A TRIBUTE TO AN OLD HERO

1950s Magazine Art

   I’ve been blessed by having numerous (male) heroes in my lifetime, beginning with Hero Number One… JESUS!  Then of course there was my father, Hendrix Murphy, and his father, Matthew Murphy, and mom’s father, Patrick Murphy.  Over the years I learned to admire and respect (in no particular order) Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Red Skelton, and numerous ‘aviation greats’ such as Chuck Yeager, Jimmy Doolittle, Douglas Corrigan, and Bob Hoover.  

   My passion for model airplanes introduced me to another… a super talented aviation artist who created the covers for Model Airplane News Magazine, and other publications, for many years.  His name is Jo Kotula, (1910-1998).

   Jo was Polish.  He and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1910, when Joe was but 6 months old.  By the early 1930s his work was appearing in national publications like Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Newsweek, Air Trails and Popular Science.  He began painting covers for Model Airplane News in 1932, continuing for 38 years, creating more than 400 dramatic paintings.  He also illustrated for Air Force training manuals during and after World War II.  He was among the first aviation artists who mastered the difficult technique of portraying reflective bare metal in bright sunlight.  One of this personal features was not to depict the sky as simply bright blue filled with puffy white clouds!  Yellow, as seen in the illustration, appeared to be his sky-color of choice, appearing often in his work.  

   I found this copy of his 1950 work for Air Trails on-line and downloaded it.  Next, I imported the file into Paintbrush and painted out the wording.  The original magazine must have been old, as there were a couple of tears and folds, in addition to a mark or two… all of which I did my best to repair.   I now have a framed copy of this ‘restored’ tribute to Jo Kotula hanging on my office wall.  If only I had an original of his work! 

THE BOOK OF BOOKS

A very old friend

This old Bible is rather ragged and worn. There are a few green paint stains on it also! This Bible was given to me as a high school graduation gift in June of 1959. It became my ‘go to’ source of inspiration, comfort, information, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. It’s a product of Word Publishers, and has the very best center column reference of any Bible I’ve ever owned! This make if a very treasured study Bible!

The wear you see looks more like abuse that simple wear and tear. Not so! But the green paint that I mentioned earlier came about at the same time that the spine damage occurred. The vehicle our family owned at the time (sometime in the early 70s) was a Ford station wagon, a very inexpensive, stripped down, economy model. It had NO CARPET, so the entire rear deck, with the seats stowed, was bare metal! We’d been doing some work around the house, and there was a can of green paint in the back. Oops.

That Sunday Night after church, our family of six piled into the Ford. Someone (probably me) opened and then closed it… but it was NOT firmly closed. After everyone piled in, and we did a quick head count, we headed home. We made it out of the parking lot successfully, but in accelerating onto the busy street, the tailgate flew up and open, while at the same time the paint can spilled, and that Bible of mine, which had been laid in the rear of the vehicle, slide across the slick rear floor, thru the green paint, and OUT THE OPENED DOOR and onto the street! Fortunately, no kids slid out also!

There was a lot of screaming and yelling, and we stopped in the middle of the street to survey the damage. My Bible lay in the street, battered, bruised, and looking like an abandoned cast off. I picked up the tattered remains. All the pages were there, just no long firmly attached. I cried, I really did.

I still tried to used this Bible, but I had to do so very carefully. I was ashamed to carry such a tattered example of God’s Written Word to church. I immediately began to search for a replacement.

I’m not sure what the publisher’s reasoning was, but search as I did… I could never find another like this one… not with it’s unbelievably amazing center column reference. Oh I found plenty with ‘ok’ references, but they were always references backwards… or references forwards. This old Bible has them BOTH WAYS!

For years, any time I happened to be in a book store, I search for my old Bible’s twin. I asked. Dozens of helpful clerks assisted me, but to no avail.

And then… less the ten short years ago, Carol and I were in what we call a ‘junk-tique’ store. You know the place… really old stuff, nothing really ‘valuable,’ just stuff a degree or two above worthless. And there on the shelf, shamefully priced at less than a dollar, was an IDENTICAL COPY of my treasured Bible! I’d found a true treasure! Ain’t God good!

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My Son’s Bleeding To Death!

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: It’s no small wonder that I survived childhood!

I give you MERCUROCHROME, a common home remedy found in 99% of homes in the 1940s. Yes, it contained trace amounts of mercury. Yes, mercury is poisonous. And yes, mercurochrome is not seen around much anymore.

It was mostly used on cuts and scratches… and it also containing alcohol…and it burned like the dickens! But some mothers, mine included, used it for other purposed also.

In addition to having mercurochrome, in the 1940s, most doctors still made ‘house calls.’ This was an amazing thing where the doctor CAME TO YOUR HOUSE, instead of you going TO THEIR OFFICE! Crazy, huh? Well, on this particular day, my mother’s little boy, maybe 3 or 4 at the time, had a sore throat. Since it cured most everything, out came the mercurochrome. Using a ‘Q-Tip’ Mom ‘mopped my throat’ with this foul tasting red stuff. You’d get better in self-defense if nothing else!

I must have gotten better. Mom must have forgotten about my sore throat… and her treatment. But don’t you forget, mercurochrome was red… blood red.

Yes! In front of her, I coughed up some bright red stuff! Racing to the phone, and in sheer panic, Mom called our pediatrician. Come quick! Billy’s coughing up blood! Hurry!

I think that’s why we have ambulances today, otherwise one would have been called. Anyway, the doctor raced from North State Street down south to Doodleville and to 802 Evergreen.

Today I must assume that mercurochrome probably had a distinctive smell, because it didn’t take long for the out-of-breath doc to piece together the true story. ‘You just mopped the kid’s throat, didn’t you?’

I’ve often wondered if the doctor charged Mom double that day. I probably would have!

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BE A MAGNIFYING GLASS

This is a dust-off of a very old write, a presentation for a weekly devotional I gave while working for Jitney Jungle over twenty years ago.  I begin this with a brief  description of my life-long respect for communication clarity.

One of my earliest remembrances was spawned at Halloween during the late 1940s.  Battlefield Park in south Jackson, Mississippi held an annual Halloween fest for children, which included an overabundance of candy, bobbing for apples, and a rather tame spook-house.  They also had a ‘fortune teller.’  My older cousins had to explain to me what that was.  I still remember that the little slip of paper I was given by the spooky looking lady sitting behind the crystal ball said… that I would one day be a LAWYER.  I had to be told what that meant also!

   No, I never became a lawyer.  But I suppose that I have had lawyer-like tendencies most all of my life.  My high school yearbook stated something about my propensity to ‘argue.’

   That said, civil law is a stickler for truth!  And truth means saying what you mean and not simply what you say.  In other words… correct word usage is of paramount importance to me.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  

   This brings us to the subject of my old devotional.

   The first chapter of the book of John tells of the meeting of Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist) when both were still pregnant.  In their conversation, Mary is quoted as saying, 

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

                                                       Luke 1:46

   Interesting!  But doesn’t MAGNIFY mean to make something larger?  So how is it possible to make the Lord larger?  Was Mary speaking about the baby Jesus growing in her womb?

   Definitely not!

   It’s generally assumed that magnify here means praise.  But could it mean much more?

   Here is where the difference between what Mary actually said, and what it appears that she said, is most important.  What did Mary actually say… what did she say spiritually, correctly, even ‘court-house’ legally?

    Notice that Mary didn’t say, “I magnify the Lord.”  She spoke of her soul, her spirit, her inner and eternal self. 

   Scripture talks about images.  It tells us that…

So God created man in his own image, 

in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

   Now, let’s define what an image is.  An image is not the real, actual item, nor even a physical duplicate of that thing.  It is only a likeness, a representation, similar to a photo.

   Mary spoke of ‘magnifying’ the Lord, and magnifying means to increase or make larger.  But this is not a boast of making God larger… but of making His image (the ‘reflection’ of God that the world sees in us) appear to be larger that the images of Him they have previously seen in others!  Think of it this way… when we look at an ant under a magnifying glass, the ant appears much larger.  The aunt in not larger, but the image of the ant is!

   Our world today is beset with Godliness on every side.  God has chosen us to be the visible image of Himself, the invisible God, in the world.  We do this by allowing our lives to be a reflection of His love and mercy.  The less of our nature that shows… and the more of God’s nature that shines within us… the more of God the world will see, and will learn of Him, and will be drawn unto Him.  

All of us, like Mary, should always strive to magnify the Lord… now more than ever!  As it says in Colossians 1:27, Christ in you, the hope of glory!

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A WILD AND CRAZY GUY

Glacier Washington

Perhaps you remember when Steve Martin was on Saturday Night Live and did a skit featuring a ‘wild and crazy guy.’  Now I’ve never really been known as one of those, but once while in high school, I did come close… very close.

It was the summer of 1957, between the 10th and 11th grades at Central High..  Our family took a week long and many miles long motor trip from our home in Jackson, Mississippi diagonally north/westward across the nation to the sleepily little town of Glacier, Washington… perhaps 20 miles east of the East coast and 5 to 7 miles south of the Canadian border.  This little town was the last settlement at the foot of Mount Baker, along the end of a dead-end highway 542.

My mother’s uncle lived in Glacier, and the family had not seen him in many years.  Uncle Ed worked in the logging industry, operating a crane which loaded cut logs onto trucks which transported them down the mountain.

In the winter, Glacier was a bustling ski mecca.  But we were there in summer.  Although there was snow on the mountain (my sister and I tobogganed down the slopes) it was not the tourist ski season while we were there.  According to our map, the census said that Glacier had a resident population of only 25.  We were there 3 days and I only laid eyes on 7… including my own family!

Uncle Ed invited two of his closest friends over to meet us.  These two middle-aged ‘mountain men’ owned and operated a gold mine on Mount Baker!  I was enraptured by the tales they told on one-another… and about Uncle Ed.

The day before we left, the two miners asked if I’d like to come back the next summer, and work in the mine with them.  Uncle Ed said he’d enjoy the company if I wanted to return.  Would I?  YES!!!

In my tender 16 year old brain, this was the chance of a life-time!  I’d never been so crazy-adventurous.  This was my unbelievable chance to try my hand at becoming a wild and crazy guy!  My mind went wild.  I decided that I’d (try to) grow a beard… and grow my hair out… and bleach it blonde!  When school started the in fall of my return from Mount Baker, no one would recognize me… the wild and crazy guy!  

Did I do it?  No.  So what went wrong? 

Hormones!

When school started in the fall of ’57, my dreams of a beard and bleached hair deep inside a gold mine were shattered by a tiny imp with a bow and arrow… brought on by a cute, seductive blonde in eleventh grade American History class. My heart began to skip beats, and my hormones went on over-time.  Basically, I traded my plans for blonde hair for the blonde across the room.  

So much for my dreams of becoming a wild and crazy guy!

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MEMORIES OF EVERGREEN

    We didn’t have NCIS when I was growing up.  We didn’t even have TV.  TV didn’t come to town until I was in the 5th grade.  We had ‘The Shadow’ and ‘Dragnet’ on radio… and personally, I had THE GLOBE DETECTIVE AGENCY just across the street from my house!

    On the corner of Peabody and Evergreen, at 801, resided the Welchels, a middle aged couple who operated the detective agency from their home.  They were, wording it thoughtfully and respectfully, ‘different.’

    I live at 802 for the first 19 years of my live.  Mrs. Welchel was a semi-friend type of person, who ventured out of the house to shop, or for what ever purpose.  But I can’t say that I ever once witnessed him leaving the premises, or even venturing onto the front porch for that matter.  There were however, frequent ‘visitors’ there, who parked either in front of the house, usually, around the corner on Peabody.  The Welchels owned and managed the agency… these come and go ‘visitors’ were the legs and ‘eyes’ of the company.

       I was inside that house (front room only) less than 1/2 a dozen times, if that many. He was a large man, usually sitting behind that was to me a HUGE desk, that was always VERY CLUTTERED. On it were stacked with reams and reams of paper!  And usually, at least one cat was sitting on a stack of paper like a fully paper-weight.  

    I have memory of her that will never fade — of her standing at the front door and in a shrill voice, calling the cats inside… “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty”…. all strung out like that and run together as if it was one long word!

   Evergreen was truly a street with CHARACTER! 

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CONCERN and WORRY

So what, if any, is the difference?

What, me worry?

© 2021 Bill Murphy

Concern, the definition

That which affects one’s welfare or happiness. A matter of interest to someone. The adposition before the matter of interest is usually over, about or for.

(Adposition – the meaning of that complicated word is:  An element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding content.  The key words here are; phrase, interpreted, and content.

Similar words for concern are: Deal with, cover, discuss, examine, to address, study, look into, to inquire about, regard.  Basically, to be concerned about something means to take it into consideration. 

Worry, the definition

Worry is having a strong feeling of anxiety.  To be troubled, to give way to mental anxiety.  

Similar words for worry are: Anxiety, apprehension, fear, uneasiness, dread, misgiving, apprehensiveness, uncertainty, having the willies.

A wise teacher once told me, ‘It is what it is.’  then they explained that remark my saying, ‘It’s not necessarily what you think it is.’  This little truism is why the stage magician can so easily trick us.

When we consider the meanings of these two words, concern and worry, we see that concern pertains to things and events which we have a distinct control over… that is: We the ability and opportunity to altar the perceived outcome.  However, worry is a mental activity involving things and events over which we have no control, neither do we have the opportunity nor the ability to change them.  Worry is a hopeless and helpless state of mind.  Basically worry is futile!

If you are on a roller-coaster, and you discover that this in NOT fun, you decide that YOU WANT OFF…now!  If the ride has an emergency button, you hit it, and get off.  That’s exercising your CONCERN, and doing something about it.  However, if you decide to suck it up and RIDE… and suddenly, at the top of the tallest peak, the car jumps the tracks… and now your hurtling toward the ground!  This is the time to WORRY!  You’ll soon crash into the ground and you’re helpless to do one thing about it!

There are numerous words in the English language which we incorrectly believe to be of similar in meaning.  Repeat a falsehood often enough and it begins to sound like truth.  Movies and TV have told us for years that sex outside of marriage (fornication) is simply ‘making love.’  There’s a lot of sex in the world today that’s far, far removed from anything remotely like love.

That said, I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier.’  

Am I concerned about some things that appear not to concern others? Yes.

I’m sure that you’re heard the expression, ‘There goes an accident about to happen.’  We use this to express our opinion that we perceive that all of the elements are in place for an accident to happen.  Notice the use of the words opinion and  perceive.  

The same holds true for the word worry.  I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier’ because I’m perceived to be worrying, therefore, others people’s opinion is that I ‘surely must be’ worrying.  But I’m not.  I’m concerned

It’s been said that one of the ‘biggest words’ in the English language is ‘IF’.  

Think of ‘if’ as a fork in the road… where we have a choice of which path to take.  After we’ve taken the wrong path, then we recognize our error and we wish that we’d taken the other path… we look back and reflect.  But now it’s too late to WORRY about it.  We’ve already where we don’t want to be!

But back at that fork in the road, when we pause and consider carefully the consequences of possibly making the wrong decision, that’s concern.  That’s our opportunity to do something about our decision, to weigh our options, to gather the facts.  

I also ‘guilty’ of telling a lot of stories from my past.  I memory banks of filled with unique and unusual stories to tell.

I’m reminded of a family vacation event which happen in the early 1950s.  We were in Colorado at the time, in an arid, mountainous, ‘bad-lands’ region.  The purpose was to see an old abandoned gold mining town.

Dad spotted a tour-guide JEEP, with driver-guide and 3 or 4 sight-seers.  A sign on the side of the jeep proclaimed that it took visitors up to the actual mine.  “Let’s follow them!” Said Dad.  And we did.  We followed them UP THE MOUNTAIN.

I was of course, excited.  Mom and my sister were worried.  It was NOT a paved road up the mountain, and it was NOT wide.  It proved to be a winding, one-jeep wide road…with no guard rails.  Occasionally, the jeep ahead would stop and the folks would turn and shake their heads in disbelief.  We continued to follow.

Being a back seat passenger, and an obedient son, there was not much I could do about my darkening situation.  My excitement had long sense morphed into what I perceived to be CONCERN and straight thru into full-blown WORRY.  In a few more difficult yards, Dad also had begun to be genuinely concerned!

Around the next tight little bend in the road, we came upon a narrow place that was less narrow than we’d seen in quite a while.  ‘Wide place’ was NOT a suitable definition.  But to Dad, he saw it as a glimmer of hope in desperate times.  

Backing down the mountain was NOT an option… that would be an open invitation to disaster.  Somehow he had to get the car headed in the other direction.  It was no simple task, and not one for the faint hearted.  But somehow, inch by precarious inch, he maneuvered that big ole Chrysler back and forth, front bumper touching solid rock walls, and rear tires coming to with a quarter of an inch to a sheer drop-off.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Ahead the jeep came to a stop.  Vacationeers had their cameras out.  And when Dad made that last maneuver, and we could finally retrace our path down the mountain… everyone in the jeep let out a cheer!  We in the Chrysler let out an equally loud sigh of relief.

I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the definitions of CONCERN and WORRY, and how they affected all of us involved that day, than this exciting up and down the mountain adventure!   

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(NOT) On The Road Again

Bill Murphy ©2021

The song ‘On The Road Again’ was made famous by Willie Nelson, or perhaps it was the other way around.  It’s definitely NOT a song related to my mother!  My mom was more closely paired to the movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’

Mom was born February 25, 1915 in rural Mississippi, the daughter of a railroad engineer.  Dad was born July 6, 1910, in Carthage, Mississippi, the son of a self-sufficient farmer.  They met and fell in love in Carthage in the early 1930s, where both lived.  Dad was twenty-two when they married, and she was seventeen.  

Through thick and thin, World War Two, the threat of instant atomic annihilation… and me… they were steadfast friends, lovers, and husband and wife for the remainder of their long and very happy lives.

Yet, both were strong-willed, unique individuals.  Only their love for one another was stronger – thank God!

When they married, Dad was working for a small up-start grocery firm.  He began as a lowly stock-boy, and had worked his way up to manager of one of the company’s stores in Jackson, Mississippi by the time they married.  They rented an apartment only yards from the store, so Dad simply walked to work.  Dad’s work-ethic reasoning was: why should his vehicle take up a potential customer’s spot?

Dad taught Mom to drive; however, he asked her NOT to drive the car until she had her license.  I used the words ‘asked Mom’ because ‘told Mom’ sounds too harsh and demanding.  In today’s world, that’s not politically correct.  But this was in the 1930s, where ‘told’ would be both politically acceptable and strongly reasonable.  My law-abiding, plan-ahead, cover-all-the-bases-father reasoned that 1) Driving without a license was against the law, 2) IF she had an accident, she’d probably NOT be covered on the auto’s insurance, and 3) RESPONSIBLE people don’t take UNNECESSARY chances.  No doubt, he used the word ‘told.’

Girls will be girls they say.  And one of Mom’s lady-friends dropped by to invite her to go along with her into town.  They’d take the bus.  Instead, they took the car!  Mom drove.  She was on the road again when she shouldn’t outta be.  Wouldn’t you know it?  This would be the one day that Dad inexplicably came home in the middle of the day.  Oops!

This was a ‘big deal’ to Dad.  To him, it crossed more that one line.  Mom didn’t agree with what she saw as his un-reasonable attitude.  The embers of anger were  quickly fed by the wind of words.  And Mom, in her unique and amazing way, drew a line in the sand.  I don’t know the exact words she used, but she basically stated:  “If that’s the way you feel, OK.  That settles it.  Since you’re so firm that I was oh so wrong, I promise you here and now, that it will NEVER happen again.  And it will never happen again, because it CAN’T happen again… because I’m NEVER, EVER going to drive again!  So there!”

And she didn’t!

I can remember, when I was still riding a tricycle, and my little sister was a baby in arms and trips to the pediatrician were often for both of us… that Dad would beg and plead with Mom to please, please, PLEASE get your drivers license… DRIVE!  He actually promised her that he’d buy her any car she wanted!  But it was to no avail.  Mom’s clandestine shopping trip downtown was the last time she sat behind the wheel of an automobile!  Ever!!!

I’ve always believed that my family was one-of-a-kind.  And if this doesn’t prove it, nothing does.  But what is so amazing is that this not so tiny ‘wound’ in their relationship healed so utterly and completely.  It really left no scars!  By the time I was was learning to drive, it was simply an accepted fact that Mrs. Murphy did not drive.  Didn’t want to.  She just wasn’t going to do it.  Period.  And friends and family alike accepted this fact as ‘gospel truth.’

I just thought of someone else with an anti-driving mentality… Sheldon Cooper!   

WHY?

Bill Murphy ©2021

After Mommy and Daddy, one of the first words a child learns to say is WHY?  It’s a word that parents will hear countless times!  Even our Heavenly Father is asked this question!  We’ve made WHY a very important part of our vocabulary.  Don’t get me wrong: It’s most often a good thing to ask why!  We learn things when we ask why… things we might have missed had we not asked.

My father illustrated this principle with one of the most powerful lessons he ever taught me.  He did this in a story he told during the late 1940s.  I was perhaps only in 1st or 2nd grade. 

Our family was traveling from our home in Jackson, MS to Delhi, LA to visit his sister and family.  This was in pre-interstate days, and much of our route was along two-lane US Highway 80.  

Before reaching Vicksburg, where we’d cross the mighty Mississippi River, we crossed numerous smaller bridges spanning other rivers and creeks.  As we approached one particular bridge (one that Dad referred to as the ‘new’ bridge) he told me the following story.

Years before, he said, there’d been a terrible storm with extremely heavy rains.  The rain came down in torrents, making it difficult to see ahead.  Rivers and creeks suddenly flooded and overflowed.  And the bridge ahead (of us) suddenly washed away!  One by one, because they could not see ahead clearly, drivers failed to stop in time and drove off and into the raging water below, to be swept away.

But one old black man, was driving slowly, and cautiously.  He saw the danger ahead… and stopped!  Then, he ran back down the highway, and frantically tried to warn approaching vehicles of the danger ahead.

But this was 1940s Mississippi.  Ours was a land peopled by two separate and separated races… races divided by more than simply skin color.  Sadly, then we were separated by trust, or rather, a lack of trust.  Needlessly, irrational false-fear kept others from seeing the warning… and from failing to ask ‘why?’  They swerved around their potential savior and proceed on, into their watery deaths.  

Thankfully, someone using their brain (and heart) stopped… and then another.  Finally the ‘lemming-march’ was halted.

Although It was a quick lesson, told while driving across a simple bridge along an old asphalt highway, that story had a tremendous impact on me.  The amazing thing is, it taught me a multitude of life-lessons, lessons which have stood with me for a life-time!  It taught me far more than that it’s ok to ask why?

As he told it, Dad probably had no idea of the lasting impact it would have upon my life.  He told it as if it were 100% true, and I’m certain that it is!  My Dad was not one to make up stories… unless he admitted to the fiction.  But try as I might, I’ve never been able to verify this event… as sad as it was.  That old fellow who risked life and limb to save others, should be honored, should be remembered!  

I hope that somehow, somewhere, that old fellow knows that the story of what he did meant a lot to me when I heard about it… and that it still does today! 

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My First Airplane Flight

THE SUPER CONNIE

     My first airplane flight almost wasn’t.  Let me explain.

     I’ve always liked airplanes, models as well as the real things.  My first model was given to me by an older first cousin, years before I was capable of building it.  And, during the 40s and 50s our home in ‘Doodleville’ of south Jackson, MS was right on the landing pattern of Delta and Southern airlines flying into Hawkins Field. 

     Two weeks after graduating from Mississippi College in 1963, I was sworn into the 172nd Military Airlift Group of the Mississippi Air National Guard… and immediately shipped off to basic training at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas.  That trip was to be the very first airplane flight in my life… the flight that almost wasn’t.

     At that time the 172nd was flying the aircraft in the photo… the Lockheed Super Connie, the military version of the highly successful Super Constellation commercial airliner.

    I was really looking forward to that first flight.  It seems strange now, for someone who’d always loved all things flying, that this was to be my very first flight – at age twenty-two!  But that was how it happened.  And now, that exciting time had finally come! 

    One by one, the four powerful engines roared to life, and the whole airframe shook like a living being.  I’m sure I must have been grinning from ear to ear.  After a brief engine warm-up, we taxied out to the end of the runway.  Soon… we’d be airborne!

    The engines roared to full power and the plane lunged forward.  We slowly gathered speed, and within seconds we were really streaking.  Then suddenly, all four engines throttled back, the brakes began squealing, and we came to a squealing stop near the end of the runway.  The engines were shut down.  A few moments later the pilot walked back through the cabin explaining that ‘we’d had a slight problem.’  I didn’t consider not being able to takeoff as ‘a slight problem.’

    Soon, a truck came along side, and a couple of mechanics set up a ladder next to an engine on the right side.  They removed a few panels to expose the ‘problem’ motor, and began ‘tinkering.’  After about twenty minutes, they put the panels back in place, climbed down the ladder and had a pow-pow with the flight crew beneath the engine.  A few minutes later the mechanics drove off.  Our crew came back aboard and announced that were were going to ‘try it again.’  That was the exact words!

    Once again, the engines roared to life, we turned around, and taxied back to where we’d started… and, as the pilot said, we ‘tried it again.’

    This time, our take-off was a complete success.  After a quick climb out, we turned and headed toward Texas.  I was on my very first airplane ride!

    But that was not the end of the story.  The ride to Texas was somewhat bumpy… actually, it was much like a roller-coaster ride on a very old and rickety roller-coaster!  I was totally embarrassed when I became air-sick!  How dare myself!  I, the lover of airplanes, was air-sick!  How mortifying!  It was all that I could do to keep the contents of my stomach down.  When we landed at Lackland I was probably the only one on the base to be GLAD and THANKFUL to be down on the ground so that I could begin basic training!

    But that’s not the end of the ‘Bill got air-sick on his first flight’ story.

    My time in Texas included about a month and a half of basic training in San Antonio, and then on to technical school in Wichita Falls which lasted until the second week of December.  A holiday fell about the mid point of that time which effectively gave us three days ‘off,’ Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  We were allowed to travel only a hundred miles, which was great for those from Texas… but to Mississippi was much farther.  Taking a HUGE chance, I booked a flight HOME anyway.  (Technically, I was AWOL!

    My second flight would be with Delta Airlines.  And this time, I firmly RESOLVED that I would NOT get air-sick.  I willed myself not to.  And, to prove to myself that I would not… I tempted fate! This was in the mid 1960s, before the days of airline peanuts.  Back in those day, hot MEALS of REAL FOOD was served.  We also had a SELECTION!  So I chose FRIED FISH… and selected MILK as my drink!  And yes, I ate it all!  And no, I didn’t get sick!  Also… I’ve never gotten air-sick again!

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