School was finally out for summer. It was just before dawn and I stood on the cool tarmac, leaning on the lower wing of Dad’s crop duster biplane converted from a World War II Stearman trainer. He strolled out of the hangar carrying his goggles and that same scratched and faded gold helmet he had worn for years.
I’m not sure, but Dad probably wore several helmets before the one I became used to and would lower on my small head when he wasn’t looking to pretend I was doing what he was doing or had done while wearing a helmet.
He probably first donned a helmet (leather) and goggles when he joined the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor. He had his flight training at Merced Army Air Field (later Castle Air Force Base) and then in Winslow, Arizona. He became a B-29 bomber commander (pilot) in World War II and also was qualified in B-17s and B-25s.
After the war his commanding officer, who happened to be returning to his pre-war job as chief of police in Oceanside, said he needed motorcycle cops. Having belonged to a motorcycle “gang” before the war, and looking for employment when he returned home to his wife, Dad eagerly accepted the job and wore a helmet with a law enforcement badge emblazoned across the front...