A blog of trivial facts and nothing news

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Puff The Magic Dragon (Not the song)

My last post was on the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” which lead my thoughts to another Puff the Magic Dragon which has nothing to do with music. Does anyone know what I am referring to? During the Vietnam War there was a need for a close in support aircraft that could give a concentrated volume of fire on a small area. So the Air Force developed the Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship or “Puff the Magic Dragon.” For you aircraft buffs this is nothing more than the famous DC-3 passenger plane converted for use by our Air Force.

          This Puff was not a charming dragon who played with Jackie Paper. The “Puff” as seen above was armed to the teeth with three 7.62 mm gatling guns each capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute (that is exactly 100 rounds a second.) It could orbit the target for hours providing suppressing fire for our guys on the ground. The firing coverage of the Spooky gunship was an area approximately 52 yards in diameter, or placing a round every 2.4 yards during a 3-second burst. I’m sure this did wonders for the morale of our troops on the ground when Vietnamese forces were closing in on them. On the other hand The Spooky made for a very bad day for the bad guys caught out in the open. The aircraft also carried flares, which it could drop to illuminate the battleground so they could provide fire support at night.

The “Puff” is still around today but now it is an AC-130 gunship based on the C-130 Hercules.


Puff The Magic Dragon

I’m sure some of you would remember the song “Puff, the Magic Dragon” which was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. For years this song was labeled as one of those drug culture songs of the sixty’s. But with a little research I discovered discover that this is not a drug song. Puff the Magic Dragon is actually based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton a friend of Peter Yarrows. The story goes like this. Leonard Lipton had just recently turned 19 and was on his way to a friend’s house for dinner he found that he was running a bit early so he stopped by a library and read a poem by Ogden Nash. Nash’s poem was about Custard the Dragon .

On the walk to his friend’s house Lipton thought up the poem “Puff the Magic Dragon” in which he expressed his view of the loss of childhood. When he arrived at the house no one was home so he went in and used Yarrow’s typewriter to get the poem out of his head. Once he finished typing he left the poem and forgot about it. The lyrics tell a story Puff  the Magic Dragon and his playmate Jackie Paper, a little boy who eventually grows up and loses interest in his childhood adventures with Puff

In 1961, Yarrow joined Paul Stookey and Mary Traver to form the group we now know as Peter, Paul and Mary. The group used the song in their performances before recording it in 1962. The song did reach number two on Billboards top 100 chart.

Rumors continue today that Peter, Paul, and Mary’s hit is all about drugs and marijuana in particular.  The references include the little boy’s name, Jackie Paper, which supposedly stands for rolling papers, the “autumn mist,” is marijuana smoke, and the “land of Hanah Lee,” is the Hawaiian town of Hanalei, famous for its marijuana plants. But the evidence agrees with Yarrow and Lipton that the song is nothing more than a sad song relating to the loss of childhood adventures. Feel free to use this info at any social gathering.



I Don’t Like Spider’s and Snakes

I thought “I Don’t Like Spider and Snakes” was an Alice Cooper song. You remember Alice?

Ok he wasn’t my hero either. I really didn’t like his music but you have to admit he was a unique person. I think it was his boa constrictor stage act that got me confused with the whole snake thing. It turns out he did not do the song but a singer by the name of Jim Stafford did. James Wayne “Jim” Stafford is an American comedian, musician, and singer-songwriter. Jim Stafford is a country kind of guy so he and Alice are extremely different. He was very prominent in the 1970’s for his records “Spiders and Snakes”, “Swamp Witch”, and “My Girl Bill”. Anyway all I remembered was the line “I don’t like spider and snakes and that ain’t what it takes to love me” which lead to this blog. So here is some more rare trivia that you can pass on to your friends.

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