JAC: In 1955 I flew to the West Coast to visit my distributors in San Francisco and Southern California. They were mom-and-pop at best, and I was planning to abandon so-called national distribution and sell to the regional independents directly. It would cut out the middleman and give us more direct control, and we needed both the improved marketing and the additional gross margin of about thirty cents per album to expand the label.
On my United Airlines flight to San Francisco one of the four prop engines caught fire, belching smoke into the cabin, and another began to sound asthmatic. Serious trouble. The priest next to me began fingering his beads at just under the speed of light. Mothers were running up and down the aisle lamenting, "I'll never see my baby again." From the cockpit, not a word.
We were twenty minutes from Denver. I sat staring at my watch as the second hand moved very s-l-o-w-l-y. We were far enough out that they had time to foam the runway. We jounced to an OK landing, but at that point I had serious problems with flying. I cashed in what was left of my ticket and took the train, a Vistadome streamliner where you could perch in a bubble top and view the world passing by, and at night curl up in a sleeper.
On that train I met a Catholic nun, a Maryknoll sister from New York State, transitioning to her new convent in Stockton, California. She was a bright and wise lady in her early