There are all sorts of literary friendships in history. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg and The Algonquin Round Table.
But they usually restricted themselves to literary pursuits. Not so with J.M. Barrie’s cricket team, which was packed with famous names and almost no athletic ability.
J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) loved cricket. He loved it so much he formed a cricket club in 1887. But he didn’t pick his team based on athletic ability, no. That would be silly. Instead, he invited people based on a more eccentric set of criteria:
With regard to the married men, it was because I liked their wives, with the regard to the single men, it was for the oddity of their personal appearance.
He got what he asked for, naturalist Joseph Thomson wore pajamas as a substitute for cricket whites. Also joining the team were Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, P. G. Wodehouse, G. K. Chesterton, Jerome K. Jerome, and A. A. Milne.
The name of the club was the “Allahakbarries,” which is a culturally insensitive pun. And a mistake, since the two explorers who came up with it thought the name meant “Heaven help us,” which was something the team would need to say a lot.
That’s not what “Allah Akbar” actually means, but, hey, they did manage to get Barrie’s name in there.
Among the team’s greatest hits:
Right before the first game, Barrie discovered his teammates trying to decide which side of the bat to use to hit the ball.
One French player thought that when the umpire called “over,” the game was literally finished.
Barrie described a player as “Breaks everything except the ball.”
Barrie had to write the team a book of advice which included asking them not practice before matches since it would only give their opponents confidence and “Should you hit the ball, run at once. Do not stop to cheer.”
One quick-thinking flight attendant saved a teenage girl from human trafficking after noticing that something was wrong with the young passenger on her Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco.
“Something in the back of my mind said something is not right,” Shelia Frederick, 49, from Alabama, told 10 News as she recalled the encounter from 2011. The girl, who seemed to be around 14 or 15 years old and “looked like she had been through pure hell” according to Shelia, was traveling with an older man who wouldn’t let her talk and answered all of Shelia’s questions for her.
“He was well dressed, that’s what kind of got me because why is he well dressed and she is looking disheveled and out of sorts,” Frederick said.
Realizing she needed to act quickly, Shelia quietly told the girl to visit the bathroom where the flight attendant had left her a note on the mirror. “She wrote on the note she needed help,” said Frederick, who told the pilot about what had happened.
They in turn alerted the San Francisco police, who were waiting in the terminal to question the man by the time the plane had landed.
The girl is now attending college and is free from trafficking thanks to Shelia’s keen eye and smart thinking.
Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.
Around 80% are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors. “If you see something, say something,” Frederick said.
Throughout the 1920s the Harley-Davidson Big Twin was a direct descent from the original “Model One” of 1905 and the successor 1911 V-twin model.
Then in 1930 Bill Harley introduced the first full makeover of these earlier designs with the 74 cubic inch side-valve VL model.
While an improvement over previous Big Twins, the VL didn’t fully satisfy Chief Engineer Harley. By the 1930s, the rapidly improving highway system, higher octane gasoline, and riders’ expectations were all racing ahead of what the desperately under-oiled and over-heated VL side-valve engine could deliver.
In this scenario and within the larger drama of the Great Depression Bill Harley brought forth the finest achievement of his career: the 1936 Model EL — or “61 OHV” — more commonly known today as the Knucklehead.
Of the many motorcycle engineers America had seen by the 1930s, Bill Harley’s (Pictured above) experience ran the deepest and was most sustained.
The engineering department at Harley-Davidson was his world and separated from other parts of the factory by a locked door. Even if you got through that you still had to pass under the watchful gaze of Mr. Harley’s personal secretary, Joe Geiger, who was in charge of all drawings and records and who scrutinized anyone requesting entry into this inner sanctum of American motorcycle design.
The drafting room was connected to Mr. Harley’s office and he could observe it through a large plate glass window. His office — filled with experimental parts and drawings — was likened to “a mother’s bedroom overlooking the nursery of her children.”
This was where Mr. Harley felt most content and at home in the plant. This is where he communicated with his team of engineers and draftsmen and where he appointed tasks, suggested changes, approved work, and put his own hand to the drawing board.
During the Knucklehead’s developmental stage Bill Harley was also a frequent visitor to the experimental department where he consulted with foreman Ed Kieckbusch and observed this masterpiece of design come into being with more attention and care lavished upon it than any other motorcycle in the history of the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
On the 1936 EL model or 61 OHV Bill Harley invested the cumulative experience of a lifetime in an outstanding and even radical design. Not that he didn’t have plenty of help because by the 1930s the engineering and experimental departments included plenty of talented guys who had grown up with the motorcycle just like Bill Harley and the Davidsons had done.
But it was Mr. Harley who called the shots on the Knucklehead project and approved everything on it. Almost certainly it would not have developed like it did without him.
The extent of William S. Harley’s contributions to the 1936 EL can be seen in the three patents covering the model and that were issued in his name and assigned to the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
These include: “Instrument Mounting” (2,091,682), “Oil Tank and Battery Assembly” (2,109,316), and recirculating “Lubrication System” (2,111,242).
These patents show the extent of Bill Harley’s creative thinking and prove that the “Sixty-One” was his baby along with its bored and stroked 74 OHV big brother that was introduced in 1941, just two years before his passing.
The Harley Legacy
From the Knucklehead’s first unveiling in late 1935, a new era in American motorcycling was born.
This, the age of performance, is still with us. With easy breathing overhead valves, a generous reliable lubrication system, and a look unmatched in mechanical beauty anywhere, the American rider discovered a motorcycle in the 61 EL Knucklehead that could go a thousand miles in a day provided the rider did his part.
In 1937, Joe Petrali’s Daytona Beach speed record and Fred Ham’s 24 hour endurance record both accomplished on 61 OHVs nailed down this reputation for performance and durability for all time.
The 61 OHV was the last completely new motorcycle designed by and under the auspices of William S. Harley and built by the original four founders of the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
This model would be successful beyond their wildest dreams and in a stunning parallel the 1936 Knucklehead equalled and perhaps surpassed the importance of Bill Harley’s original 1905 Model One.
Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith was a well-known early Australian aviator.
In 1928, he made the first trans-Pacific flight, from the United States to Australia. He almost didn’t live to set world records in aviation.
As a boy, living in Australia, young Charlie Smith was rescued from certain drowning at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, by bathers who, just seven weeks later, were responsible for founding the world’s first official surf life saving group, at Bondi Beach.
During WWI he served in Gallipoli and eventually earned his wings. He was shot down and had part of his foot amputated as a result.
Yet he continued to fly in the United States as a barnstormer, and then back in Australia as a pilot and aviator.
On May 31, 1928, Kingsford Smith and his crew left Oakland, California, to make the first trans-Pacific flight to Australia. The flight was in three stages. The first (from Oakland to Hawaii) was 2,400 miles, took 27 hours 25 minutes and was uneventful. They then flew to Suva, Fiji, 3,100 miles away, taking 34 hours 30 minutes.
This was the toughest part of the journey as they flew through a massive lightning storm near the equator. They then flew on to Brisbane in 20 hours, where they landed on June 9, 1928, after approximately 7,400 miles total flight.
On arrival, Kingsford Smith was met by a huge crowd of 25,000 at Eagle Farm Airport, and was feted as a hero.
He also made the first non-stop crossing of the Australian mainland, the first flights between Australia and New Zealand, and the first eastward Pacific crossing from Australia to the United States.
He also made a flight from Australia to London, and set a new record of 10.5 days.
Kingsford Smith and co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge were flying the Lady Southern Cross overnight from Allahabad, India, to Singapore, as part of their attempt to break the England-Australia speed record held by C. W. A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black, when they disappeared over the Andaman Sea, in the early hours of November 8, 1935.
Eighteen months later, Burmese fishermen found an undercarriage leg and wheel which had been washed ashore at Aye Island in the Gulf of Martaban, off the southeast coastline of Burma.
Lockheed confirmed the undercarriage leg to be from the Lady Southern Cross.
The undercarriage leg is now on public display at the Powerhouse Museum, in Sydney, Australia.
Best known for his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” the journalist and author earned the nickname “Bitter Bierce” for his sarcastic, biting wit. (“Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.”).
The Civil War veteran also had a morbid fascination with horror and death, both of which became recurring themes in his writing.
Bored with life in the United States, he moved to Mexico in 1913 to witness Pancho Villa’s revolution.
He was 71. In a letter to his cousin Lora, Bierce didn’t attempt to assuage his family’s fear about such a trek, writing:
“Good-bye — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stars. To be a Gringo in Mexico — ah, that is euthanasia!”
Some scholars believe he was killed in the siege of Ojinaga in January 1914.
Others speculate that Bierce’s final letters were a ruse and that he never actually went to Mexico but instead committed suicide.