Michael Frome Veterans Air Navigator and Pop…as told by his son, Will.
When Michael Frome spent time with his daughter, Michele, and son, Will, they didn’t talk about sports or current events or even school.
“When Pop took Michele and me out to breakfast, we talked about things like longitude and latitude. He taught us how to shoot the stars – with a sextant!”
“How old were you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe 6. Maybe 7.”
Then Will added, “In the Preface to his book Battle for the Wilderness, Michael recounted a commercial flight he took on a 747.
“Pop went forward to the cockpit. He looked at all the computers and dials. And shook his head. During WW II he had lead his entire squadron of planes across the Pacific Ocean using nothing more than his sextant.”
In my initial research, I found the June 2016 issue of Portogram, Michael Frome’s monthly newsletter. I read details about a similar (if not the same) flight in that issue. About navigating a DC-3, from San Francisco to Hawaii, and then “island hopping” all the way to Australia, Michael Frome wrote, “Our first leg from San Francisco to Hawaii took 14 hours. I learned then and thereafter that the stars never lie.”
Wonder if he used a sextant to guide our DC-4’s to Prague and Warsaw????
Sorry. I digressed. Will, please continue.
Hot off the typewriter keys…
“My Pop didn’t take me out to play catch. He’d come out of his office, pages in hand, sit me down and read to me…with great enthusiasm…the latest thing that he had written.”
That’s how Will explains to me one of the reasons that he really had not read Rebel On the Road, his father’s book. (Or maybe any of his father’s copious books. I’m not quite sure.)
I had a copy of Rebel with me, chuck-a-block with Post-its at points that I wanted to remember.
“Why do you have that with you?” Will asked.
“Because I’m proud of it and I want to show it to our Veterans Air families. There are photos of you in here. Did you know that?”
“Really. Here. Take a look.”
“Oh, yeah! I remember seeing that photo, of course,” Will remarked. Looking closer, “That’s my Pop, my grandmother and my Uncle Marvin.”
I turned a page or two and handed the book back to him.
“Lookie here! Yep, I remember when this was taken,” he said, pointing to a snapshot on photo page B. It was a family photo, taken at “Christmas in our first home.” All seated on the floor in front of a brick fireplace are Will and Michele and their Dad and Mom, Thelma.
Later, I asked Will to sign that last photo for me and he did! An autographed treasure for sure.
As he pointed out some other things in the book that were familiar to him, I took his picture. Will Frome getting acquainted with his dad’s book and enjoying the pictures.
(Dear Reader, I almost forgot. A record player was in the Christmas photo, too. I remember having one just like it as a child. It’s nestled in a striped “suitcase” with the lid up. Did you have one, too?)
A common nemesis crashed many piloting dreams – and it wasn’t always eye sight.
“Dad wanted to be a pilot. But he didn’t do so well with math. So he became a navigator. And when I was in school, he was really tough on me to learn my math.”
I remarked, “Math seems to factor highly in your career success, Will. Your Pop must be very proud.”
Pop and Michael – one and the same
You noticed, no doubt, Will Frome alternately calls his dad Michael and Pop. I love that. My Dad wanted me to call him Rex. It wasn’t his name. Have no idea where it came from. I tried it for a while. But he didn’t look like a Rex to me. He looked like my Dad. My Daddy. Saunie. Even now, today, that’s how I think of him. No Rex. Dad and Saunie. Just like Michael and Pop. I understand, Will.