese and German submarines relatively speaking were prowling in the same general area, often overlapping and not always with coordinated efforts. However, if one didn't get you the other would. As the sinking of the Tulagi that I write about elsewhere makes clear, the Indian Ocean during that period was an extremely dangerous place for merchant and passenger vessels --- with the Tulgai going down in 20 seconds following the torpedo attack on her.
I have no idea how many times the ship I was on came into the periscope crosshairs of a German U-boat or Japanese submarine. However, the whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vulnerable target. Looking back it must have been pure luck, fate or karma. Throughout the years I have come to appreciate the results, which has in turn established in me a strong interest in how the actions and/or selected non-interactions of submarines and their operations, Japanese or German alike, have impacted the outcome of my life. See Footnote  of La Palma Secret Base. See also:
THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF THE GERMAN U-BOAT U-196
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM
MY MERCHANT MARINE FRIEND
RALPH A. MULTER
GUNNER'S MATE 3rd CLASS, U.S. NAVY
(photo courtesy Arizona Republic)
It was during my return trip to my grandmother's in California that another interesting aspect to my young life unfolded. When my uncle was verbally addressing my return to California from Pennsylvania, saying he 'didn't remember how long it took,' he was referring to the stretch of time that elapsed between my actual arrival in Pennsylvania and when I left, my uncle not knowing when or how I really ended up there. Afterwards, because of a known event, one could have been able extrapolate almost down to the minute, the exact day, date, and time I left, thus then, approximating a near exact time I showed up to stay with my grandmother on my mother's side, except for that too the specifics got smeared.
The event? Sometime near the very last day of June or so 1944, I was put on a passenger train somewhere in Pennsylvania headed toward Chicago, traveling with who I do not know. If it was or was not the couple who took me to India has never been confirmed. In Chicago I boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief westbound to Los Angeles. Toward midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour carrying the Santa Fe road number #3774, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over 500 feet before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.
WRECK OF THE NUMBER 19 SANTA FE CHIEF JULY 3, 1944.
Although I was unhurt, the person or people I was traveling with was among the injured and taken, with me along with them, to either Williams or Flagstaff. Because of the nature of their injuries, whoever I was traveling with was held-up under doctors care for several days, leaving me without direct adult supervision. My grandmother, who had been contacted by the railroad, called my uncle in Santa Fe. He inturn contacted a nearby tribal spiritual elder to oversee me until someone was with was able to get me to my grandmother's.(see)
Three years later, within a day or two of the third year anniversary of the train wreck, July 3, 1947, found me with my uncle traveling in the desert southwest having passed through Williams, Arizona on our way to Fort Sumner, New Mexico to visit the gravesite of Billy the Kid. We stopped at the crash site to pay reverence to those that died and my survival. While my uncle sat in the truck I walked the tracks where the wreck occurred. In the three short years since the derailment barely a sign of anything having happened remained, the wind along with the heavy downfall of summer monsoons nearly erasing the 500 foot groove and other marks caused by the huge Baldwin locomotive and passenger cars. If a person was unfamiliar with what happened it would have been unobservable.
Just as my visit at the train wreck site ended and my uncle and I headed toward Fort Sumner the Fourth of July weekend of 1947 was upon us. Any deep reverence or importance by me being at the train site was quickly overshadowed by a much larger event of earthshaking and monumental status when in the middle of the night of that weekend an unidentified airborne object of unknown origin began disintegrating, spreading debris and foil in a long swath out over the New Mexico flatlands only to eventually slam into the northern face boulders and rocks of the lower upslope of the Capitan Mountains --- an event that soon became known worldwide as the Roswell UFO.
ACCIDENT REPORT: SANTA FE CHIEF JULY 3, 1944
SANTA FE LOCOMOTIVE #3774
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
My childhood friend Adam Osborne, who lived at the Ramana ashram and mentioned in the opening paragraph at the top of the page, passed on to me a very important piece of information --- the fact that the two of us were together at the ashram on the night of the full moon in April 1944 --- substantiating for me a given day, date, and time, easily proven, exactly when I was at there.
However, in another of our conversations, when he mentioned one of the most obscure facts I could think of, that amongst the few things I had with me at the ashram was what he called a code maker thing that looked like a badge, I almost fell over.
What he was referring to was the Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph that I carried around with me everywhere I went. In that for both of us our being in India was basically beyond our control, neither of us really had anything like toys or anything similar typical kids our age might have. The Code-O-Graph was a huge exception to that aspect of our lives. Osborne said he remembered it fondly because the badge sort of connected him back to a normal childhood in a sense. Apparently I would write a code using the badge, give it him, he would decipher it then write one and give to me to decipher.
When I told him after all the years I still had the exact same decoder from my childhood he could hardly believe it. The next time we met I brought the decoder along. It was easy to see when he held the badge it sent him back to another time, his eyes actually filling with tears.
In silence Osborne toyed with the dial for the longest time, turning it back and forth and spinning it around as though he was making or deciphering a code saying, "This was the first computer I ever held."
Handing the Code-O-Graph back he interjected as well that he was certain he remembered the badge as having instead of a photograph of Captain Midnight, a photograph of me, looking all the same as he did when we were both kids --- in essence, regarding the photograph, repeating almost the exact same thing my younger brother alluded to when he saw the decoder after many, many years.
"The boy, seemingly intrigued and perplexed that my badge would have a picture of him in it, waffled when I told him I was sure it would be Captain Midnight's intention for my photo badge to be his and that we should trade. I could tell that he, in a young boy's own way, was considering my suggestion as having some merit, but in the end he was steadfast in not wanting to trade HIS decoder for mine or anything else for that matter, especially since his had more of a brand new sheen about it while mine seemed somewhat dull and worn. For some reason bigger than me, I was being compelled, almost driven, to persuade him to do otherwise. After a short discussion and with his permission, I carefully removed the photo out of the decoder I had and put it in the boy's, then put the picture of Captain Midnight into mine. With that, all excited and seemingly pleased with the results, he ran off across the compound as if to show somebody."
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
1942-1944 CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT Photomatic Code-O-Graph
The Captain Midnight decoder badge called the Photomatic Code-O-Graph found amongst the stuff in the house of my grandmother on my father's side, was distributed during the war years 1942-1944. Because of the metal shortage it was produced with enough overproduction early on so the same design could continually be issued throughout the war without the necessity of a new design created yearly as initially intended. The design allowed the owner to insert a photo of themself in a small open square at the top of the badge, replacing the photo of Captain Midnight that came with it. The idea for doing so was to create a personalized identification badge like those used in defense plants of the era. Once the picture of Captain Midnight was removed and the owner substituted it with a picture of their own, they were supposed to push down the four metal tabs at each of the corners so it could not be removed. The decoder badge found with the passport at my grandmother's had a photo of me as a young boy inserted in the square. See:
CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT: THE CODE-O-GRAPHS
In The Last American Darshan I have a whole footnote dedicated to speculation surrounding the three letters from India that were addressed to my father and how they were able to eventually fall somehow into the hands of my uncle, then down to his son.
Since I first created that footnote with all my speculations, it has been brought to my attention by a somewhat astute reader of my works that there may be a much simpler solution to my dilemma regarding the letters than I've presented or meets the eye.
His suggestion, and a potentially viable one at that --- and one I never thought of --- is, even though the letters apparently were postmarked, doesn't necessarily mean they were ever posted (i.e., mailed). It could be, as the reader lays it out, the lady of the couple simply had the envelopes hand stamped in her presence at the post office then retained the letters for whatever reason without ever mailing them. Then, rather than the letters arriving by mail at my grandmother's one at a time over a given period, the lady of the couple, having all three with her when she showed up at my grandmother's with me in tow, handed them over to my grandmother requesting her to give them to my father when she saw him. That way, once in the states and still sealed, censorship rules or anything else regarding mail in those days would never have come into play.
I applaud the reader's great insight and worthy if not fully plausible solution to the dilemma. Have to admit, it works for me. Simple too.
In 1970 my father was caught in a fire while on the job. He held on for a couple of years but by the end of 1972 he had fallen into a deep coma and put on life support. Prior to the coma, around the start of the summer of 1972, he called me to his bedside without the knowledge of family or friends, including his wife. He told me he had long rented a small, single-car garage-size storage unit unknown to anybody. Inside the storage unit he said, was a large locked trunk clearly marked with his brother's name and he wanted me to take it to him post haste unopened without anybody's knowledge, even my brothers, and especially so before anybody discovered he had the storage unit.
Adhering to my father's request post haste (my dad's words), put me in Santa Fe unexpectedly on a quick couple of days turn around during late June early July of 1972. I say unexpectedly because as soon as I walked out of the hospital I went straight to the storage unit, picked up the trunk, and drove all night right to Santa Fe. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of us designing time around me being there.
During that couple of days in Santa Fe my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town during the same period and I went along. I wasn't introduced to or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked. However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks. Most people are familiar with Ginsberg and his impact through the Beat Generation and all. The young man with full beard and dreadlocks is not so well known, turning out to be Bhagavan Das, age 27, only just returned from India. Bhagavan Das was one of the major movers if not THE major mover for having set into motion the Eastern Religion phenomenon that swept over the country from the 70s onward impacting any number of people from a whole other generation than Ginsberg, including such stalwarts as Steve Jobs of Apple Computers, et al. See:
I have been to the ashram on three occasions. The first being when I was taken there as a child by the couple so described in the main text above. Both my second and third visits occurred as an adult. To learn about my second visit, which I have termed my 'first return visit' as well as the actual authorized ashram source(s) in which that visit is recorded, written as such by a person said to be both sometimes Ramana's grand nephew as well as the Maharshi's younger brother Chinnaswami's second son, plus how a 1943 1/4 Rupee coin plays a major role in what appears to be for all practical purposes the warping of time, please see:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
ANALOGIES IN TIME AND PLACE
Years later my uncle told me about me sitting in the passenger area of a train station in Arizona with a tribal spiritual elder late at night waiting for my uncle to arrive and take me to California. The spiritual elder was quite obviously Native American and I was quite obviously not. A lot of people seemed concerned with me traveling with an Indian, that is, except for an older man who seemed concerned that I might be bored.
He came over and sat next to me and asked if my dad was in the war. I told him no that he worked in the shipyards. Opening his suitcase he asked if I liked comic books and as I nodded yes he pulled out a comic called Blue Bolt. Before he handed it to me he began thumbing through the pages as though he was looking for something all the while telling me he had a son in the war and that his son was a highly decorated fighter pilot. He folded open the comic book to one of the pages and pointed to a story about a group of American pilots that shot down 77 German planes in one outing. Then he told me, going over the story page by page and reading certain things and pointing to others, that his son was one of the pilots. With that, my uncle told me I took the book from the mans hands completely fascinated, so much so I read the story over and over without stopping or setting it down. The man, seeing how much I appreciated the comic and the story, said I could have it. After that my uncle said I continued to read it again and again all the way back to California and months afterwards. The story that so fascinated me in the Blue Bolt comic was true, of which the following is found about the story in the source so cited:
"On Sunday, April 18, 1943 the U.S. Army Air Force's 57th Fighter Group stationed at El Djem, Tunisia in North Africa, on a routine mission over Cape Bon had 46P-40 Warhawks in the air along with 18 British Spitfires flying top cover. Low on fuel and basically returning to base they came across a 100 plane flotilla of German JU-52 troop transport planes flying just above sea level over the Mediterranean, escorted by 50 Messerschmitt fighters. Catching the Germans completely off guard, while the Spitfires drew off the Messerschmitts and kept them busy, the P-40s split into pairs diving on the enemy planes tearing the transports to shreds, with an overall kill count of 77 enemy aircraft destroyed."(source)