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Airstream Brothers

The Airstream brothers

The exact year this old photo was taken is fuzzy but, judging by the size of the little squirt on the left — that would be me — my best guess is 1939.

It had to be a pretty important event to get Dad to drive as far as he did for this rendezvous. He didn’t like driving anyway, especially hauling a trailer. On this trip we were in the Midwest somewhere, a very long way in those days from our home in Santa Monica.

The three big guys are my half brothers, sons from my dad’s first marriage. The two short ones with the big ears, Bill and me, are the result of his second and, I’m pretty sure, only other marriage. But, then Dad was a career Army officer who had already traveled the world, and would be doing so again, so who knows?

Bill and I were growing up on the west coast. The three older boys lived back east with their Mom. We had never met. The “event” was a fatherly gesture by Dad to get all of his boys together.

It’s the Airstream I really want to talk to you about, but, hey, today is Memorial Day. I’ve bragged about my dad and brothers a lot over the years but this is the first time on paper. Bear with me if you will.

Known as the “colonel” by most everyone who knew him, my dad came up through the ranks. He ended his distinguished 40-year Army career in 1949, and retired a “tombstone B.G” who worked hard for another 10 years before passing on.

His most notable achievements had to do with his early duty in the Philippines, and in Germany following World War II where he was involved with locating and recovering stolen art and other treasures.

The three older boys in the photo were right smack in the way of World War II. On your right is Ozzie who was a Navy pilot and flight instructor during the war. Next to him is Jerry. He was an ordinance officer in England arming bombers and was awarded the Soldiers Medal for rescuing the crew of a burning B-17.

The family didn’t learn of Jerry’s heroism until more than a year later when Dad was notified of the award, courtesy of the War Department. Jerry had said nothing to even his new, young bride and would likely never have done so.

When Korea came along, Jerry was reassigned — to the infantry this time — and spent the better part of a couple of years over there in a mud hole. On his right is Winthrop, the youngest of the three older boys. Win was a pilot and went down with his plane while flying military cargo over the “hump.” His remains were not found for 50 years, but now he is back home and at peace.

There would be other wars to keep Bill and me busy.

Now, about that Airstream. I’ve been doing some limited research to see if I could identify the old girl. Obviously she was an Airstream, but what year and model?

I found a recent photo online at Tom Strongman’s Auto Ink website. It’s a 1936 Airstream Clipper, the Wally Byam re-do of the Bowlus. This one belongs to Vince Martinico of Auburn, Calif.

It looks very much like a match. The overall look and the distinctive clearance rise at the rear for example. But wait! The cat-eye window at the front. Is that the same size and shape? And, the length?

In the old photo, with the guys in the way, it’s hard to tell how many side windows ours had, but it looks like ours may have been a little longer. Was it? Was there more than one length built?

You Airstream experts out there, if you can help solve the mystery, please sign in below and tell us what you can. Thank you.

About Robert Sears

Robert Sears is a professional driving instructor who once owned a company that trained more than 70,000 people to drive. Today he is an author working on several non-fiction books and writing traffic safety articles for consumer and special interest publications. He is a 30-year motorhome owner who has logged several hundred thousand miles of RV driving experience.

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