From the Book

Animal Crackers In My Soup – Shirley Temple

We will miss you Shirley Temple.

Here is an excerpt from The Whole Nine Yards…

Our mom loved Shirley Temple movies. When the new one, Animal Crackers, came out, my brother decided to take Mom to see it at the movie house in Midland, about thirty miles from Beaverton. My sister and I rode along in the rumble seat. The weather was good, and we had a smooth trip to and from the theater.

Animal crackers in my soup
Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop
Gosh oh gee but I have fun
Swallowing animals one by one
In every bowl of soup I see
Lions and Tigers watching me
I make ‘em jump right through a hoop
Those animal crackers in my soup
When I get hold of the big bad wolf
I just push him under to drown
Then I bite him in a million bits
And I gobble him right down
When they’re inside me where it’s dark
I walk around like Noah’s Ark
I stuff my tummy like a goop
With animal crackers in my soup…

Lyrics/Music T.Koehler & I.Caesar/R.Henderson

The three of us kids were pleased that my mom enjoyed the movie so much. For days afterward, she would hum or sing the title song, “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” as she worked around the house.

Jan. 23, 1943

Dear Naomi:

I can’t remember when I last wrote you or can’t remember when I last heard from you, because I have been moving about the world so much lately my mail has not caught up with me. I have not heard from home for two months or since we left England. We are now in the Middle East & have seen quite a lot of the desert, sand storms, scarcity of water, etc.

I really have been getting plenty of flying time down here. On some occasions or some weeks, I got or flew 40 hours & got shot at every time. Our flights are from 10 to 12 hours long & are plenty tough without having to worry about the “Jerry” but I guess we will make it now, have come this far along with a few close ones, so I guess will make it the rest of the way.

I believe I am credited with about 18 missions & got shot at every time, always from the ground & most of the time by pursuit ships. The flak looks like little puffs of smoke & seem to explode all around one’s ship, but never seem to actually shoot us down. I have picked up a lot of holes in my ship, had gasoline leaks, but never really got me, although this ship I have now is the third one I have flown over the target. The first one is being repaired by a major depot; the second one a total loss whereby some of the fellows were not so lucky as I & this ship. I have been plenty lucky, have not even picked up a hole & have gone on 10 or 11 raids with it. We have had several attacks by personal ships. They come in so close we can see what the guy looks like & can definitely see the big black German cross on the ship. They also really spit fire. The last time out, they sent tracer bullets just across our nose. Sometimes they are sorry for coming in because I have seen a few go down in flames. I also have seen one or two of our own ships go down which always takes the heart out of a guy. The raids here over Suisse, Tunis, Bizerte, Tripoli, etc. are not as tough as the ones we went on over Lille, St. Nazaire, Brest, Lorient, which are in France. Thank God for that.

On one night raid we went on alone over Suisse, we got lost coming back because of bad weather & wind shift and ended up over near Greece. We headed due south from there and got to an airport in Africa with only a few hours of gasoline left. The field was occupied by the English who are swell fellows. I used to make it a specialty of landing at strange fields in England. We always got treated swell & met Englishmen from all over the world–Australia, Union of S. Africa, Rhodesia, Egypt, and Canada. They all had different tales to tell & had really been around.

A couple of weeks ago, we got leave to go into Egypt to get a bath. I loaded my ground & air crew into the ship and took off. We first went to Cairo, buzzed & took pictures of the Pyramids & Sphinx & had steak & eggs in the city… I’ll sign off for tonight….

Here it is the next day. Thought we would go out on a raid today for sure, but I see my name up on the board for a night mission, probably over Italy or Sicily. Hope there is no flak, night fighters or searchlights, but that is asking for too much.

On with the story…From Cairo, we took off in Wham Bam, the name of my ship now, and went to Palestine. We made our headquarters at Tel Aviv, one of the youngest cities in the world… (more in book)

Alfred Asch

At the Pentagon, 1954-1956

Bob Kirby

Bob Kirby

By the end of July, Naomi and the boys settled into our new home, and I went to work in the Management Analysis Division of the Comptroller’s office in DC. The chief of our division was a civil service employee who soon left for work in industry. Col. Bob Kirby, who had just graduated from Harvard Business School with a degree in Math, took his place. Our families became quite close and sometimes vacationed together. As a result, Bob and I have remained good friends through the years.

My assignment at the Pentagon was to work with a large-scale UNIVAC computer procured from Sperry-Rand to determine its usefulness to the Air Force. The computers of that day were massive machines that had to be kept isolated in a dust-free, climate-controlled environment. They were rigged up with hundreds of vacuum tubes that would often burn out, necessitating costly, time-consuming repairs. In addition, no computer language or software applications (apps) existed at the time. We had to resort to using tedious and cumbersome machine language to develop our own programs. Consequently,

Dec. 24, 1942

Dear Naomi:

Here it is Christmas Eve, which finds me somewhere in the Middle East of Africa in the desert sitting in the Officers’ Club, which is a tent or made from a combination of tents, sipping on a bottle of beer, which is better than the water & something that will quench the thirst.

The lighting is pretty poor here so you will have to excuse the writing. We were just interrupted with an air raid warning. We heard the bombs hit near here but they never got quite here. I have never experienced an air raid while on the ground, but have a few in the air, which is good enough for me.

The weather here is a little different than in England, it being drier and a little warmer, but it really gets cold at night. We are living in tents at present & sleeping on cots, but we have plenty of blankets & are reasonably comfortable. We are hoping to be stationed in a better place soon.

I was in Egypt a few days & flew over the Pyramids & the Sphinx. They must be mammoth things because they look plenty big from the air. They are just outside of Cairo. Egypt is pretty from the air, its being very green this time of the year & one can trace their irrigation system perfectly from the air. Very interesting.

I visited the town of Ismalya. The town had quite modern buildings & quite a lot of vegetation. It is situated near the Suez Canal. One can buy anything he wants there if he has the money. Nothing is rationed. I spent about $50.00 & have nothing to show for it but a pair of shoes & a few souvenirs.

The people are very interesting… (more in book)
As Ever,
Alfred Asch

“AWOL” in Palestine

Stuck here for three or four days, I began to think of ways we could spend our “downtime” and did some creative scheming. Since we were only a couple hundred miles away, and I had the keys to a four-engine bomber, why not make a quick trip to Palestine? When I presented the idea to my crew, the guys were all gung ho to go. After swearing everyone to secrecy, we boarded “Wham Bam” and started the engines.

The great Pyramids and the Sphinx

The great Pyramids and the Sphinx

While idling on the tarmac, seven or eight other ground crew guys who had gotten wind of our unauthorized vacation, ran out and climbed aboard. What could I do but take these stowaways along?

One minor problem—we didn’t have a map. No sweat. In broad daylight, we wouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to land. But on our final approach at what appeared to be an airfield outside the capital city of Tel Aviv, we found mounds of dirt piled on the runway … (more in the book)