Posts Tagged ‘biography’
Along the way we all have cause to encounter all sorts of personalities; some interesting, some complicated and others that spring to mind for all of the wrong reasons. They can be found in a marketplace in some far-away hidden corner of the globe, or right around the corner next to the pie shop. Part of the fun is never knowing quite where you’ll find them.
Some time back, I took to speaking to veteran aircrew of past conflicts in an effort to record their stories. It allowed me to tie together my interest in history, writing and aviation. Along the way meeting characters who have ‘been there and done that’ but retain modesty and the art of the understatement. While some stories are published, others are simply retained by the family to pass on to the inquiring grandchildren whose questions always seem to surface around school assignment time.
Two years ago, I was approached by one such survivor of World War Two. Not through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, but an electrician. Repairing all and sundry in the aftermath of a lightning strike, the ‘sparky’ mentioned an old fella he knew who had been trying to get his story recorded for a few years. He’d started to write it himself, but hadn’t gotten very far; maybe I’d like to have a chat with him?
Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan was standing in his shed, shaking his head at a recalcitrant lathe when I first met him. He’d taken to restoring tired antique furniture in his retirement and his workshop was a mix of turned table legs and sawdust. Turning away from his tools, Kenneth greeted memly and immediately began chatting about his Royal Air Force days. With a Scottish accent, the 84 year-old started to describe an aerial combat over Dunkirk in 1940 on which he had come out on the wrong side. We wandered inside and began to chat over a cup of tea about aerial campaigns that had become folklore; the Battle of Britain, Dieppe, . Kenneth had been there for all of them as a fighter , he was one of ‘The Few’ who had defended Britain in her darkest hour.
His sharp eyes hadn’t aged a day, nor had his sense of humour. He related anecdote after anecdote with tremendous clarity and the hours ticked by until it was time for me to leave. Sensing my movement tod the door, Kenneth asked me if I was interested in writing his story and I knew I was, however I sensed immediately that this wasn’t a magazine article or a short story for the family archives; it was a book. This bloke had received his wings on rag and tube biplanes before the and flown through the entire conflict, from the retreat at Dunkirk to the landings at and beyond. He was living history and I was hooked. I had to say yes.
Was I up to writing a book? Between a two year-old, a wife pregnant with twins and good dose of self-doubt, I had reservations. But as I sat in Kenneth’s lounge room a week later with the wheels of a tape recorder slowly turning, I started to gather momentum. Not through any skill on my part, but because Kenneth was a natural story teller with an ‘A Grade’ memory. He jumped from episode to episode, but I let him go as sorting out the chronology was my job. For a starting point, I couldn’t go past the tale of Dunkirk with which he had first captivated me.
He had been 19 years of age as he sat perched above the English Channel in his new single-engined Hawker Hurricane. The airframe had only eight hours in the air and, by modern standards, Kenneth didn’t have much more. Leading the rear section of three at 25,000 feet, he was tasked with covering the backs of his leading sections. Not long over the Channel, one of his trio turned back with engine trouble, leaving him and Geoff Howitt to fly as a pair. As they flew toward the plume of smoke lifting skyward from Dunkirk on the French coast, the massive evacuation of allied troops was taking place on the waves below in everything from Thames paddle-steamers to personal yachts.
Suddenly, the leading sections dived towards a flock of marauding German bombers. Simultaneously an ear piercing squeal rang out in Ken’s headsets and his wingman broke formation clean in front of him as a pair of Messerschmitts roared from left to right. McGlashan rolled in on his foe, but seconds later heard what sounded like an alarm clock going off behind his head. (It was actually bullets hitting the armour plating.) Reality struck when the port side of his Hurricane began ripping under a hail of gunfire and red tracers skipped between his legs, tearing up the piping and framework of his aeroplane’s floor.
What ensued was a turbulent spinning plummet towards the French sand. When the attack abated, he attempted to level out and get out as his fighter was bleeding to death. Crippled, the Hurricane was attacked again and he was ultimately forced down on the beach just south of the Belgian border. On the ground, he hurried from his fighter and dived beneath one of a sea of abandoned Lorries on the beach. His subsequent nine mile walk to Dunkirk was a drama that included being shot at by German infantry and being threatened at bayonet-point by French Algerians, but ultimately it was a walk of isolation. As a nineteen year old he watched Spitfires dive into the sea and soldiery drift on the swell like so much flotsam as he trudged toward the final point on the Continent held by allied forces.
Needless to say, Ken survived his encounter over Dunkirk. After an eventful boat ride back to England he went on to fly in the Battle of Britain from the’s easternmost airfield at Hawkinge until it was abandoned and laid to waste by the Luftwaffe. At this time his squadron was transferred to Ireland, where they trained foreign s on the Hurricane and attempted to protect coastal towns and the vital shipping routes supplying the British Isles from the west. There was no radar or organised control system in this region, so it was not unusual for the pilots to be scrambled by an irate Postmaster yelling down the phone, “We’re being attacked, what are you going to do about it?”
From Ireland he would be a pioneer in night-fighting in a time when pilots were force fed carrots to improve their night vision. Stacked from 13,000 feet at 500 foot intervals above a burning Merseyside, the ‘advanced’ technique of detection was to wait for the bombers silhouettes to appear against the backdrop of the inferno. The fighters would then dive down, but inherently the bombers had already slipped away into the veil of darkness. Later in the war he would ‘night fight’ again, this time in company with a bomber equipped with a massive light in its nose. Termed ‘Turbinlite’, this technique involved sneaking up on the target in absolute darkness before illuminating it with a 2,700 million candlepower searchlight. This highly unsuccessful game of cat and mouse provided a greater risk to friend through collision than to foe through combat.
Through the disastrous raid on Dieppe in which Ken’s aircraft was again badly shot up, he continued to fly operationally. On the eve of, he was one of a handful of aircraft airborne in darkness over France seeking out the German aircraft designed to jam the communications of the landings. Following D-Day he was deemed ‘Tour Expired’ and was to be pulled from operational flying. Instead he was seconded to BOAC and sent to Cairo as the British carrier set about re-establishing civil air routes in the Middle East. Be it serving in Cyprus through the EOKA campaign, welcoming in the jet age in Gloster Meteors and de Havilland Vampires or winning the Air Force Cross, there always seemed to be something happening for Kenneth McGlashan.
He finally retired from thein 1958 and later established his family and a civilian life here in Australia. In 1990 he received a very cryptic letter from the Tangmere Aviation Museum who was undertaking some research following the discovery of the Hawker Hurricane that Kenneth had left on the Dunkirk beach in 1940. Today the aircraft is set to take to the English skies once more.
So tale after tale occupied afternoon after afternoon. I would sit and listen as Kenneth would detail his extraordinary life and tale of survival, taping every word before spending the night tying it together into some sort of order. Slowly but surely, his life became the book we had both envisaged. We agreed to title it in a style that reflected Kenneth’s level-headed approach and was also a humorous jibe at the fact he had a fewaircraft make ‘unscheduled’ landings in his time.
Along the way, I gained two valuable friends in Kenneth and his wife, Doreen and this is another wonderful by-product of my hobby. Sadly, when the book was launched at Kenneth’s stomping grounds during the UK’s Duxford Air Show in July, he had not lived to see it happen. However, Doreen made the long trip to the UK to be a part of the event. On the second day of the air show she was flown by helicopter to be reunited with the restoration of Kenneth’s Hurricane. Nearing 90, Doreen is insistent that she’ll be back next year to see the fighter fly once more.
Ken always stressed that by numbers, there were 3,000 fighter pilots who defended the realm through the Battle of Britain and within this sum only three percent were officially recognised as “Aces”. He was always proud to be counted amongst the remaining 97%. To me this in many ways sums up who he was.
His life was an extraordinary tale. I didn’t have to venture to some far flung corner to find it though; Kenneth McGlashan was virtually over my back fence and my life became richer because of it.
The Innkeeper Tales: Modern-Day Canterbury Tales to Entertain, Enlighten & Empower
by John L, Jr.
HSB Press (2007)
Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Reader View (12/06)
One look at the book, “The Innkeeper Tales,” and you know that you’ve come upon an establishment that offers nothing but class. The hunter green hardcover, etched with gold lettering seems a shame to cover up; but, the beautiful sleeve that takes the wear and tear reiterates the classiness of the book itself.
Open the pages and enter a life of complete relaxation as you meet the guests of the Abarcrombie Bed & Breakfast, while stranded in a winter storm that insists upon you staying one night longer.
Presented in a fashion that makes the reader truly feel like a guest in the B&B itself, you are gently introduced to many of the characters that have frequented the B&B over the years all while tucked away safely inside the walls of the Abarcrombie and served a continuous flow of spectacular food and drink. The many characters you meet will show the absolute diversity of characters the house itself serves. Starting with Enzo, the man who encompasses what work ethics once truly were and ending with the author himself, giving you an inside look of his own world.
Characters gather around the table to share their stories, some much more flamboyant than others. You learn some often very well-kept secrets as the characters open up to each other, knowing that this once-in-a-lifetime moment will never happen again and they will never have to truly ever save face with any of the other guests so why not tell it all. Nothing is held back as they easily let the stories of their life and dreams flow from their lips sometimes without care as to if it’s being told properly and with taste. After all, this is the real world and their real life they’re talking about and sometimes proper things don’t really happen.
I found myself ready to shoot Randy, the very long windedman but every time I thought I was going to lose my mind he came up with yet another twist in his long but interesting story. Randy becomes the butt of a few jokes as he continues his life long history, making you somehow appreciate him as much as the guests he’s with seem to learn to do. The touching and romantic story of the innkeeper’s step-son and his newlywed wife will end the story with a smile. You will quickly appreciate their young love and determination as they work together to make the B&B a success. Laugh with Burt and sympathize with his wife as you hear about his escapades as a baseball team “owner,” realizing that truth be told, nobody could make up these stories!
Each story’s character finds a place in your heart as you cheer him on to win this race called life. Hardly a life situation seems to have been missed as the characters share their story. You’ll find a womanizer, aman, a romantic couple, an aging builder and so much more as you open the pages of this wonderfully written book. Canterbury Tales move over, you have a more modern and just as classy competitor at your tail! Kudos to Mr. , for a job well done, in his book “The Innkeeper Tales.” And did I mention the ending? Let’s just say it takes a little twist you weren’t exactly expecting!
Made in America, Sold in the Nam: A Continuing Legacy of, 2nd edition Ed.
Edited by Rick Ritter and Paul Richards
Loving Healing Press (2007)
“Made in America, Sold in the Nam” is a collection of short stories, essays, poems, reflections and quotes about the experiences of those who were directly and indirectly affected by U.S. involvement in the war in. It includes personal accounts by as well as articles on the war’s impact on and their families. It also explores how women experienced their own hell on earth during their tours in the war-ravaged country and incorporates a background on the war, explaining the historical and political context.
According to co-editor, Paul Richards, the majority of Americans have not wanted to listen to the stories of. “Most of the people in the nation spent their time trying to turn a deaf ear to the veterans, trying to forget that our country had ever been involved in such a dirty little war.” He goes on to say, “Wars are not made of heroes…Wars are made up of young men and women staring at the sky with vacant eyes, their life blood mixing with so much mud and slime.” As this statement suggests, this does not shy away from the ugly side of the war, both in the heat of and in the aftermath. It was a horrendous time that has haunted those involved and the accounts are not to be read lightly. They speak of a deadly serious subject and contain real pain and horror.
You can’t come away from this book without being emotionally affected by the content. But before you read those words and say, “Well then, that’s way too heavy for me,” and therefore decide not to pick up this book, let me say that it is through painful experiences that we sometimes learn the most. One of the messages, or common themes, that jumped out at me while reading “Made in America, Sold in the Nam” was that veterans have felt ignored and unappreciated since returning to the country they fought for.
As veteran Charley Knepple describes it in his contribution, “Nothing Left to Give: A Journal of Viet Nam,” “Worst of all, I just felt used. The way in which I was used leaves me feeling angry, confused and with a rotten self-image that I have to deal with every day. I was naïve. I didn’t know what to expect from the Army or Viet Nam. I was afraid of Nam but nearly neutral on the issue of our involvement there. In Basic Training I was indoctrinated that our victory in Viet Nam would be a noble experience and that I should want to go, thatwas my birthright as a man.” He says that was the biggest lie of all and “the indoctrination had been a veiled attempt to charge us up to do the impossible for the ungrateful.” The , pain and disillusionment of the veterans seep through the pages of this collection, “Made in America, Sold in the Nam,” in unmistakable, blunt honesty. They will no longer be ignored and discarded. They are taking their place in world history.
“Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride” may well be the best Westernyet published. Expertly paced and beautifully written, this book will be read for generations to come.
Born in a log cabin in South Dakota, the youngest of ten children, Casey Tibbs became the premierrider of his day, winning six saddle bronc titles and nine all-around titles. His saddle bronc riding success has only been matched once, never surpassed, and that was by Dan Mortensen in 1993.
The author, Rusty Richards – a cowboy, singer, and formerperformer himself – has done an excellent job of researching and interviewing scores of people who knew Casey in order to capture the essence of rodeo’s most charismatic performer. On his own from the age of fourteen, Casey rose to the top in his field. What makes Casey Tibbs stand out from so many other talented, athletes in rodeo, however, is that he dined with presidents and heads of state, directed and produced films, directed shows overseas that promoted the West and rodeo, and left a lasting legacy of a man who was generous to a fault, lived hard, loved hard, and laughed often.
Even though much of theis humorous because of Tibbs’ own outstanding sense of humor and mischievousness, the author doesn’t hide or avoid the truth of Casey’s alcohol and gambling addictions. Casey’s bouts with these predilections are understandable given his lifestyle choices. His incisive handling of his problems, however, is not only laudable, but inspiring, and shows the true grit and mettle of this unusual, charming, and enigmatic character. Overall the book is a tremendous testament to a man who is truly worth reading about.
Rodeo and Western fans will relish this biography, but whether one enjoys rodeo or not is beside the point. The man, Casey Tibbs, was simply remarkable and is worth knowing about for his merit as a kind, generous, outrageously funny, talented human being who helped make rodeo what it is today. This is a biography that inspires, amuses, saddens, and gives real meaning to determination and grit. Casey Tibbs deserves to have his story told, and Rusty Richards has done an excellent job of doing so.
Rita Hayworth was one of the most famous, beautiful, and photographed women of her generation. Rita Hayworth: Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies is 154 pages full of Rita Hayworth. It was published four years after her last movie, The Wrath of God (1972), so it represents her complete body of work.
Most of theare captured during the filming of her 61 or publicity shots to promote them. But the also includes a few cute from her youth between 1927 and 1932 before she became famous. There is also one candid of her smoking at a dinner table with Orson Welles (1943) before they got married; walking with husband Aly Khan (1952); and another with husband Dick Haymes and daughter Yasmin (1954).
Hayworth fans will recognize many of the photos from the height of her popularity in the 1940s. But they will also enjoy the shots from her early work as a young starlet in late 1930s. There are also interesting images from her less popular as a mature woman in the 1960s and 1970s.
The structure of theis a biographical summary of her early life with a few ; then it proceeds chronologically offering mini movie reviews with at least one picture from each film for the rest of her career. The ends with the complete Rita Hayworth Filmography.
You see her with the movie partners for her most famous roles. She is dancing with Fred Astaire in the two movies they did together (1941 and 1942); and standing beside Glenn Ford in Gilda (1946).