Entertaining Myself outside the US Embassy

Sunday, July 03, 2011

One nice thing about the hobbies of entomology and botany is that they can be indulged almost anywhere.  These two weeks I have been traveling in Brazil.  We’ve had many little adventures, but our big one was a road trip to the US embassy in Brasilia to register the citizenship of my youngest grandson.  The three-hour drive is pretty, but we arrived late by approximately the same amount of time it takes to clean up after a car-sick three-year-old.  Then, the embassy security personnel considered it excessive that the registration of one infant should require the admission of seven people, even if each of the siblings, parents, and grandparents carried US passports.  My son—very good in a crisis—managed to negotiate for six, but the guards insisted that a line had to be drawn, and I found myself left outside as the rest of my family went in.  Thus it was that I enjoyed about 90 minutes exploring the landscaped area in front of the US and French embassies and a patch of weeds that surrounded a construction site. 

The city of Brasilia is younger than I am.  It was not laid out until 1956, by which time I was in 1st grade.  The idea was to encourage the development of Brazil’s interior by placing a new capital smack in the middle of undeveloped territory.  Today, the metropolitan area boasts over three million people, but its recent agrarian past was evident in the Brachiaria that dominated all of the non-landscaped areas.  This part of Brazil was largely settled by immigrants from Germany and Italy, but the Brachiaria came from Africa.  Brought in as high-protein forage for cattle, it has pushed out the native flora.
As is often the case, the field of Brachiaria had also become home to several hills of leaf-cutter ants, probably Atta cephalotes.  I found a column of these ants moving up and down a young mango tree, but they weren’t moving any cargo.  I have seen them, overnight, strip the leaves from a bigger tree than this one, but perhaps these workers, like me, were simply out for a late-afternoon stroll while the rest of the family did something inside the embassy.

Several kinds of butterflies flitted about the Brachiaria.  The sun was too low and the individuals too skittish for me to get many pictures, but one black and white skipper sat still while I manipulated my lens within about five inches.  After several days of research I am convinced it is the Tropical Checkered Skipper, Pyrgus oileus (sometimes seen as P. orcus), on a Lilac Tasselflower, Emilia sonchifolia.  The P. oileus caterpillar feeds on Malvaceae (like cotton or mallow), but the adult likes the nectar of Compositae, like this Emilia (an immigrant from either Africa or South East Asia).

Next I investigated a long wall heavily colonized by the Brown Widow Spider, Latrodectus geometricus.  Each of the females rested under a little awning; so that I wasn’t sure what I had I dislodged one.  The one male I saw rested out front in a web more condensed and full of trash than the Black Widows we have in California.  The egg sac is also distinct, covered with little bumps.  I captured one female to use later for studio portraits.

The landscaped areas in front of the embassy have several short palm trees.  I gave each some careful inspection, in hopes of finding a jumping spider, but instead I found this wasp nest.  It was now late enough that the wasps—possibly yellowjackets—were inside for the night.  I was happy to leave them there.  I photographed the nest from several angles, which prompted a visit from the embassy security guard, who reminded me politely that I was not to point my camera at the embassy itself. 

I moved on to a tree that offered peeling bark and found my jumping spider.  It was probably an immature Menemerus bivittatus, the Gray Wall Jumper, a pantropical species I have seen in several countries.  Later, on a dead tree, I pulled back some bark and had an adult disappear into the grass before I could get a good look at her, but from a small nest I began to see hatchlings escaping.  I suspect these were also M. bivittatus, and added a couple to my collection for later filming.
About this time my family reappeared, my grandson registered in time to celebrate his first 4th of July.  However, before we left Brasilia, we took a drive through the downtown, including a pass around three sides of the congressional building (Palacio do Congress) and one corner of the presidential office (Palacio do Planalto), the supreme court, and the national cathedral.  That’s the nice thing about having travel as a hobby, it can be indulged almost anywhere.

Open-air Arthropodarium on a Charlotte Corday

Saturday, June 25, 2011

School is out, so it's catch-up time here at Capers. All the thoughts and observations that I've carried around since things accelerated in March can finally find a place to land.

In the few minutes I could snatch here or there over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been enjoying a hedge of passion vines and grapes that I started last summer. Over the winter, I covered (and saved) some of the passion vines with clear plastic, and learned a lesson from what I never got covered. A freeze came on suddenly just before Thanksgiving. Then the winter turned mild but wet. The rains continued longer than I can ever remember. I covered a length of about 16 feet (8 to 10 feet high), but I never quite got the plastic as far as the P. amethyst. It survived the worst cold and still had green on it until almost the end March, but then it died. I have since read that some prefer dry ground when it is cold. I replaced the dead one as soon as Lowes put the spring vines out, and next winter I will cover it.

The section I protected included the bright red P. vitafolia, the maracuya-bearing P. frederick, and what the big-box home-improvement center had labeled as P. victoria (which is lavender), but turns out to be one of the whites, either ‘Charlotte Corday,’ or ‘Constance Elliott.’ Until someone corrects me, I will go with the former, named for the ‘Angel of Assassination’ who went to the guillotine for stabbing-to-death Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat in his bath-tub. She hoped it would end the Reign of Terror. In actuality, it turned them each into martyrs, one for each side, but among Reign-of-Terror floral remembrances, this flower stands out as perhaps the most delicate. As a history teacher, it’s hard to imagine planting anything in my yard with more history than that.

The white one has been blooming for a couple of months, and has set dozens of fruit. The vitafolia and frederick just began blooming last week. The primary pollinators for passion flowers are bumble bees. In our area, that’s the Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa veripuncta. I see them mainly in the late afternoon, most often two of the black females, and occasionally a single tan-orange male. He seems mostly to be checking things out, and I don’t see him land anywhere. They don’t seem to mind either me or the camera, and when the females are intent on a flower, they let me approach within four or five inches.The bees are just the right height to brush under the five overhanging anthers, picking up pollen on their backs, and carrying it to deposit against the three stigmas. They seem to prefer the whites, visit the frederick only after several visits to each of the available white blossoms, and show no interest at all in the vitafolia.I first encountered an insectarium at the Berlin zoo, misnamed though, because it housed and displayed both insects (I saw my first walking stick) and spiders (I saw my first Argiope). Spiders are not insects, but both are arthropods. A better name for such a display therefore is "arthropodarium."

In early June, I began seeing a California Hairstreak Satyrium.

A week later, the first Gulf Fritillary arrived.

The Argentine Ant tends to dominate my yard, but so far I have not seen them tending herds of scale insects.

So far, I have seen four species of spiders in my hedge.

Holocnemus pluchei immigrated into our area in the 1970s, but now is ubiquitous.

Cheiracanthium mildei needed no introduction: It was already everywhere.

Of the spiders that show up as hedge residents, my two favorites are jumping spiders (family Salticidae). The male Thiodina hespera took exception to being photographed, but I will have the rest of the summer to get a clearer picture. This was the species that first attracted my attention and launched my interest in spiders, some 37 years ago, so we are old friends. Back then, using my first set of close-up lenses, I took my first spider pictures and sent them off to a scholar studying this genus. In those days, the species had no name, and I heard recently that the specialist considered naming the species after me. I don't think my little investigations would have justified that, but it helps explain why I consider this Thiodina almost a member of the family.

The second jumping spider was a female Sassacus vitis. She appeared just after a microscope I had ordered arrived in the mail. She thereby won the right to be my first subject under the new apparatus. On a leaf, her iridescent scales would catch the sun and cast a glint of golden bronze. She is loose again on my hedge, and I will try again to catch a picture of that glint.

The summer and my hedge are still young. I will be traveling some, and trying to write for a portion of each day. But my microscope is brand new, my arthropodarium is just beginning, and school doesn't start for another eight weeks. Life is sweet.

Heaven is for Real (and Takes Visitors)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This post reviewed the book Heaven Is for Real, by Todd Burpo. I have removed it for for reconsideration.

Posted by Brian at 7:30 PM 1 comments  

The Back of Duke Snider's Head

Monday, February 28, 2011

The report today of Duke Snider’s passing brings two small memories to mind, though most of his Hall-of-Fame career (1947-1964) was before my time and on the other side of the continent.
My Time with baseball started in 1959, the Dodgers’ second year out of Brooklyn. My Cub Scout den drove downtown to the Coliseum to watch the Dodgers host Cincinnati. I would have been nine, and I’m not even sure Snider played. I remember Pee Wee Reese, Wally Moon, and Gil Hodges. It was still the core of the team that had come from back east, and Snider was one of its most fabled players, but I hadn’t yet caught the fever. We sat in way-yonder center field seats where Snider would have been the nearest player in front of us, so maybe I spent nine innings staring at the back of his head. However, my two strongest memories are how far from the game we actually were, and how fast the Reds’ Vada Pinson could run from home to first on a single.

I didn’t really become a baseball fan until the Kaufax-Drysdale-Wills teams of the mid-60s. By then, the Dodgers had moved from the Coliseum to their own stadium, and Snider had moved to the Mets, Giants, and retirement. It was then I finally saw the Duke up close.

Off-season, Snider made his home in Fallbrook, California, rooted for the local high school athletic teams, farmed avocados, and attended the Methodist church. My own family had tried weekend avocado ranching near Fallbrook. My cousins attended high school there, and played baseball. They also attended the Methodist church, and I heard frequent mention of Duke Snider.

One Sunday, we made the trip to the Fallbrook church. My mother’s favorite, but long-retired pastor was making a guest appearance. As I took a seat, my cousin pointed at the man in front of me. “That’s Duke Snider,” he whispered. I spent the next hour looking at the back of the great man’s head. Afterwards, Snider got up and left and my mother pulled me up front to show me off to her pastor.

There you have it: a baseball great passes on to the ages and my two strongest memories are of the back of his head. Rest In Peace, Duke.

For another discussion of the Dodgers, go here.

Forty-Eight Generations and a Birth Announcement

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Somewhere in the deep recesses of history, God told man to be fruitful and multiply: to fill the earth.

In the early 6th Century, when Bishop (later, Saint) Arnulf of Metz (582–640) stepped into verifiable history, claiming a possibly-mythical ancestry of Roman senators and Merovingian princesses, the population of Europe stood at perhaps 25 million. Arnulf begat Ansegisel (born c. 602), who begat Pippin the Middle, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, who begat Charles Martel, who saved Christendom from the Moors at Tours, in 732. Charles begat Pepin the Short, who reigned (752-68) as King of the Franks.

Pepin begat Charlemagne, King of the Franks from 768, and Emperor of the Romans, from 800 to his death. For his reforms, Charlemagne has been called the Father of Europe, but he was also, biologically, ancestor to every royal dynasty that later inhabited the continent. It is estimated that more than half the population of Europe—maybe fifteen million people—lived in his realms. He personally sired 20 children, by eight women, but conservatively, if we suppose that his progeny only doubled in each successive generation, had there been no intermarriage, his living descendents today would be triple the current population of earth.

Charlemagne begat Louis the Pious (778 – 840), King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, whose daughter Gisela (820 – 874) was likely married to Henry of Franconia and bore Ingeltrude, whose a son Berengar ruled as lord of Rennes until both his land and his daughter were captured by the Viking chieftain Rollo (Old Norse, Hrólfr, c. 870 – c. 932). Poppa converted her husband to Christianity (though Viking habits die hard), and their descendents were known as the Dukes of Normandy: William I Longsword (893-942) begat Richard I the Fearless (933-996), who begat Richard II the Good (970-1026), who begat Richard III (997-1027), who begat Robert I, called variously “the Magnificent” or “the Devil” (1000-1035), who begat William II the Bastard (c. 1028-1087), who shed that moniker at the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, becoming William I the Conqueror, King of the English.

England, with perhaps a million souls at the conquest, grew to as many as seven million within three centuries. A warming trend brought longer growing seasons. Better ploughs and the horse collar allowed more land to be farmed. The rise of powerful kingdoms brought relative stability.

William begat Henry I (c. 1068-1135), whose daughter Matilda (1102-1167) was briefly Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. When her father died, she attempted to rule England in her own right, but was more successful in passing the throne to her son Henry II Plantagenet (1133-1189).

Henry acknowledged paternity of William Longespee (1176-1226), whose daughter Ida (1210-1269) bore Beatrice de Beauchamp (1242-1285), who bore Maud Fitz Thomas (1265- 1329), who bore Ada de Botetourt (c. 1288-1349), who bore Maud de St Philibert (1327-1360). Even while the Black Plague was ravaging Europe, claiming 40% of the population of Germany, 50% of Provence, and 70% of Tuscany, this Maud bore Maud Trussell (1340-1369), who bore Maud Matilda Hastang (1358-c. 1409), each woman married to a knight. Maud and her husband, Sir Ralph (1355-1410) brought forth the first Sir Humphrey Stafford (1384-1419), whose death in France just weeks after the victory at Rouen may have been due to wounds in the battle, but not before he sired a second Sir Humphrey (1400-1450), who sired a third (1426-1486), who sired a fourth (1429-1486), who sired a fifth (1497-1540), whose daughter Eleanor (c. 1545-1608) bore Stafford Barlowe (c. 1570-1638), “a Gentleman of Lutterworth.”

Stafford’s daughter Audrey (1603-1676) first bore a son, Christopher Almy (1632-1713), and then both generations migrated to America, settling in Rhode Island. He begat Elizabeth Almy (1663-1712), who bore Rebecca Morris (1697-1749), who married John Chamberlain, and moved to New Jersey. It is believed the Chamberlains owned slaves. Their son Noah (1760-1840) served in the Revolutionary War.

Noah begat John C. Chamberlain (1812-1866), who begat Samuel L. Chamberlain (1842-1914), who fought with an Ohio regiment in the Civil War, and then walked out on a wife and daughter, Anna Margaret Chamberlain (1875-1956), who I remember meeting once, when I was very small. Anna hailed from Scotch ancestry. The population of Europe doubled during the 18th Century, and did so again in the 19th. At that time, 70 million people came to America, both to the United States, and to places like Brazil.

Anna Chamberlain married Thomas Boyer Reef Kelley and bore Ruth Ella Kelley (1899-1974). They tried to make a go of it on the Dakota prairie, but gave up and moved to be near the shipyards in Washington. Ruth married Howard Vincent Carroll (b. New York, 1898). He was of recent Irish and German extraction, refugees of the Potato Famine. Today, 6.2 million Irish live in Ireland, and 80 million live somewhere else. Howard left Ruth with two sons, including Donald, who has been everything a son could want in a father. Donald begat Brian, who teaches school and blogs on Saturdays. Brian begat Matthew, who has been everything a father could want in a son, and Matthew—already with two wonderful sons—begat Eliezer Carroll, who was born yesterday, in Goiania, Goiás, Brazil.

Welcome, Eliezer, to the family. We are saints and devils, counts and no-counts. There are not quite 7 billion of us. Help take care of the place, be fruitful, and live long.

Photo by his father
Thank-yous to Sally Carroll, Devin Carroll, and Wikipedia for contributing information to these thoughts.

Back to Normalcy after a Rabbit Firestorm: Anatomy of a Capers Chūnyùn

Saturday, February 05, 2011

World-wide, Chinese New Year is celebrated by Spring Festival and Chūnyùn (春运), the greatest annual migration on earth. In 2008, the 1.3 billion Chinese took 2.2 billion train trips within the 40 day travel window. The celebrations include feasting, fireworks, dragons dancing in the streets, and time with family and friends. Apparently, also, they google the phrase Xin nian kuai le.

I know this last detail because over the past six weeks, this blog has been celebrating its fourth annual Capers Virtual Chūnyùn. I began seeing traffic pick up in mid December, helping to make that my most-visited month ever. Traffic continued steady through January and then spiked on Saturday the 29th. For the first time in the blog's six year history, page views topped 1,000. All by itself, Wednesday—Chinese New Year—brought 429. Five days into February, its totals now exceed all of January. Just four days this week, Monday through Thursday, out-performed the whole four month period, April to July.

Credit Google.

I'm assuming the vast majority of my traffic came from overseas Chinese. This past month, if Sweden’s nearly 13,000 Chinese expatriates went to google.com.se and searched for Xin nian kuai le, they got 272 000 results, of which my 2008 New Year’s greeting was listed 2nd. The United Arab Emirate’s 180,000 Chinese found me 3rd, and sent me 29 hits. Also at 2nd, Singapore’s 3.6 million found me 300 times. Myanmar’s million-plus found my 2008 message 4th and December 2010 update 5th. They made 139 visits. The UK’s 400,000 Chinese clicked on me 111 times. None of my visitors clicked in from China itself, but there, “新年快乐”would be far likelier to get lost in the crowd than would Xin Nian Kuai Le in the Diaspora. That and 2010 saw Google and China tangle, with a reduction of Google’s presence.

When all these numbers began to develop, my first reaction was awe over the chance popularity of an almost-throw-away post from three years ago. It struck me as random and surreal. Then, as I studied the source locations, I was transported back forty years, to a time in my life before marriage into a Spanish-speaking family, nine years living in Colombia, and 20 years teaching recent immigrants from Mexico. My focus on Latin America and its immigrants had interrupted an earlier interest.

I mentioned in my recent post on Fred Korematsu Day that I took at class at Pasadena City College called Sociology of the Asian in America. I took it because, even in high school, I had an interest in immigration and the mixing of cultures. Over the course of completing a history major, whatever class I might be taking, I wrote about Asian immigration into the Western world. I wrote about Japanese in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, and Brazil, and especially, I wrote about the Chinese in Europe. During three quarters of independent study at UCLA, I wrote what I believe was the longest treatment of the Chinese in France that then existed in English (it has since been surpassed).

As blog hits came in from Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, and Sweden, I was once again looking at the Chinese in Europe, and a Diasphora that now includes places like Dubai and Nairobi (I showed up 4th at Google Kenya).

I’m not sure yet what conclusions to draw, but I find myself thinking again on this subject after many years away from it. I am also beginning to read When a Billion Chinese Jump, by Jonathan Watts. Stay tuned. My thoughts in this Year of the Rabbit may turn increasingly to China, and its Diasphora. Watts’ premise is that any race to stave off global warming and worldwide ecological disaster will be won or lost in mainland China. The same may be true in a wide variety of human activities. I am fortunate to have friends both inside and outside of China, and about two months of Chinese travel experience. That doesn’t rank me yet as an expert, but it gives me a place to start.

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Chūnyùn. On the Chinese Diasphora, and the Chinese in Europe.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The link above is an “affiliate link.” This means if someone clicks on the link and purchases the item, I will receive a commission. This has never happened yet, and would only be a pittance if it did. For this reason, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Civil Fred Korematsu Day, to You and Yours

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tomorrow will be Fred Korematsu Day, as will January 30th in all future years, declared so by Governor Schwarzenegger and the unanimous desire of both houses of the California Legislature. Parallel days in Oregon or Washington might honor Minoru Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi. In my own mind, it will be Jiro Morita Day, and by extension—like a Rosa Parks Day or a César Chavez Day—it will be a time to reflect on how citizens in a supposedly civil society can respond at those moments when civility is in jeopardy.

While I was growing up, each of my parents spoke of the pain and confusion they felt in 1942 when their Nisei classmates were sent away to government “Relocation Camps.” Later, while I was taking a year of Japanese language at Pasadena City College, the school offered “Sociology of the Asian in America.” The course might qualify among the ethnic studies courses that have just been outlawed by the state of Arizona, but I look back upon it as one of the most fruitful classes I ever took. Three hours one night a week, with a 20 minute break, I quickly began spending those twenty minutes—and the walk to the parking lot after class—with Jiro Morita. At 80, he told me he was taking the class “to stay young.”

I spent every possible moment asking about his long life.

In early 1942, when the United States government was preparing to lock up the entire Japanese community on the west coast, the Japanese themselves worked through intense debate over how to respond. Poet Amy Uyematsu, Mr. Morita’s granddaughter, writes,

Grandpa was good at persuading the others
after the official evacuation orders.
Detained at Tulare Assembly Center,
he was the voice of reason among his angry friends,
raising everyone’s spirits
when he started the morning exercise class.

(From “Desert Camouflage,” in Stone Bow Prayer)

Most of the
issei (1st generation immigrants) and nisei (2nd generation/US citizens) decided that obedience to the government’s order would offer their best long-term hope for full integration into American society. Three American-born young men, however, decided to test their 14th Amendment rights and protections. Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui performed that most-American of exercises: they took it to court.

Korematsu (1919 – 2005), born in Oakland, first tried plastic surgery and a name change to evade the order for Japanese to report for relocation. When that failed, he agreed to let his arrest be used as a test case. Korematsu remained at the Topaz, Utah, internment camp while
Korematsu v. United States worked its way to the Supreme Court. They decided against him, 6-3.

Although Korematsu was an unskilled laborer, both Hirabayashi (b. 1918, in Seattle) and Yasui (1916-1986, of Hood River) had earned bachelors degrees from their state universities. Yasui even held a law degree and the rank of second lieutenant in the U.S. Army's Infantry Reserve. The relocation order was preceded by curfews, which each man intentionally violated before surrendering to authorities. Eventually the Supreme Court linked the two cases and rendered a unanimous decision: The government had the authority to order detention and relocation of even U.S. citizens under its war powers. Korematsu’s conviction was not overturned until 1983, Yasui’s until 1986, and Hirabayashi’s until 1987.


In the early 1970’s, I had a brief, chance meeting with Gordon Hirabayashi. During my two years at UCLA, I studied additional Japanese language and a year each of Japanese and Chinese history. I also volunteered as an ESL tutor at Castelar Elementary School (L.A. Chinatown), and as a summer counselor for an Asian session of Unicamp. This took me often into the Asian American Study Center, where Elsie Osajima, Mr. Morita’s daughter, was an administrative assistant. Once, when I entered Mrs. Osajima’s office on some errand, I found several people chatting with Mr. Hirabayashi. It was very like a similar meeting, during the same months, and no more than 500 yards apart, with former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren. In each case, I knew it was a rare privilege to connect with an important moment in history, and yet the situation didn’t allow for me to ask questions. On the spur of the moment, I couldn’t even think of any.

However, the two meetings provide an interesting juxtaposition. Earl Warren, as Attorney General of California, was the driving force behind convincing President Roosevelt of the necessity for removing the Japanese from their homes and communities. The same Warren Court (1954-1969) that did so much to advance civil rights in so many other areas also could have been the court to reverse
Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui. It didn’t. What my parents identified immediately as wrong when their high school chums were hauled away in 1942, the federal courts only caught up with in the 1980’s. Then, California recognition had to wait until 2011.

If there is a lesson in Earl Warren’s life, it is that for any community, prejudice is easiest to see from outside the area, or outside the era. Warren could see the prejudice against African Americans in the South, yet at the same time, he was either blind to, or unwilling to face prejudice against the Japanese in California. This brings us back to Arizona, today, and the efforts to redefine citizenship. Fred Korematsu looked back on his own case and pursued justice an a reversal of the court's decision, not for his own sake, but so that the United States could be counted on to give the 14th Amendment guarantees to every person ever born or naturalized in the United States, and in whichever state they might reside.

May it ever be so.

As I prepared this post, the miracle of Google allowed me to connect with Amy Uyematsu and Elsie Osajima. I intend soon to write more about Jiro Morita. He was an amazing man.

In the meantime, enjoy a civil Fred Korematsu Day. Pick an injustice, and ponder how to alleviate it.

September 13, 2012 update: The Morita family recently posted a selection of photographs, of which this picture most resembles Mr. Morita as I knew him.  It was taken on Reiko's and Jiro's 50th wedding anniversary, about two years before I knew him.

Additional Resources:
Korematsu v. United StatesHirabayashi v. United States
Yasui v. United States
Ex Parte Endo

In this PBS video, Mr. Korematsu tells his own story.

This book targets readers from 3rd to 6th grades.

This book targets grades 7 through 10. Although it appears to be out of print, used copies may be available. Perhaps, now that California has an annual Fred Korematsu Day, it will be reprinted.

Gordon Hirabayashi - On the Day of Remembrance: A Statement of Conscience
In this nearly-two-hour from 2000, Gordon Hirabayashi discusses the Japanese Evacuation and its importance to history.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The Amazon links above are “affiliate links.” This means if someone clicks on the link and purchases the item, I will receive a commission. This has never happened to me as of today, and would only be a pittance if it did. I have no financial arrangement concerning any of the other materials I have linked with. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

DC-3 Nostalgia Follow-Up

Monday, January 24, 2011

Last month’s Capers tribute to the DC-3 became part of a conversation, both here and on Facebook, that included several of my former students and a couple of students who graduated from Lomalinda before my time.

Garth Harms obtained this picture from photographer Jeff Evans, who spent a couple of months in Colombia just before I got there. That dates the picture to late ’83 or early ’84.

Photo by Jeff Evans

It’s authentic, right down to the left-wheel and rear-wheel ruts where the plane pivoted to put its passenger door facing the covered waiting area. The entire community was here to receive my family when we stepped off the plane the first time, and in turn, we joined the crowd for countless welcomings and goodbyes. Departures had a ritual: after final hugs, the doors closed but the waving continued. Then the engines would rev (first one side, then the other) and well wishers would jump on motor cycles for a race to the last hill at the end of the runway, for final salutes as the gooney bird lifted off. This airplane was central to so many emotional moments that just looking at the picture—all these years later—touches a nerve.

One educational advantage that students in Lomalinda enjoyed was an unusual opportunity for work experience during high school. Kirk Garreans tells me he had the privilege of working alongside the DC-3 crew. Through his connections, he also came up with the fact that DC-3s continue to be active in the relief efforts in Haiti. Ponder that a moment: the
youngest DC-3s are 65 years old, and still play a role in work-a-day aviation. Amazing.

Kirk also traced “our” DC-3 to its current owners, Dynamic Aviation, of Bridgewater, Virginia. The firm supplies “special-mission aviation solutions,” with over 150 aircraft doing commercial charter, fire management, sterile insect application, airborne data acquisition and other tasks. Before writing my first post, I was 90% certain I’d found the airplane, but Kirk’s information locked it. Dynamic Aviation restored the craft (N47E) to its original, 1943, Air Force paint job and insignia, and renamed it “Miss Virginia.” Here it is:

Finally, Kirk reported that Miss Virginia was part of the twenty-six plane, 75th Anniversary Fly-In to Oshkosh. Several nice videos are posted on You-Tube. Here is one:

A tip of the wings to all who participated in this conversation.

(My earlier post is here.)