This unique black-and-white drawing appeared in the February 1999 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, and raises more questions than it answers. First of all, I find no reference to the idea that Earhart ever flew her Electra down Fifth Avenue at such an absurd, dangerously low altitude, or any other altitude, for that matter.
Next, AES founder, president and newsletters editor Bill Prymak gives us no hint where he found this drawing, or who the artist was. It appeared at some date after Feb. 11, 1937, when Amelia announced her intention to complete a world flight at New York City, Barclay Hotel, and before her near-disastrous March 20, 1937 aborted takeoff at the Navy’s Luke Field on Hawaii’s Ford Island, based on the inset paragraph, which is small and very hard to read. Its author, one Mrs. Gladys Boulanger, is also something of a mystery, Here’s what she wrote:
That publicity hound bastard George Putnam. the husband, put Amelia up to buzzing around Fifth Avenue at the noon hour as promotion for her upcoming round-the-world flight. Amelia was no natural flier, you know. Did it all on willpower and guts. Anyhow, she plowed down Fifth Avenue one day in early fall, just after we put the ermine stoles on the new mannequins with the marcelled hair. Flew that big Lockheed like a matron aiming a Packard through a garage door. Just south of 42nd Street, she dropped a wing. Damn near decapitated Fortitude, one of the lions at the New York Public Library!
— Gladys Boulanger (Mrs.)
Better Turbans, Saks on Fifth
Mrs. Boulanger, who clearly doesn’t like George P. Putnam, seems to provide a hint about her occupation when she follows her name with “Better Turbans, Saks on Fifth,” apparently a reference to the famed department store and a specialty section therein, which even now sells a wide array of turbans and where she may have worked Other than this, the provenance of this artwork is a mystery to me, as is Mrs. Boulanger.
Bill Prymak likely wrote the interrogatory underneath the sketch, “Didn’t George Push Her Flying a Lil’ Bit??” We don’t know this for sure, but Bill was known to sometimes follow emphatic questions with two question marks, and of course he was the editor.
If anyone can shed further light on this most unusual and interesting artistic flashback, please let us know.