To Orwell Today,
re: PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS
Hello. I just discovered your web page with all of the links relating to the Flores/Klaben story. Fascinating that you met McCallum. I didn't know he had written a book. I'm hoping I can find it somewhere.
Ralph Flores lived in a room in our basement in Fairbanks in 1960, before he brought his family up to Alaska. You may have read that he was born a Catholic but converted to Mormonism. We were the ones who introduced him to the faith. My father also helped him find some temporary work in the Fairbanks area.
I am amazed that you found references to the 50th anniversary of the crash. I notice that they are all from Canadian papers. I haven't seen anything here in the US. I started searching in 2002 for information about the Flores family, initially to get someone to recognize the 40th anniversary in 2003. I contacted media in Utah (because of the Mormon connection) and no one was interested.
Over the years I have located Ralph's family, whom I last saw in 1961. It turns out that Ralph's youngest son, Frank, lives near my brother in Missouri. Incidentally, they have not yet rebuilt the plane. I saw the fuselage frame myself in Frank's garage in Ozark, Missouri last August, when we went to visit my brother. The rest of it is in a storage facility in Springfield, Missouri. I have been trying to get my sister-in-law to send me the photos that she took.
In March of this year, my wife and I traveled to Phoenix to celebrate the 90th birthday of Teresa Flores, Ralph's wife. I have attached two photos from that event, showing Teresa and several of Ralph's children.
The old color photo of a family is my family, taken in Fairbanks in 1960, at about the time that Ralph lived with us. I am the oldest child, on the right in the photo.
The two Black & White photos were taken as Ralph left the hospital in Seattle. I have actual wirephoto prints of these (from newspaper archives) that I bought online. I made enlarged copies of the photos and gave them to Ralph's family as gifts at the party.
I will write more later,
So glad you found my article about the heroic role Jack McCallum played in the rescue of Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben -- the heroic Yukon survivors.
Thanks a million for sharing your story about your family's friendship with Ralph Flores -- and for updates on the Flores family now. It's great you saw them just recently -- at the 90th birthday of Ralph's wife Teresa.
Ralph Flores is a legendary hero of the north -- his survival story is miraculous! One day there'll be a poem about him as famous as Sam McGee.
All the best,
PS - I've since found an old article that gives background to the pics you sent of Flores' arrival in Seattle:
Pilot Flores Awaits Wife's Arrival in Yukon, by Dale Nelson, AP/Maine Journal, Mar 28, 1963
Whitehorse, NWT: Pilot Ralph Flores waited excitedly today for a reunion with his wife, Teresa, who is flying from California to the Yukon, where Flores underwent a seven-week ordeal in the frozen wilderness. "She'll collapse when she sees me", said the pilot-electrician from San Bruno, California. "My face is not the same. It is so high-up on this side". Flores left jaw was fractured and two teeth dislodged when he and Helen Klaben, 21, of Brooklyn, New York crashed February 4 on an isolated mountainside near the British Columbia-Yukon border. Miss Klaben made a reservation to leave Whitehorse this afternoon on the same plane her brother, Arthur, was scheduled to take from Seattle to Whitehorse to join her. Mrs Klaben's flight -- and Mrs Flores' arrival -- could be delayed by a snowstorm which has paralyzed air travel in and out of Whitehorse since Wednesday. Miss Klaben planned to fly to Fairbanks, Alaska, then to Juneau where she could board a flight for Seattle en route to New York. Miss Klaben sent for her brother to help her sift through bids pouring in for rights to her survival story. One magazine has offered $8,000.
Mrs Flores and Arthur Klaben met briefly Wednesday night in Seattle as they awaited passage to Whitehorse. "I can't explain it in words", said Mrs Klaben, 39, but all this time I knew he would be found." She said the couple's six children "had even more confidence than I had". "I feel very strongly that the only thing that saved him was his faith," she added. Flores, 42, is described as a devout Mormon. Employees in the cable and assembly department of Ampex Corp, where Mrs Flores works, donated the money for her flight... The storm may also delay a visit to the remote crash site by an investigating team from Canada's Department of Transport...Medical bulletins from the Whitehorse General Hospital say the pair are making satisfactory recover. Flores left the hospital for the first time Wednesday, took a taxi to a dentist's office, then walked to a nearby barber shop for a haircut. He shaved off his 53-day beard at the hospital....
PPS - Speaking of Sam McGee (as in a similar poem could be made about Ralph Flores) I dug out my copy of Robert Service's poems (inherited from my homesteading grandparents who came from England and made a life in the frozen Canadian prairies) and looked up THE CREMATION OF SAM MCGEE. I read somewhere that Helen Klaben had a copy in her suitcase -- along with other books from the literature course she was taking -- and read passages aloud to Ralph.
Here's a scan of SONGS OF A SOURDOUGH by Robert W. Service -- the edition that came out in 1918. I've transcribed the opening stanzas of *THE CREMATION OF SAM MCGEE:
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell"...
listen Cremation of Sam McGee recited by Service
YUKON SURVIVOR FLORES FRIEND'S STORY
(Flores lived with Alaska family before crash)
50th anniversary Flores-Klaben Yukon survival
(49-days in 49-below still every bit as gripping)
PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS
(took photo on the cover of LIFE magazine)
THE FLYING BOURASSA BROTHERS
B-17 PILOT SPOTTED BOURASSA PLANE
PostMedia/Email, August 17-24, 2013
Searching for Johnny Bourassa (compilation of articles and photos)
LEGENDS LOUIS & JOHNNY BOURASSA and YUKON SURVIVORS FLORES FRIEND STORY and PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS and B-17 PILOT SPOTTED BOURASSA PLANE and THE FLYING BOURASSA BROTHERS and JOHNNY BOURASSA DIAMOND IN ROUGH and POEM MEMORY OF LOUIS BOURASSA and SNOW WALKER JOHNNY BOURASSA and U-2 SEARCHERS FIND BOURASSA and JOHNNY BOURASSA'S MISSING PLANE and JOHNNY BOURASSA FLIES FARLEY MOWAT and THE BOURASSAS OF PEACE RIVER and TRIBUTE TO LOUIS & JOHNNY BOURASSA
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