I recently acquired a family photo album that is more of a scrapbook; filled not only with pictures of bygone relatives, but with valuable, written histories, too. With modern technology, I envision worn and weathered photo albums becoming relics. Even albums from when my son was a baby, look dated. So many family histories are lost, and I always find it sad to find decades-old photographs in flea markets; these sepia-tinted orphans that belong in a family. (Of course, finding old photos is my thing.) With Facebook and other online media, your every move can be documented; immortalized for all time. If you’re a celebrity and want to know what you ate for lunch a year ago, just Google.
I’m lucky that my ancestors deemed their lives worthy of commemorating, otherwise, I’m not so sure I would have known I had relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
I was also thrilled to learn that there’s some writer-illustrator genes that go way back.
In the back of the album are original drawings from 1924 by author and cartoonist, Frank V. Martinek. He had married into my crazy family. Martinek was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and in an effort to educate and help recruit American youth, particularly in the Midwest, Martinek created the comic strip, Don Winslow of the Navy.
Winslow was based on a character in novels Martinek had already written. The comic strip ran from 1934 to 1955, and two films were made in the ’40s. Martinek didn’t actually do the illustrating for the comic, but provided all of the stories. Originally created as a propaganda tool, the strip was said to be very popular for its “excellence suspense, and ingenious, spine-joggling situations.” One historian said that Don Winslow is filled with “intrigue, spychasing, beautiful women, and villains with names like Dr. Centaur, the Dwarf, and the Scorpion.”
Martinek wrote several books:
Don Winslow and the Navy
Don Winslow Saves the Secret Formula
Don Winslow Breaks the Spy Net
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Great War Plot
Don Winslow Navy Intelligence Ace
Don Winslow U.S.N. in Ceylon
Don Winslow and the Scorpion’s Stronghold
Don Winslow and the Giant Girl Spy (The Better Little Book)
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Secret Enemy Base
Lieutenant Commander Don Winslow U.S.N. (The Big Little Book)
Know Your Man
Face to Face with the Scorpion
You can download Don Winslow of the Navy (1940) for free or read it online. I don’t have any other particular reason for this post, other than to well . . . preserve some history.