Saul Steinberg, Alfred E. Newman, Amelia Earhart and the Joseph Strauss

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I just didn’t want to lose these.

Mad Magazine and Johnny Carson supplied my irreverent laughs in those late grammar school and early high school years. In the modern time of Kindles and digital newspapers, it’s a charming memory to recall riding my bicycle with Spencer Hayman to the venerable New Orleans drug store, Katz&Besthoff, on Tuesdays, to purchase, I think for 12 cents, the latest edition of Sgt. Rock and Superman comics. How we would pore over each page. Oddly, I was never attracted to the offers of drawing lessons or Charles Atlas muscle building programs in the back of each issue. It’s a pleasant and comforting trip to the past to learn that Mad retains its singular, clever point of view even when its siblings such as The Onion appear faster and more hip.

At first, I thought that my connection to Ms. Earhart was my recollection of Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign of the late 90s. Much is expected of those to whom much is given; as well, I suppose, from those who achieve much. I think that the Mapgate furor is alot about a little, yet so seldom does Apple seem to stumble, stumble it does.

Now that I think about it, I do have tangential connection to Amelia Earhart. The proud ship, Joseph Strauss, DDG-16, anchored in Saipan in 1978 with yours truly as the navigating officer. In preparing for this visit, I became acquainted with a young lieutenant who commanded our Coast Guard station on this former battlefield of an island. His hobby was searching for and often finding artifacts of World War 2 including complete underground hospitals, rusted tanks and cases of 45 caliber pistols still coated in Cosmoline, MIL-C-11796C Class 3 for those in the market. He even established a decent sized museum for these artifacts all about the Loran Station’s grounds. One evening, as I asked for details about his discoveries – “I never go into the jungle without finding something,” he said- he offered that a persistent rumor about the island is that the Japanese kept Amelia Earhart prisoner here at the local jail. Of course, You Tube substantiates this supposition.

Having seen where 25,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide rather than surrender to our Marines, I can believe nearly any story about that island at that time.