Eleven years and about three months after I made my first attempt to blog about Joplin Jalopy, I have returned, like the prodigal historian. A few things have changed, and some things haven’t changed.
What hasn’t changed is that I’m still an aviation enthusiast and I live 30 miles from Joplin. What has changed is almost everything else that you would expect in the intervening period. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve been back to school, and I’ve been inspired to get back to this particular task by three people. These are:
- Roger Fenton. Historian at the 44th Bomb Group Veterans’ Association who has always encouraged me to keep up with the work even when I didn’t feel like it. We’ve been in touch on and off since 2005 and I’m honored to number Roger among my friends. Roger has always encouraged me to get the blog back on the road again, and I’m happy to oblige.
- Dr. Chris Childers. Department of History, Philosophy and Social Science at Pittsburg State University. A co-worker who listened almost open mouthed to the story, and who said I ought to get the blog back in shape write an article for one of the Missouri historical journals while I was about it.
- Ray Foreman. Meteorologist at KODE TV12 Joplin. Ray’s an airplane enthusiast member of the Joplin Civil Air Patrol and fellow tweep who suddenly contacted me out of the blue to talk about the Jalopy He’d read an article in my other blog. The article (https://airbornerambler.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/joplins-bomber/) commemorated the 10th anniversary of the original “Joplin’s Bomber” blog.
I shouldn’t leave out the Joplin Globe. The Globe and its predecessors ran stories about the Jalopy through and after the Second World War, and I wondered if they had any more information. To be honest, most of them weren’t all that interested in replying to my emails, which was very discouraging. After a few more emails flew around, they ran an article about the Jalopy and my research in 2006. I thought that I wouldn’t hear anything else from that corner, and for a few years I was right. Then in April of 2017 a few people from my church with long memories started asking me if I had anything to do with a new article which had just been published in the paper. I had no idea what they were talking about. It fell to Ray Foreman to provide me with a copy of the Globe from Sunday, April 9th 2017 and lo, there was an article. It’s on their website too. Bill Caldwell, the columnist, traced some of the instances of vandalism to the plane and mentioned them specifically in his article, which means he knows or found a lot more than the Globe folks did 11 years ago. I note that he mentioned 66 missions with 29 crews, so either he’s looked up the back numbers or some of the bits of paper I gave Andy Ostmeyer (2006 article author) are still floating around there. I don’t suspect the latter. I will see if I can make contact. (Update, I did email Bill Caldwell on Wednesday 10/5).
So there we have it. I will start re-inserting some of the information which I dug up after 2006 and see what else we can add to the picture.