If you have been following our dispatches then you already know that we lost our good friend Sid Bradd recently. Sid’s passing has left a void here at Age of Aces that just can’t be filled. And with Pulpfest 2012 happening so soon after his death, we were looking for a proper way to honor his memory.
Sid was blessed with an incredible loving family, and we decided that the best thing we could do would be to express our feelings in person to his wife Johanne. We called her, and as luck (or fate) would have it, she extended an invitation for us to visit her on Sunday during our return from Pulpfest. Most years, the last day of Pulpfest is kind of depressing, knowing that it will be another year before you can get together again with your fellow pulpsters. But this year, for Chris, David, and I, Sunday would be the highlight of our trip.
We made it to the Bradd’s home by late afternoon. Johanne met us at the door, along with her and Sid’s daughter Andrea. We presented them with a copy of our latest book. It was the last one Sid assisted us on, and we dedicated it to him. They were very proud of Sid’s abilities and talents as an aviation expert and historian, and we wanted them to know how much we appreciated his contributions to our work here. It was very moving to see their reactions when reading our dedication. It was clear how much it meant to them to know that Sid would be remembered by all of us here in the pulp community.
Johanne and Andrea brought us upstairs to Sid’s incredible aviation library where we sat and reminisced for a while. Johanne told us a funny story about his unabashed collecting habits. While on their honeymoon, he convinced her that he needed to stop at a bookstore. When he came out he had a couple pulps in his hand. When she expressed disbelief that he would interrupt their honeymoon to buy new pulps, he looked at her mischievously and said, “These aren’t new, they are just in better condition than the copies I already have!”
Johanne also told us how Sid crossed paths with some of the legends of both aviation and aviation pulps. He had met people such as Henry Steeger, Robert Hogan, Donald Keyhoe, and Charles Lindbergh. Johanne related a story about Lindbergh and Keyhoe that provided the most surreal moment of the day.
Before he became an author, Keyhoe was a military pilot. He was appointed to fly Lindbergh on his tour around the country after his famous solo flight across the Atlantic. Keyhoe published a book about his adventures on this tour called Flying With Lindbergh. Over the years Sid had used his friendly charm to strike up conversations with many people. On one occasion—many years after the Lindbergh tour—while Keyhoe was giving a speech, he sat behind Lindbergh in the audience. Afterwards he got Keyhoe to inscribe his copy of Flying With Lindbergh.
His library contained many such books signed by some of the most notable names in aviation like Lindbergh and Earhart. One of the things Andrea wanted to convey to us was how meticulous Sid was with his collection and how much care he took when reading one of his books. She reached onto a shelf, grabbed a random book, and opened it. We were all stunned to see the title of the book she had pulled down. It was Flying With Lindbergh, and the page she had opened it to was the one that Keyhoe had signed. Andrea said that Sid must have guided her hand to that book. I totally agree with her!
Johanne related another touching story to us. Because Sid’s life revolved so much around aviation, he had a deep interest in all of it’s legends and mysteries. So while speaking about their father at his funeral, one of Sid’s daughters remarked that he would now finally know what had happened to Amelia Earhart, Lindbergh’s baby, and Flight 19.
Since you don’t visit the Bradds without having some of Johanne’s great German food, she went down to prepare a little something for us while Andrea finished showing us around the library. It seems Sid had a real passion for collecting in general, not just books. We saw his collections of old toys, old license plates, and old bottles.
Sid was an accomplished painter and there were also many of his aviation paintings hanging in various places around the library. Andrea was also kind enough to show us the unfinished painting Sid was doing for her when he died. It was of the living room of his childhood home as he remembered it. But he was dissatisfied with how he had painted his mother sitting at the piano so he had partially erased her image leaving a ghost-like form behind.
After eating dinner we unfortunately had to get back on the road. And while it was sad saying goodbye to Johanne and Andrea, we felt really good about having spent that time with them. Hopefully we can make that visit a regular stop on our Pulpfest excursion.
Finally, many people have asked us if we knew what would happen to Sid’s library. Happily we learned that it will be finding a good home. While the plans aren’t finalized, they are hoping for it to be the centerpiece of a brand new aviation library and research center at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Hawaii.