Arthur A. Edwards—

A Hero's Life

The Journey to Hangtown Haven

How To Build a Homeless Shelter

by Arthur A. Edwards

How a group of committed volunteers led by
a retired aerospace engineer built a homeless shelter
in a gold rush community and how the power and financial elite closed it down.
Was it because Hangtown Haven was an
unexpected success?

How does one build a successful homeless shelter that is legal, practical and economical at no cost to the taxpayer? A group of homeless volunteers led by a retired aerospace engineer along with non-profit corporations and concerned churches jumped into the fray and did just that. Not, however, without making mistakes and ruffling feathers along the way. No one could have predicted how controversial it would be to provide shelter to our neighbors who had no place to live. “We are going to build a modern dog shelter with $7 million, but don’t bother asking the county or the city for one penny to help our homeless citizens.”

So the real question is, “How do you build a homeless shelter that works and is acceptable to the entire community with donations only?” This book tells the story of one Sierra community’s effort to answer this question and how its success proved that it could be done, however its success also turned the city’s power establishment against it.

When it was obvious that the shelter was a success and homeless people were thriving, the city’s power structure got together and closed it down throwing forty homeless men and women out of their shelter in the middle of winter with no place to live.

But the genie is out of the bottle now and the occupants of this small gold mining town know how to do it the next time. They are prepared to try again until they are successful even though all of the business, political and power interests are determined to stop it. This story tells how it was done, how it can be done and how to avoid serious mistakes along the way.

The Journey to Hangtown Haven

180 pages, 7.5" x 9.25"
ISBN: 978-1-61170-235-4

Buy "The Journey to Hangtown Haven" from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:


This book describes the work that a group of volunteers did in the planning, designing, building and operating a successful homeless shelter in El Dorado County. Along the way it describes, after retiring from a calm, secluded life in the gold country of California, the author’s transition into a leader who directed the effort to create a shelter for the homeless population in his community. He learned lessons in collaboration and cooperation while battling the local power and political elite as they continually tried to shut down the shelter.

The story brings together the lives of several homeless men and women whose paths crossed on their journey through Hangtown Haven, their new home shown on the cover. It shows that it is possible for people, with a little help, to work their way out of homelessness and desperate poverty and back into the middle class community, a trip that many people in society believe is impossible.

It also includes a description of how the author, a retired aerospace engineer, affected their lives and how the homeless learned that they each had hidden skills, talents and capabilities that blossomed while living in the homeless community called Hangtown Haven, in Placerville, California. They discovered that the synergy of their efforts working together was far greater than the sum of each one’s talents individually.

Also, this book details ways that non-profit corporations can be successful in helping the poor and homeless in their communities. It outlines what is legal and what is illegal in providing shelter and sustenance to poor, homeless people who have lost their homes and who are facing a life of drug abuse and alcohol addiction.

All of the stories and interviews are true, and all the conclusions reached by the author are based on real events. There is an old saying in the Navy that, “All safety rules are written in blood.” Although one homeless woman died during this journey, the volunteers usually did not have to deal with blood. Nevertheless, the homeless in El Dorado County were, and are, subjected every day to events that certainly affect their lives and safety.

It also disproves many beliefs and conclusions often outlined and put into print by professionals who have written articles describing the behavior of disadvantaged people. The volunteers found that, “Homeless people are just like the rest of us. They just don’t have a place to sleep.” They also found that people tend to react the way you expect them to. When the shelter residents were given responsibilities and a few tools for their own survival, they responded magnificently. This book also touches on the lives of the lives of volunteers, churches, individuals and non-profit organizations that helped when funding and political muscle were needed.

Unfortunately, the ultimate fate of Hangtown Haven was determined by the political and financial power in the community that operates behind the scenes and exercise control beyond the public’s knowledge. The good news is that the fight is not over by a long shot. This is a period of pause, a time of reflection, re-grouping and planning. It is a time to review what the volunteers did and apply their experiences to build another successful, this time permanent, facility to house the homeless in our community.

Please remember as you read this, that each homeless person faces the reality of survival every day of his or her life. It is easy to criticize a person’s behavior without acknowledging the fact that the food he stole or the illegal place where he is sleeping results in one more day of life for that person. What would you do if your life were on the line?

The book includes biographical chapters, letters and reports throughout the story while introducing the reader to several of the volunteers and homeless residents whom the author met during the past ten years.


A Hero's Life

A fighter pilot is faced with an impossible delimma when he returns home from the war

by Arthur A. Edwards

The story of a war hero who is faced with a choice between what he believes is moral on the one hand,
and his job, his family and the security of his country
on the other.

Steve Pritchard was a World War II fighter pilot hero who returned from England in 1945 to his home in Los Angeles. He was a double ace with twelve downed Messerschmitt ME-109’s to his credit. Steve had married his high school sweetheart, the prettiest girl in town, went to work at Western Aircraft Company, the largest aircraft company in Southern California and moved into a new home with swimming pool on the Palos Verdes peninsula. Steve and Ellen quickly had three children and settled down to a comfortable post-war life.

He earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering at UCLA night school and became his company’s chief troubleshooter. The company’s design team listened to his suggestions and respected his opinion. All was going well when he was assigned a special mission by the company president to investigate multiple crashes of the company’s new, supersonic fighter jet. It would be a simple task, one that he was sure he could solve in a few days.

But those few days turned into months of futile probing, political infighting, Air Force interference, threats on his life and lack of support from his company’s management as well as from his family. Using his experience in airplane design and applying his flying skills, could he finally identify the cause of the crashes? If he identifies the problem, should he reveal the faulty design and lose his job, his home, and his family, or cover up the problem, get the promotion for which he had been working, and continue to live a comfortable life? A man who had been hailed a hero just a few years before in World War II was now to find out what it really meant to lead a hero’s life.

A Hero's Life
184 pages, 6" x 9"
ISBN: 978-1-61170-220-0
Buy "A Hero's Life" from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:

From Chapter One of A Hero's Life
~ Copyright material~

... “This is a special occasion because Steve has solved a problem with the design of our transport, the C-145, that no one else had seen. As you all know, we had issues with parts of its fuselage tearing off when flying at high altitude.

The Air Force was naturally very concerned and threatened to cancel our contract. I asked Steve to take a look at the problem that he identified as being corrosion induced fatigue failure in the aluminum. For the benefit of those of you who aren’t engineers, let me review the parameters of the problem.”

Mr. Sterns was not an engineer himself but liked to think that he was able to understand technical issues that were routine problems for his engineering staff. It usually took several briefings for him to grasp the significance of what his staff was trying to tell him. This one was no exception.

“As you recall, various sections of skin would tear along the cabin section while the plane was in flight on those planes that had been in service the longest. Re-calculations by our engineering department confirmed that the stress loads were not, in themselves, sufficiently high to cause the failures. Something was happening that was unknown in aluminum fractures on airplanes.

“Fortunately, we had the right man for the job, Steve Pritchard, was given the task to pursue this brand new problem, never before seen in aircraft design. And he did pursue it, doggedly, until he identified the problem. Based on his work, we can assure our customer, the Air Force, that we have it all in hand, will modify all C-145’s now in use, and can guarantee that the problem won’t reappear in the future.”

Mr. Stern sat back in his chair, folded his hands on his lap and showed a self-satisfied smile to all of his staff, including Steve. “Steve, why don’t you tell us how you solved this problem?”

Steve looked around the room at the section heads and staff members who were now all looking at him in anticipation. How’d I get into this, he wondered? ...

War is Hell

A Tale of War and One Man's Search for Meaning

by Arthur A. Edwards

War in the Jungle. But who is The Enemy?

This story is told by a soldier who was a part of the bloody war in Burma, the executive officer of a rugged group of American jungle fighters. He tells us in great detail what the war did to him and how he feels about taking another man’s life even to protect his own as he searches for meaning in it all...

World War II is winding down in the summer of 1945, but not for Major Jenkins and his band of Merrill’s Marauders. They have spent months combing the Burmese jungle for the notorious Japanese commander Colonel Maruyama and his troops. Major Jenkins, Captain Beltrans and what was left of their band were outnumbered two to one; so they had to devise a plan that would overcome the odds. But after they settled the score with their enemy, they had to march hundreds of miles through the jungle back to their base near the Indian border. It was now August and the war was over, but how would the local civilians living along the only trail out of Burma view the American soldiers?

Their journey back home was fraught with unexpected dangers and facing unplanned enemies through an unforgiving jungle. They had never been taught at West Point how to fight their new enemy.

After the war, Captain Beltrans is convinced that he should return Colonel Maruyama’s samurai sword to his descendants in Japan. However, what he thought would be a routine side trip to a modern country turned into a harrowing adventure in Japanese politics and a thousand year old culture. He ended up in an ancient Zen garden in Kyoto wondering if he had done the right thing by killing enemy soldiers and civilians during the war. Does he get help from his deceased native grandmother?

War is Hell.  A Tale of War and One Man's Search for Meaning.

242 pages, 6" x 9"
ISBN: 978-1-61170-190-6

Published by: Robertson Publishing (RP)

Buy "War is Hell" from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:

From Chapter One of War is Hell
~ Copyright Material ~

Memories fade as we grow older, but I’ll never forget the last battles in World War II and our fight to liberate Burma from the enemy. It was a bloody time. No quarter was asked nor any given. The battle for Myitkyina was the worst I had ever seen, and I had been in many. If I lean back against this rock and close my eyes, I will tell it as the memories return. How do you describe a bloody hell?

Japanese troops were accurately lobbing mortar shells and firing machine guns at us. The bullets were landing around our men like hail making a continuous storm of unrelenting noise. Hot metal fragments whirled around our heads. I could see my friend, and our commander, Major Phil Jenkins trying to dig his body deeper into the ground but having no luck. He finally lifted his head to see if his regiment was surviving. I yelled at him to keep down. It wasn’t pretty. The smell of death was the all around us.

Through the smoke and dust the major could just make out his men trying to hide in the Burmese soil, in hopes that the shells and bullets would not find them. We all watched as men were blown to bits by incoming mortar and machine gun rounds.

“Sergeant. Help me! My arm is gone.” I could hear screams from wounded and dying men all around us. I was overcome with my own thoughts of how to save our men. After all, I was the group’s executive officer. From a few feet away, I heard our sergeant major yell out, “Major Jenkins, we’ve got to get the hell out of here!”

It was impossible for us to return fire. Any attempt to do so would draw the attention of the Japanese soldiers with deadly results. Our regiment couldn’t advance and we couldn’t stay there. The major had to devise a way to get us out of this hellhole. The Japanese had our range, and they were not letting up. I imagined Phil was thinking, “How in the hell did I lead my men into this? But more importantly, how do I get them out of here? I’ve got to stay calm.” I recognized the look on my friend’s face.

With trepidation, Major Jenkins turned back toward the trees bordering the killing field and motioned to his men to follow him. We began inching our way along as close to the ground as humanly possible. Knowing Phil as I did, he was probably thinking of his embarrassment at retreating in the face of enemy fire. Would he be court martialled we all wondered when we arrived in the safety of the trees? Now he probably knows how General Pickett must have felt at Gettysburg during the Civil War, I thought.

After many grueling minutes, I could see the major finally reach the woods, stand up and turn to see how our men were doing. I was close on his heels. The sergeants had things under control as much as possible and were urging their men to move quickly without endangering themselves. Our soldiers were dragging our dead and wounded comrades off the field while trying not to become casualties themselves. It was critical that the Japanese not know that we had turned and were retreating off the battlefield. If they discovered Major Jenkins’ attempt to save his men, they could wipe out the American battalion with one quick attack. A few of our men had been killed in the maneuver, but most made it safely into the dense forest.


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Author Bio

Art Edwards is a retired aerospace engineer and manager who designed, built and operated large space simulation facilities at Lockheed Missiles, Sunnyvale, Ford Aerospace and Space Systems Loral both in Palo Alto. He was also an Adjunct Professor, who taught courses in engineering, business management, organizational behavior, leadership and project management at San Jose State University, University of California, Santa Cruz and at the University of San Francisco. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of California Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Cybernetic Systems from San Jose State University. He was a naval officer and veteran of the Korean War, serving on an attack transport in the Sea of Japan and across the Pacific. He left the naval reserve a few years later as a lieutenant and is now retired and lives with his retired educator wife in the Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.

When not writing, he is working to help the homeless men, women and children of El Dorado County by providing food, clothing and shelter to those who need it the most.

His next book will be a history of helping the homeless community in the California foothills.

Robertson Publishing, USA

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