Thursday, June 4, 2020

Collings Foundation "Wings of Freedom" Tour on Hold Across America for 2020: Pandemic Not to Blame

At left is a photo of me with the "Witchcraft," a B-24 in which I won a ride last year.  Owned by the Collings Foundation is has been part of their "Wings of Freedom Tour" for many years.

Below, is a photo I took that same day of the "Nine-O-Nine" a B-17 that was also part of the tour. It was destroyed in a crash just a few months later.

In the spring on 2019, I won a ride in a B-24 from World War II. The iconic bomber was part of the Collings Foundation's "Wings of Freedom Tour." And though I admit I was apprehensive about flying in an aircraft that was older than I, as a reporter I felt I ought to do it.

There is more to the story, of course. I did not fly in the B-17 that day and I have no idea why, as I was told I could fly in any of the bombers and the B-17 "Flying Fortress" is arguably the most famous. Just a few months later, that same aircraft crashed in Connecticut, killing seven people and injuring seven others. The crash has left a lot of devastation in its wake. Click the link to read my column on the story:

Lost Photo of Bing Crosby Uncovered After Sixty Years

Oscar winner Big Crosby poses, circa 1961, with a plaque created for him by the 
City of Los Altos, California. The photo is signed by Bing and appears to have suffered damage (to his nose and hand) from being left on the floor of a tool closet at a local community center. 
Photo courtesy of Jim Shattock.

Los Altos, California, is a small town on the San Francisco Peninsula, between San Francisco and San Jose. Since I uncovered a connection between singer-actor Bing Crosby and Los Altos--my hometown--I've been reading a lot about this very talented man, who was one of the most famous men of the 20th century. 

My first article about him prompted a call from another Los Altos native, who had some new information. Being a historian is a lot like being a detective. Click the link, for my article in the Los Altos Town Crier for more on Bing, his philanthropy, and what the photo (above) has to do with all of this.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Crooner Bing Crosby & His Connection to a California Town

  A recent book about Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby claims he was color blind. That suit and tie he has on in this studio photo suggests he at least enjoyed mixing lively patterns. The headline above is from the January 12, 1961, "Los Altos News."

In a book published by the "Los Altos Town Crier" at the turn of the 21st Century, I noticed one sentence in a timeline at the back: "Bing Crosby pledges $10,000 to new Los Altos Youth Center." Though I spotted the phrase several years ago and didn't research it right away, I promised myself I would look into it one day.  

When I finally did so, the tale turned out to be just what I love: it was forgotten history with a twist. Here's the link the my recent article about this in my column in the Los Altos Town Crier: 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Silicon Valley Celebrates 1939 at Historic Palo Alto Theater

Any film festival that includes "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is something worth considering.

If you would like a chance to step out of today and look at how the movies viewed our world eighty years ago, here is your chance to step into a Time Machine and whisk yourself away. A classic theater showing classic films is a wonderful place to find respite from the troubles of today.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Origin of Alfred Hitchock's Classic Movie "The Birds"

Alfred Hitchcock in a vintage postcard promoting his 1963 film "The Birds."
Because of his television show (1955-1965), he became at least as famous as the stars of his movies.

Most fans of classic films love Alfred Hitchcock, and I am certainly among them. I do think he's a tad too corny at times. But I suppose corny can be a relief from the really scary things he does to us. The movie "Psycho," for example, is one of my favorite films. I don't want to like it: but each time it is on television, I can't seem to look away. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Flying at Moffett (NUQ) with POTUS, Dad and Navy

My father and I at Moffett Field in 1987, 
getting ready for the only civil aviation flight I took with him.

Sometimes a single photograph in our lives will remind us of a tale about a day that had a sweetness to it. Glancing through an album in recent days, I came across the picture (above) taken on the only day I ever flew in a plane in which my father was the pilot. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Rediscovering a Chinese-American Success Story: The Legacy of Thomas Foon Chew of Bay Side Cannery

Bay Side canned its products under at least seven different labels, something new we've learned since publication of Historic Bay Area Visionaries last October. 

At left, a portrait of a young Thomas Foon Chew who became a millionaire with his Bay Side Canning Company

When I published Historic Bay Area Visionaries (History Press 2018) last fall, I included a chapter about Thomas Foon Chew, whose story was well known during the early 20th century in the San Francisco Bay Area, but had almost been lost by the time I published my book. Historians new about it, most of the general public did not.

Since the book's publication, I've enjoying following the trail of new information relating to this improbable Chinese-American success story. Foon came to American from China at the age of 8 in 1897. A few years later, with his father, Sai Yen Chew, he founded Bay Side Canning Company, and became a multi-millionaire.