It Took Man from Chicago to Discover Highway to Glory in London–Another Pegler Story

Westbrook Pegler

Walnut Valley Times (El Dorado, KS)/November 3, 1916

By J.W. Pegler

United Press Correspondent

London, Sept. 28. (By Mail.) It took a man from Chicago to see the way to distinction in London. His distinction is doubtful but nevertheless he is the only man in London afraid of Zeppelin bombs or the only man who isn’t a liar.

He never saw one in passive or active mood, and when he heard them recently his respect increased by several parasangs in one instantaneous bound.

He has no desire to quarrel with 500 pounds of cordite and scrap-iron. He doesn’t even want to argue with it.

He doesn’t want a darn thing to do with a Zeppelin bomb!

When Field Marshal Lord French issues a communiqué late at night saying “Zeppelins raided East Coast areas tonight and were engaged by our anti-aircraft guns and aeroplanes” the gent from Buena Park takes an intense interest in the location of subway stations.

If the communiqué adds “several bombs were dropped without military damage; the raid is progressing” our hero begins to feel canaries scampering up and down his spine.

Lord French did issue one of those nonchalant statements a few nights ago. The distinguished party sat at his desk on the night trick, handling news to New York and other points West. He had never been through a Zeppelin raid. He wondered what they really were like but of course he wouldn’t insist on a demonstration just for the sake of learning. Oh, no; the Zeppelins needn’t bother on his account.

The building is an old one with massive doors and long catacomb halls in which a footfall sounds like the report of a gun.

The news ticker before him drolled off routine news. Ho hum! It was a dull night; if something would only happen to make a story for the cable.

Even the ticker went silent. An hour passed. Gee, it was dull. The Chicagoan picked up that communiqué. “The raid is progressing.”

Suddenly the ticker had a spasm of coughing; it sputtered and jiggled and the type-roller made a few tentative jabs at the tape, threatening to print something.

Then it came.

“The special constables of the London District have been ordered to report to their stations at once,” said the ticker.

The canaries got busy playing tag, scampering with icy little feet up and down a liberal length of vertebrae.

Over near the black-mouthed fireplace the corpulent cable operator dozed in a chair. Maybe he would like to know about it; not that anyone wanted comforting words from a veteran of many raids but just maybe he would like to know.

The man afraid of Zeppelin bombs nudged him into wakefulness and handed him the slip off the ticker.

“They’ll probably come to London then,” he said, sleepily. “They’re hell—that’s what they are! Plain hell. I have been in a lot of raids and once a bomb dropped a block away from me.”

“ ’S that so? What did it do to you?” casually.

“Knocked me clean over. Those bombs are strong; zz-izz-snau-au-xx.” He was asleep again.

Somewhere way down the long hall a door slammed and the Zeppelin rookie looked around. It was only a door slamming. Pretty soon the slammer re-entered his room and the door banged again.

Five minutes later a gun boomed. There was no door about that. Like the flowers of spring the Zeps were here.

Splitting a crack in the atmosphere, the operator zipped down the hall and tumbled down the stairs three at a bound. The man afraid of Zeps made the basement in 15 minutes less than nothing flat, but found the cable operator there before him.

“I’m not afraid of those things but it’s best to be downstairs when they’re around.”

Boom-boo-oom! Boom-boo-oom!

The party was getting very rough.

A young fellow came through the basement corridor. He was so cold in the night air that his teeth chattered like castenets. He wasn’t afraid either.

The Zeppelins seemed to be keeping away from the main stem of London so the trio went into the street.

Out north the sky was afire and everywhere stars were bursting a deafening boom. A Zeppelin was framed in the crisscrossing lightshafts of half a dozen stations.

The booming died out. The Zeppelin had disappeared and one had been brought to earth.

And there is no contempt for the bombs.

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