Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Uncle Sam Wants Your Birds'

A few days ago I praised the New York Times for its engrossing obituary of an obscure but important figure in recent history, Henry Molaison, a man who lost his memory and never regained it. Today an equally fascinating obit appears, Margalit Fox's classy piece on Richard Topus, a successful food industry figure who had trained carrier pigeons for the U.S. military during World War II.

The piece goes deeply -- and fascinatingly -- into the history of pigeons used in long-distance communications. The most interesting factoid: During the war the Maidenform brassiere company manufactured paratrooper vests with pouches to carry pigeons.

"I dreamed I leaped into Normandy with the 101st Airborne in my Maidenform . . . "

1 comment:

  1. Henry - What I found most interesting in the article was the use of falcons as anti-pigeon weapons in World War II.

    This could have led to a raptor weapon escalation; falcons to oppose pigeons, eagles to oppose falcons, condors to oppose eagles, all leading to the development by the Nazis of a master race of warrior chickens. A truly frightening thought.