(some of you may have recently seen the Ken Burns story on Jazz on Public Televison. With all due respect to Mr. Burns, Mr. Bebop stands by the following story.)
Otto von Bebop-- The Early Years
Otto von Bebop was born in Chicago in 1896. After his parents were killed in a tragic fire when young Otto spooked neighbor Hazel O’Leary’s cow, he was raised by a distant cousin, bicycle pioneer Ignaz Schwinn. Schwinn treated Otto as his own son, and brought him into the family business. Otto learned quickly and helped Schwinn with many important innovations, including the hot-air balloon tire and the oxy-acetylene bicycle headlight. But Bebop was disowned in 1919 after trying to move the company’s factory to Formosa, a small island off the coast of China. So Otto set out to make a name for himself as an inventor.
Among Otto’s early inventions was a large-tube magnesium track frame filled with hydrogen, which he raced himself with some success. After a being seriously burned when a friend struck a match against his bicycle, Otto became a track coach and frame builder in the 1920’s. His star rider was a young John Birks Gillespie, who showed such prodigous talent that he was banned from competing at many tracks because, it was said, he circled the track so fast it made spectators “dizzy.” Although Gillespie quit cycling and took up the trumpet instead, the nickname stuck. Years latter Dizzy Gillespie returned the favor by naming his new music after his former mentor and friend.
Otto, his sister Ottina, and their four children Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo and Beppo.
During WW II, Otto’s advanced knowledge of materials made him a candidate for participation in the Manhattan Project. However, his unpopular political views (he had unsuccessfully run for Congress in 1932 on a "free love" platform) prevented him from obtaining security clearance, and he was relegated to the Manhattan, Kansas project. There he did his part by helping to design and build the world’s first refinery for making aviation fuel from bovine methane.
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