Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Finding Ernie Pyle and Frank Sinatra — for $5

Yesterday, I paused on a four-mile urban hike to drop in on the William Temple Thrift Store on NW Hoyt. The store benefits a good cause, and the donated merchandise is fun and occasionally surprising to peruse.

Strange, but before going into the store I never had cause to associate Ernie Pyle, the legendary World War II correspondent, with Frank Sinatra, whose voice still sings through my remembered tender teens.

After 15 minutes with bric-a-brac, used tableware. cast-offs and donated books, I walked out of the store with two biographies, “Why Sinatra Matters” by Pete Hamill and “Ernie Pyle’s War” by James Tobin. Total price:$5.


This on Sinatra and the press:

“Sinatra’s idea of paradise is a place where there are plenty of women and no newspapers,” said Humphrey Bogart, who was sixteen years older than the singer and a kind of hero to the younger man. “He doesn’t know it, but he’d be better off if it were the other way around.”

This on the public’s reaction to Ernie Pyle’s death in the Okinawa campaign of April 1945:

Through Pyle’s eyes they had watched their “boys” go to distant wars and become soldiers—green and eager at the start, haggard and worn at the end. Through his eyes they had glimpsed great vistas of battle at sea and they had stared into the faces of men in a French field who thought they were about to die. So no one thought it strange for President Truman to equate the deaths of Franklin Roosevelt and a newspaper reporter….

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