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The urgings of family and friends has finally prompted me to search my memory and aviation scrap books for material suitable for a factual recording of some of my activities and experiences, largely of an aviation nature. It will be my purpose to confine myself to such items which I trust willl prove of some interest to the reader.
Firsts, I might comment that my life has been far more adventuresome than many may realize and that, even as a boy, sudden injury or worse has often been faced. The need for a degree of caution and careful planning influenced my actions increasingly from boyhood on, particularly when upon leaving home at age 18, I joined the United States Regular Army (Infantry).
Wrong conclusions should not be drawn by the reader as I have enjoyed every minute, even when the going became rough, tough, or dangerous. I have, indeed, lived the good life and who could ask for more? Good fortune has smiled on me in many ways which will become apparent, but transcending all other things is the incontrovertible fact that The Almighty has been far more kind to me than I deserved. Now, if "I" often appears in this chronicle the reader must bear with as, after all, this is about me with only brief mention of members of my family.;
My father, Reverend Leroy Monroe Vernon (Methodist), descended from a branch of the President James Monroe family and lived his youth in the mid-west. Following college he became ordained and served first as an evangelist in the New York City area where he met my mother to be and subsequently married her there.
Mother, Emily Fanny Barker, descended from the English Barkers and Dutch Pulhamus family, early settlers on Long Island, where a street is named after them. Her father, Stephen Barker, a well to do merchant owned city property near the present junction of 5th Avenue and 75th Street as well as near the end of the present 59th Street Bridge. His favorite home, however, was on his farm near Tuchahoe, N.Y., on which it was said George Washington's Army encamped just prior to the battle of White Planes.
Following marriage, father was appointed missionary to establish the Methodist Church in Italy, which he did, first in Rome, with no little hardship and considerable opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. There mother bore seven children, five of who survived to finally accompany her and father back to the United States - Viola, Evalina, Paul, Stephen and myself. My being so named, according to mother, was because King Victor Emanuel of Italy had been friendly and helpful to father. I was to be a living reminder of his appreciation.
Memory first goes back to playing with my hobby-horse in our courtyard in Rome and being suddenly rushed indoors. The explanation for not being permitted to play there again was that stones had been hurled at me from an adjoining building occupied by priests, thus my adventures began at an early age, it would appear. Also recall my male nurse, Guiseppi, carrying me on his shoulder to that famous fountain where it was the custon to toss in pennies and later of watching a religious parade passing our home ind inquiring as to why the paraders all crossed themselves at that point. "To ward off the devil", nurse explained which confused me as I knew of no devil thereabouts.
A final memory concerns our homebound crossing of the Atlantic when I played "train" along the deck planking of the ship, but chiefly of falling out of my high upper berth one night during a terrific storm and being more scared than hurt - a sort of second adventure. Thus at the age of five I was one of the family to arrive at our permanent home, Syracuse, N.Y., following a short stay with my New York City grandparents at their city home, faintly recalled.