According to my dad, the publicity Grandpa Mel received for locating the crash site, and the "hub-bub" which followed the lawsuit over the reward, made him a minor celebrity in the tiny town of Alpine, Utah. The reward money, and the salary he received while working for the Airline on body recovery was enough for the family to live a little better than they had in the previous few years.
If you recall, Grandpa was able to buy a radio so he could listen to the news without having to leave Fort Canyon to get the news at the local store. Radio was the main entertainment for people all over the country...with soap operas, game shows and sporting events along with news and weather.
All in all, life was getting back to normal for the Devey family...until January 1938 when the letter from "We The People" arrived in the mail.
"We The People..."
One of the most popular radio shows of the day was called "We The People." It was a talk show from Phillips H. Lord Inc. Radio Productions. Mr. Lord is the gentleman on the left. The program billed itself as "truly a cross-section of American Life." All races and ages appreared on We The People...some examples:
- A 91 year old Negro slave.
- An eyewitness to the Chicago fire.
- Indian Chiefs.
- The granddaughter of Charles Dickens.
- Mary and her little lamb. (I am not making this up)
- The man who owns the universe.
- Casey Jones's fireman.
- A man who assisted Pasteur in the first innoculation against rabies.
"Dear Mr. Devey," read the letter, "Would you be willing to come to New York and appear on the radio with us, if all your expenses were paid?" The letter explains a little bit about the radio show, then continues, "We would like to know whether you would be available for a possible broadcast some Thursday night in the very near future necessitating your arrival the preceding Tuesday." They then asked him a lot of questions about the Lost Plane and asked him to send them the information as soon as possible:
- What were you doing on December 15th?
- Did you notice the plane in the air?
- When did you first hear of or see the wreck?
- Exactly when did you first reach the plane?
- What first met your eyes?
- Were there any survivors?
- Give us a full description of the wreck.
- How many persons were killed?
- How many people were in your party?
- Where did you take the victims?
- What was done with the wreckage?
- Were you the first person to reach the wreck?
- What are you doing now?
Here's the problem...one of the sponsors of "We The People" was Western Air Express...the very airline who owned the doomed aircraft that crashed on Lone Peak. He would be flying in the same type of plane and Grandpa Mel's expenses would be paid if full if he were to fly to New York on Western Air Express.
But Grandpa had gotten his fill of airplanes, working at the crash site. He knew what burned and twisted metal looked like. Could he please travel by train? After some negotiations, the sponsor backed out and Grandpa did not get his trip to New York. He would have nothing to do with flying for many years.
There is still more of this story to tell. Tune in again...same time...same station.