Walker Book Update – Dec 1 13

Picture 008I made a promise to myself after having a terrific Thanksgiving with friends that whatever else happens in December, I am going to pour my heart and soul into a book about John Thornton Walker, a liaison pilot who distinguished himself in combat to the extent that in addition to several awards that included the Silver Star and an air strip in Virgina named after him, and never returned to the Illinois home where he spent most of his youth and early adulthood. In October, 2012, his daughter Connie and her long-time husband visited AeroKnow Museum and donated countless photographs and mementos of his life. I promised to write and produce a book about “T” (as most of his friends called him), and unforeseen setbacks have prevented the progress I intended to make. A slip on ice and resulting major surgery on my legs last January kept me from spending significant time at AeroKnow Museum until March, the absolutely fruitless effort to recruit volunteer help here has broken my heart more than I can say. If I were to be friends only for people I know who have lifted a finger to help, I would have four friends. So I have focused on other reasons to be friends with people I know. Over the summer, I was challenged by a woman who rents the upstairs of the duplex where I live downstairs. It’s December 1, she has not paid a penny of rent for November, and if I evict her, it will cost me more than if she stays, promising to pay me when her divorce is settled. This loss, added to my necessary purchase of a used vehicle to replace one lost when the engine quit beyond economical repair,  politely put, have affected my lifestyle and my outlook in a growing crescendo of predictable ways.
DSC07323   Every visitor to AKM sees the display of T’s life as they enter the office. The bronze plaque that was once mounted on the obelisk that greeted visitors to Walker Air Strip at Fort Monroe, Virginia, later was mounted on a building at the base and several pictures testify to the story of the man. Today I am dedicating myself to concentrating on my promise to honor my promise to Connie Sprouse and her kin. Though my necessary first focus will be to welcome visitors to AeroKnow Museum, I will allow myself one hour a day to do other tasks that must be done here. The rest will be devoted to producing the book.
The process started at the end of November 30. I had been here since 8:50, and I decided to spend my final minutes here BEGINNING the process. So, from 5:30 to 6:45 I began the 1st part: printing many e-mails, starting in 2007 and culminating in 2012,  from Dick and Bill Strouse who e-mailed me hundreds of scans of articles, pictures and document since I began producing my earlier book Springfield Aviation from Arcadia Publishing. T’s story is shared in some detail in Chapter 4 of that book.
From these e-mails, I am also printing the pictures included in many of them. My reason for printing all this material, even though I have hundreds of original pictures and documents that were donated when she and her husband visited in October 2012, is to build the first part of the book from text the Strouses have written in connection with the pictures. When that is done, I will harvest the rest of the text from original documents now on hand. When I have that much done, I will consult with the Strouses to fill any holes in the story.
When this much is done, I will add pictures from those donated and kept from materials e-mailed to me. One original photo will be this one which is today displayed on a shelf here in the office next to a liaison plane of a different war, a Cessna L-19 Bird Dog, in colors and marking used the the US Air Force during the Vietnam War.  The US Army flew them extensively starting in the early 50s. Visitors see the same picture in the same frameDSC07319 that his wife Geraldine’s (Gerri) night stand when her husband was flying L-4s and L-5s in North Africa and Italy!
I will include MANY pictures in the book and after the book is published, will make them available, as copies, to other writers, researchers and hobbyists.
My unwelcome “companion” through all my travails this years has been my chronic fear that the Strouses will e-mail or call me to say, “Okay, Job, we’ve waited as long as we can. We’ll arrive at the museum next Wednesday to retrieve what we mistakenly left in your care, back when you promised us a book about our esteemed kinsman.” The Strouses have reminded me twice this year that there’s no reason to imagine such an outcome. But one never knows. I hope they will bear with me. This blog should show them something positive.
In the meantime, I thank God I have reconciled to a mutual peace with my employer who allows me to work on museum affairs at his business. I’ll tell you more about him as this story continues.
How do I intend to pay for the book to be published? Starting January 2014, I’m establishing a special book account at my bank. All donations of funds that mention “Walker book” or words to that effect will be kept in a savings account that is separate from the AeroKnow Museum checking account until the book is ready for publication which I will direct locally unless a viable alternative is recommended.  Funds for what happens before publication will be paid from the AeroKnow checking account. As a man who’s been eating almost nothing but peanut butter and salads for the past three months, I can tell you, my funds are a mite limited at this time. Your help in fostering the book to print and distribution — ideas, materials, dollars — is earnestly invited.
If you have questions regarding support or any aspect of AeroKnow Museum, e-mail  akm@eosinc.com or direct correspondence to AeroKnow Museum, 900 N. Airport Drive, Springfield, IL 62707.
Visit the AeroKnow Museum web site
Follow this blog – https://aeroknow.wordpress.com
and visit and follow AeroKnow’s Gallery of Flight
and Springfield Skyways
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About Job Conger

I am a freelance aviation, business and tourism writer, poet, songwriter. My journalism appears regularly in Springfield Business Journal and Illinois Times. I am author of Springfield Aviation from Arcadia Publishing and available everywhere. As founder/director of AeroKnow Museum (AKM) and a volunteer with American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS), I created this blog to share news about AKM activity and aviation history.
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