One of the more satisfying moments researching “River of January.”
Piecing this story together didn’t come easily. Though I have had the benefit of volumes of letters, telegrams, and pictures, among other sources, I still have struggled to get the story right. The picture posted today provides an example of the most exciting finds I’ve made, but still shrouded with some doubt.
The girl in the center, in front of the Waco airplane, is Francis Marsalis Harrell. From Chum’s thick scrapbook and an interview I conducted with him, I know her to have been his girlfriend. They dated for a about a year after he left the Navy, and I believe he cared deeply for this young lady. What brought me to that conclusion was piecework and conjecture. First, during my interview sessions with Chum he lightly mentioned that his girlfriend used to time his trips into Manhattan from Long Island, but only when he drove female flight students into…
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