1970 – The Borough Building

Saturday Re-run – and it looks like I just missed reprinting it exactly five years later. I appreciate your patience; I have had constant computer problems for the last six months (involving three different machines) that have made writing extremely difficult. I will guardedly say that help is on the way but for now here’s an almost-fifty-year-old flashback that should produce a smile or two.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

The deep cuts progress made into the fabric of our community was one way my youth in Alaska was much more than a real-life (but colder) version of “That ‘70s Show” or ‘The Wonder Years”. For example, the mall in Clarksville sits over what was once a farm, but you can still identify the general lay of the land and orientation of the roads and buildings. That isn’t the case when I go home to the central Kenai Peninsula – there are “improved” places that have changed so much that I get totally disoriented. For example, the middle of Soldotna used to be the location of a rather large gravel pit. Now that gravel pit is gone, replaced by an extensive state maintenance facility, a school and the borough government and I have difficulty finding my way on the streets around it.

The gravel pit was the greatest kid hang-out…

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1968: “…smoked!”

This Saturday’s rerun…

David R. Deitrick, Designer

I’ve heard it said that behind every stereotype lies a grain of truth and the term “absent-minded professor” goes a long way towards proving that concept.  The smartest people I’ve met in life are usually the most spaced-out, and I’m not talking about just Star Trek fandom or Jedi Knight wanna-bes.  Somehow pure- intellect brain cells cannot co-exist with practicality-neurons in any large number, and because of that tendency I spent a day of my sophomore year of high school doing a great impression of a slab of bacon.

It’s not that I hadn’t had prior training in brainiac-distraction identification. One of my sixth grade classmates never lost a chance to read – to the point that we’d wonder aloud about just exactly when he’d get so engrossed in the story line that he’d take a bite out of his book while trying to read his PB&J. Weak sixth grade humor?…

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Standing In The Creative Door.

There’s a point in airborne operations where the operation itself takes over reality and you become an element instead of an individual. It happens when:

  • The aircraft is orbiting the drop-zone
  • The jumpmaster has opened the door
  • Jumpers have hooked up
  • Equipment is checked and the sound-off made.

At that point you’ve become a round in belt of machine-gun ammunition and you are going out the door. Oh, you’ve been taught the procedure for refusing to jump but believe me – you’re going out that door…but it’s OK.

…that’s because it has transformed into a Zen feeling/experience – it’s out of your hands.

I’m hitting that point with Midnight Son. We’ve gone through the final edit and the cover art is done, needing just a bit of digital juju to get it ready for the press, so I figured I’d give you all a  sneak peak of that art:

Midnnight Son Cover Art

1979: Green Hat For A Green Horn

This week’s Saturday re-run.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

Living in Clarksville (TN) conjures up more memories than you’d expect for a town that I had never been prior to moving here in late 2007. I have no doubt the memories are conjured up by the frequent rotor noises;  we’re right next to FT Campbell, home of the 101st Infantry Division (Air Assault) and the sound of helicopters in flight  fills the air every day. The 2007 move here was our “third try”; we were on orders for FT Campbell when I resigned my commission in 1983 and I had also on orders for FT Campbell before I was medically grounded for vision problems at FT Rucker in the spring of 1980.

I was a “green hat” there at “Mother Rucker”, a student in Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Class 44-79.  That term might be a little confusing; I’ve learned since moving here that flight students no longer wear…

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An Old Favorite…


As a bullet-proof twenty-six-year-old it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t continue on flight status throughout my entire career so the transition from UH-1 helicopter to M35A2 truck was a little rough. It took almost as long to adjust to the grounding as it took me to work through the loss of my father twenty-three years later, but my grounding would have been much more difficult had there not been some powerful compensations in play

One such compensation was working at the U.S. Army Aviation Digest. Shortly after arriving at FT Rucker I had made contact with the editor Dick and made arrangements to contribute – I knew that I’d eventually end up in the illustration market it seemed prudent to round out my student portfolio with actual printed work. When I was grounded I was able to wangle a staff assignment there which was infinitely better than being assigned to hand out socks at the gym.

The experience and printed work I gained at the Digest was the compensation I needed to help me cope with my vocational loss. Out of the dozen or so pieces I did there this illustration for an article on the AH1 Cobra Up-date program was my favorite. The original is much nicer looking than this printed version – the range of blues and greys just wasn’t reproduced adequately by the two-color system the digest used. The fact that the original hangs in our sitting room is a minor miracle; the Byzantine network of regulations governing pay and compensation for commissioned officers is such that any work I created for the magazine technically belonged to the Army, but as the editor was lecturing me on that matter the staff designer whisked the original out of the office and into my car.

Technical Notes: 21”X28”   Airbrush, pen and Prismacolor pencil on illustration board

Note: There is a significant technical error with this work of art that I was totally oblivious to before a friend and long-time gunship pilot pointed it out to me.

Feel free to comment.

A Different Perspective

Jayden gets the lion’s share of write-ups but I do have other grandchildren that can lay equal claim to my heart. Last week I received a packet in the mail from my older son and his family in Maryland, a packet full of letters and pictures that were all equally wonderful…but there was one image that really fascinates me.

Henrys Airship

It was created by a grandson I call  “Hank the Tank”. It would be natural to assume that I favor him because he bears the strongest resemblance to me as a child, but he also has a slightly tilted outlook on life that I love. He brings to mind another square peg in a round hole from decades ago.

Some of the imagery is recognizable but there is an element of the surreal that is very intriging.  I see whales, submarines, Zeppelins and rockets …and I have to wonder about the story behind it all.

Thank You Kent Gardner

No – you’re not seeing things – the masthead illustration HAS gotten sharper and brighter, thanks to the efforts of my good friend Kent Gardner. Kent is a crackerjack designer from Vermont and he kindly took the time to clean up Emma and John for me. Gardner is also that rarest of commodities in the creative world: a designer who actually knows what he is talking about.

…another peek.

The book-thing is still in the works, though it has been a more placid progress than I had imagined. I may have said this already but at the outset I hadn’t planned on illustrations but there were one or two chapters that really needed images to clarify the action. Before long it was a matter of  one thing leading to another – now the whole book is getting illustrated.

This will accompany 1966: Fighting Crime on Scout Lake Road – which you can still find on this blog if you search back a bit.

Fighting Crime on Scout Lake Road

…still a little shaken.

Thank you all for hanging in with me during this dry spell. It’s been difficult to find the motivation to do anything creative after taking not one but two tumbles down the stairs. I will be eternally grateful that bumps and bruises seem to be the worst of it all but to be  honest I am not nearly as brave as I was when I was younger so it’s taking me a little longer than expected to get back up to speed.