National Airlines, “Airline of the Stars”

‘National Airlines, “Airline of the Stars”, announces the departure of their flight NA 106 to La Guardia Field, New York. Will all passengers please proceed to gate number seven. All aboard, please.’

Goldfinger, Chapter one

James Bond is in Miami Airport awaiting his Transamerica flight to New York, when he hears the above announcement of a flight from a competing airline.

National Airlines was a major passenger airline which operated from 1934 until 1980 when it was taken over by Pan Am. The slogan “Airline of the Stars” appeared on the planes and was used throughout the 1950’s in reference to Hollywood movie stars flying on the airline. In 1964 they changed the slogan to “Coast to Coast to Coast.”

In 1958, National became the first Airline to fly jets domestically in the United States, first going from New York to Florida, using a Boeing 707.

We’re not told the time that Bond is in the airport, but a look at a 1958 National Airlines flight table tells us that NA Flight 106 left Miami at 10:00PM and arrived in New York at 2:55AM. But as you see, the flight did not go to La Guardia Field, but rather to Idlewild (now JFK).

(It took me a bit to figure out how to read the table.)

Capungo

And yet there had been something curiously impressive about the death of the Mexican. It wasn’t that he hadn’t deserved to die. He was an evil man, a man they call in Mexico a capungo. A capungo is a bandit who will kill for as little as forty pesos, which is about twenty-five shillings—though probably he had been paid more to attempt the killing of Bond—and, from the look of him, he had been an instrument of pain and misery all his life.

Goldfinger, Chapter One

Easy entry here, as Ian Fleming defines the term for us. In the context here, it simply means a cheap hitman or assassin.

FInding the actual term in use was a bit more difficult. I didn’t think Fleming just made it up, but I couldn’t find any references to it, other than it being the name given to a minor villain in a motion picture.

Then, on about the 10th page of Google results, I came across a page entitled “The dialect of São João da Chapada: Possible remains of a mining language in Minas Gerais, Brazil” listed among the words was:

Searching Kapiangu brought me to the Portuguese term “Capiango” which is defined as “pessoa que rouba com destreza” – literally translated means “bad person who steals with dexterity.” In Spanish, it can be translated to “clever thief”, or simply thief.

“Bad person” fits with Fleming’s description that this was an “evil man.”

Could Ian Fleming have meant Capiango instead of Capungo? Or had he heard Capungo used in the context in which he uses it here in Goldfinger?

If anyone has further information, I’d love to hear from you.

As for the price of 40 pesos or 25 shillings, the current value of that would be 1.43 GBP or $2.03 USD. Adjusting for inflation from 1958 to to 2021, that would about 13.35 GBP or $18.91 USD.

Miami Airport

JAMES BOND, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.

Goldfinger, Chapter One

Goldfinger begins with James Bond at the Miami Airport, drinking bourbon following an unpleasant assignment in Mexico.

There has been an airport on the current site of Miami International Airport since the 1920’s.

It is the largest connection in the United States south to the Caribbean and Latin America, which is how Bond found himself there. Some early airlines which were prominent there included Pan American, Eastern Airlines and National Airlines.

Here is a good look back at the history of Miami International Airport. It has many vintage photos of the era when Bond visited.

Here is some 1960 footage from inside the Miami Airport:

H.M.S Narvik

And if I may say so, sir, I submit that we should take steps to clear up Crab Key without waiting for approval from London. I can provide a platoon ready to embark by this evening. HMS Narvik came in yesterday. If the programme of receptions and cocktail parties for her could possibly be deferred for forty-eight hours or so…” The Brigadier let his sarcasm hang in the air.

DR. NO Chapter 20

DR. No has met his demise and James Bond is back in Jamaica where an emergency meeting is underway in King’s House. The Brigadier in command of the Caribbean Defence Force suggests a plan of action.

There appears that there was a ship by the name of H.M.S. Narvik. There isn’t a whole lot of information that is readily available. The real ship was a submarine support ship, which apparently supplied and supported a fleet of submarines.

There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that the vessel ever came to Jamaica, it appears most of its time during that period was in the South Pacific. I’d be interested to know how Fleming came to choose this ship to be the cited for this adventure.

HMS NARVIK (FL 10201) Underway in the Solent with a deck cargo of five LCAs. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120861

Lord Mayor’s Show

The long garage was empty. Under the neon lights the black and gold painted dragon on wheels looked like a float waiting for the Lord Mayor’s Show. It was pointing towards the sliding doors and the hatch of the armoured cabin stood open.

DR. NO Chapter 19

James Bond has just finished Dr. No’s obstacle course and disposed of the Dr, and is now, along with Honeychile Rider looking for a means to get away from the compound, which is in pure chaos at the moment. He spots Dr. No’s “dragon” and it reminds him of a float for the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest annual events in London, being 802 years old as of 2020. In 1215, King John attempted to win over the city of London to his side by appointing a mayor who would be loyal to him. According to the event’s website:

The King added a careful condition: every year the newly elected Mayor must leave the safety of the City, travel upriver to Westminster and swear loyalty to him. The Mayor has now made that journey nearly 700 times, despite plagues and fires and countless wars, and pledged his or her loyalty to 34 kings and queens of England.

https://lordmayorsshow.london/history/origins

As the procession went up to Westminster by river, this is why to this day, vehicles used in processions are referred to as “floats.” In 1757 a magnificent State Coach was commissioned. The coach had “gilded coachwork and painted panels depicting London’s majesty, piety and global reach.” The Black and Gold dragon of Dr No brought the State Coach to Bond’s mind.

Lord Mayor’s Day 1958, during the events of Dr No.

Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base

“Doubtless you know that Turks Island, about three hundred miles from here through the Windward Passage, is the most important centre for testing the guided missiles of the United States?”

DR NO, Chapter 16

Dinner has just been completed between Doctor No, James Bond and Honeychile Rider. They have moved on to their “after-dinner entertainment.” Bond has asked what is next for Doctor No, and the reply is noted above.

The Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base was a missile tracking station built as a joint agreement between the United States and Great Britain which went into operation in 1953. The purpose of the base, and other tracking sites, was to track the long-range missiles launched from the United States as well as the satellites and manned flights launched from Cape Canaveral.

The first missile tracked from the station was in November, 1955 when it tracked a SNARK missile. (more on that later!) The station was an early member of the Atlantic Missile Range and was operated by the Pan American Airways Guided Missile Range Division. It wasn’t quite the most important base, as Doctor No claimed, but it was an important installation during that time period.

1977 stamp commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the station.

Grand Turk, along with several other bases, was used to track all of the space launches from Explore 1 to the last of the Mercury flights and was the first place that John Glenn was taken to on Feb 20, 1962. It continued through the Gemini and Apollo as a “satellite” station of Cape Canaveral. The base was closed in 1984.

The Windward Passage refers to the strait between Cuba and Haiti.

Full set of stamps

Why Did Dr No Go To Milwaukee?

Then I went to Milwaukee, where there are no Chinamen, and enrolled myself in the faculty of medicine. I hid myself in the academic world, the world of libraries and laboratories and classrooms and campuses. And there, Mister Bond, I lost myself in the study of the human body and the human mind.

DR NO. Chapter 15

Doctor No is continuing to tell his life story to his captive audience of James Bond and Honeychile Rider. He has just finished the talking about his escape with the funds of the Hip Sings (his New York Tong gang) and for his next move he heads to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee?

Well, he did say he wanted to lose himself. At the time that Doctor No would’ve been enrolled he likely went to the Marquette University School of Medicine, which is now Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)

It was one of the top medical schools in the country at the time, while remaining out of the spotlight that Ivy League schools would’ve garnered. It was really the perfect spot for the young fugitive to hide himself for a few years.

Rare shot of a young Doctor No (middle, in toupée) entering one of the medical buildings.
A publication that Dr No’s studies may have been included in.

The medical school gave Doctor No a few years to disappear from anyone who may have been hunting for him, before he was ready to begin the next phase of his life.

So, if you recall, there I was, in Milwaukee. In due course, I completed my studies and I left America and went by easy stages round the world. I called myself ‘doctor’ because doctors receive confidences and they can ask questions without arousing suspicion. I was looking for my headquarters.

DR. NO, Chapter 15

Silberstein, the greatest stamp dealer in New York.

When they let me out of the hospital I went to Silberstein, the greatest stamp dealer in New York. I bought an envelope, just one envelope, full of the rarest postage stamps in the world. I took weeks to get them together. But I didn’t mind what I paid–in New York, London, Paris, Zurich. I wanted my gold to be mobile. I invested it all in these stamps. I had foreseen the World War. I knew there would be inflation. I knew the best would appreciate, or at least hold its value.

Dr. No, Chapter 15

James Bond and Honey Rider are dining with Dr. No, listening to their host tell the story of his life. Having escaped death at the hands of the Tongs whom he betrayed, he recounts his next steps.

Nassau Street in Manhattan was the center of New York City’s “Stamp District” from around 1915 up until the 1970’s. Philately probably hit its peak during the 1950’s. Fleming, with his love of New York was likely aware of the Stamp District and perhaps even had been there during one of his trips through the city.

I was unable to find any reference to a Silberstein as a famous stamp collector. The most famous character of that time in New York Philately appears to have been a fellow named Herman (Pat) Herst Jr. Herst was ubiquitous in the stamp world, constantly making speaking appearances, publishing a newsletter Herst’s Outbursts, writing 18 books, including the best seller Nassau Street in 1960. He contributed to stamp columns in publications all over the country. His sister was Edith Herst Silverstein, which was as close as I could get to a connection.

In the course of writing this post, I came across the British Caribbean Philatelic Study Group, and in the April 2018 edition they have a bit on Ian Fleming – go to the section British Colonial post-World War II High Values (Part 2). I was drawn to this part:

Ian Lancaster Fleming has never been noted as a stamp collector or philatelist. As far as is known, he never had a collection — his interest was first editions — none of them philatelic (Figure 3). Valuable stamps never play a part in any of the James Bond adventures — they should!

Well, this is a minor part in a Bond novel. They must’ve overlooked this bit from Dr. No!

The great Tong wars of the late ‘twenties.

Then began the great Tong wars of the late ‘twenties. The two great New York Tongs, my own, the Hip Sings, and our rival, the On Lee Ongs, joined in combat. Over the weeks hundreds on both sides were killed and their houses and properties burned to the ground. It was a time of torture and murder and arson in which I joined with delight.

Dr No, Chapter 15

James Bond and Honey Rider are dining as guests of Dr No on Crab Key, listening to the Dr tell them the story of his life. He recalls his early years in China where he first became associated with the Hip Sings tong gang as a young man, and subsequently ran into some trouble which forced the gang to send him to New York.

Tong wars in the United States began in the 1880’s in San Francisco. Gangs spread to Chinatown communities across the United States. The Hip Sing tong was the first established on the east coast, and became the only bicoastal tong. Among their rivals in New York was the On Leong tong, with whom they battled from the early 1900’s to the 1920’s. The On Leong had the cops in their pockets; the Hip Sing won the district attorney’s office to its side.

New York tong members under arrest in the early 1900s.

The On Leong and Hip Sing organizations exist to this day.

The two plus decade run is well documented in Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money, and Murder in New York’s Chinatown published in 2016.

Pictured in the top photo are members of the Hip Sing tong.

Royal Zoological Society

“Bryce, John Bryce.”
She wrote busily. “Permanent address?”
“Care of the Royal Zoological Society, Regent’s Park, London, England.”
“Profession.”
“Ornithologist.”

Dr No, Chapter 13

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of animals and their habitats. In 1829, King George IV gave the society a Royal Charter. 

James Bond uses the ZSL as part of his cover story in Dr No, when he and Honey Rider arrive in the reception area of the Dr’s headquarters on Crab Key. Bond lists his next-of-kin as M (using his real name), describing him as his Uncle, and giving his address as Managing Director, Universal Export, Regent’s Park, London.

Thus, the Regent’s Park location of the Zoological Society and the London zoo, is conveniently located near Bond’s office in the secret service building in Regent’s park.

A more modern look at the offices of the Zoological Society.