"What a Wonderful Life"
by Blackie Bradford
Bradford, Blackie (Earnest Gordon):
"What a Wonderful Life", self published, large 12mo (5 3/4 x 8 1/2 in), illustrated card covers, plastic spiral bound, August, 1994, 23 photographs/illustrations (including those on the covers) reproduced in black and white halftone, unpaginated but 112 pp. This is not an autobiography. Rather, it is a series of Blackie's own stories from various times in his life. I suspect that this book provides the final chapter in the "Blackie the Photographer" story. A story of which so many who lived on Okinawa have their own fleeting and special recollections.
Below I will list a number of points I have taken from Blackie's stores.
- Born on July 8, 1921 in Kansas.
- Grew up in the 1930s on the Heck ranch near Red River, New Mexico (Santa Fe area) and other locations in that area.
- Joined the Air Force in 1940 and served one tour and after a short interval signed up again. Graduated from a special course and became an enlisted pilot - "a flying Sgt." Flew forty-two B24 and B17 bombing and "special night" missions out of Italy during WWII. After the war transferred to the Pacific.
- Arrived in Okinawa in 1949 (August) and spent 18 1/2 years there. Departed Okinawa in 1968 (precise date not given but probably February).
- Discharged from the Air Force (1952) and remained on Okinawa where he became a "professional photographer" which he described as "...something of a miracle...."for an ole cowboy."
- Served as a foreign correspondent for NBC TV.
- Had a deep respect for foreign missionaries and a friend on Okinawa was the Reverend Otis Bell.
An interesting facet of Blackie's photography was the coloring of photographs. In the early 1950s he began using "Lewis," a half Filipino and half Okinawan, to colorize black and white photographs. While Lewis was good at coloring photographs, the business increased past his capacity. Blackie noted that at one time Lewis trained and used ten Okinawans to color photographs for his operation.
The table of contents (stories) for the book is provided below. There is one story in the book which is not listed in it however. It is titled "I Still Get Tearied Eyed When I Read Them." The story is here.
For more information on Blackie the Photographer books, click here.
Table of Contents.
My Aunt Olatha
Saturday Night Bath & My Ford Dump Truck
Half Jewish and Raised By An Indian
Mind Your Mom and Dad
High School Years In 1930's
A Black Horse Named Midnight
$2.00...A Lot Of Money
One Biscuit Left
Traveling Long Ago, Model "T" Style
Boxing and Red Headed Women
Hitch-hiking In Uniform
Las Vegas Nevada...Hammock
Driving In The Mountains In A Snow Storm
Courting Miss Lyons, 1947
World War H Army Air Corps. Flying Sgt.
Dropping "Joes" World War H
Troop Ships & A Muck
World War II, Guard Duty
World War II, City Street Patrolling
World War II, Only Part Of The Crew Got Back
World War II, Grandma's Chow Line
I Could Have Been The Last Man Killed In WWII
The Ups & Downs Of Photography
Clark Held P.I. 1947 to 1948
Foreign Correspondent For NBC T.V.
Two Friends I'll Never Forget
Jack, a bum because of drinking that went to his head
Grandma & Grandpa's Number One Granddaughter
Jessica Ashley Bradford, Teeth and All
Mission Work In Okinawa
Missionaries, My Favorite Brand Of People
Tokiko, A True Miracle
My Friend, Reverend Bell
Newlyweds & Okinawan Tradition
Happy 70th Birthday & The Good Lord