The Sonny Elliot Project

Sonny Elliot was a local media legend.  After the war, he went into broadcasting mainly as a weatherman.  His unorthodox style and method of reporting the weather was at times, risque but always funny.  He had a way of merging 2 separate words into one combined word  such as SNOG meaning snow and fog, SNAIN for snow and rain as well as CLARK meaning clear and dark.  He had a great sense of humor despite tragedy in his personal life.

Jayne Bower contacted me regarding my building a model Sonnys upcoming birthday.  That’s when I learned of his exploits as a B-24 pilot.  His 16th mission took him to Gotha,Germany.  As he told me later, the Germans “weren’t very pleased with a Jew dropping bombs on them” so they sent up the FW190s.  He was shot down and the crew spent the remainder of the war as guests in Stalagluft 2.  The entire time he was there he thought his being a Jew was a secret.  When liberated by the Russians, the POWs  broke into the commandants office to retrieve their files and safe guard them from the Russians.  When Sonny got his file and opened it, stamped in large,red letters was ‘JUDEN’; Jew.  All that time, 18 months, they knew he was aJew.

Back to the main focus.  Jayne and I communicated many times over the coarse of 3 months as I built his plane.  Being this was my first “high profile” build, I wanted it to be as near perfect as I could get.  I contacted a fellow modeller who lives in New Zealand  and had him custom make the decals, right down to the tail number.  If I needed information on the plane, such as the exterior color, any nose art, bomb bay detail, I’d ask Jayne and she’d find a way to get that info from Sonny without him realizing there was an ulterior motive.  The big day came on Dec 5 and with my wife following (she made and decorated his cake!) went off to the radio station for the surprise party.

While there and waiting for the birthday boy to arrive, I had the honor and pleasure to meet many local celebrities and media people.  Perhaps the biggest honor and thrill came when Ernie Harwell himself shook my hand, patted me on the back and said; “That’s a great thing you’ve done.”  WOW!!!  Ernie Harwell complemented ME!                                            Eventually Sonny came into the room to shouts of Surprise! and he threw his arms in the air in mock exasperation.  Then he saw the model.  All he could say was; “That’s my plane…that’s my plane!”  Jayne Bower looked at me and her eyes said it all, I did good!       As we ate pizza, salad and my wifes awesome cake, I was inundated with questions from everyone regarding the model and how long it took to build.  For awhile, I was the main focus and in a way, while a bit uncomfortable, thought what a cool feeling to have so many people admire and take notice of something I did.  I knew I found my calling.                         Sonny isn’t doing too well these days.  Time and life have caught up to him.  I’ve seen him a few times before he fell ill, each time he thanked me again for the model.  It now resides at the Detroit Historical Museum in the exhibition dedicated to Americas longest running radio station, WWJ-950 AM.


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