local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday ó April 23, 2004


The Ghost
in the Machine

Ghost writer comes clean

ĎI donít think he realized his words were written by a
sniveley-nosed ensign.í

Second of two parts

For the Express

Hailey resident and writer Robert Pearson, 87, made a name for himself working behind the scenes. But these days he is busy writing his own memoirs.

In last week in the Friday edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, Pearson related his earlier exploits ghost writing for college students and as a part of the Dutch Treat Club in New York. In 1941 following the United Statesí entrance into World War II, he was commissioned into the Navy as a speech writer. He also was trained to seek out German U-boats, and thatís where we pick up Pearsonís story today:

Bob and Betsy Pearson. Photo by Tony Evans

During the months leading up to the Alliesí invasion at Normandy, Pearson served in Destroyer Escort 666, aboard the U.S.S Durik. His shipís mission was to protect the multitude of vessels carrying men and materiel to Europe and the Pacific from a network of German U-boats that had been sinking allied vessels with impunity. The Germans relied upon a code machine known as "Enigma" to communicate with one another. The best hope of cracking the code had been in capturing a U-boat intact.

"Enormous convoys of up to 1,000 ships stretched over the horizon in both directions," he recalled. "And then suddenly we were assigned to escort a Navy tanker at flank speed from Gibraltar to some unnamed spot in the ocean. It was all top secret. When we got to our destination there were a number of Allied boats surrounding a surfaced Nazi U-boat flying a swastika. Above the swastika flew the Stars and Stripes."

The capture of U-boat 505 allowed the Allies to decipher "Enigma" just before the invasion on the beaches of Normandy. "I would not trade my Navy experience at that time for anything in the world," said Pearson. "And I know other veterans who also feel this way."

As a sailor, Bob Pearson wrote speeches for presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, as well as Admiral Lehey of the U.S. Navy and others. Leheyís speech addressed the debate over how to spend the nationís military resources following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Some thought we should invest in ships. Others thought we should spend on air power. Lehey read it word for word, dull as dishwater," said Pearson. "I donít think he realized his words were written by a sniveley nosed ensign."

FDRís speech commemorated the transfer of six destroyers to the Russian Navy. Harry Trumanís speech disclosed the secrets of radar technology.

"It makes sense that American taxpayers would not allow a president to spend three days writing a speech," said Pearson. "His time is just too important."

During the war, Bob Pearson married artist and illustrator named Betsy Dodge, also from Kansas. They have been together for 59 years, 25 of those years in the Wood River Valley. Betsy wrote and illustrated a syndicated daily column for the New York Herald Tribune for 17 years before Simon and Schuster published her collection of practical advice for young mothers under the title "An ABC for Mothers" in 1958.

"It was a good job," she said. "I could write from home while I was with the kids."

Bob and Betsy would oftentimes lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, within earshot of Dorothy Parker, James Thurber and other famous literati of the 1940s New York "Round Table."

All of the Pearsons three children have spent time in the Wood River Valley over the past 25 years. In addition to sons Brad and Ridley, the Pearsonís daughter, Wendy Daverman, resides part-time in Gimlet with her husband, Jim, and their four children.

Bob and Betsy Pearson have a steady stream of visitors at their secluded home west of Bellevue, where Betsy continues to draw and paint. Bob Pearson is currently working on a memoir from his office in Hailey.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.