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“Over Skull Hill” by Curtis Mitchell

Link - Posted by David on November 3, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from Curtis Mitchell. Mitchell was born in Mexico, MO in 1902. He started his career as a newspaper man working for both the hometown papers—The Daily Ledger and The Intelligencer—even becoming the city editor for the former before heading east to New York in 1922 to become the publicity director for the Charity Organization Society of New York City. From there he worked his way back in to publishing becoming the youngest editor and vice president of a publishing house, Dell. He edited a variety of magazines, most dealing with entertainment like Film Fun and Film Humor and latter Modern Screen Magazine and Radio Stars. From 1928 to 1934, Mitchell was a frequent contributor to the aviation pulps like Wings, Sky Riders, Flying Aces, Air Trails, Air Stories, Sky Birds and War Birds.

Mitchell went on a world tour in 1924 and a tour through Europe and South Africa in 1929 for Story ideas!

from The Intelligencer, Mexico, Missouri, June 4, 1929

It’s hard to say whether this particular story was inspired by anything Mitchell gleaned from that trip. For the November 1931 number of Flying Aces, Mitchell tells the story of Sergeant -Rigger Eddie Weed. He’s developed a new kind of observation camera, unfortunately the squadron is on lockdown with no planes allowed to take off. So Eddie must steal his own plane and risk a court-martial in order to test out his new camera “Over Skull Hill!”

The C.O. had just posted a notice forbidding enlisted men to fly—and that was just the moment for Sergeant-Rigger Eddie Weed to steal one of the squadron’s crates and crack it up! But read on—and learn about a new kind of court-martial!


As a bonus, here are some further biographical notes on Curtis’ career that ran in the November 3, 1945 Showmen’s Trade Review, announcing his new job with Paramount Pictures:

Curtis Mitchell New Paramount Adv Chief

Colonel Curtis Mitchell, recently pictorial chief for the War Department Bureau of Public Relations and now on terminal leave after four and one-half years of active service, assumed the duties of director of advertising and publicity for Paramount Pictures on November 1, it was announced Wednesday by Charles M. Reagan, Paramount vice-president in charge of distribution. He succeeds to the post vacated by R.H. Gillham, who resigned.

Prior to entering the Army, Mitchell was vice-president and editorial supervisor for Triangle Publications, the magazine subsidiary of the Anenberg publishing interests. His experience and background in newspaper, magazine and public relations activities covers a wide range of associations which began when Mitchell became a reporter for the Mexico (Mo.) Daily Ledger, with which he later served as city editor.

After serving in various capacities in the public relations branch of the Army and having risen from the rank of Major to Colonel, Mitchell became head of the pictorial division of the department. In that office he was in charge of the pictorial coverage of Army activities throughout the war on all fronts including the furnishing of material for feature motion pictures, shorts and newsreels and of still photographs of newspapers and magazines everywhere. The system that resulted in the first official radiophotos and the transmission of colored stills by air was inaugurated by Mitchell. The original Hollywood Caravan of Stars’ tour for the benefit of Army Emergency Relief was his idea and he worked with Irving Berlin on the stage play “This Is the Army” and on the War Department’s own military circus “Here’s Your Army.”

Mitchell returned to publishing in 1950. He lived a long life, passing away in 1998 at the age of 97.