Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

13 June, 2010

THE UNTOLD STORY OF ELDRED BRANDON

Ken Wright (left) and Eldred Brandon, lifetime friends and members of the Dresden Continuation School Soccer Team, 1914-15.

My father, Ken, and Eldred Brandon were best chums all through school in Dresden (ON) and life-long friends.  They were both born in the year 1899 and their families were neighbours in the small town in the heart of Kent County.

There was always a mystique about Eldred, even in those early days.  He was unquestionably a genius and by my dad's account, just a little different than the other kids.  They got along well however.  Ken and Eldred just seemed to have mutual respect and understanding, the type that transcends years and distance. 

After high school, my dad embraced the barbering trade and Eldred eventually found his way into the United States and a position with the American government.  In story book fashion, he would climb diplomatic ranks, culminating with an appointment as a valuable and highly-regarded attache to General Douglas MacArthur.

I well remember Eldred's letters to my dad and Christmas cards bearing the return address of the American Embassy in Japan.  Without going into third-hand classified detail, it seems Eldred was privy to some extremely sensitive information involving MacArthur's role in WW11 and was methodically degraded and discredited to the point that he was eventually hospitalized with his mental stability very much a bone of contention.  In about 1944 he returned to Canada, virtually a broken man.

The much decorated MacArthur meantime (see photo with his much celebrated  corn cob pipe), Commander of U.S. Forces in the Far East from 1941 to the end of the war in 1945, was synonymous with the conflict in the Pacific.  Often referred to as a "megalomaniac" and an extremely "political" general, MacArthur imposed complete censorship of everything in his theatre.  All words attributed to him had to be good news, otherwise they were censored.  All credits went to him instead of his respective field commanders.  He was known to pander and manipulate those on his staff.

Everything that came out of MacArthur's headquarters from 1942 onward, was predicated on the next U.S. presidential election which he coveted.  Poor Eldred had the misfortune to be caught up in all of this...He knew too much and was dispensable.  Effectively eliminated, you will find no mention of an "Eldred Brandon" ever being a member of MacArthur's staff in the 1930s or 40s. 

I recall Eldred sitting in our living room at home in Dresden, incommunicado and complete with hat pulled over his ears, sun glasses and trench coat down to his ankles (a Great Dane guard dog at his feet) relating his incredible story to my father. His last visit to our home was cut short when the Great Dane began barking uncontrollably.  "They've caught up to me.  They're outside!" stated Eldred obviously referring to Secret Service agents he claimed were constantly following him.  "I'll take my leave Ken," he said with eyes darting in all directions..."I don't want to put you and your family in harm's way!"  In haste, he was gone and I don't recall him ever again crossing the threshold of our home.

Eldred had previously entrusted Ken with the authorship of a book that would tell his story in detail, potentially blowing the lid off the secrecy of the extremely controversial MacArthur era...An untold story, as it were. Sadly, the longtime friends both died before the book ever saw the light of day and they took Eldred's tale of intrigue with them. I was too young then to appreciate it all, but it has always bothered me that I could not turn back the clock and capture all that priceless information for myself.  I am left only with the 65-year-old recollections of a spellbound little boy sitting at the feet of two old friends and a huge, panting dog.

I wish I could do better for you Ken and Eldred, but you didn't leave me with much to go on...This is the best I can manage after so many years.

I trust that in due course I will stop looking over my shoulder for any secret service agents who might still be lurking in the shadows.

Special Note:  I originally planned to post this item on the Dresden Virtual History Group's web site, but it was rejected for some unknown reason.  The mystique strangely continues...Perhaps coincidental, but curious nonetheless.  I AM DETERMINED.  I OWE IT TO TWO OLD DRESDEN CHUMS who never got to tell their amazing story. 

Eldred, incidentally, was the son of Dresden Postmaster and local historian Robert Brandon and wife Edith (Hazlett).  They lived on the north corner of Holden and St. George streets.

No comments: