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An Autobiography: Chapter 22, Lighter Than Air

In my childhood, the celebration of Halloween was a big civic affair in Covington and Greater Cincinnati. In Covington, Madison Avenue, the main street, was blocked off from traffic from 5th Street to 8th Street so the revelers could have the entire street to parade and do their innocent mischief. Hundreds of people, both children and adults, dressed in costumes, and confetti was sold. It was a great sport to take a handful of confetti and throw it at the passersby, especially the boys throwing to the girls.

Halloween Kids 

Kids celebrating Halloween in the 1930s. 

I was selling papers in 1938, when I had my first commercial idea, to make confetti and sell it. My brother Edwin helped me, and for weeks we punched out paper of all kinds to make our confetti. I didn’t know you could buy actual confetti in bulk. We got small brown bags and sold our confetti two bags for a nickel. Well, our confetti was a poor grade, and we had many dissatisfied customers. It seems our paper – mostly newsprint – didn’t have any body to it and just didn’t make good confetti. When you threw a handful, it came falling to the ground before hitting the victim! My profit was $1.32, but I wasn’t discouraged. The next day I was thinking about the following year.

That year, I knew to get a better paper and made a profit of $5. My confetti empire was growing. In 1940, I discovered a company in St. Louis that sold commercial confetti, and I purchased a box of 50 pounds, and that evening’s net profit was $13. In 1941, I bought 100 pounds, bagged for four weeks, and had boys selling on four corners. It rained all morning that year before finally clearing off, but I think the weather in the evening was still keeping people home. The profit was $27. I figured if my business kept growing, I would eventually be the Confetti King! Think big!

The next year, 1942, I bought 250 pounds and had more boys working for me. The war was on, and the celebration wasn’t like it was in the past, but I netted $49.65. We stopped selling until 1947, when people were getting back into celebrations. That year I had 4,000 bags and eight boys working corners; I gave them 65¢ per hour. My estimated profit was $118.75.

In 1948, I spread out, which was a mistake. I added more boys, including a couple in Newport, across the Licking River. Earl Hensley was my assistant, and our profit for all the additional work was only about $100. My dreams of being the Confetti King were fading, but we decided to give it one more chance in 1949, and that was my last year for my first business venture. I made $200, but the next year we left Covington and moved to the Blue House on Decoursey Pike, in the country.

In 1937, my brother Clarence was working for a drugstore on Madison Avenue, just above our newspaper corner. He delivered prescriptions on his bicycle. I think he had that job for more than a year. I don’t remember what caught his interest in the U.S. Navy, but he wanted to be a sailor, and Mom and Dad gave their consent. I remember the evening in May 1938, before he was to report, we walked outside and he told me he was leaving home. At 13, I didn’t understand this. It didn’t seem right that the Moore boys should be separated. Clarence gave me his bicycle and told me he would write to me. The bicycle was a magnificent gift, something I never thought of owning, but it didn’t fill the void of not seeing my brother each day.

Clarence trained at Norfolk, Virginia, and got assigned to a destroyer, the USS Leary, a Wickes-class destroyer that carried the Navy’s first ship radar and conducted early anti-submarine patrols. In late December 1940, he graduated from the Lighter Than Air School at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and remained in that service until his retirement in1959. In 1940, he learned how to pilot free balloons, helium bags carrying crews in open gondolas.

Navy Cruiser 

USS Leary 

“C.C.,” as he became known in the Navy, was one of the last sailors who flew in the Navy’s old airship program, and in his late 80s, C.C. was tapped for one more mission. As the Navy assembled a crew for its MZ-3A research blimp, the first Navy airship commissioned in 50 years, they were helped by C.C., a former airship rigger and retired Chief Petty Officer.

After retiring from the Navy, C.C. served as Project Officer for the United States Navy at McGuire AFB, in charge of their aircraft maintenance and evaluation program. He then worked as an Aero Space Consultant for a number of defense/aerospace firms, finally retiring at the age of 80. Over the years, C.C. helped various military and programs in the design of modern blimps and airships. He was Trustee Emeritus for Navy Lakehurst Historical Society and past Vice President of the Naval Airship Association. The Ready Room at historic hanger No. 1 at Lakehurst (where the Hindenburg once moored and eventually crashed) is dedicated to Chief Clarence (C.C.) Moore into perpetuity. 


The Hindenburg exploded while landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, May 6, 1937. 

C.C. passed away November 14, 2011, and fellow members of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society say he was one of the last surviving members of the Navy’s old Lighter Than Air program, which ran more than 40 years, from World War I to 1962. The day my brother died, Carl Jablonski, President of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, was nearby and said, "The airship was due to leave at 9:30 for North Carolina. That's just about the time it flew over the house. You could say he hitched a ride.”

I was so pleased that C.C. was buried in the same cemetery as our brother Edwin, in the Brihadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery, in Wrightstown, New Jersey. Rich Riemer (also ex-Navy) from Bugles Across America played the bagpipes and the Taps. Bugles across America was founded to see to it that Taps is played live at the interment of a veteran. My nephew, Ron, C.C.’s son, said about the music of the bagpipes at the cemetery, “ They had a haunting sound, final, authoritative yet plaintive."

Cemetery Entrance 

Entrance to the William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Wrightstown, New Jersey. 

The bagpipes were heard when the hearse came into view. The convoy was held in line, so the music was heard from a good distance. Several songs were played, including C.C.’s favorite, “Danny Boy.” After a prayer, a single refrain of “Ave Maria” was heard softly and then the Taps. Clarence Calbert Moore was honored with a full 12-man Navy team of riflemen who gave the final salute to one of their own.

Don’t Miss the Next Chapter: The Pianist