HISTORICAL CHARACTERS IN THE BOOK
Dr. Hugo Eckener was the commander of the Graf Zeppelin and a celebrity in the aviation world. As manager of the Zeppelin company he built and flew several airships. (German Federal Archives)
Captain Ernst Lehmann was second in command on the Graf Zeppelin's flight to America in October 1928. (German Federal Archives)
Dr. Eckener shaking hands with President Calvin Coolidge. Captain Lehmann is standing to the left of Dr. Eckener, 1924 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs).
Other characters in the book were the three crew members who served the passengers on the Graf Zeppelin: Otto Manz, the cook; Enrst Fischbach, the cabin boy; and Heinrich Kubis, the chief steward standing by the window. (German Federal Archives).
The Graf Zeppelin flying over its hangar in Germany, 1928. (German Federal Archives).
The character "Big Joe", who helped Clarence aboard the S.S. California ship, is based on Joe Curran a Merchant Marine who led labor strikes on that ship in 1936 (Wearing a suit). He hated the food served to the crew and the working conditions aboard. In real life, Clarence never met Joe Curran on the California. Joe joined the crew some years after Clarence had been on the ship. However, like Clarence, he had worked as a golf caddie and had gotten into trouble at school when he was younger. (United States National Archives and Records Administration).
In the story, Clarence was inspired to pursue his adventure after Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean in a Fokker Trimotor airplane arriving in the United Kingdom on June 18, 1928. After her flight, she was received in England as a hero. In this picture, Amelia greets Mrs. Foster Welch, Mayor of Southampton, England. (Public Domain Wikimedia Commons).
The book Zeppelin Stowaway is based on the true story of Clarence Terhune, a 19-year-old golf caddy from St. Louis, Missouri, who on October 29, 1928, stowed away aboard the Graf Zeppelin on its maiden flight returning from Lakehurst, NJ to Germany to become famous worldwide. The Germans were elated with his adventure and many sent telegrams while the Zeppelin was still crossing the Atlantic inviting him to stay at their homes.
Before his adventure on the airship, Clarence was always on the move seeking new escapades. He was in the habit of stowing away on trains, ships, and crashing major sporting events. He traveled across the United States and Canada supporting himself by working as a golf caddy. He rarely paid for transportation because he either hitchhiked or snuck into trains to ride along with the hobos. He always planned his adventures and staked out the place he wanted to enter. However, once on the ground, he could think fast and improvise to take advantage of situations that would allow him either to enter or escape.
<< VIDEO CLIP: Click here to watch Clarence working in the kitchen of the Graf Zeppelin
<< VIDEO CLIP: Click here to watch Clarence being received in Germany as a hero
This book is a result of two years of research and it depicts many actual events that took place in Clarence Terhune's life. Written as historical fiction for teenagers (ages 10-15), it brings to life his adventures before and during his exploit aboard the Graf Zeppelin. This would be great book for you child and for you If you are curious to know what manner of life he lived and how he managed to get on board the airship. Click on the cover to find out more.
After making a bet with his brother-in-law that he could stow away on the Zeppelin, he moved to New York to wait for the arrival of the famous dirigible. Against all odds he evaded the tight security of the hangar and snuck on board. Once the airship was over the Atlantic Ocean, Clarence came out of his hiding place for the crew members to see him. He was put to work in the kitchen for the duration of the trip. During the journey Clarence met the famous Zeppelin Commander Dr. Hugo Eckener, the aviation pioneer Clara Adams, and successful businessmen who were present on that historical flight. After surviving a terrible storm over the Atlantic, he arrived in Germany and was arrested. He was released almost immediately to be carried by the crowd as a hero through the streets of Friedrichshafen. He is credited for being the first aerial stowaway in history.
It is important to clarify the discrepancies between this account and the footage of Clarence shown in the movie "Farewell" produced in the Netherlands by Peter Van Hustee and directed by DItteke Mensink. This movie has also been shown by BBC as "Around the the World by Zeppelin." The movie is not a documentary but a docu-drama that mixes fact and fiction. It is historically inaccurate when it shows Clarence aboard the Graf Zeppelin on its trip around the world in 1929. It gives the impression
that Clarence had boarded the airship in Germany and traveled around the world to California. However, In real life, Clarence boarded the Zeppelin at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1928 when the airship returned to Germany from its first transatlantic flight. This can be verified by watching the video clips below where it shows the Zeppelin's travel date and destination.