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Starship Orion

In 1979, B.D. wrote the first Starship Orion adventure for "Commander Scott" McMahan, who then lived in Kingsport, Tennessee. I remember reading the first adventure before moving to Hendersonville. A second, more fleshed out adventure followed. Beyond these two adventures, only one other fragment of a new story about Starship Invincible was ever completed. All of the Starship Orion adventures were written on a manual typewriter, most curiously ab initio without any drafting. (At least, I never saw any draft papers, and do not believe there ever were any; not to mention many of the typewritten pages have mistakes whited out on the page itself.)

Considering that, in 1980, I was nine years old, B.D. did not "write down" or try in any way to make the story palatable to a boy that age (note the chain-smoking, salty military types, the way women are portrayed, etc.). Typical of how he related to me, considering him teaching the concepts of electronics to an elementary school student who had never even had algebra (I would not be able to take an electronics class until high school in the school system). I was precocious and did not object.

What is most interesting about the "Starship" Orion is that "Commander Scott" spends most of his time flying it like an airplane. B.D. infused these stories with much realism drawn from his aviation experience. When "Commander Scott" was not flying his spaceship like an airplane, he was flying an actual airplane. (I also find it interesting that "Commander Scott" would be 74 years old at the start of the story in 2045, if "Commander Scott" in the story is taken to be the same Scott that the story was written for.)

The Starship Orion adventures made a big impact on me because, in 1979, I saw the movie Star Wars and first got into science, spaceships, robots, computers, etc. This was the first time any of these things were on my radar screen as a child, so this story made a huge impact by amplifying them.

The cover of the folder in which the adventures were kept.

(Note that I took it upon myself, in my illegible handwriting, to specify which log books were used.)

Diagram of Starship Orion
Diagram of the solar system

The typescript pages:

The Plunk And George Stories

Besides Starship Orion, the other major story B. D. wrote in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the Plunk And George Stories.

B. D. gave me a copy of Kipling's Just So Stories in June of 1983, and must have been familiar with them. B. D. grew up in a time when Kipling and other classic authors were a staple of childhood. Both the Just So Stories and the Jungle Books feature talking elephants. The former contains "The Elephant's Child", and the latter a chapter called "Toomai of the Elephants". Certainly the first, having a young talking elephant, was an influence, but B. D. was not merely copying. His elephants have the same air of freedom and exploration that he remembered from his own childhood. They explore their world, while still having the safety and security of their families to fall back on.

Much like Starship Orion, no matter how unlikely the starting point, airplanes come into B. D.'s yarns rather quickly. I remember having a toy as a child that was a rubber airplane with a face. I can't remember if the name Otis was attached to the toy, and hence the basis for the character in the story; or if I gave the name Otis to the airplane after reading the story.

I can remember that some of the Plunk And George stories were written while I lived at the house in Hendersonville with B. D., but I can't remember which ones. More than likely, the stories from Valentines Day (which must be the one in 1980) onward were written while I lived there.

The typescript:

The last episode remains unfinished, as it should be, suspending the stories of the two young elements forever in a dim, remote place within the mind of a child. The story ends here, abruptly, at the point in the young elephant's lives when the realities of the world around them will come crashing into their playful, fun childhood. I could not think of a more fitting place for such a story to suspend itself.

Despite the author's injunction against illustrating the story, B. D. produced two maps, and two watercolors, about it. I, perhaps, although my memory is vague, pressed him to draw the maps.

Plunk and George's Jungle (Map)
The Big River (Watercolor)
The Bear's Caves (Watercolor)
The Big Cave (Map)

WNC Flight Plan

From August, 1962 to October, 1965, B. D. contributed a column entitled "WNC Flight Plan" to the Asheville Citizen-Times on a bi-monthly basis. This ran in the Sunday newspaper, which was, at the time, bore the hyphenated name "Citizen-Times". At that time, and until the late 1980s, the Asheville Citizen was the morning newspaper, and the Asheville Times the evening newspaper, and the two papers combined for the Sunday edition. Eventually, the two papers merged and began printing one daily edition.

B. D. preserved each column, clipped from the newspaper. These sat in a scrapbook, and yellowed over the years, and began to disintegrate. Fortunately, sometime in the late 1980s, my mother (B. D.'s daughter) Brenda photocopied each column to make a book of them, and that is likely the only reason why these columns survive to this day.

My scans are taken from the photocopies my mother made.

I believe this is the complete set of WNC Flight Plan articles, because B. D. numbered them himself as he put them into his scrapbook.

On Aviation

Despite all appearances to the contrary from the amount of material B. D. made for me, even a cartoon about me learning to fly, I have never had any inclination towards learning to fly airplanes. I definitely enjoyed learning from B. D., but would have enjoyed learning just about anything from him. The urge to get into an airplane and fly it has never occurred in me.

On Bicycles

Bicycle Manual

Why A "Cone" In A Bearing?

These papers were written in pencil, and thus are less well preserved. Fortunately, the pencil scanned well. Even so, these pages have had a hard life and are bent and crumpled.

  • Page 1
  • Page 2
  • Page 3
  • Page 4
  • Isolated diagram
    "Morrow Brake Dry". This diagram may or may not go with the other papers. It was done in the same pencil and seems to be very closely related to them, however, and has always been kept with these papers.
    (I'm almost certain that I asked B. D. what a "Morrow" brake was, since I had not encountered one before.)

Uncollected Poems

  • Reminiscence
    Dated December 5, 1979
  • Once Upon A Time
    Dated February 26, 1984, this is one of the last pieces B. D. ever wrote. In the early 1980s, and most pronounced in 1984, B. D. turned his eyes inward as his health worsened and relived those days of carefree youth. He produced some of his most moving and poignant creative work.
  • To Lloyd And Eva Williams On The Occasion Of Their 30th Wedding Anniversary
    Dated September 26, 1976. These people were members of the Royal Arcanum, a fraternal order that sold insurance. The order would frequently have parties and meetings for members (I remember attending the Thanksgiving and Christmas parties as a small child). The Royal Arcanum arose in the days of the Moose Lodge and other social clubs, and such orders have almost completely vanished.
  • Untitled
    Poem in honor of the Royal Arcanum's 100th anniversary as a fraternal order. As can be seen here, the "Grand Council" and other names (such as the title of the order itself) gave the Royal Arcanum, at least on paper, an almost unbelievable air of pomposity and pretentiousness as these small groups made up grandiose names and ranks for their members. In actuality, I remember it being all in good fun, at the Christmas events.
  • Spring I and II
  • A Career (as a gardener)
  • Free Verse
    Very likely, the only reason that this poem survives is that B. D. gave me what he thought was some blank typing paper to draw on, and this poem was near the bottom of the stack, as if he had placed it there and forgotten about it. I do not know that he wanted to let people read it. The poem is highly uncharacteristic of his work; it is one of the most unusual pieces in all of his work. This is one case where I have digitally erased the writing I put on the page, which I believe strongly detracted from the poem.
  • Winter, You Say?
  • Ode To A Toad


A few pieces which defy categorization.

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