Friday, November 22, 2013

Lucky Bastards

Shared 55-years on earth with Dad. A certified Lucky Bastard, he made it without a scratch and had no stirring stories; just a few humorous musings. So, for all those 55-years I had only modest regard for his exploits and remained captivated by the on-screen derring-do of Gregory, Steve, and others in the movies.
Then, after Dad passed away I undertook a study to learn what had become of the planes he flew...he had kept a list of the tail numbers. 

In his 30-missions, 6 of the 9 planes on his list, ended up like this one, or worse. Gregory still entertains me but, Dad was the one who wrote the story for Greg...Greg just read the lines !

Nov. 27 update:  The hulk of "9 Little Yanks and a Jerk" pictured above was associated most closely with the Bloody Hundredth Hughes crew.  Bob Hughes, a well-known 100th pilot entered combat in mid-1943, participating in the notorious October 1943 Schweinfurt-Regensburg raid that became synonymous with the danger and carnage endured by Eighth Air Force airmen early in the air war.

His story merited a fairly complete telling in Martin Bowman's 1984 book, "Castles in the Sky."  He and his crew was one of the few to survive a full tour of 25-missions.  The crew photo below came from his personal collection.  Col. Hughes stayed in the Air Force after the war, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam and lived to the age of 85, passing away in 2003

 Keep 'em Flying !

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Movie, Museum & Memories

Movie, Museum & Memories
by Danny McCoy

If you grew up in Fort Worth you may be inclined to occasionally utter: fixin' to, bless your heart or Bigger than Dallas.  Our Cowtown seemed to always be in the shadows of Dallas.  In the 60s my brother and I jointly wrote a movie review column in the weekly college paper,  The Reel McCoys.  We caught the latest offbeat or independent flicks at the neighborhood movie theaters, Ridglea, Bowie and the Seventh Street Theater which was a preferred destination with Kleinschmidt Bakery and the Carnation Restaurant close by.  We would take our dates to the newest movie openings on 7th Street in Fort Worth. We attended many movies and double features at the Worth, Hollywood and Palace. For over 35 years Monroe Odom sold the Star-Telegram sitting on his canvas chair outside the Worth Hotel. After a late Saturday night movie, you could always get a fresh Star-Telgram’s Sunday edition from Monroe on your way out of the movie. When Amon Carter died he remembered Monroe in his Will with $250. Bob Schieffer who wrote for the Star-Telegram prior to CBS remembered that Monroe would sometimes come to the city desk and complain that he could not sell papers if we didn’t put better headlines on them!  On November 22, 1963, Monroe Odom finally had a headline that would sell all the papers that he could get his hand on. 

When we had writer’s block which quite often or were behind an approaching deadline, we would arrange for a quick double date for a movie in Dallas. At only 28 miles away plus $1.20 on the I-30 Toll Road we would take in a premier in Dallas. For the longest our collegiate readers thought that we really had a Hollywood connection. It was generally not known that Dallas got all the new movies first. Sometimes the same films would open a week or two later in Fort Worth.  We thought we were super cool to be the first on our campus to see and write about the newest James Bond flick.

So Dallas too had its movie row. The Tower, Melba and Majestic were all in close proximity on East Elm. The Majestic auditorium had a blue sky semi-dome ceiling with painted white clouds. After the organ music reached its coda and the lights begin to dim as the red velvet curtains were slowly opening, those of us from Cowtown who was still gazing up at the ceiling, a bit slack jaw, would also be amazed at the  many embedded lights that began to flicker as faux stars.  Yes, Dallas was bigger and brighter than Fort Worth.  In the summer of 1963 at the Tower we saw Elizabeth Taylor roll out of a Persian carpet on to the big screen as she became Cleopatra. Later in November only fourteen blocks west on Elm Street the Dallas shadow and the lights became darker.

Fifty years later we took a trip to the Sixth Floor Museum in the old Texas School Book Depository, to reflect and refresh the memories of JFK in our two hyphenated cities. Prior to his Texas trip, the young President had raised the ire of the ultra-elite  in Dallas. They had jointly determined that President Kennedy was soft on communism; moving forward with the Civil Rights Act and would soon be limiting their tax loop holes for Big Oil. This very thought infuriated Dallas Morning News Publisher, Ted Dealey; General Edward A Walker - a staunch segregationist; Nelson Bunker Hunt and even Harvey Bum Bright - oilman and future owner of the Dallas Cowboys (which may contribute to the reason so many still hate the Cowboys today). They ran a full paid negative ad on President Kennedy on page 14 of the Dallas Morning News. The Sixth Floor Museum highlights the events of those associated with the American Fact Finding Committee, the Indignant White Citizens Council, Sons of the Confederate Veterans and the John Birch Society.

And if you have made it this far, here is your free Reel McCoy Movie Review:

Parkland is now available on DVD and at Redbox. It is about JFK’s fateful weekend in Dallas. It features Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder and Billy Bob Thornton as Secret Service Agent, Forrest Sorrels. You should also recognize a familiar face known as Marcia Gay Harden in her role as an Emergency Room nurse. Parkland was made in Texas, but the Producer was Tom hanks whose son, Colin Hanks, plays one of the doctors.  See if you can spot him.  We did a fact check and the movie follows a factual thread.  Parkland is a must see prior to the JFK 50th Anniversary. 

Where were you when President Jack Kennedy was assassinated?