Writing Group of the Damned

Memoirs #10479

Idea For a Series

by

John Presco

Copyright 2020

An old Hippie, who was on the bus with Ken Kesey, joins a writing group and starts with memoirs of his childhood gang ‘The Cheetah’s. He makes the mistake of telling this group he knew Nancy, and met Ken – several times. He compounds this blunder with playing Patten’s famous words about Rummel that severely agitates another member of the group that wrote a small book about a War Hero, and served time in Vietnam.

Two days later, another member of the group has a strange fatal accident, and then another. Surviving members begin to speculate. Was it the drug-taking hippie who caused the deaths, or, the Vietnam Veteran.

New writers join the group and detect much tension in the air. I want David Lynch to direct.

“Hey Fred. I joined this new writer’s group, and I swear there is murder in the air. Someone’s going to get it. I am doing my best writing. I hope it isn’t me!”

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/cruel-fate-drives-blind-bomber-1955-ore-store-attack-article-1.2832207

bow1o

You will never grasp this…..’Incident In Memoirs #10478′ unless I preface it.

This is a story about a witchy and covert transference of my good writing skills over to Frail Evonne by female members of this group I joined at Willamalane Adult Activity Center in Springfield Oregon. The witch who conducted this transference of talent and skills, over to her fellow ungifted species, is Laurel Laver – Hospice Worker! You can’t make this shit up. Laurel has watched a lot of men die! She knows all about legacies. She will orchestrate my literary death and transference over to a woman of her choosing. This is the sequel to ‘Witches of Eastwick’.

Frail Evonne showed up at the third Memoirs meeting I attended. She had been away. The group was fawning over her. She looks like Sissy Spacek, and Julie Harris, who starred in East of Eden. I can’t grasp what she is saying because I missed so much. Did she say her BLIND FATHER bombed Meier & Frank Co. in downtown Portland, Oregon,  – and is completely innocent? What do they call him ‘The Blind Bomber‘?

“Of course he is, you poor dear!”

Now, she is looking at me. Why? Am I being blamed for something I didn’t do? Yes! I am guilty – as charged. At the next meeting, before I read my first installment of my childhood memories titled ‘Grassbomb Wars’ Frail Evonne declines to read, siting she is very intimidated by my writing skills. Did I hear groans of sympathy?

“Oh. You poor dear! Is that Big Dark Bad Man abusing you?”

Last Monday, Evonne makes another witchy appearance after disappearing for three weeks. I was a little late to the coven warm-up. I sit down, and Laurel says;

“Now that you have gotten all our help. Why don’t you go first!”

As I listen, I am hearing a Hodge Podge, a Collective Quilt of other writers at the table, who glowed when they hear their input. I watch the squeals and shrieks of glee go round the circle, because, justice is being served! I am getting my up-comings for being a man who writes good – and who has cast a giant shadow on Frail Evonne. I am being elected the Scapegoat, because, the Blind Guy did it!

I asked Frail Evonne if she ever heard of Karl Chessman who wrote and published four books while on Death Row? I was shocked she had not! Her father wrote a autobiography while he did ten years in prison. It almost got published! I think Evonne told me she had the manuscript.  Is this why – she stopped trusting me? I knew too much! I let her know she underplayed her hand. Now, she had to get rid of me. Can we get a Chessman tune, a mournful ballad?

Some writers author ‘Their Memoirs’ and get moved to a penthouse overlooking Central Park. While, poor saps like me, take their last walk to the gallows, or, gas-chamber. What was Karl’s prison number……..#10478? I’m afraid to look, because, a month earlier I included Chessman in my fictional novel ‘The Hypnotic Private Eye’. I met Karl’s hired Private Eye. What – THE?

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/cruel-fate-drives-blind-bomber-1955-ore-store-attack-article-1.2832207

“Around 2 p.m. on April 15, 1955, an explosion interrupted the “Friday Surprise” sales at the 12-story Meier & Frank department store in Portland, Ore. Someone had planted a bomb in the third-floor men’s rest room.

Flying debris

Shortly before the explosion, Aaron Frank, the store’s president, got a note saying the explosion had been a warning. Unless Frank ponied up $50,000, there would be another bomb the next day.

The note gave elaborate instructions on how to deliver the cash. A courier, wearing a white carnation, was to go to a phone booth on a downtown street.

When the phone rang, a “soft voice” sent the cash carrier to another phone booth in a hotel where a hidden message led to a train depot baggage locker. It held another note, with instructions to the courier to catch a taxi from Portland and drive at 25 mph toward Eugene.

During the ride, the instructions read, a car would come up behind and flash its lights three times, a signal the taxi should pull over and leave the loot at the side of the road.

No car with flashing lights ever appeared. Despite the threat, no more bombs were planted in the store. For months, despite a reward of $26,000, there were no leads.

Then, in October, postal inspectors pointed out a similarity between a letter in a case they were examining and the Meier & Frank extortion note. The letters appeared to have come from the same typewriter.

The postal inspectors were looking into fraud charges surrounding a chemical laboratory run by William Clarence Peddicord, 38.

One detail jumped out at police. Peddicord was blind.

Witnesses of the Friday Surprise bombing mentioned seeing a woman guiding a blind man from the store.

In police custody, Peddicord admitted to the extortion plot. The woman helping him from the building was his sister-in-law, Joyce Keller. On Dec. 15, 1955, both were charged in the bombing.

Peddicord became known in headlines across the country as the “Blind Bomber.”

The April 21, 1956, editon of The Oregonian announced that Peddicord had been hit with a 20-year sentence.
The April 21, 1956, editon of The Oregonian announced that Peddicord had been hit with a 20-year sentence.

Nothing in his early years could have predicted this. Peddicord started out as an honest citizen. A cruel streak of bad luck led him to a life of crime.

It started in 1936, when the 19-year-old Vancouver, Wash., resident was repairing a refrigerator. A coil containing sulfur dioxide burst and blinded him.

Instead of sinking into self-pity, Peddicord made himself a model of how a man can overcome adversity. A guide dog named Duke pushed him to extraordinary heights.

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“Dog Leads Master Up Beacon Rock,” was a 1938 headline when Peddicord navigated up an 800-foot rock pillar in Washington’s Columbia River Gorge.

“Peddicord said the dog guided him so expertly he did not even rub against the safety-cables placed along dangerous portions of the trail,” noted one story.

A Vancouver charity later set Peddicord up in business, and he married and had a child. Around World War II, both the marriage and business failed.

Peddicord remarried, moved to Portland, and opened a lunch stand. Things were coming together again.

Then, someone poisoned Duke.

In “Famous Crimes the World Forgot,” by Jason Lucky Morrow, Peddicord’s second wife, Dorothy, said that losing Duke changed her husband.

“He got it into his mind that if he could see again, he could get a job in a war plant and make some money. But he couldn’t get a job, and after the death of his dog he began to get bitter.”

In 1948, a bold act to restore his vision landed him in newspapers again.

“Blind Young Man Hitches Way Across U.S.” read the headline. With nothing but a white cane, a suitcase, two weeks worth of food and $7, Peddicord left Portland, hoping strangers would give him rides to New York where an eye surgeon said he could help.

Two people were injured in the Meier & Frank department store bombing.
Two people were injured in the Meier & Frank department store bombing.

An interview on a popular radio show, “We the People” attracted a lot of attention, including one sympathetic listener who donated funds for the trip and the operation.

In December, the surgeon removed the bandages from Peddicord’s face.

“I opened my eyes. The miracle I had spent 12 long years waiting for had happened. I could see. Sunlight was streaming across the ceiling,” he told reporters. Then disaster struck.

He saw the points of a pair of scissors coming toward him, and he jerked his head away, causing his eye to bleed. “The doctor was only going to cut the stitches, but I didn’t know that,” he said.

Everything went black again.

Peddicord left New York, still blind, but with an invitation to return and to try again. He never did.

Back home, he couldn’t support his wife and children selling pencils on the street, so he turned to a series of fraudulent businesses. One was Metro Chemical Laboratories, the company that brought Peddicord’s typewriter to the attention of postal inspectors.

Peddicord’s attorneys tried an insanity defense. But in April 1956 he changed the plea to guilty and was sentenced to 20 years.

“This comes as quite a shock to me,” Peddicord told the court. “I’ve lost everything — my wife, my children, and my freedom.”

The Blind Bomber served 10 years, during which time his wife divorced him and testified against him in a fraud case.

After his release, he lingered on in darkness for a dozen years, dying of a heart attack in 1978, a few months short of his 60th birthday.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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