“With Your Wings” has printed for the first time. It was never released, and it, “dwells on the challenges of a black American pilot’s return home,” according to NPR News. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan based, The Strand Magazine, saw this transcript when looking through archives at the University of Texas at Austin. It was read aloud by Orson Welles on his radio show in 1944 but was lost ever since. It now is featured in The Strand Magazine’s holiday issue, available now.
“Steinbeck was an idealist. He saw America as this wonderful land with so much to offer but on the flip side, he could see inequality, he could see greed and excess destroying the working classes,” Gulli wrote. “This story strikes me as an effort to show middle America that African-Americans were carrying on a huge burden in defending the United States and the allies during the war.”
“With Your Wings” is about a veteran’s return. Steinbeck was a great supporter of war and worked overseas as a correspondent in the 1940s and wrote a book called, “The Bombs Away!” about the Air force.
Some of Steinbeck’s excerpts in “With Your Wings” include:
“He could hear the rustle as the neighbors moved silently near and formed a half circled behind him.” He also says, “It was as though his own people were sitting in judgment on him.”
“He took off his cap with the gold eagle on it and held it in his hand. He saw his tall father lick his lips. And then his father said softly, ‘Son, every black man in the world is going to fly with your wings.’”
“His heart was pounding. He could hear a little quiet murmur of voices in front of the house. He knew they were going to sing in a moment. And he knew now what he was to them.”
-Sarah Mae Martin