Back in the Second World War, there were quite a few wonderful flying massacre machines. One was the B-17, known romantically as The Flying Fortress, and another was the B-24, whose nickname was The Liberator. Of the 1.5 million metric tons of bombs dropped on Germany by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s. Like the B-17, the B-24 had an array of .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns in the tail, belly, top, sides and nose to defend it from attacking enemy fighters. The B-24 was one of the workhorse bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in the Combined Bomber Offensive against Germany, forming about one-third of its heavy bomber strength. The other two-thirds were B-17s. Thousands of B-24s, flying from bases in England, dropped hundreds of thousands of millions of tons of bombs and incendiaries on German military, industrial and civilian targets.
Sixty-five years later, the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City tried to intimidate a worker named Wilbur into not starting a lawsuit to collect workmen’s compensation. From long experience he knew that no one seemed to notice the absurdity of his power.
The person who arranged the meeting told Wilbur not to be intimidated, that the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was a regular guy. Wilbur said he would try to not be intimidated.
The president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was a tall flamingo-shaped man who liked to say “you betcha” and “it’s always something.” On the way to the meeting with the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Wilbur took a book with him on the subway. The president waved Wilbur into a chair. Wlbur put his book in his lap.
“A book on the history of war. Civilization is the history of war. War, war, war.”
“It’s always something.”
Randall Jarrell wrote this poem:
“From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.”
This is what Randall Jarrell said of his poem:
“A ball turret was a plexiglass sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked, with his machine guns, a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere. The fighters that attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose.”
It’s a short trip to crazy.
I’ve noticed that.