Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lyrics to Duke the Spook

Duke the Spook

The night is calm – the sky is clear,
A perfect set-up for a bombardier.
Motors roar with an angry spark
The big B-24’s on their marks;
From the ground with shrieks and wails,
A ghostly figure hits the ether trails,
A mascot, in a high hat and tails.
Meet the gallant swell – “Duke the Spook”,
Charming as all hell – “Duke the Spook”.
With flowery phrase on his lips
He’ll annihilate those Nips
when his killing smile greets the foe.
Death is done in style, don’t you know?
Class will win and they’ll give in;
You’ll shake the hand that shook Berlin
Oh, “Duke the Spook!”

Duke the Spook

I have been in touch with two wonderful gentlemen from Charleston, SC who are collaborating to write a book on the old WWII Charleston Army Air Base. That was my father's last stop. Of course this caught my interest and the last two months have been like Christmas.

Darrell Parker is the one who loves to do research went to the Charleston library archives and found the original newspaper clipping about my father's plane crash. The article had the home addresses of all the crew. Well 64 years later chances are very slim that I will find any remaining family members, but it's something I have to check out. I learned that there were many B-24 crashes out of and around Charleston. Sometimes there was nothing in the newspapers because the government did not want to alarm citizens. I also learned that there were many German POWs in Charleston and they were on road building and brush clearing work crews. They had no place to go--ocean or swamp. The history I'm learning is fascinating to me!

George Miller has sent me two manila envelopes full of photos, history of the base and memorabilia photos. The second arrived Friday--included were the insignia, Duke the Spook which was the men's logo for the 400th Bombardment Group. Now I have another piece of information about my father. At first when I saw Duke, I shuddered. Then I realized, this was a WAR. The men knew their chances as pilots of B-24's were not good. D Day had started but the skies were heavily covered in Europe. My father and his crew would have been on their way if not for the fatal crash. So these brave men aced it with a macabre sense of humor to us. Yet they looked at death and made it classy. Duke the Spook was a popular song sung by Bing Crosby and dedicated to the men of the 400th Bombardment Group. It was written my Jimmy Van Heusen. I have never heard it but I'll now be searching.

One of my favorite tunes that I sung as a kid and still think about is Bing's "Swingin' on a Star."
Providential that now I have another Bing tune in my life?

Now I look at Duke and appreciate him for his significance, for his bravery in the face of death--dancing to meet fate with a silk top hat! I am so indebted to these two men. Can't wait to get to Charleston to meet in person--but Darrell warned me to stay away in summer or I would hate them all. Last Saturday he called--it was 98 degrees and 93 percent humidity! Not my kind of weather.