“The Ancient One”— Alaska’s Kesugi Ridge
Photograph by Rupert Pratt—September 1996

TextInGreen.gif  (MORE)


June 12, 2008

The whole upper Mississippi River Valley and the tributaries that feed it are in great turmoil at this time. Sometimes, situations like this don’t become real until it strikes at something or someone we know. That’s the case here.

Elkader, in northeast Iowa and located on the Turkey River, is right now fighting to survive a record-breaking flood. In a message I just received from Ed Olson, friend, resident, and former Mayor, he briefly outlined the situation.

“Some 100 persons were forced from their homes when the 30.9 ft. high waters came rushing down the center of Elkader (flood stage is about 12 ft.). Some 30 businesses are trying to recover and business in the city is at a standstill.”

The Clayton County Register has pictures of the disaster.
You can see the pictures by clicking here:

Ed Olson is a fellow survivor of the 1954 C-47 crash in Alaska which is the event around which my book Touching the Ancient One is based. One of our several reunions was held in Elkader in 1999. It's a splendid little town.

If anyone would like to contact Ed, send me a note through this site to that affect and I’ll send along your address or phone number. They’re going to need some help.


Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 12:34PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

Cliff Hudson in French

June 9, 2008

Even with the recent and beautifully done film about Cliff Hudson by Tom Staggs, I’ve missed not having more footage of Cliff in action “serving the people in the bush.” Ed Fox recently discovered just such a film on the DailyMotion website. It was made in 1992. The only difficulty is that the voiceover is in French. Several conversations between Cliff and others, however, are in English.

If you want a good overview of Cliff Hudson at work as one of Alaska’s premiere bush pilots, then click here to see the ten-minute film. Also, pass it along to others you know would appreciate it.


Posted on Monday, June 9, 2008 at 10:16AM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

Reunion Article in People Magazine

June 4, 2008

Way back in 1996 when our C-47 Survivors Group had its first reunion in Dayton, Ohio, the magazine People sent writer Kate Klise (I misspelled her last name in my book, and for that I apologize) to cover it. Her article “After the Fall” appeared in the September 23, 1996 edition.

Just recently, I’ve discovered that the text portion of the article can be read on the People website. In fact, the whole issue, with pictures and all, can be downloaded from there as a PDF file. Should you wish to do that, be prepared for a long download. Even with my fast connection it took thirteen minutes.

Click here for People website and article download link.

If you don’t have Adobe Reader, which is necessary to read PDF files, you can download it from this site by clicking on Downloads in the sidebar or by clicking here.


Posted on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 07:48AM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment


April 11, 2008

Recent entries on this site have told the story of how David West-Watson of Wales found the survivors of the airplane crash in Alaska that took the life of his father, William Ronald West-Watson in 1954. As one of the survivors of that crash, I related in my book, Touching the Ancient One: A True Story of Survival and Reunion, the details of my search for the West-Watson family and David’s subsequent finding of us. I also made available pdf files of magazine and newspaper articles that told David’s story. You can read them again by at easy download of RegisterArticle-West-Watson.pdf and REDISCOVERING.pdf.

Now, many years later, David and his wife Anne have started a fund that will benefit children of families devastated by accidents, as was his family in 1954. I believe the emphasis will be on children of men and women lost at sea, although I’m not yet certain of that. David is captain of the chemical tanker Stolt Cormorant which is owned and operated by the company, Stolt Nielsen. David and Anne are well acquainted with the dangers that accompany such work. They have named their project “Kesugi Children” which is apt, since David’s father died on Kesugi Ridge in Alaska. I believe that no money will go directly to the child or parent, but to support areas for the child’s benefit. David is running in the London Marathon this Sunday, April 18 to raise money for the fund.

When I get more details, including contacts, for this worthwhile project, I’ll publish them. I’m sure some of you will be interested in contributing. Stand by.


Posted on Friday, April 11, 2008 at 01:41PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

Stolt Cormorant Photo

February 14, 2008 

David West-Watson, about whom I have written in this journal, is not only the son of William Ronald West-Watson, a British military physician who died in the 1954 C-47 crash that six of us survived, he is also captain of the chemical tanker Stolt Cormorant. Click here to see a photograph of the Stolt Cormorant.


Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 06:27PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

More About the West-Watsons

West-Watsons-Elkader.jpgDecember 27, 2007

In October, I provided readers of this journal with a link for downloading the article “Rediscovering the Past and Shaping the Future,” which is about David West-Watson, son of William Ronald West-Watson, the British military officer and physician who died in the 1954 C-47 crash that I survived along with five others. Now, there’s another download about the West-Watsons, but first I have to tell a little back-story.

David was four when his father was killed. He grew up not knowing there were survivors of the crash. In 2005 he stumbled onto a web site that had a picture of a memorial plaque with his father’s name on it. The survivors’ names are also on the plaque and, because of that, he was able to find me. David and Anne, his wife, attended our survivor group reunion that summer in Cincinnati. They also traveled to Alaska and climbed to the crash site. Finding his father’s grave at Fort Richardson was an emotional, but satisfying experience.

This fall, David and Anne came visiting from their home in Wales. They were in upstate New York with Millie and I for four wonderful days. From here they went to Elkader, Iowa to spend Thanksgiving with Ed and Ruth Olson. Ed is also one of the survivors of the crash. Then, they moved on to Ohio to be with Keith and Jan Betscher for several days before returning home.

While they were in Elkader, Reporter Bryce Durbin did an article for the Clayton County Register. Mr. Durbin has given permission to offer the article as a PDF file for private use. It’s an interesting and well-written article. You can download RegisterArticle-West-Watson.pdf, here, or from Downloads in the sidebar.


Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 02:30PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

"Portrait of a Legend" Honored

November 26, 2007 

Portrait of a Legend: Talkeetna's Cliff Hudson has been chosen to participate in the Anchorage International Film Festival. The Stagg Films movie will be shown with a short documentary film titled Unraveling the Wind. The festival runs from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, December 9.

This is quite an honor. Portrait of a Legend: Talkeetna's Cliff Hudson deserves the recognition. I can't attend the Festival, but you can bet I would if I could. You can also order Portrait of a Legend: Talkeetna's Cliff Hudson DVD by clicking here.


Posted on Monday, November 26, 2007 at 06:12PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | Comments Off

A Great Magazine Article!

David-Anne.jpg David and Anne West-Watson - 2005

October 30, 2007

Readers of Touching the Ancient One will recall the part that David West-Watson played in the last chapter of the book. A recent magazine article about David will be of particular interest to those readers.

David is the son of William Ronald West-Watson, the British military officer and physician who perished in the 1954 C-47 Alaskan crash that is the basis of my book. It was not until 2005 that David learned there had been survivors of the crash and that they have an active reunion group which includes families of men who died that tragic day.

David is captain of the Stolt Cormorant, a chemical tanker belonging to Stolt-Nielsen Limited. An article recently appeared in Stolten, the corporate magazine of Stolt-Nielsen. The article, Rediscovering the Past and Shaping the Future, tells about David West-Watson’s searching for and finding his "dad,” and in the process changing his “perspective on life.” It goes on to tell how David is using the long-ago tragedy as an incentive toward a project that will benefit others who have lost loved ones through tragic events. This well-written article is an inspiration.

I have permission from Stolten to offer it for download as a pdf file. You can find REDISCOVERING.pdf in Downloads in the sidebar on the right, or by clicking here.



Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 08:29AM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment

Policy for Using Photographs on this Website

October 22, 2007

I’ve had some requests to use photographs that are on this website. I thought I should state my policies about that. All the photographs here are under copyright law. If there is no credit listed with a photograph, it is assumed to be my own. Where credits are given, I have permission to use them but cannot give permission for anyone else to use them. My own photographs may be used free of charge for personal use, and for non-commercial websites provided credit is given me and a link back to the main page of this website is established. Commercial websites, or companies and individuals that may want to use my photographs commercially, may contact me personally by email.


Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 at 09:32AM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | Comments Off

Honoring A Salt Rock Friend

October 9, 2007

Winston “Wink” Harbour, another friend from Salt Rock, died last week. Yes, if you’ve been reading my logs, the surname should be familiar. In my May 23, 2007 log, just a few short months ago, I told you about Ed Harbour—his passing, and something of our long friendship. Wink is Ed’s older brother by a couple of years.

Although Ed and I were in the same grade all through school, and therefore closer in many ways, Wink, also played a part in my life. First of all, he always seemed bigger than life to me. He was stronger, faster, and more athletic; those were the most important traits to a teen-age boy back then—maybe now, too. Wink became a football player, a guard, in high school, and he was a good one. Soon, we were hearing things like “the best lineman ever at Barboursville” being voiced in the community. And that may have been true. In the 1948 season, Barboursville was undefeated until late in the season when they met Milton, also undefeated. Milton may have won that game, but Barboursville had a great team, and Wink was one of the anchors.

Ed and I were a couple of years behind, but we wanted to be football players too. In ninth grade, we were allowed to walk over from the junior high to the high school and practice in full pads, this in lieu of our regular physical education classes. That was supposed to give us an edge when we got to the high school the following year. During the summer before our high school debut, Wink took us under his wing and unselfishly taught us all he knew about playing on the line. His teaching served us well over the next three years.

Wink served in the Korean War, and by the time he came back, I was at Marshall. He asked me if I’d like to go with him to visit Hubert Harshbarger in St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington. Wink and Hubert had been great friends in high school. Hubert went to Syracuse University and had been on the football squad there. He bought a motorcycle and was on the way home when he had an accident that took one of his legs. Hubert was really down during our visit, and Wink worked hard to cheer him up. On the way out of St. Mary’s, Wink was quiet. He turned away from me, but not before I saw tears on his cheeks.

I only saw Wink a few times after that and don’t know much about his later life, but the things I remember from our younger days are good things to remember.


Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 04:41PM by Registered CommenterRupert Pratt in | CommentsPost a Comment