"One day I was moving stuff and ran across my pebble grained faux-leather high school graduation certificate holder. Inside was my diploma along with an official looking 'deed' for one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory from the Klondike Big Inch Land Company dated January 4, 1955, a really good copy of Uncle Scrooge, Issue #14, June 1956, with Scrooge, his deed and dealings with one square inch of land in a story called Faulty Fortune, AND the treasure map I drew for my time capsule."

THE WANDERLING: Footnote [1], below.


In October 1954 Quaker Oats marketing execs began looking for a gimmick to promote their "Puffed Rice" and "Puffed Wheat" cereal products. At the time, Quaker Oats sponsored a radio show for the younger set, "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," that was scheduled to move to television in the fall of 1955. So they wanted an ad campaign to feature Sergeant Preston and hype the new TV series.

Their idea man was Bruce Baker, a Chicago advertising exec, who one sleepless night--hit on the idea of giving away square-inch lots of land in "Sergeant Preston's Yukon," by putting deeds in specially-marked boxes of Quaker Oats cereals.

The idea was not bad. At the time, cereal makers marketed to kids by giving away trading cards, whistles and plastic toys--some items costing as much as 5 cents per unit. Baker thought he could give away deeds for much less.

But the cereal maker's Chicago headquarters (and especially their attorneys) hated the idea. They pointed out that, even in the hinterlands of western Canada, the only way to create legal lots would be to prepare a survey map, which (if it included separate lot numbers) would probably be larger than the land itself. Worse, the deeds would have to be registered in the local Torrens system--requiring payment of prohibitive fees.

Undaunted, Baker and two other men (one of them a Quaker Oats ad executive) chartered a plane and flew to the Yukon.

Landing in Whitehorse, the three Americans introduced themselves to local attorney George Van Roggen. Van Roggen listened, and found himself "entertained" by the ad men's antics. But for Van Roggen, the question was whether, in Canada, one could give away deeds that wouldn't or couldn't be individually registered in the land records system. He gave the opinion that "you could, that they'd be legal."

Buoyed by this advice, Baker quickly got approval from Quaker Oats to go ahead. In the meantime, Van Roggen found 19.11 acres of government land, located seven miles up the Yukon River from Dawson, that could be purchased for $1,000.

On October 7, the three Americans were driven to Dawson, where they met up with Constable Paul LeCocq--a real, live Royal Canadian Mountie, who had a dog named "Yukon King" (as did the fictional Sergeant Preston). Matter of fact, fan mail received locally for "Sergeant Preston" was delivered to LeCocq.

Constable LeCocq took the three Americans, in their Brooks Brothers suits, in an open skiff up the Yukon River to the 19 acre parcel. One of the Americans, John Baker (who was a lawyer, and the brother of ad man Bruce Baker) recalled that the weather was frigid, "several degrees below zero," and the river was "a forbidding sight with ice cakes zooming by." Here's how John described the 19 acres in his journal: "Fairly level with a beach of stones about 100 feet wide; quite thick with jackpine and spruce, poplar and birch."

When the party returned to Dawson they were tired, cold and wet. Bruce Baker's feet were badly frostbitten. Quaker Oats bought the land.

Later, John Baker and George Van Roggen drew up the deed language. The Grantor would be a specially-formed corporation to be called "Klondike Big Inch Land Co., Inc." The Grantee would be...(fill in your name). The legal description would refer to a "Tract Number," more particularly described in "that certain subdivision plan...deposited in the registered office of the Grantor in the Yukon Territory." The deeds excluded mineral rights (which had been reserved in the original grant from the Crown), and provided for a perpetual easement over each square-inch lot for the benefit of surrounding lot owners.

So there was no survey map. Instead, the deeds were numbered consecutively following a master plan that made its "point of beginning" the northwest corner of the 19 acres. If you wanted to find a certain lot number, theoretically you would start at the northwest corner, go X number of inches east, then go X number of inches south, and there it would be. Theoretically.

Twenty-one million deeds were printed, and the ad campaign was launched on the Sergeant Preston radio show on January 27, 1955. Ads ("You'll actually own one square inch of Yukon land in the famous gold country!") appeared in 93 newspapers.

The campaign was a sensational success. The specially-marked ("Get Free Gold Rush Land Today!") boxes of Quaker Oats cereal fairly flew off of grocers' shelves. Before long, they were all gone. Lots of kids, myself included, were "too late."[1]

Meanwhile, letters poured in to Quaker Oats offices. New landowners wanted to know where their land was located, how much it was worth, and "is there gold there?" One kid sent in four toothpicks and some string, requesting his inch be fenced.

In Buffalo, NY, newspapers carried a story about a man being tried for murdering his wife with an ice pick. On the third day of trial, the defense attorney made a motion to be removed from the case. Turned out the attorney had been promised to be paid with "land in the Yukon," only to learn this "land" consisted of his client's collection of 1,000 "Big Inch" deeds.

Unfortunately, no one paid taxes on the 19 acres, and in 1965 it was sold by the Canadian government for an arrearage of $37.20. According to an August 2000 article in the Whitehorse Star newspaper, "a Quaker Oats spokesman in Chicago claims the company never received a tax bill." Maybe "Yukon King" ate it.

To this day, inquiries still come to Quaker Oats (now a division of Pepsico), and the Canadian government, about "Big Inch" deeds. According to Steven Horn, Chief Legislative Counsel for the Department of Justice in the Yukon, inquiries typically come from lawyers representing estates with assets including one or more of the deeds, and they always get the same answer: The deeds are and always were "unregisterable."

A cruel hoax? Consumer fraud? Consider this, a "Big Inch" deed now fetches up to $40 on the collectible market, and they are suitable for framing.

Meanwhile, the "Klondike Big Inch Land Co." was quietly dissolved in 1966. [2]

For important new and updated information, insight, and clarification regarding Quaker Oat's Klondike Big Inch offer, please be sure not to miss going to Footnote [1] and Footnote [2].


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NOTE: The above main text contents regarding The Klondike Big Inch Land Company has been thoroughly researched and sourced through the dedicated work and graceful services of long time aficionado of similar and like radio and box top offers Bert Rush, since updated with newer and additional material from an original email dated Monday, June 10, 2002.

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.

------Footnote [1]

Much to the chagrin and possibly great childhood misfortune, Bert Bush, the author of the above main section, like lots of kids, himself included as he solemnly says, were "too late" in getting a deed at the time they were being distributed. As for myself, for some reason I must have been in the right place at the right time. Not only did I get one of the deeds myself by sending in a box-top, with a very low number deed at that, I still have the very same original deed in my possession.(see)

For me being right at the starting gate to obtain a deed may have been boosted by fate as much as anything else. My father, who was born and raised in a small town in the southeastern corner of the Quaker state of Pennsylvania remembered well that as a kid the Quaker Oats company came through town and down the main street with a flat bed truck or trailer shooting puffed rice or puffed wheat out of a cannon. I always liked the image of shooting puffed rice all over the town main street thing and because of same it pushed Quaker puffed products to the top of the list for me in my early days for some reason. To this day I wish I could have seen it. It wasn't very long after that my dad, at age 16, like thousands of other youth of the era --- such as the celebrated author of nearly 100 westerns Louis L'Amour --- decided to leave home and "ride the rails," my dad eventually meeting my mother in the process and my dad's brother, my uncle, under circumstances similar to my dad, meeting and becoming friends with L'Amour, a friendship that led to me meeting L'Amour one day as well.

Still waxing a little nostalgic, a lot of you who have read my works may remember that as a kid I was big on box top and the like offers, especially so the radio premium offers such as Ovaltine's Captain Midnight's Radio Premiums, especially the Code-O-Graphs and even more specifically so the 1942-1945 Photo-Matic version as pictured above, a Code-O-Graph that figured prominently throughout my childhood into adulthood. In so saying, it would not be unusual for me to have gotten the deed, but, considering how tumultuous my early life always seemed to be, to still have it is another thing.

Another box top offer that I loved was also a Quaker cereal premium offer called Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit. Although I didn't have one myself as kid the girl next door who used to babysit my brothers and me had one and I played with it all the time, so much so it was almost as though it was mine. The Pilot Training Cockpit offer played a huge role in my later adult life by justly confirming what I could or could not remember from my early childhood.

One night a couple of months into World War II while I was still a very young boy, during the early morning hours of the latter part of February 1942, a giant airborne object of an unknown nature came in off the Pacific Ocean flying over the Los Angeles area for several hours causing a basin-wide blackout. I clearly saw the object that night along with my family and neighbors as it flew at a very low altitude directly over the roof of my house in Redondo Beach, a small beach community southwest of Los Angeles.

My uncle often stated he felt the reason for my fascination with flying and flying things in later life, the venerable P-40 Warhawk notwithstanding, went clear back to that incident involving the fly over of the giant airborne object I saw as a kid. The object, said to have been as large as a Zeppelin at over 800 feet in length, was seen in one form or the other by literally thousands and thousands of people besides myself in the L.A. basin and along the Southern California coast.

Known variously as the UFO Over L.A., The Battle of Los Angeles, etc., etc., or as I call it The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO. Even though the object was able to withstand over 1440 direct anti-aircraft rounds and still escape unscathed, the incident is mostly forgotten now except by maybe myself and a few others. Actually, with no disrespect toward my uncle, although the L.A. UFO no doubt had a major impact on me, I personally think what really opened up my fascination regarding the ability to fly, flying machines, giant flying creatures, giant feathers, et al, that seemed to dominate in later life, was born from a germ initiated from me building, flying, and watching a comic book superhero toy called the Flying Captain Marvel. It wasn't a plane construed as flying, but a man.

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One of the major historians of the battle C. Scott Littleton, even though he cites what I have to say extensively in his works (usually uncredited) he almost always adds that his source (me) as being too young to remember what I reported as well as sometimes using the word "shaky" as to what I reported. To counteract his thoughts on the subject I have presented throughout my works a whole series of things I remember from the era including me learning Morse code set into motion by what was called a Dot N' Dash Electric Telegraph Set basically before I could even read or write backed up by another cereal box top offer, the Ralston Wheat Cereal Company's Tom Mix Straight Shooters Telegraph Set:

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As to C. Scott Littleton and what I could or could not remember as a kid, sending and receiving Morse code before even entering school notwithstanding, I offer the following:

"I remember a lot of things, up to and well before that period of time in my life. For example, my mother nursing my brother who was three years younger than me. Seeing barrage balloons floating in the sky tethered to the ground over the shipyards in Terminal Island where my father worked. Because metal was not available for toys during wartime, the lifesize cardboard toy fighter plane-type cockpit --- colored on one side with dials and windshield and printed only in black and white on the backside --- with a movable square cardboard joystick that the girl next door had."

As far as what I am able to remember or not remember as a kid, it should be noted that the cardboard cockpit toy wasn't made available to the public until November 6, 1941, roughly four months before the overflight. Now I am not sure what the shelf life of a cardboard toy would be with a bunch of kids playing with it, but if was still usable after six months and I remember playing with it, it had to be right around the same time as the February 1942 event.

Many of you may also be familiar with some of my travels and adventures as a young boy with my Uncle as well. One of those adventures ended up circulating around my deed from The Big Inch Land Company.

It all started with me being less than 10 years old and the two of us on our way to see the gravesite Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. It ended with us walking the fresh debris field within days, possibly hours, of the crash-down of an alleged disc-shaped airborne object of an unknown nature and unknown origin that disintegrated all over a remote section of desert ranchland near Roswell in 1947. However, I was just a kid like all kids, except that I had an extraordinary uncle that took me with him doing all kinds of things and going all kinds of places that a typical kid wouldn't usually be confronted with. I stretched from wild-eyed excitement about any and everything to full-on out-and-out boredom. To wit, below is something I wrote that shows up at the source so cited:

"I was raised on Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and experienced the giant UFO overfly Los Angeles in 1942 so rocketships or objects from outer space or other planets just didn't seem all that unusual to me. I spent a good part of my time out in the cab of the truck reading comic books, sitting around in waiting rooms or narrow halls of places that looked like doctors offices or hospitals. Even more time was spent hanging out in dirty little rooms stuck back in the corners of hot, dusty hanger type buildings stacked to the ceiling with falling over old newspapers, out of date World War II Mil-Spec operator handbooks and training manuals, as well as grungy old coffee cups all over the place with spoons and dead bugs stuck in the bottom of thin layer of some sort of a dried-up brown, tar-like residue --- presumably it is guessed, being at onetime, coffee." (source)

Philosophically speaking I suppose sitting and watching windmills off in the distance that I observed at the debris field for days is far more quixotic and better than exploring the inside of grungy old coffee cups. However, as you can see, besides adventures, there was lots of downtime and being away from home without other kids or siblings to play or talk with. So, like other kids in a similar or like situation I did lots of things to entertain myself and occupy my mind. During the night I might learn about the stars and during the day I might be found digging up Teratorn fossils. Other times, during down time might fine me gathering up small pebbles or rocks and making little campfire rings with tiny little "Y" forked sticks with another stick across it as though it could hold a tiny little hanging pot. I would even put little logs in the rock ring. At the hay shelter on the hill above and behind the debris field I even made and buried a "time capsule" thinking I would come back one day in the future and dig it up.

Traveling in the desert I carried a World War II pistol belt with one or two G.I. canteens always filled with water, and along with the canteens, hooked to the pistol belt as well, I usually had at least one Carlisle First Aid Pouch, and sometimes two, that I carried all kinds of stuff in. Stainless steel pocket knife with a fold-out fork and spoon. Compass. Waterproof matches. Signaling mirror. Always in one of the pouches as well, was one of my most prized possessions, a pocket-sized sun dial gizmo called a Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch, a one-time radio-premium offer given me by the grandfather of the girl who used to babysit me when I was even a littler kid.


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When I was at the Roswell Debris Field, which was long before there was anything like handheld electronic devices, I had a manually operated handheld toy red-and-black plastic-bakelite film strip viewer with me. One time my uncle told me if the Earth were ever to blow up and form an asteroid belt around the sun like the one between Mars and Jupiter some far-in-the-future space explorer would still be able to find pieces of plastic imbedded in the rock-chunks --- because plastic junk lasts forever. Well, I didn't want to part with my pocketknife, compass or matches, so for my time capsule I buried the plastic film viewer. With that I took a gas station paper towel I had in my back pocket and using my most favored gift from my Stepmother, a Reynolds Rocket ballpoint pen that could write underwater or out in space --- which I wish I still had --- and made a treasure map.

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Years passed and I forgot all about it. One day I was moving stuff and ran across my pebble grained faux-leather high school graduation certificate holder. Inside was my diploma along with an official looking "deed" for one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory from the Klondike Big Inch Land Company dated January 4, 1955, a really good copy of Uncle Scrooge, Issue #14, June 1956, with Scrooge, his deed and dealings with one square inch of land in a story called Faulty Fortune, AND the treasure map I drew for my time capsule.

The next time I went to see my uncle in Santa Fe I took the map along. When I showed it to him and expressed the possibility of the two of us going to look for it he put his hand out in an open-palm "halt" fashion and told me to wait. A few minutes later he was opening a cardboard box he had pulled from the attic and started rummaging around in it. He pulled out a bag and dumped the contents on the table. There in front of me was what was left of a broken to pieces red-and-black plastic film strip viewer. My uncle told me right after meeting with Frank Edwards, about ten years or so after we had been to the debris field, he went back. He walked the old debris field as well as the hill we had observed from. He also tried to find the hay shelter and water trough, but to no avail. Walking the area where he thought it should be he spotted pieces of red plastic in the dirt. Looking more carefully he was eventually able to find most of the viewer, including parts of the film strip. Apparently what happened, and it was just speculation on my uncle's part for the lack or any other explanation, it looked like a disc harrow may have been pulled through the area and one of the discs must have ran right over where I had buried the viewer, scattering it into pieces along a straight line over several feet.

My idea to make a time capsule did not spring from whole cloth, by the way. Somehow I got the idea from my uncle, mimicking his actions. That is, somewhere near or around where we were, my uncle made his own time capsule, burying something OR some-things, pieces and parts he found out out on the debris field. I have reason to guess that was the case because there would be no need to bury anything he already had with him that would be worth leaving then come back for. Apparently that is just what he did, come back for whatever he buried. Other than the fact that he showed me he had pieces of my film viewer that he came across in the hills up and beyond the debris field years after the crash I would never have known he went back. According to the suggestion proffered in The Roswell Ray Gun all indications are that the something buried recovered from the Roswell debris field in 1947 turned out to be a device similar to a hand-held pistol, albeit said by some from an advanced alien culture. There are also strong rumors to the effect that an 'extraterrestrial' breathing apparatus of some type may have been found and subjected to reverse engineering as well. See:



------Footnote [2]

As far as the Klondike Big Inch Land Company itself is concerned, the property was seized January 22, 1965 and the company quietly dissolved in 1966. The actual 19.11-acre plot of land is, of course, still there --- previously Group 2 Lot 243, now known as Group 1052, (according the Yukon's Register of Land Titles) --- located on the west bank of the Yukon River about three miles upstream from Dawson with 640 feet of riverfront lineage (7680 inches) by 1301 feet deep (15,612 inches). Conversion charts calculate that 19.11 acres equal 119,870,150.4 square inches, of which for only 21 million deeds were printed --- leaving in the process a whole lot of "inches" left over and a lot of acres falling into the unaccounted for category. For the record, the same conversion chart shows that 21,000,000 square inches (one square inch for each deed printed) equals only 3.34787267 acres out of the original 19.11 acre plot. Lot 243 is so designated on the graphic below as being the rectangle shape just right of center. The edge of the Yukon River can be seen just below it.

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According to land office records a man by the name of Malcolm McLaren first homesteaded the same general plot of land back in 1911. Rumors have abounded that the land became a part of an area adjacent to the former Top of the World Golf Course when the golf course was first developed. More concretely, in an article published in the August 15, 2007 issue of the Klondike Sun titled "Cereal Thriller Indeed" by Megan Ruiter, Ruiter writes:

"The actual land that was purchased is now an untended portion of Dawson's very own Top of The World golf course, a prized chunk of Dawson real estate."

Bert Rush describes in the main text above how one would go about finding their "own" square inch of land out of the 21 million deeds distributed. Rush writes, if you may recall, and I quote:

"So there was no survey map. Instead, the deeds were numbered consecutively following a master plan that made its 'point of beginning' the northwest corner of the 19 acres. If you wanted to find a certain lot number, theoretically you would start at the northwest corner, go X number of inches east, then go X number of inches south, and there it would be. Theoretically."

Getting somewhat more specific, in 1975 an article regarding the Klondike Big Inch Land Company, written by one Jack McIver, appeared in CANADIAN MAGAZINE. In the article, he gives his explanation what a person would have to do to go about locating a definitative or given square inch, McIver wrote:

"(T)he deeds were numbered consecutively, according to a master plan. If you wanted to find, say, lot number 11,935,000 you simply had to start in the northwest corner of the land, travel east 7,000 inches, go south 1,705 inches, and there you'd be, standing on your inch."

About the same time Ruiter wrote her article for the Klondike Sun I was in the Yukon. With the information from McIver's article and my numbered deed in hand I visited the golf course and was directed to the untended portion she wrote about. With the land "untended," that is, reverted back to nature --- if it ever wasn't --- and nobody knowing for sure where the actual northwest corner the specific plot started --- if they ever did --- I knew somewhere out there would have been my square inch if my deed would have been valid, but that was about it.

FYI: What was once known as the Top of the World Golf Course is now operated under the auspices of a not-for-profit organization through the city of Dawson called the Dawson City Golf Course. For photos, layout, maps, etc., please click the following graphic:





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Below is a copy of the initial email from Bert Rush that created the listserv that inturn the Monday, June 10, 2002 email regarding the Klondike Big Inch Land Company appeared. As far as I have been able to determine the listserv so initiated by Bert Rush is no longer active nor is Rush's original Big Inch article available through conventional sources on the internet. His email and website is, however, still active (see link below).

Posting for

Wednesday, May 27, 1998

by: Bert Rush



This is our new e-mail listserv connecting Home Office with First American's regional counsel and training coordinators, systemwide.

We'll be posting news and information here, and we invite questions, comments and/or argument--which we may also post. Replies will be moderated for posting to avoid redundancy and such.

A major purpose of LandSakes will be to provide subscribers with copies of articles or documents of interest, in an Adobe electronic portable document format (.pdf), which you can download and print for use in training, marketing, whatever. You'll need an Adobe Acrobat reader. Most postings and PDF copies will be archived, so you can retrieve them from our server even after they're deleted from your e-mail storage.

If you know of someone who you think should be on the subscriber list, or if you want to un-subscribe, please email me directly.

And please be thinking of items you might like to contribute to LandSakes.



In 1955, the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities, ruled that the Quaker Company could not take in trade a cereal box-top for one square inch of the Yukon through their advertised promotional program until it received a state license for the sale of foreign land.

After the ruling the Quaker Company simply eliminated the box-top requirement and gave away the deeds by placing one in every box of breakfast cereal "at no additional cost" until the promotion ended a few months later. Below is a thumbnail copy of the advertisement that appeared in 93 newspapers around the country announcing the start of the promotion. By clicking the image a larger PDF format image comes up which, so you can read the text better, is easily expandable to a larger size by clicking the plus sign that appears in the bar:

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Not long after my uncle started overseeing me under the auspices of my stepmother than he and I, often with my dad and brothers along, at least in the early days, began to go down to the giant Palley's Surplus Store off Alameda Street and Vernon in Los Angeles. For my brothers and me the place was like Disneyland, sometimes we would spend the whole day there because the place had everything --- big things like half tracks and bomber machinegun turrets to little things like GI issued lensatic compasses and packets of fluorescent green sea dye markers. My brothers and I, in what was one of the few things we ever did together, were always cooking up some kind of an excuse go there with me always returning with a ton of World War II army surplus stuff --- canteens, pistol belts, parkas, infantry backpacks, army M43 folding shovels, and two of my very favorites, an Army Signal Corps J-38 Handkey, one in its own little case, the other with a leg-band tagged as a KY116/U, both for sending Morse code and an ESM/1 Emergency Signaling Mirror.

Take a look at the beautiful machine work that went into making the KY-116/U, an item, like the formidable four wheel drive jeep, that was made in the time of war for war. Both in their own ways masterpieces each built for a different function but to serve the same purpose --- defeat the enemy. Wartime jeeps and telegraph hand keys like the KY116/U were turned out by the thousands and thrown into extremes as far ranging as the Arctic, the sweltering wind blown desert sands of North Africa and the steaming jungles of the the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, and expected to win the the war with all possibilities of being destroyed any second doing it --- along with their human operators and caregivers. Even so, made for war or not, or to last seconds or forever, there probably isn't a more beautiful piece of machined metal than the KY116/U below. Well there may be one thing: SEE

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In the above main text my uncle asked me to get a couple of canteens, one of which I say was on a WW II pistol belt I always wore when we were in the field. Along with the canteen I had a couple of "Carlisle" first aid pouches hooked to the pistol belt as well. Considering the timing of the event, July of 1947, more than likely the pistol belt, canteens and the first aid pouches all came from Palley's.(see)

When my dad and stepmother went to South America for a couple of years and our de facto family broke up, with my uncle going back to Santa Fe and my younger brother and I going to a foster couple most of my army gear got lost in the shuffle and going to Palley's, for the couple, at least as far as me and my little brother was concerned, was out of the picture.

As a kid it seems like a large portion of almost everything I learned came from reading comic books. Over and over, even today in the stuff I write I often refer back to something I read at one time or the other in a comic book as elaborated in the quote below as found in The Kingman UFO 1953:

"After leaving Los Angeles we headed north so my uncle could visit an old friend who lived along the eastern slopes of the High Sierras. After the visit we headed east toward New Mexico with plans to cross the Colorado River over Hoover Dam. In conversation it came up that the construction of the dam had stopped torrential floods downstream that had transpired since time immemorial.

"As we traveled along, drawing from my super heavily injected academic background brimming with in-depth encyclopedic and intellectual knowledge, information and data all garnered from comic books of course, I told him about a great story I read in a Gene Autry comic called 'The Ship in the Desert' (issue #52, June 1951) and an even better one in an Uncle Scrooge comic called 'Lost Ship of the Desert,' AKA 'The Seven Cities of Cibola' (issue #7, September 1954) wherein wrecked Spanish galleons had been found in the desert in both stories. As near as I could remember, as far as the ships were concerned, the punchline for both stories were associated with an old Colorado River channel covered and uncovered over the centuries by flash floods or some such thing leading to the Salton Sea."



There was one major time, however, when there was not just comic books involved, but the coming together of both comic books and Saturday afternoon matinee movies of the day. That time I flew well over two-stories high in a Da Vinci-like flying machine I built myself as described in Tarzan and the Huntress.



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Below is an ad from a comic book that just happened to start showing up for the first time around August 1949, just about a year after the aforementioned flight and at the exact time my family was breaking up or on the verge of breaking up. On top of that, with the prospect of me not having the unfettered cash resources that had been provided me so freely in the past, before I moved in with the new foster couple my stepmother arranged for me to get a job, if I wanted it, at a place not far from where the couple lived where she knew the owner, a place called the Normandie Club --- so I could pick up some extra money. With that money and the comic book ads like the one below I was never without all the Army surplus stuff I wanted.

The thing is, at the time I was a kid and I did kid things. Anybody who is familiar with or has read any amount of my online works knows that as a young boy I was big on box top and the like offers such as Ovaltine's Captain Midnight's Radio Premiums, especially Captain Midnight's Code-O-Graphs, and more specifically so the 1942-1945 Photo-Matic. As far as I viewed it, comic book ads were just a quick jump, falling into a similar or like category. Matter of fact the first comic book ad I ever answered was for me to become a Junior Air Raid Warden, of which the ad appears just below the Army surplus ad. I don't think I was even in kindergarten when I sent for the Air Raid Warden kit. Please notice the two smaller versions of the surplus ad below the Air Raid Warden ad, although similar to the color ad above, both offer signaling mirrors for 35 cents. Signaling mirrors played a prominent role between the famed mathematician, meteorite hunter, and astronomer Dr. Lincoln La Paz and my uncle regarding a pre-Roswell UFO encounter. Remember too, from the main text, every time I went to Palley's I always came back with a bunch of World War II army surplus stuff like canteens, pistol belts, parkas, infantry backpacks and Army M43 folding shovels. The comic book mail order made it a lot easier. Notice as well, in those days a kid could order knives, machetes, and axes if one was so predisposed. My dad actually bought a brand new, or at least never used, World War II jeep right off the docks in San Francisco by responding to a similar ad. The jeep, along with hundreds of others, were piled up on the docks just about to be shipped off to the South Pacific when the war ended. The government was selling them off as fast as they could, first come first served for $225.00 bucks.(see)

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"Traveling in the desert I carried a World War II pistol belt with one or two G.I. canteens always filled with water, and along with the canteens, hooked to the pistol belt as well, I usually had at least one Carlisle first aid pouch, and sometimes two, that I carried all kinds of stuff in. Stainless steel pocket knife with a fold-out fork and spoon. Compass. Waterproof matches. Signaling mirror. Always in one of the pouches as well, was one of my most prized possessions, a pocket-sized sun dial gizmo called a Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch, a one-time radio-premium offer given me by the grandfather of the girl who used to babysit me when I was even a littler kid."

The old man and the babysitter figured prominently in my early life, several times as a matter of fact, some major, some minor. In a way the old man was sort of a progenitor or prototype of things to come, being there teaching and showing me things and laying the groundwork in my young life long before my uncle or mentor came on the scene or I was even old enough to start school. The sun, stars, electricity, pneumatics, the speed of light, time. They were all there in an embryo way.

One of the interactions, and ranked right up there as one of the ones I was most fond of, and of all things, believe it or not, turned out to be nothing less than a radio premium offer, albeit one from an era long before I was ever aware of them.

If you were an unknowing person and just happen to wander into the old man's shop taking no more than a quick look around, the junk pile dump of a place it seemed, you would think he would never be able to find or keep track of anything. However, he had his own way of doing things and in that own way had some things he considered to be of a high personal value and because of that they were treated and kept in a special way.

One of those valuable things --- at least to him --- was an item I was absolutely fascinated and intrigued by, except he would rarely let me touch it. The item was a 1922 antique called an Ansonia Sunwatch, designed to fit in a pocket with a folding lid that covered a sundial and compass. On a sunny day, following the instructions and placing the Sunwatch in the right direction, a person could discern what time it was.

As an alternative to his prized Ansonia he let me use an item of similar intent anytime I wanted, an item that he didn't hold in nearly as high esteem, but for me I loved it. As I viewed it, it just as good if not better. Actually, it was a radio premium offer from Ovaltine like the later-to-come Captain Midnight Code-O-Graphs, only from the year 1938 called a Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch:



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Instructions For Using The Canteen Cup Stove

The full nomenclature was Stand, Heating, Cup, Canteen (or Stand, Canteen Cup) with NSN 8465-01-250-3632 and specification MIL-S-44221 (or MIL-S-44221A dated 03 March 1989). Revision A of the specification describes two versions of the stand, one with an open bottom and one with a solid bottom. Production of the stand continued into the 1990s based on contracts awarded in 1989.

Each canteen cup stove was packaged with an instruction sheet, containing a drawing of the stand as it was intended to be used (above) and the following text:











Above material adapted by OLIVE-DRAB from "Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons and Accoutrements," by David Cole (November 2007 and updates), a classroom reference for the Army Museum System's Basic Curatorial Methods Training Courses, as well as other published sources. Thanks to Thomas Chial for making his extensive research available.




"My stepmother, who you may recall was quite wealthy, in her new found motherhood role, noticed my younger brother and myself, along with a bunch of other neighborhood kids, spent an inordinate amount of time 'playing cowboys' --- with cowboy hats, capguns, holsters, boots, etc., and in doing so we often ended up in the street. Using her logic, she thought, what could be better than having their own real ranch to play on, especially so, not in the street."

THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE: Their Life and Times Together

So that's what she did, she bought a ranch. A whole section of land in size, that is, one square mile, with twenty acres set aside on one corner for the ranch house, barn, horse corrals, you name it. Then off we went to ride real horses and shoot real guns, of which the ranch house had a number of them --- some on the wall and above the doors such as a lever action 30-30 Winchester, a shotgun or two, a couple of .22 rifles, and a genuine antique 1847 Colt Walker handgun in a case. Every once in awhile I would take the 4.5 pound Colt out of the case and run around playing cowboys with it, sometimes even mixing genres by wielding the colt in one hand and a Buck Rogers Disintegrator in the other. In that the Colt was a black powder revolver and since nobody knew how to load it and everybody was afraid to, it was never loaded. In my later teenage years the Colt was sent to a gunsmith for some reason or the other and while there the gunsmith let me fire three rounds through it.

No sooner had we moved onto the ranch than my dad started to look around at tractors and such. Instead he decided on a four wheel drive World War II jeep to tool around in. Even though none of us kids were old enough to drive legitimately on any of the paved roads around or near the ranch, on the dirt roads and the scrub bursh desert lands surrounding the ranch, as well as on the ranch itself, we drove all over the place.

My dad actually bought the Jeep after answering an ad similar to the one below. The ad offered surplus Jeeps for $278.00. After looking into it he discovered he could actually purchase a brand new, or at least never used, World War II Jeep for $225.00 cash right off the docks in San Francisco, which in reality turned out to be not docks in San Francisco, but across the bay in the naval ship yards at Vallejo or Alameda.

I still remember as a boy showing up with my dad and brothers. The whole place turned out to be a huge labyrinth of buildings, cranes, railroad tracks, and narrow between the structures roadways. On the docks were literally hundreds and hundreds of jeeps lined up row after row along with all kinds of other military hardware and equipment. The jeeps themselves had been taken right off the factory assembly line to the docks months before for transshipment to the South Pacific just as the war ended and when I was there with my dad as a kid, all of them were still just sitting there gathering dust and getting flat tires.

Other than learning a new word and having it added to my vocabulary, i.e., cosmoline, I don't recall anything specifically about the logistics of how or what my dad had to do to get the jeep, how long it took, how much paperwork he had to shuffle, or how the jeep was prepared so we could drive it home, only that it was and we did --- drive it home, that is.

During the heat of the summer my dad didn't want to drive down California's central valley on Highway 99 or cross over the Sierras to use the 395, although once to either highway it would have been the most direct to the ranch. Instead he chose to drive down the California coastline on Highway 1 --- and what a trip it was no matter what highway we would have used. A jeep, no top, my dad and three kids, no real back seats and all before seat belt days. At first the jeep wouldn't go over 45 miles an hour. When we stopped for gas for the first time and with my dad complaining, the attendant, who had been in the Army and knew about jeeps said it was because of a "governor," a device or some such thing the Army put on vehicles to ensure they weren't driven too fast. The attendant took a screwdriver, fiddled with a few things, and the next thing we knew the jeep could do over 60! A couple of days later after camping along the way we were back at the ranch.

Living on the ranch in the high desert of the Mojave in those days were heady times. With the war finally over almost everything was doing nothing but going upward. All kinds of things were happening, especially in the aircraft and automotive fields and happening in the desert besides. The ranch was located not far from Muroc Dry Lake the same place Edwards Air Force Base was located. So too, the ranch wasn't far from Mirage Dry Lake either. On the ground at Mirage were nothing but numberless hot rods and belly tank lakesters. My uncle would take us out there to watch some of the hopped-up Ford flatheads hitting 150 mph. In the air, flying right over the ranch, were B-36s and flying wings. Higher up they were testing the Bell X-1 and breaking the sound barrier.

For us, we went from a bunch of kids tooling around the ranch to chasing locomotives out across the raw desert land at 90 miles per hour all the while watching B-36s and flying wings and hearing sonic booms.





"The ad offered surplus jeeps for $278.00. There were literally hundreds of scams around right after the war saying you could buy surplus jeeps from $50.00 and up and that's what most of them were, scams. After looking into it my dad discovered he could actually purchase a brand new, or at least never used, World War II Jeep for $225.00 cash right off the docks in San Francisco, which in reality turned out to be not docks in San Francisco, but across the bay in the naval ship yards at Vallejo or Alameda."


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By the time the summers in the High Sierras came about I no longer had or carried with me the Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch, but instead, carried an item of similar use, but overall not as good, called a Frank Buck Explorer's Sun Watch Compass, without ever really knowing what happened to the Orphan Annie one. I remember the Frank Buck one specifically because I used it the morning of the Venus sighting. Notice at the bottom of the advertisement, below right, there is a mail in form that says orders must be postmarked by September 1, 1948. That ad first appeared in the No. 83 issue of Captain Marvel in April 1948, and very few if any comic books before then. The dates indicating I most likely would not have had the Sun Watch by the summer of 1948, but 1949 most likely and 1950 for sure.


With my family broken up, my uncle returning to Santa Fe and my younger brother and I being placed with the foster couple, like I've said, most of my army gear was lost in the shuffle --- and going to Palley's, for the couple, was out of the picture. It was because of my army gear getting lost in the shuffle that prior to running away to find my stepmother I had to wait, or wanted to wait, for the Sergeant Preston camp outfit. Among the stuff that was lost or misplaced was the Frank Buck sun watch, of which I had only a short time. However, thanks to comic books I was soon able to come across a fairly good replacement item. Just about the time everything went missing and I was settling in with the couple lo and behold comic books started advertising what was called a TelZall Sun Watch as shown below. It had a secret little ball point pen and the Morse code stamped into the metal back which also served as a signaling mirror. As an aside, for those who may be so interested, I am almost certain the dial face and compass used by the TelZall watch was the exact same glow-in-the-dark dial face and compass as used by the Orphan Annie sun watch.




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