Wednesday, March 13, 2019

About Submarines, Submariners, and Pearl Harbor

I'm not really into submarines.  Airplanes are my thing.  But when I found a second printing of The Hunt for Red October in a local thrift store last month, I just had to have it.

 I've seen the movie, The Hunt for Red October, but I have yet to read the book.  It is now high up on my reading pile.   This particular copy of the book is rather unique.  Its former owner, a submariner by the name of Jim Cochran, extra-illustrated it!   On the front free endpaper, he pasted an image of an American submarine with two sailors standing in the conning tower.

On the verso of the front free endpaper, he pasted an image of a submarine with three crew members standing in its conning tower.

On the title page, he pasted an image of Severodvinsk, the world's largest submarine production yard.

On the dedication page, he pasted a chart depicting the USSR attack submarines.

On the half title page, he pasted an image of the Typhoon Class submarine.

And on the verso, he pasted an image of the ALFA-Class nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Acquiring Tom Clancy's book, The Hunt for Red October, reminded me of another book about submarines that I had in my library:

I have a sentimental attachment to Hawaii and its military bases.  From 1977 to 1982, I fixed airplanes at Hickam Air Base, the navigation and RADAR Systems of C-141 and C-5A aircraft to be exact.  Hickam Air Base is adjacent to Pearl Harbor.  My shop was located in a hangar across the street from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Headquarters.  Sometimes when I went to work early in the morning,  I would pause and look at the PACAF building across the street.

 They never repaired the bullet holes and shrapnel damage done to the building, leaving them as reminders of December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Kazuo Sakamaki was not one of the Japanese Zero pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor.  He was the skipper of one of Japan's top secret weapons: five midget submarines.  The midget submarines were transported across the ocean attached to mother submarines and released several miles from the entrance to Pearl Harbor  (the Harbor was too shallow for the mother submarines). Each midget submarine carried two torpedoes and was manned by a two-man crew.  The mission of the sailors of the midget submarines was to sneak into Pearl Harbor under cover of darkness, remain submerged near the bottom until daylight, and then join the aircraft in attacking the American fleet.

Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki wanted to sink the USS Pennsylvania, the flagship of the Pacific Fleet.  But before he launched his midget submarine, he discovered that his gyrocompass was inoperative.  Nevertheless he and his aide continued on their mission.  Navigating blindly, he never got through the entrance into Pearl Harbor.  Twice his midget submarine got stuck on reefs, damaging a torpedo the first time, and damaging the torpedo release mechanism the second time, rendering the second torpedo useless as well.  Sakamaki was knocked unconscious by depth charges dropped by destroyers protecting the entrance to Pearl Harbor and his midget submarine drifted for hours all the way to the east side of the island, finally getting stuck on a coral reef near Bellows Beach.  He and his aide lit the fuse to destroy the sub and started to swim towards the beach.

Sakamaki's aide drowned trying to reach the beach.  Even worse, there was not an explosion, and his midget submarine was not destroyed.  The next thing Sakamaki remembers is waking up on the beach at Bellows with an Army Sergeant standing over him.  Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki was POW No. 1.

Located on the windward side (east side)of the island of Oahu, Bellows currently serves as a military training station and as a recreation area for active duty and retired members of the armed forces.  The Marines own half of Bellows and practice amphibious landings. The Air Force runs the recreation side of Bellows with cabins and even a motel.   If we weren't vacationing at Bellows and renting a cabin for a week or two, we would be on the beach at Bellows almost every weekend.  Our kids would swim for a few hours, and then my wife and I and our friends Manny and Joyce would grab our boogie boards and ride the waves!

Here's an image of what Bellows Beach looks like nowadays:

Here's an image of what Bellows Beach looked like on December 8, 1941, when they pulled Sakamaki's minisub off the reef and onto the shore.

NH64471 Japanese Type A Midget Submarine HA-19

Most of the remainder of Sakamaki's book is his recollection of his four years as POW No. 1.  He was treated extremely well by his American captives at several camps and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.  Sakamaki soon began to brief new arrivals to the prison camp.  He stressed that the camp was not a battlefield and they were no longer combatants. This philosophy went against Japanese tradition: Do battle to the end.  Commit harakiri instead of surrendering.

The Japanese painting below honors the nine sailors of the midget submarines that attacked Pearl Harbor.  Noticeably absent in the painting is the lone survivor, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, POW No. 1.

Sakamaki's book was first published in 1949 by Association Press. And Rollston Press published a softcover edition in 2017.  Sakamaki's book wasn't the first book about the midget submarines and their crews to be published. In 1942 the Japan Times published a memorial volume to the nine sailors who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The book was published in English, most likely for propaganda purposes.

I first heard of this book in 2002.   My bookseller friend David Holloway bragged on the rec.collectingbooks newsgroup that he had acquired a copy.  Dave eventually sold it for close to $1000 dollars (too rich for me).  Rare Book Hub shows three copies sold at auction in the last six years.

Currently, there is a copy listed on eBay for a whopping $8,500!

Earlier I mentioned that I wasn't really into submarines.  But the midget submarine attack on Pearl Harbor was getting all the more interesting the more I researched and read about it.  I wondered what happened to the other four midget submarines.  And I found a book that told me all about them!

Numerous books have been written about the midget submarines and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This book, The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor, first published in 2016, tells all. And with pages and pages of illustrations.  The midget submarines originally received credit for sinking the Arizona.  But that is not the case.  Not one of the midget submarines inflicted any damage to a Navy vessel in Pearl Harbor.  The editors of this book tracked all five of the midget submarines from their launches to when their hulls were finally recovered.  The midget submarine that the USS Ward sank ( "the First Shot of the War,") wasn't recovered until 2002.

Sakamaki's midget submarine HA-19, was restored and dispatched on a War Bonds Tour across the country in 1942 and 1943. It is now in the National Museum of the Pacific War (Admiral Nimitz Foundation) in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Sakamaki visited the museum in 1991, and saw his midget submarine for the first time in fifty years.  As POW No. 1 Sakamaki received much publicity upon his return to Japan.  Japanese men wrote him and said there was still time for him to do honor and commit harakiri.  Women were attracted to him.  He initially shunned publicity, quietly married, and worked in an automobile manufacturing plant.  His book, I Attacked Pearl Harbor, is now joined in my library by The Hunt for Red October and The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor.

Finally, I'll end this post with a postscript of memories related to other ex-POWs.  I was stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois from 1970 to 1974.  My wife and I were on the tarmac at Scott AFB to greet the ex-POWs from Vietnam when they returned home on a C-141A Starlifter in 1973. I get tears in my eyes remembering it all now.  And more memories: Three of my four children were born at Scott AFB.  My wife's OB/Gyn nurse Capt. Kazmar and I were singing Polish Christmas Carols in July or August of 1972 while my wife was having contractions with the twins!  I heard later that the Captain switched from OB/Gyn to taking care of the ex-POWs in 1973.  She married one of them!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Those Who Write Them,
Those Who Collect Them,
Those Who Write About Them

On Dec 4, 2003 an ebay seller put eight issues of The Book Collector's Journal up for auction.  William Targ published this journal in 1936 when he was still a bookseller in Chicago.

I had several reasons for bidding on this auction. I collected William Targ,  I had most of the books Targ wrote.  And I wanted issues of the periodical that he edited and published.  I was particularly interested in acquiring the third issue on the left.  I had seen that portrait of the man wearing a hat before.  It adorned the front cover of a pamphlet that William Targ pirated in 1936.  The title of the pamphlet was Those Who Write Them, And Those Who Collect Them.  Willliam Saroyan was the author.  Targ paid Saroyan ten dollars to write the article.

Targ recalled the incident in his autobiography, Indecent Pleasures:  The Life and Colorful Times of William Targ.  He was in the printshop checking the proofs of the July 1936 issue of The Book Collector's Journal when he decided to print fifty copies of Saroyan's article as a pamphlet and sell them for a dollar apiece. They sold like hotcakes.  Targ ran into Saroyan in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in the early 1970s and said to Saroyan, "You don't remember me...."  Saroyan responded with a leer, "Sure. You're  Bill Targ; you pirated my stuff.  I hear it's a collector's item."  Targ then tells his readers that he'd seen the pamphlet listed for $50.  That was in 1978 when Targ's biography was published.  Fast forward to December 4, 2003.  Those Who Write Them, and Those  Who Collect Them was listed for not less than $300 on the web!  If the pamphlet was worth $300, what was its first printing in The Book Collector's Journal worth?

Fast forward to 2011.  In the 2011 fourth edition of their book, Collected Books:  The Guide to Identification and Values, Allen and Patricia Ahearn identify two different printings of the pamphlet.  It was first printed in pale green wraps in a limited edition of 50 copies and valued at $400.  It was later reprinted in rose colored wrappers with the same limitation statement and valued at $100.  Currently there are two copies listed on the web, both in pink wrappers; one for $385 and the other for $195.  I do wonder, however, if Targ limited himself to printing only 50 copies of the pink or rose colored edition.  Worldcat lists 31 copies of the pamphlet out of 100 copies printed. WorldCat lists 15 listings of the journal out of 5,000 copies distributed.

Let's return to December 2003!  A memorable auction it was!  There was a William Saroyan collector, an Aleister Crowley collector (two of the issues contained an article about Crowley), and a William Targ Collector (me). I wrote about it when the auction was over on Dec 11, 2003 and posted it to the rec.collecting.books newsgroup:


On Dec 04, an ebay seller put eight issues of The Book Collector's
Journal up for auction.   William Targ began publishing this monthly
periodical in 1936 when he was still a bookseller in Chicago.

The auction wasn't even an hour old before the first bid was made. The
very next day, an Aleister Crowley collector made his first bid, bidding
a maximum of $35 and taking the lead. The seller had noted that there
was an article on Aleister Crowley in one of the issues.

On Dec 08 at 09:22:15 PST, the Aleister Crowley collector increased his
maximum bid to $78. He still had the lead at $23.27. There was no
further bidding until the day the auction ended.

On Dec 11 at 10:03:57 PST, the Aleister Crowley collector increased his
maximum bid to $101.

On Dec 11 at 15:10:13 PST, A William Saroyan collector bid $75. The
Crowley collector was still in the lead. The seller had noted that
William Saroyan contributed two articles to these issues.

On Dec 11 at 15:10:49 PST, the William Saroyan collector bid $100. The
Crowley collector was still in the lead, but only for a few more

On Dec 11 at 15:13:34, the William Saroyan took the lead with a maximum
bid of $107.

With less than five minutes left in the auction, the bidding stood at
$103. I had my snipe bid already set up, but I was beginning to have
doubts. How high did the William Saroyan collector bid? Should I
increase my maximum bid? Will the Aleister Crowley collector bid again?

I reviewed in my mind why I wanted these eight issues of The Book
Collector's Journal. William Targ published it. I collect William Targ.
There were no copies of the Journal listed on the web. They weren't even
listed at the LOC.

I had another reason for wanting one particular issue of this
periodical. Although the seller did not mention it, one of William
Saroyan's articles was Those Who Write Them and Those Who Collect Them.
William Targ made some extra money on this article, publishing fifty
pamphlets without Saroyan's permission. I have one of those fifty
copies. The minimum listing on the web for the unauthorized publication
is $300.

If one squinted at a photo in the seller's description, one can make out
the title on one of the periodicals: Those Who Write Them and Those Who
Collect Them. With less than three minutes to go in the auction, I was
hoping nobody squinted.

With less than two minutes to go in the auction, I prepared to pick up
the pizzas my wife had ordered for dinner. I took my flip flops off, put
my socks and shoes back on, made sure I had enough money in my wallet
for the pizza, and then, instead of jumping in my truck, I hurried back
to my library to check the outcome of the auction! To hell with the

On Dec 11 at 15:49:27 PST, with only eight seconds to go in the auction,
Auction Stealer made my snipe bid.
I won the eight issues of The Book Collector's Journal for

The Aleister Crowley collector contacted me after the auction was over, introduced himself, and asked if I could make a photocopy of the Crowley article and send it to him.  His name was Clive Harper,  He was the Honorable Secretary of the Fine Madness Society, and he lived in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, about 33 miles west of London.  I later learned that the Fine Madness Society was "founded for the provision of relief to those unfortunate individuals with an incurable attraction to the first editions of Aleister Crowley."  I made a photocopy of the article, sent it to Clive, and returned to savoring my own victory.

One good turn deserves another!

Not too long after our bidding war, Clive Harper sent me the first of four Solstice Card Awards.  These awards were silly cards highlighting catalogue or auction listings that caught Clive's attention.

Clive Harper also sent me an inscribed copy of his book, Revised Notes Towards a Bibliography of Austin Osman Spare, another author he collected, along with the Son of Supplement to the Second Edition of the Revised Version of Notes Towards a Bibliography of Austin Osman Spare.

Here is one of the two Solstice Card Awards Clive sent for years prior to 2003:

The Second Solstice Card Award is actually a two-fer!  It was awarded over fifteen years ago to a California bookseller who is still quite prominent in the book world.

I received another surprise from Clive Harper in June 2004: a copy of the article about Crowley that the Fine Madness Society reprinted from the photocopy I sent Clive.  No. 2 of 49 copies printed!

Clive sent me another Solstice Card Award in 2009, along with a postcard:

Back to Targ and The Book Collector's Journal.  On ebay last month, I acquired the first nine issues of The Book Collector's Journal. These copies are not in as good condition as the copies I acquired in 2003; the edges are flaking and the paper is splitting along the creases. I now lack only the January 1937 issue, Vol II, No. 1, to have a complete run of the periodical.

And I now have two copies of the July 1936 issue!

Friday, January 25, 2019

A Book That Flew Undetected Under the RADAR

When it comes to book collecting, it helps to know what you're looking for.  Take this listing on Amazon for instance:

Looking at the title, Vistas Iberoamericanas or, Latin American Sights, this book appears to be a travel book about Latin America.  It is.  And if the author's name were provided in the listing, there would have been increased interest in the book.  And a higher price as well.

Let's look a little closer at the listing.

It says the book was signed by the author and his father Eddie....  Eddie....  Eddie who?

 The cover of the book might give you a hint:

Give up?

Here's the title page:

And here is "Eddie's" signature:

This book is definitely a travel book.  It is a book about Eddie Rickenbacker's Goodwill Tour of Latin America in August, 1949, written by his youngest son, William.

In the Spring of 1949, Adhemer de Barros, the Governor of the State of São Paulo, Brazil invited Eddie Rickenbacker, the CEO of Eastern Airlines, to come and observe commercial aviation in Brazil and make recommendations on how to improve the industry.  Rickenbacker decided to expand the trip to include other cities in Latin America as well.  He broached the subject of a Goodwill Tour of Latin America with the State Department, got its go ahead, and introduced himself to the various Consulates and Embassies in New York and Washington.

Among his entourage for the tour, were eleven of the best men in Eastern Airlines, the formost aviation writer in the United States, Wayne Parrish, and the Editor of the Latin-American desk of the United Press, Gale Wallace.  Although the entourage already included an official photographer from Eastern Airlines, Eddie Rickenbacker invited an aviation enthusiast who took a thousand pictures during the tour:  my favorite ukelele player, Arthur Godfrey!  And yes, his ukelele accompanied him on the tour.  That's Godfrey, sans ukelele, third from the top on the right.

Here are some of the Latin American sights:

I have to admit that I knew exactly what I was looking for when I found this book on Amazon.  I even searched for the book by its title, Vistas Iberoamericanas, or, Latin American Sights.  This book was one of the treasures in My First Sentimental Airman Collection, which I sold en bloc in 2006, while waiting for my disability retirement from the Post Office to be approved (heart problems).

My second copy of this book gave even me a surprise!  "Bill" Rickenbacker gave this very copy to Leslie P. Arnold, the copilot of Chicago, one of the two single-engine biplanes that completed the first aerial circumnavigation of the world in 1924!

And so I add this treasure to My Second Sentimental Airman Collection!