Interview with B-17 Pilot Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

World War II pilot, Jimmy Fitzpatrick was part of the 388th Bomb Group out of Knettishall, England and flew 36 missions (one more mission than a normal tour) and didn't lose any of his crew. He was on the 560th Squadron and was dispatched in May of 1943 to help win the War there.

Jimmy was a former news photographer for the Birmingham News in Alabama before he joined the War. Before joining up, he was taking photographs of Southeast Conference Football.

560th Squadron Logo

560th Squadron Logo

His longest mission was 11 hours and 15 minutes, flying from England to Poltova, Ukraine to refuel for a mission based out of Ukraine. Just before his arrival in October of 1943, the Germans had destroyed 60 B-17's in the second Schweinfurt raid. 

Jimmy had an opportunity to meet a few famous people on his tour. Jimmy Stewart and Joe Kennedy.  You can hear him talk about those experiences here:

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

I met Jimmy when I was commuting home from work in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 and learned about his Wartime experience through amateur radio. We met on a 2 meter repeater and talked every now and then. I heard that there was a Special Event coming up in October of that year and thought he might be interested in coming along to it because the Aluminum Overcast was going to be there. Jimmy was excited about the prospect. I offered to take him there, but his son ended up hearing about it and was interested too, so his son brought him to the event.  

Jimmy enjoyed the trip and I ended up recording almost an hour of interesting discussions about his experience in World War II. You can listen to the entire interview here:

In 2009, Jimmy was about to turn 93 on October 13, so that'll put him at 98 years old if he's still around as of this writing. I did a search on the Silent Key database and couldn't find his callsign there, so I pray he's still with us and just as sharp as ever. 

I posted this interview years ago on my previous blog, but realized it wasn't there anymore so I decided today to repost it for everyone to enjoy. 

73 de N5PRE


UPDATE: I just heard that Jimmy was active in the North Fulton Amateur Radio League until his passing in 2014. RIP, Jimmy.


Travel Buddies? It Depends on Your Technique!

I’m not much for shave sticks or for shave cream in a tube, but I recently got the opportunity to try out two that I haven’t seen before.  Thanks to a generous fellow wet shaver, I was given a couple of sample (read full size) products that came with a learning curve.

The products I received were a La Toja Jabón de Afeitar from Barcelona and a 1 ounce travel sized Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream from Paris.  I felt very Continental the mornings I tried these lathering lovelies. 

The first one I tried was the Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream. People have raved about their shaving soap, but this was not the same… it is in a tube and a cream instead. I thought I’d try an almond size amount and put it in my trusty shaving scuttle that never fails to deliver and work myself a lather. It made a nice looking lather, but when I put it on my face, I noticed it was mostly air and water. It felt thin and not very slick. I was severely disappointed with the feel of the blade across my cheek and by the time I finished one side of my face, the lather that was on the other side of my face had lost its bubbles and was just a white smear on my face.  I finished my shave, but it left me with sort of a rash because I was insistent on making it work for me. The next time I tried a different brush and more cream in the mix. It was not much better, but was a little more slick this time. The last time I used it was yesterday. I was out of town and realized I had forgotten to pack any shaving brushes. I thought, what the heck, maybe I’ll just try to smear some cream on my face and see if I can get a decent shave that way. Well, I have to say, I am sort of glad I forgot my brush because it forced me to rethink this cream. I had to use an almond size schmear on each side of my face (twice as much as my normal amount) but what I got wasn’t lather, per se, but a thick cushion that was easy to shave with. The glide was great! It had a great feel under my FatBoy set on 6 with a new Ladas blade. I finished my first pass and felt my face. It still needed that second pass, but the slickness was still very present on my face. I added just a tiny bit more cream on each side to get my second pass and came away with a BBS shave and no irritation! Serendipity! The only downsides were that it used more cream than I was expecting to use and it was hard to rinse all that slickness off my face. I can live with that if what I get out of it is a great shave not at home with all my equipment. This would be a perfect travel shave cream!

I had a similar learning curve on the La Toja Jabón de Afeitar in that I had to change the way I was used to working with soap to get good results. The first time I tried it out, I rubbed the handy travel sized stick onto the sharp ridges of my shaving scuttle to get some hard soap to sort of end up like grated cheese in my bowl. I made a decent lather with it and enjoyed the smell, which was clean but subdued, sort of like Arko.  It wasn’t as easy to lather as Arko, while we’re comparing the two. I had a similarly disappointing first few shaves with the La Toja until I changed the way I used it.  I never was into face lathering that much, so I didn’t have much experience in it. I thought it was time I started to develop that skill, so I rubbed the crap out of that stick all over my ample stubble and got a layer of dry but visibly white soap all over my cheeks and throat. I took my soaked brush and started making circular motions on my right cheek and throat. Pow! Instant thick lather! It just kept getting better with every additional square inch I added to the swirls I was putting on my face. The soap WANTED to be face lathered! How could I know? I don’t speak much Spanish!? It worked like a champ once I figured out what it wanted me to do! I got a great shave with the new method and my brush was still loaded enough for a second pass and could have given me enough for a third pass, but I didn’t need it. This soap also performs much better on slickness and cushion if used properly… so there was definitely a learning curve for this one too.

I know I haven’t gone into a lot of details on scent or quantified the amount of slickness or glide with these soaps, but my intent on this review is to provide encouragement to those who haven’t perfected their technique. Don’t throw away a soap or cream if you don’t get results the first time. Try a different method of achieving a lather. I left these two guys in a drawer for over a month before I revisited them and figured out what they were trying to tell me to get them to work. Diligence is something you also have to develop when working with wet shaving supplies. Sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but if you try changing your technique, you might be surprised by the outcome… in this case, it was a positive outcome for me!

Happy shaving!

Further Adventures in Shaving

I just won an eBay auction today for a DE (Double Edged) safety razor that may be older than me!  It's a Gillette Super Speed vintage razor. Here's a few photos of the razor swiped from the auction: 

I also found a site that has a fabulous forum about the topic of shaving and signed up on it today as "Radiotube".  It's called The Shave Den. There are a multitude of shaving enthusiasts that are ready to help you figure out how to better enjoy what many men consider a curse... having to shave.  I admit that ever since switching to a DE razor about four years ago (a Parker 96R), I do enjoy shaving more... and saving tons of money by not having to buy 3,4 or 5 blade cartridges at the store that won't even last but a few shaves. Single blade double edge razors are the way to go for me.  I was ready to try another razor, though so I bid on a vintage razor and now anxiously await its delivery.  

My goal is to eventually find a Gillette Super Speed razor made the same quarter I was born: 4th quarter of 1959.

If you haven't made the switch to shaving this old-fashioned way... consider it. You'll never go back to those multi-blade cartridges again!

Clues in the death of Kreskin

I remember about 15 years ago, when the internet was young... the mentalist known as Kreskin shared with the world an innovative "contest" of sorts (this was around 1999) on his website.  It had within its pages hidden 13 clues in the death of the performer.  I excitedly hunted and tracked down every clue and saved the results to a floppy drive and to my Palm Pilot.  

I've thought about that list every once in a great while and wished I could have located it.  Well, apparently in the transition from my handheld computer to various others during the years since, I must have kept a copy on a USB thumb drive. I just found it again today!  I'm glad to say, I have the 13 clues again that will occur (according to Kreskin) before he can die.  Considering that these haven't happened yet, I'd venture to say he's safe (if his predictions are true).

I now present to you.... the

13 Clues in the Death of Kreskin

  • 1.Three days before I die there will be a serious financial drop.
  • 2.During the month in which I will die a set of twins will begin to make headlines.
  • 3.During the year in which I will die a silver vase rumored to be on the table at the last supper will receive public attention.
  • 4.During the month in which I will die a highly publicized wedding will end in disaster.
  • 5.During the month in which I will die there will be a devastating fire in a New York nightclub.
  • 6.During the month in which I will die four lines in a diary will reveal an astounding insight into the life of a famous rock musician.
  • 7.During the year in which I will die two chests will be found containing a wealth in gold and jewels.
  • 8.One of the key words surrounding my death will rhyme with the word SKY and the word LIGHT.
  • 9.Days before I die a famous sports figure will make headlines with an unprecedented scoring record.
  • 10.During the year that I will die there will be a famous prison escape.
  • 11.During the week in which I will die a famous treaty in Middle East will be signed.
  • 12.During the month in which I will die there will be a fatal disaster in the sky.
  • 13.If there is snow on Sulpicius Day (January 17) you know my end is near.

I wonder if Kreskin still feels that these are valid or if he wants to update them?  Perhaps I'll ask @Kreskin on Twitter.