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Another Letter from Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Were Frederick Blakeslee still alive, today would be his 116th birthday! In honor of his birthday, today we have another letter from Blakeslee to Jess Yeager. The other day we had a letter Blakeslee sent to Jess in 1935—knee deep in his pulp career. At that time he was doing covers for Dare-Devil Aces and G-8 and his Battle Aces ever month as well as interiors for each issue of Dare-Devil Aces.

This time we find an older Blakeslee. Now 60, he has left the pulps behind and is Senior Designer at Sperry Gyroscope Co working on Countermeasures—”the missles that knock out the missles” as Blakeslee writes. He updates Jess, a father now, on his life since the demise of the pulps. From August 1st, 1959:

Dear Jess:

    We have just returned from Cape Cod where we had a glorious time visiting an author friend. The weather was perfact but it is far from perfact here on Long Island-hot and humid.

    As I said in my card, I am always tickled pink (what an expression!), to hear from any of the “Old gang”.

    I have not had contact with the publishers now for almost nine years. Harry Steeger, the President of Popular Publications and myself went into the service together, Navy also. He became a Leut. J.G. and I became a Combat Artist. After the war the magazines folded – every one of them. I did covers for Railroad Nagazine and soon the Editor left and another took his place. That ment that I was out of a job because all Editors have their own artists. Well, I had a pretty rough time until I got a job in Engineering at the Sperry Gyroscope Co. I am now a Senior Designer there and I love the work although it is a far cry from art. As you may know, Sperry is a defence plant and my real boss is the Air Force. I am working on Countermeasures, that is the missels that knock out the missels, if you know what I mean.

    Now you may wonder how an artist could become an engineer, well, I’m wondering myself since in math. I had to count on my fingers to add two and two. But as I progressed, I picked up math, and to make a long story short, I went from draftsman to designer.

    I was going to look up Harry Steeger during this vacation but just couldn’t bring myself to go to N.Y., Sperry is only a 10 minute drive from here and I pity the poor guys who have to commute to the hot city while I go through country all the way.

    Now as for the covers I painted – thank you for the compliment but I’ll tell you a secret. I HATED those covers! They started out to be a “pot boiler” but they kept me so busy that I could do nothing else. Now I wish I had never signed my name to them. I haven’t seen one for years and I hope I never will. As for knowing where any of the stuff is, I don’t know and frankly I don’t want to know. During the war I did what I wanted
to do, so called “Art for art’s sake. I hasten to add that I never saw combat. I was to go out to the Pacific but the war ended before ny orders came through. I did however paint the DANMARK. She was the Coast Guard training ahip. She was a square rigger and I spent a week aboard on a trip. During the trip a “tin fish” almost got us. It was a dud otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. Our escort closed in and we scramed back to port.

    I don’t remember the cover I dedicated to you but I do remember where the photo was taken. What ever the cover is, it is awful. You may think that I am a “Modern” artist. I am not and the fact that I didn’t get onto the band wagon is one of the reasons I got a steady job.

    So you are a Father! Well, about three years ago another W.W.I fan called me up from N.Y. and came out to visit me. He is from W. Virginia and is the Father of a 19 year old daughter. Brother, what does that make me? Ancient as hell. I was going down to see him this vacation but it was too hot here so what must it have been there?

    I have no children although we love them. My wife once had T.B., then heart trouble and a year ago Aug. 8th she underwent heart surgery and was paralyzed from it. The surgery was a success but the this thing had to happen as if she didn’t have enough suffering. She is recouveriiag slowly and can now do anything she wants to although she has to wear a leg brace.

    Well, I guess that about winds up this session. Write again when you have time.

                                                Fred Blakeslee

Happy Birthday Frederick Blakeslee!

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