The book Riots & Rockets is a memoir that contains several stories I thought might be of interest to others. Initially, I wrote about my strange tour of duty in Army Intelligence during the Vietnam War. It deals with my Pentagon vantage point of the period’s widespread racial unrest, riots and anti-war protests. During my Army days (1968-1971), I also witnessed first hand the development of the nation’s first anti-ballistic missile defense system. This effort initiated the evolution of space from the peaceful heavens above into just another war theater with the potential for a nuclear Armageddon. The next story is about Chicago politics in the 1970s and Jane Byrne’s election as Chicago’s first woman Mayor. This was the notable period that ended the long reign of Richard J. Daley’s political machine. Then came the tale of the bankruptcy of United Press International at the hands of a couple of self-aggrandizing misfits, and the story of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s largely unrecognized role in computer history with its breakthrough invention improving the human/machine interface early in the Digital Age. When I strung together these tales with some more personal recollections from my younger days, the result was Rockets & Riots, the memoir you can purchase here.
This website and the adjacent video also reflect more than a quarter century of photos and videos related to the The Cliff Dwellers arts club in downtown Chicago. This recently assembled bit of modern history joined a wide range of material related to my extended family that I had compiled during the pandemic lockdown. The rich subject matter of The Families is filled with photographs, ancestral family trees and histories, and numerous family stories and videos. With the pandemic lockdown seemingly going on forever, I had the time to pull together and digitize documents relating to my personal and working life at WJB Odds & Ends. The extensive collection in the Photo Archive has a broad range of photographs dating back to 1861, and holds more than 85,000 indexed, captioned and searchable photographs. You can also browse and search all of the individual family and non-family photo galleries here.
– Bill Bowe