The Hawaii

marslogbook0001

On July 6, 1945 Mont Chumbley, one of the subjects from “River of January: Figure Eight,” trained and flew the Martin Mars. The Mars was the largest amphibious plane built by the Glenn L. Martin Company located at Middle River, Maryland. However, one month later the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki rendered deployment of the Mars to the Pacific unnecessary.

Enjoy the footage of Chum Chumbley and his crew at the helm. Thank goodness for old newsreels. Enjoy!

marstraining0001

 

Gail Chumbley is the author of the nonfiction series, “River of January,” and “River of January: Figure Eight.”

*note new blog address, chumbleg.blog

 

From “Normalcy” to “Bigly”

125926-004-f7b8e7b5

 

Looking for historic parallels to the outcome of the 2016 election, has left me thrashing about. For past comparisons, it seemed easier to piece parts from several different elections, than pin down any one year. In 1796, for example, the very thinned-skinned John Adams took office, and outraged by rising criticism coming from his own party, plus more from Jefferson’s growing opposition party, Adam’s shepherded the Alien Act that targeted immigrants. (These newcomers tended to join Mr. Jefferson’s Republican Party). On the heels of the Alien statute came the Sedition Act, that aimed to silence critics from the press. Or, decades later, Henry Clay’s horror in 1828, witnessing the meteoric rise of demagogue, Andrew Jackson, though Clay knew for certain that he alone was the smartest, and most deserving guy in the room. Another episode that fits was the seismic swing of competence in 1860 from inept James Buchanan to Lincoln’s majesty in office—only to return to incompetence with bungling Andrew Johnson in 1865. But, sifting through all these presidential races, 2016’s fiasco resembles most the election of Warren Harding in 1920.

Much upheaval predated the 1920 contest. The three previous administrations; Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson brought about an avalanche of progressive reforms. The first Roosevelt used his “bully pulpit” to preserve millions of acres of public lands, through both the National Park Service, and in designating wilderness protection. TR wielded his “Big Stick” to force mine owners to negotiate with a miner’s union in the 1902 Anthracite Coal Strike, siding with the strikers. “Teddy” further whipped on big business, especially JP Morgan’s untoward interests in the Great Northern Railroad, ultimately breaking up Morgan’s monopolistic power.

William Howard Taft, with a strong background in law, (he later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) completed the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, and busted up US Steel for good measure. But the lion share of America’s transformation came about during Woodrow Wilson’s two terms, 1912 and 1916.

The Federal Reserve Act, Federal Income Tax, Direct Election of Senators, Prohibition, and Women’s Suffrage all became law during the Wilson Administration. An advocate of good government, including more voters in the electoral process, Wilson championed political reforms, such as the secret ballot, the use of initiative, referendum, and recall, and curbing the influence of political machine bosses; all designed to strengthen democracy. Wilson’s most well-known came in 1917 when the president requested a declaration of war against Germany in 1917. He articulated to Congress that his sole aim in entering The Great War, was to “Make the World Safe for Democracy,” (export the American political system). At the end of that conflict, in 1918, Wilson drew up his visionary Fourteen Point Plan, featuring the League of Nations, a forerunner to the United Nations.

By the time the election of 1920 rolled around, the American public had had enough change. Too much had happened, too much upheaval, all too fast. And an international organization committing the US to a permanent membership found no traction with the populace. To his credit, (stubbornness?) Wilson didn’t give up on his lofty world aims. When the Senate rejected his altruistic Treaty, Wilson responded that they had “broken the world’s heart.” In that same spirit, President Wilson characterized the 1920 election a “Solemn Referendum,” on his League.

For its part, the Republican Party couldn’t agree on any candidate in 1920, when they convened in Chicago. Frontrunner, General Leonard Wood, faced fierce inter-party opponents, and after nine ballots, Ohioan, Warren Gamaliel Harding, an undistinguished, but amiable candidate emerged to gain the nomination. Republican machine handlers forbade Harding to campaign, and told him to essentially say nothing, and do so from his front porch. Considering the candidate’s singular statement using the non-word “normalcy,” staying quiet was probably good advice That following November, the power of inertia won when Harding was elected over Democrat, James Cox, a Wilson man. (a young FDR ran as Cox’s vice presidential candidate)

The Harding administration resumed their version of “normalcy” at once. Two immigration restriction laws were passed by Congress—the Quota Laws of 1921 and 1924. The message quickly spread. Italian anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty of a Boston robbery and murder, despite questionable evidence and a crooked trial. White supremacist, Madison Grant added to the intolerance with his diatribe titled, “The Passing of the Great Race,” and the Klan resumed its reign of terror targeting blacks, despite the hard work of the newly founded NAACP. (Lynching’s spiked; 110 between 1921-22).

The economy once again lapsed back to an unfettered affair, into the hands of laissez faire capitalists. The stock market began a steep rise fueled by “on-margin buying,” (10% down, the balance financed by easy credit from unregulated banks). Wall Street insiders enjoyed a field day employing shady practices that included “painting the tape,” artificially inflating stock prices to record highs, then dumping the same stocks after reaping fabulous profits. Working class investors, assuming the growth was legitimate, bought in, and were left holding the devalued stocks. That free-for-all came to a halt with the Crash of 1929.

Under Harding’s unwatchful eye, federal oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California were leased for lucrative kickbacks, to private oilman, Harry Sinclair of Stinker fame. And labor found no friend in the Harding administration, where strikes were viewed as Communist-inspired, and a minimum wage law died with the Supreme Court ruling in Adkin’s V. Children’s Hospital, (1923). Speaking of Communists, following the 1917 Russian Revolution, a Red Scare was underway and Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin vowed in the Comintern to topple Western, and American capitalism.

Today, despite his personal approval ratings, it appears that the changes brought about in the Obama years are facing a similar type of reaction. The Affordable Care Act, the Obergeffell decision upholding gay marriage, the Black Lives Matter movement, have extended the blessings of liberty to the rest of us. The President’s middle ground treaty, forged with the Iranians, has, so far, avoided any additional armed confrontation in the Middle East, that critics seem keen to nullify.

It’s unfortunate that the working poor will not see any advantage from their hopeful votes for Donald Trump. Those left behind in America’s transformation to a service economy will never realize jobs that, for economic reasons, have shipped overseas. Even if the label says Trump, it also says Made in Somewhere Else—that is the reality of 21st Century manufacturing. Moreover, a national minimum wage for those same hard working poor, looks doubtful with a quick glimpse at Trump’s plutocrat-filled cabinet. The most unfortunate outcome from the campaign, was the free use and acceptance of racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and sexist rhetoric. As before in 1920, the temperament reflected in the new administration emboldened the forces of reaction and hate.

A lot changed for America with the election of our first black president. But the message of the administration spoke of hope and forbearance. Those among us who shared this philosophy looked ahead with optimism. But if the past is a reliable guide, and I believe it is, this recent swing toward the overly male, wealthy, Caucasian, Right cannot, and never has governed well. An administration that plots a course based on exclusion, has never found measurable success. That faction owns a lot, and looks out for their interests. That guiding principle leaves out the rest of us in this roiling mass of diversity that is the real America.

Gail Chumbley is the author of the memoir series River of January and River of January: Figure Eight. Both available on Amazon and at www.river-of-january.com

 

On The Road, Again

honeymoon0001

Chum & Helen, 1936

River of January: Figure Eight Comes to Salt Lake City.

Join us Saturday, December 17th, 7pm, at Weller Book Works, Trolley Square.

LOCATION

602 S 700 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

(801) 521-9878    

Sentimental Side #2

Hope this second try makes the grade.

www.river-of-january.com

Beloved #392

“So buddy, I was wondering if you have any plans tonight,” Fred Murphy said as the Mariner throttled to the Alameda dock. “It’s nice to head over to San Francisco when the opportunity presents.”

“What did you have in mind, Murph?” asked Chum.

“Is that a yes? Because there is this place pilots really like—but it’s a kind of a surprise, and you’re gonna have to trust me.”

“You, Fred? Trust you? Should I pack my service revolver?”

“Just trust me, Chum.” Murphy smiled.

That evening, a yellow taxi crawled up the steep incline of Telegraph Hill in the drizzling rain—Coit Tower front and center in the foreground. From his vantage point in the cab, Chum studied the illuminated monument—the raindrops and the wipers making it an abstract, streaky blur one moment, a defined structure the next. Their cabbie downshifted, doubling horsepower for the uphill climb to a line of apartment buildings stacked along Montgomery Street. The taxi stopped at a plain stucco building, the simple design a contrast from the adjoining buildings with ornate wrought iron balconies. Murphy paid the cab fare.

“This doesn’t look like much of a nightclub, Fred,” Chum remarked.

“Trust, remember? Besides, this is the best place in the Bay Area for fellas like us, pal. You just wait—she’s gonna love you.”

“You know I’m married, Fred.”

“Ha! Funny, Chum. So am I.”

The men ducked under the stoop and Fred gave a quick knock on the door. After a moment, a small Asian woman opened the door. She’s smaller than Bertha, Chum thought. The maid maybe?

“Lieutenant Murphy! Welcome back, welcome back,” The woman’s smile transformed in warm recognition. “You have escorted someone new to meet me, I see. Is he as skilled as you, my dear lieutenant?” Chum felt his jaw drop. Murphy laughed.

“Hello, Mother.” Murphy stooped and pecked the woman’s cheek.

Under her wire-framed spectacles, “Mother” shifted her appraising eyes back to Chum. “Welcome to my home, Lieutenant. And you are . . . ?”

Still unsure about why he was there, Chum stumbled over his answer. “Chumbley, ma’am. Lieu . . . Lieutenant Montgomery Chumbley. But please call me Chum.”

“Delighted to meet you, Lieutenant Chum. I can see that Fred did not prepare you for this visit.” Mother’s eyes returned to Murphy, conveying a light reprimand. To Chum she said, “I am Doctor Margaret Chung, but as you have already witnessed, all my sons refer to me as ‘Mother.’ Lieutenant Murphy has brought you here tonight to not simply meet a nice Chinese lady, but—I would guess—for your formal adoption into my family. Please come in, come in.” Dr. Chung gestured down a long, cluttered hall, and the two pilots complied.

Presented with such a confusion of artifacts, it was hard to know where to look first. Framed glossies of smiling aircrews, salvaged pieces from Nakajimas and Zeros—propellers, pieces of fuselages, wings—graffiti-strewn flags bearing the distinctive rising sun, spent torpedo casings, Hellcat and Corsair unit insignias, and hundreds of news clippings and snapshots of smiling pilots . . . her walls a chaotic collage of air war memorabilia. Dr. Chung studied Chum’s incredulous face as he absorbed the massive collection, visibly pleased with his reaction.

“Please find a seat, gentlemen, and allow me to explain my haphazard museum to our guest,” Dr. Chung said. Chum slumped into a stuffed wingback chair, his eyes still sweeping the memorabilia. “As you already know, Lieutenant Chum, China is presently suffering under the cruel occupation of the Japanese Empire. You need look no further than the barbarism that took place in the city of Nanking to understand my natural revulsion.”

Chum nodded. He had seen newsreels of the butchery in that city.

Dr. Chung’s eyes reflected both tragedy and determination. “I have made it my mission to raise not only awareness but also funds for the suffering people of China. It is men like you, our skilled pilots, who are striking most directly against the foe, and that kind of bravery has made you one of my dearest sons.”

Dr. Chung dropped her gaze and reached over to an end table, picking up a leather-bound ledger. She shuffled through the pages, passing inscribed signatures, finally chancing on a blank space. Holding her fountain pen, Mother began scribbling into the register. “There—done.” She glanced at Chum. “You, Lieutenant Chum, are now officially a member of the Fair Haired Bastards. Ah, let me see”—Dr. Chung silently calculated—“you are son number three hundred and ninety-two.”

She extracted a small card from a drawer in the end table and carefully filled in the blank lines. Finished, the surgeon rose and, with a handshake, presented the card to her new visitor. Chum read:

This is to certify that

Montgomery Chumbley

Is a member of Dr. Margaret Chung’s Fair Haired Bastard’s Club, San Francisco

                                                                                         Margaret J. Chung MD

Her intense eyes softened, her smile gentled. “Remain safe in those dangerous skies, Lieutenant Chum. I don’t want to lose any more of my sons.”

Chum glimpsed over to his co-pilot, then back to his exceptional hostess, grappling for something to say. “Thank you, ma’am. This is an unexpected honor, and I will do my best to defeat our enemy.”

At that, Dr. Chung beamed, offering the boys a beer. More relaxed, the doctor inquired about their aircraft, their primary duties, and what they had seen of the fighting.

“Doctor Chung, ma’am,” Chum said, still inspecting the cluttered walls. “I just have to ask. Who is Fair Haired Number One?

“Ah.” She nodded, producing a wry smile. “An excellent pilot, and he’s from this area—from San Francisco. You may know him, Lieutenant Chum. His name is Lieutenant Bancroft, Stevens Bancroft.”

Of course he is. Chum threw his head back and laughed. “Oh yes, I know him, ma’am.

stevechung0001

River of January: Figure Eight is available on Amazon.com and at www.river-of-january.com

December 7, 1941

Please join us next Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at the Boise Public Library for the release of the long awaited sequel to “River of January,”  “River of January: Figure Eight.”

 Adjusting to marriage, with fears of a fast approaching war, Chum and Helen look to their future with uncertainty.

Boise Public Library, 715 South Capitol Blvd.

3rd Floor, 7PM

Both volumes make for wonderful yuletide gifts.