My new found ability to do searches on old issues of newspapers continues to reveal old skeletons in musty closets. Here's another disreputable Clark family story; this one originally told to me by a cousin who couldn't remember the dates or details. This story is from the New York Times, 31 January 1947. Virginia Clark was the wife of my grand-uncle Walter Clark, who died two years before this story broke. "The female Fagin": What's a poor widow to do?
My current newspaper search ability also helped me to make sense of my memory of an incident that happened in early 1966 when I was nine, when "Captain" Max Schumacher, in his KMPC traffic helicopter, crash landed in a Burbank vacant lot just up from my school. (See entry for 7/21, here.) It was quite the occasion. It happened around lunch time on a Monday, when we kids were playing in the schoolyard of good old Monterey Elementary School. Captain Max was able to avoid landing on top of us and instead wound up on a railroad embankment about a block away near Lockheed; we kids considered him a hero for that. Note that Burbank resident Clyde Rose, age 67, nearly got plugged by a broken rotor. I am sorry to state that Captain Max lost his life in a crash later that year, when his helicopter collided with another in the skies above Dodger Stadium.
I am also working on an article about Burbank's legendary monorail builder J.W. Fawkes. Newspaper articles from the 1890's indicate that this guy was a major nutcase - and so were his kids. I think I'll call this piece "The Fawkes Family Follies." Stay tuned; maybe I'll post it tomorrow.
My friend Robert C. Avery, Esq. has been trashing the Volkswagen Beetle on Facebook recently. Indeed, the presenters on Top Gear, in the depths of their ignorance (to use Orson Welles' phrase), also disparage the Beetle. I say Beetles are cool - always have been, always will be.
Here is why: Take one of those black or gray bulbous American sedans from a 73 minute 1947 RKO film noir (the type driven by, say, Lawrence Tierney or Steve Cochran in a getaway scene). Pass it through a German industrial design aesthetic, which is utterly unlike anyone else's in the world. Now throw in an individualistic, anti-establishment association from back in the late 1950's or early 1960's when it actually meant something, before it became corporatized by the likes of Apple and Hot Topic.
Consider that the car's development was the only worthwhile thought that Adolph Hitler ever had in his entire wretched life - and that it was transmuted into a symbol of fun and utility by American democracy. Consider the unquestioned quality of build aspects. Consider its quirky hippie culture adoption. Consider that any message you wish to put on a Bug (see image above) is heightened by the fact that it's on a Bug. Consider that the thing floated! You now have the Volkswagen Beetle. No other car - with the possible exceptions of the Ford Model T or the Willys Jeep - has such a unique pedigree. THAT is why the Volkswagen Beetle is cool for male or female and transcends any "chick car" connotation. I rest my case.
I close today's blog with a philosophical quote from the brake adjustment and maintenance section of John Muir's hippie VW Bug repair manual: "No matter what you're doing or where you are, it's important to be able to stop."
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