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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #257  (Vol. 6, No. 8)  This edition is for the week of February 21--27, 2005.

A Case of Microwave Mayhem or Misinformation in Northwest Florida?
 by William Moriaty
"The Sea Inside"
 by Mike Smith
"Filthy" and other Indie Filmmakers at MegaCon - Booth #721....Back, and Better Than Ever....Dr. Paul Bearer - 10 Year Oddservance
 by Andy Lalino
Miracle Turns 25....Oscar Predictions and Comments....Fear and Loathing No More....Speaking of Drugs....On To MegaCon
 by Brandon Jones
 by Matt Drinnenberg
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 by Mike Smith
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Did my family accidentally stumble into a Top Secret Government Project? Was their encounter...
A Case of Microwave Mayhem or Misinformation in Northwest Florida?

Let us begin...
A little background research on the two primary players in this saga is tantamount in order to establish a basis of credibility.

Although I am the author of this story, I was not personally involved in this case. I was told first hand about this story from my mother, Florence Corrine Davidson Moor who passed away on December 1, 1985.

I was next told first hand from Colonel "K", United States Air Force retired, a most incredible story that allegedly explained just what my mother, father and stepbrother experienced while on a nighttime road trip through the Eglin Air Force Base reservation in Northwest Florida in the late 1940's or early 1950's.

My mother was a remarkable person who lived a most remarkable life. In her early to middle twenties she was a singer for several big bands, most notably the Lou Davies Band and the Will Osborne Band, where her stage persona was known as "Lynn Davis". She recorded several 78-rpm vinyl records for Decca Records in the 1930s, and was friends with fellow musicians who were household names at the time, such as the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Lawrence Welk. Her band travels throughout the Deep South and Florida also had her socializing with notable figures such as "Gone With the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell (I have a copy of a film reel tape cut of my mother auditioning for the role of "Scarlett O'Hara" at Ms. Mitchell's request) and chemical heiress "Punky" Du Pont of Jacksonville.

Prior to the Second World War, my maternal grandfather, Mont Davidson, was adamant that his little ol' Southern Belle daughter not be associated with the likes of the bohemian entertainment industry and that she instead settle down into her more "rightful" place in lily white society. As a result he engineered a bit of "matrimonial matchmaking" and was instrumental in getting her married off to a Colonel in the United States Army Air Corps who was of Southern lineage and whose ancestors fired the first volleys at Union gunboats at Fort Sumter Carolina, thereby causing the War Between the States (or the "Civil War"). Well, so much for the role of "Scarlett O' Hara"! Chalk that one up to Vivien Leigh!

My mother's first husband was Colonel Preston Patton Pender, who was the commanding officer during a portion of the Second World War at Turner Army Air Base in Albany, Georgia (that's "ALL-BENNY" in Crackerspeak). Although born in the Panama Canal Zone, he was born of Southern lineage, having an ancestor who was one of the first graduates of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and came from a very influential family from the Hendersonville, North Carolina area.

During her tenure as an Army wife, my mother resumed her uncanny knack for associating with notable people, in this case luminaries such as Greg "Pappy" Boyington, author Beirne Lay Jr., and General Curtis E. Le May, to name but a few.

Not long after the War, my mother and Colonel Pender divorced and my soon afterward my mother met my father at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. They became married in the State of Mississippi in the late 1940s and settled first in the suburb of St. Petersburg, Florida known as "Bahama Shores". My father was at the time a technical representative for the southeastern United States and the Caribbean for the Ford-Philco Corporation. My stepbrother, Preston Patton Pender III was born in 1939 at Langley Army Air Base Virginia. He would be in the custody of my natural parents after my mother's divorce with his father, and by the time he was ten, my parents would take him annually to a military school that he attended in Biloxi, Mississippi.

This is where our story with the three of them will begin...

When my mother was the base commander's wife at Turner Field in Albany, Georgia, one of Colonel Pender's fellow officers was a gentleman that I will refer to as Colonel "K". Colonel "K's" wife and my mother would become best of friends for decades to come.

Colonel "K" flew bombing missions during the Second World War in the European Theater with Colonel Pender. After the War, Colonel "K" would be assigned to Keesler Army Air Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, Hickam Air Force in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was by the early 1960s, "kicked upstairs" to the Pentagon where he was involved in War Planning and wrote speeches for then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Fate would bring my mother back to Colonel "K" and his wife in the early 1960's when my father moved us to Seven Corners, Virginia so that he could work on laser research in Washington for the U.S. Navy, and again in the early 1970s when we moved back to Tampa and the good Colonel and his missus were retired at the Top of the World condominium complex in Clearwater.

But let us turn back the clock of time to a fateful late evening in September of 1949 or 1950 when Colonel "K" was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi awaiting the arrival of three dear friends from St. Petersburg, Florida sometime that next morning...

My mother and father packed up the car and left the tropical suburban oasis on St. Petersburg's southeast corner known as "Bahama Shores" in order to drive my stepbrother up to Biloxi, Mississippi where he was to attend a military school several days afterward.

Locally, their route would take them up 4th Street to Haines Rd., then out Park Boulevard to Seminole Boulevard, then over Bay Drive to Clearwater-Largo Road, then to Ft. Harrison Street. Once past Tarpon Springs they would drive up the remainder of U.S. 19 until they reached US Highway 98 in Perry. From there they would take US 98 along the Gulf of Mexico where they would reach a sliver of real estate between the towns of Ft. Walton Beach and Navarre where the roadway comes its closest to the Eglin Air Force Base reservation.

As their car was heading westward through the thick southern pines, my mother was driving, while my father was asleep in the passenger seat, and my stepbrother was asleep in the back seat. Theirs was the only car in this desolate area of US 98. Then, something incredible happened...

As their car proceed westward under diamond skies, my mother suddenly felt a sensation as if she was being electrocuted. She also felt as though her body was being forced by a great-unseen pressure or force into her seat. At this same time she noticed that the engine began sputtering and cut out. In addition, the headlights and dashboard lights went dead as well.

The car continued to travel from its own centrifugal force forward in the night's inky blackness, but began slowing, as there was no longer any engine activity to keep its movement constant. Several moments later the car somehow restarted itself, lights, engine and everything. Then she experienced the exact same bizarre chain of events but to a lesser degree. Again, she felt as if a giant hand was holding her against her seat that she was being shocked by electricity, and the car's engine and electrical power cut off. And just like the first time, the engine restarted by itself, the lights came back on, and all was right with the world.


My mother did not bother to wake up my father and stepbrother to tell them of this strange encounter that she was cognizant of as they continued westward through Okaloosa County. She instead waited to tell her tale with all present once they walked in to the living room of Colonel "K's" house at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

When she was finished recounting her story, Colonel "K" responded by saying in a rather adamant tone, "Flossie, you've been in this man's Army Air Corp long enough to know that there are certain things that we must never talk about, and what you just told me is never to be mentioned to anyone! Ever!"


So just what did happen on that fateful night back in 1949 or 1950 on US 98 in the piney woods of Okaloosa County next to the adjacent Eglin Air Force Base reservation? Did my mother suffer the effects of sleep deprivation or some form of night terror? Did she experience a mild heart attack or a stroke? Did the car experience an electrical or engine problem?

Or was the something else at work here? Was something more sinister or insidious the cause of this incident?

Something that would prompt Colonel "K" to do or say anything necessary in order to cover up the incident on behalf of the United States Government in the name of National Security?

Join us next week as I discuss this case more in-depth and share with you its shocking revelations!

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.