We're back at Alameda's historic neighborhood where Jimmy Doolittle was born and the Leona Hotel was founded.

With a life filled with incredible adventures and outstanding accomplishments, Doolittle seems quite a misnomer.

And through it all he seemed to lead a charmed life.

No wonder his autobiography is titled "I Could Never Be So Lucky Again."

After leaving Alameda at the age of 3, he and his mother journeyed to Alaska to be with Jimmy's wanderlust father during the Klondike Gold Rush. His first brush with death occurred when roving sled dogs nearly caught him after having killed his older playmate.

Years later, after graduating from UC Berkeley and gaining an advanced degree in aeronautics, he became an aviation pioneer in the 1920s and 1930s.

He was the first to fly a plane coast to coast in less than 24 hours; the first to take off and land solely on instruments (an amazing feat to this ex-flyer); and in leading his famed air raid against Japan, his B-25 bomber was the first one off the carrier Hornet's short deck.

Incidentally, that raid occurred 72 years ago this month, only four months after the Pearl Harbor attack. Running out of gas afterward, Doolittle had to bail out over inland China in total darkness.

Luck stayed with him again as he landed in a rice paddy.

Read about the man and you'll learn why he's been considered one of America's best examples of brains and guts in the same person!

Now, strolling back from where Doolittle's charmed life came into the world, you can pass through Alameda Marketplace with its many tempting food concessions before crossing Park Street to McGee's Bar & Grill.

Having lunched there many times, I've always been impressed with the huge 30-by-30 inch pictures on the walls there: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig chatting in one; Seabiscuit and War Admiral rounding the turn in another; famed Bobby Orr in a Stanley Cup playoff match; and a team picture of the outstanding women's baseball team made famous in the film "A League of Their Own." The latter was signed by the real life star of that team, Dottie Kamenshek, portrayed by Geena Davis as Dottie Hinson in the picture.

According to General Manager Tim Goodman, many well-known sports figures such as Jerry Rice, Fred Biletnikoff and Willis Reed have been in McGee's, too.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with John Costello, who owns the building and operates the Leona Hotel, about the tremendous athletic ability of the three Lane brothers, Luther, Sidney and MacArthur, when he added, "Sidney Lane is the nicest man I ever met." I agree, and would place Sidney, Luther, MacArthur and John Costello himself high on my list, too.

If there is wall space, they might add a picture of Doolittle when he boxed for Cal.

He had knockout ability even when he fought 20 and 30 pounds heavier than his lightweight class.

Contact Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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