“The adventure that the hero is ready for is the one he gets…“
–Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Our hero works as a buyer in the Rumford Tower, downtown New York City in 1927. He has arrived from Ohio, heading from the country to the big city like many an ambitious ladder climber in the wild and prosperous 1920’s. Some found success. Charlie Russo not only positioned himself as one of the top men in E.B. Rumford’s company, but he is engaged to the owner’s daughter and the Rumfords have unimaginable wealth. With homes in Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island the Rumford’s daughter Francine is accustomed to being pampered. Despite his achievement Charlie does not feel fulfilled. Francine is driving him crazy and he is not prepared to step into an even higher position for his future father-in-law.
It’s 1927 and Charlie Russo is a fanatic when it comes to the New York Yankees who in 1927 have constructed perhaps the greatest team ever to take a baseball field. Charlie constantly follows the Yankees to the consternation of Francine. Charlie like the Yankees has a sense of destiny. Babe Ruth’s chasing the single season home run record is the epitome of having it all.
Under the grandstand Charlie is taken by a tall, lean freckled face young woman with a carryon bag. As he strikes up a conversation with this woman with the short auburn hair he realizes she is mysterious, smart, and for Charlie Russo somehow, she appears to be a part of his personal destiny.
Her name is Jamal and she has an intuitive knowledge of history-even the history that has not yet come to be. Still cognizant of his commitment to Francine Charlie does not follow her to the turnstiles, a decision he will regret as he returns to his friends in the box seats. He watches Ruth and Gehrig on the field but his mind is back with the stunning woman he let slip his grasp.
Enter Charles Lindbergh.
Charlie is fascinated with Lindbergh’s solo attempt to fly the Atlantic. It is that inner destiny beyond the superficial that fires up Charlie to drive his Packard, a gift from Francine, to Roosevelt Field on Long Island early in the morning of May 20, 1927. Destiny has a way of capturing what Joseph Campbell called serendipity. In the crowd past the hundreds of cars in the field, Charlie spots the woman, bag strapped over her shoulder, from under the grandstand at Yankee Stadium. Jamal is as delighted to see Charlie as he is enamored by her presence. She speaks emotionally as if she already knows about Lindbergh and the flight to Paris.
Charlie Learns the Truth
Charlie hugs Jamal and jumps up and down as Lindbergh barely clears the telephone wires. He later drives Jamal back to Columbus Circle in New York City. When he follows her to her flat, he discovers that she is not from his time period and is on a mission to prevent the destruction of humanity by the Avegis of the future. In the bag is Elf, a sophisticated computer. Jamal must gather rare elements to build a transmitter to warn a friendly extraterrestrial race of the past. The adventure begins.
The road of any adventure is filled with obstacles and pitfalls. The Bureau of Investigation, forerunner of the FBI with likeable agents Pierson and Ellery led by Agent Gifford-‘Giff’ soon are surveilling Jamal and Charlie because of a tip from one of Francine’s suitors. Charlie and Jamal attend the huge parade in New York City that acknowledges Lindbergh’s achievement. Charlie did not think that he and Jamal would be captured in black and white by film crews covering the parade.
The fall from grace from the Rumfords and the threat to humanity.
Not only is Francine rumored to have begun an affair with the man from Chicago, but Charlie’s relationship with Jamal is outed in a dramatic way. All his hard work, his rise to success explodes like fireworks in the night. As Jamal continues with her transmitter work Charlie arranges with his friend Herbie to house the transmitter atop the Rumford Building. Elf has found through her readings that her comrades have come back through time and are locked in an electromagnetic continuum near Niagara Falls. At the same time, they must travel to Boston to get neon from the university source for her transmitter.
Boston and Beyond
Traveling on one of the first commercial flights between New York and Boston and followed by Giff and his boys, Charlie and Jamal make arrangements to purchase neon canisters. In Boston outside the theater district near Scollay Square Jamal reveals with Elf a three dimensional scenario of her time period ten thousand years in the future. Just before linking up with the neon and Giff at Fenway Park and the Red Sox-Yankees game where Ruth hits two home runs, Jamal learns the belligerent killing race called the Avegis have exited the continuum and are after Jamal to stop her mission. They find a pilot named Langley who begins an aerial trek between cities toward Niagara Falls to find her friends from the future.
Niagara Falls and the continuum.
The action and the adventure gets ratcheted up when Charlie and Jamal land in the city of Niagara Falls. The Avegis are aware that Charlie and Jamal are in the Niagara Falls area. What they find at the generating plant prompts a pursuit that leads back to New York City. Steeped within the events and culture of the time the confrontation has a determining factor. Without successfully destroying the Avegis the distant future will produce a timeline where humanity is wiped out. The book’s climax will come at atop the Rumford Tower but the culmination of the hero’s journey ends in triumph across town.
Dempsey vs Tunney-The Long Count
Remember this is Babe Ruth’s hero journey, too.
In the locker room after the game Ruth proclaimed: “Sixty! Count ’em, sixty! Let’s see some other son of a bitch try to top that one!” Charlie and Ruth have gone full circle from the beginning of the journey. The essence of the journey is overcoming the obstacles. Both Charlie and Ruth were ready to do just that.
It’s Friday. Have a great weekend!
A mixture of film to simulate the Babe’s 60th Home Run
New York City 1927
Niagara Fall June 1927