~ Howard Miner, 1944
Howard and buddy Pete Maravich unwind during shore leave. Pete went on to coach his son, “Pistol” Pete, in college.
Book cover shows Howard’s sketch of a Corsair fighter escort above B-24 formation. Howard is pictured in front of his Biplane trainer in 1942.
I was, perhaps, five years old when Dad led me over to his file cabinet in our basement and showed me a tattered manilla folder. It was the first time I had seen his sketches ~ exciting images of planes, soldiers, and jungles that thrilled me and made me proud. For years afterward, I continued to sneak to the cabinet with friends and show them his art. One day, I found the cabinet locked, and it would be many years before I would see the sketches again. He passed away last year at 92, and we discovered, among his effects, several large boxes of writing, folders of assorted treasures, and the sketches. I was relieved to find them, but I wasn’t expecting this new world of unanticipated writing, photos, and memorabilia, much of it from WWII. I had always felt the artwork needed a forum and I wanted to see them into print somehow, but now I had the makings of an interesting story, a memoir that could include the art and photos. For the next year, I went about the task of sorting, corroborating, and writing, until at last I had a manuscript I felt would both entertain and educate, sharing with the reader the artwork that had up until now, remained largely unseen by the public. “Sketches of a Black Cat” is my father’s story. He was a seaplane pilot, one of the Black Cats who patrolled the skies of the South Pacific at night in planes painted entirely black during WWII. He describes, in vivid detail, the life changing experiences of training and making the grade as an aviator. Mixed in are the everyday humor and challenges of living in the wartime Philippines. Dad spent his time away from the fray sketching and painting what he was seeing, and his artwork is the fabric of a warm and compelling tale of an average guy thrust into the chaos for two tours of duty during the war. The descriptions of rescued fliers, camp life, warm friendships, and dramatic missions all blend to resonate with those of us whose parents made up the “Greatest Generation.”
Nov 11th (Veterans Day) ~ 12 noon interview on KMUZ 88.5 Local FMRadio with B. Lee Coyne
Sept 28th ~ Authorama Author Fair ~ Salem Public Library. There will be 40 authors with their respective works. There will be presentations and readings throughout the day (ours in the afternoon). Free. Saturday, 11-4PM
Aug 3rd ~ Tillamook Air Museum ~ We’ll be at the Annual Auto Show
July 18th ~ Oregon Pilots Association Dinner (Independence Chapter). Presentation to members.
July 11-13th ~ Arlington Fly-in, Arlington, Wash. Scheduled for an Artwork display, book signing and possible presentation.
June 25th ~ noon luncheon presentation and book signing at the PBY Memorial Foundation in Oak Harbor, Washington.
May ~ Meeting with the Museum Director of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas to discuss the book and hosting the exhibit (from the Evergreen Museum) in 2014. This will be quite an honor to be a part of an event at this prominent national museum. Update We are tentatively scheduled for a 90 day much expanded exhibit beginning Mid May of 2014.
April 6th ~ The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is hosting the artwork from the book in a newly created Glass Gallery room on the balcony above the “Spruce Goose.” This beautiful, unused classroom seemed wasted as storage and a lunchroom, and with a little creative persuasion, a new Gallery was born. We will have a book signing reception on April 6th, and an event including Black Cat Alex Catlow preceeding. The artwork will be on display here until sometime this summer.
11/30/12 5:30-7:00 Corban University Psalm Center Art Gallery hosts a reception featuring Howard’s artwork and assorted photos as well as a kick off book signing event for the new book. More info at www.corban.edu. Artwork will be on display through Jan. 28, 2013.
“Wonderful and beautifully real stories such as this are dying every day as we lose our WWII veterans. Kudos to Ron Miner for preserving and sharing the gold of his father’s journals, photos, and drawings to bring us such a compelling look at life during the war. This is not only a valuable and insightful historical document but a dramatic and warm personal story.”
DON KEITH, author of Undersea Warrior, Firing Point, and War Beneath the Waves
“Sketches of a Black Cat” is a unique and fascinating memoir of a World War II combat aviator ~ with original and previously unpublished sketches and photographs. This artfully crafted book is a must-read for anyone in search of a new and completely different view of war in the Pacific and on the home front during America’s greatest conflict.”
LARKIN SPIVEY, military historian and author of Battles and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II, and many other books about faith in war.