Kai Friese, a writer and CNAC enthusiast in New Delhi, brought this to my attention yesterday — a short snorter signed by Ridge Hammell, Jimmy Scoff, Bob Jenkins, and Billy MacDonald (all of whom are CNAC pilots and characters in China’s Wings). Short Snorters were banknotes signed by persons traveling together during the war — and if you signed a person’s short snorter and that person could not produce it upon request, he or she owed you a drink.
The back of the bill was signed by Hollywood movie star Jinx Falkenburg, who made a USO tour in the CBI in late 1944. Here are some photos of Jinx at “glamour girls of the silver screen,” here’s a picture of Jinx flying the Hump in 1944 that Kai directed me to yesterday, and here’s one of Jinx doing a USO show that is simply spectacular.
Ridge Hammell and Jimmy Scoff both feature quite prominently in the book. Hammell, along with ex-AVG ace Joe Rosbert, survived a plane crash high in the snowy mountains. Their epic 47-day trek back to civilization with badly damaged legs ranks as one of the great tales of mountain survival of all time. Jimmy Scoff’s tales of wanton debauchery have colored every CNAC reunion I’ve attended, best of all being the time he shot the lock off a whorehouse door in Calcutta…
Neither Hammel nor Scoff survived the war, and it boggles my mind to see their signatures so clearly on these bills.
The Short Snorter Project is a website devoted to preserving short snorter history.
Here’s a link to a story Kai Friese wrote about locating the wreckage of CNAC plane #58 — the one in which Ridge Hammell crashed at the beginning of his epic crawl and walk out of the mountains. It’s a great read, with excellent photos, and an event I’ll have more to say about at some later point.