Not that James Brown

One of my Air Force room mates was James Brown, a good ol' boy from Tarrant City, Alabama. He joined me in a driving trip to Los Angeles from my last station, Barksdale Air Force Base at Bossier City, Louisiana. We traveled west in the MG TD. 

[A purpose of the trip was to exchange that little car for my brother's 1953 Ford convertible. I had accumulated enough stuff (clothing, books, records) that I thought it was worthwhile. It turned out there was plenty of room for all that and three other squadron-mates on leave to Gary Morris' place in Phoenix: Gary, Jerry Crowl, and a friend of theirs whose name I don't recall. (Turns out it was Robert "Killer" Kowalski. Scroll about two-thirds down the Barksdale page.) The picture is Crowl on the left, Morris reclining.]

During the MG part of the trip it started blowing oil past the rings, using a quart in a hundred miles if the engine went faster than 3000 RPM. Below 3000 RPM was also below 45 MPH. It was a slow but eventful 1700 miles. 

James Brown in Old Town Albuquerque                  James Brown at the Cliff Dwellings

James is contemplating some Ancient Ambience in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and some Ancient Ones' cliff dwellings. The selections here are about 5% of the full 35mm frame in the first case, and about 25% of the cliff dwelling frame.

Somewhere west of Tucumcari, New Mexico, the TD ruptured an oil line between the cylinder block and the oil pressure gauge. It blew four quarts out on the road in about five seconds. I was able to hear and respond to the gusher so there was no further engine damage. James hitched the seven or so miles back to town for oil, while I jury-rigged a plug out of the fittings on the ruptured oil line, a thumb tack, and a piece of plastic.

The patch worked fine. We were able to find a replacement line at the MG dealer in Las Vegas, Nevada. The car would have been fine without the gauge, but I like them. Gives substance to my technology anxieties.

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Photo: James Brown sits in the TD at the side of Route 66 (see the back of his head)

Here you see one of us viewing a common prospect from the side of an Arizona Highway. As we motored slowly across the West we made a routine of five-minute-stretch breaks each hour. I suppose we developed some kind of sense of what it was like for dust bowl victims to drag their travails this way along a tiny slice of paved-over earth that was Route 66, and is now a museum piece. I mean, look at that buckled leather valise, vintage 1920s, tied on to the spare tire.


Photo: James Brown sits in the TD at the side of Route 66 (see his face)

The reverse view, James ostensibly elevating his viewpoint to photograph the scene more-or-less as seen in the previous picture. Actually he wanted his face up there where it could be captured for viewing and identification by his posterity, since in the previous images there was no clear view of his face.

James Brown (he preferred against "Jim") worked in the print shop of our mapmaking squadron. He had acquired a hundred-foot roll of EktachromeŽ film, and we wound some of it into cassettes. I used a few on the trip, and he used several. He had access to the film developing facilities at the base, and promised to process and send mine. I finished June, 1960 with a partial roll still in the camera, and had it developed commercially. There are a few from the Grand Canyon and this one of Your OBedient Servant with Lake Mead in the background.

I never saw the pictures taken during our VIP personalized tours of the Getty Oil building in LA and the Columbia Ranch film production facility in Burbank. Never saw the pictures of us sitting in Marshal Dillon's chair on the boardwalk in front of his office.

James, if you're out there go to the last page for my mailing address and pony up, old friend.

GIF:  Arizona State flag - waving

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