Archive for August, 2008

The picture above is just a part of what you’re missing if you don’t boogie out to First Class Air at Springfield, Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport and see this immaculately restored B-17 on display and flying all day Sunday. Walk through tours begin at 9:00 am and cost $5 a person. You may take a ride in it (atout 45 minutes in the airplane; about 30 minutes in the air) for $425 per person. Springfield Chapter Illinois Pilots Association is selling hot dogs, chips, cookies, bottled water and soft drinks. Proceeds go to IPA. They will be happy to talk to you about this excellent flyers’ organization, and I will be happy to talk to you about my new book Springfield Aviation which goes on sale September 15.  It’s all history in the sharing from good folks to good folks. Ask for Darley at the refreshment tent table and then ask her where the bookseller is. She will connect.

This was the first gathering of aviation enthusiasts where I met a fellow who had not heard of John Gillespie MacGee, Jr., and his immortal poem High Flight. I told him I was probably the only fellow at the airport who could recite the poem (TERRIFIC POEM), and then in the middle of Hangar One at First Class Air, I recited it as the author might have intended it to be shared; my best guess at any rate. Suffice to say, even though the poem (now public domain) is not in my book, he took an order form so he can send me his check when it goes on sale in mid-September.

The whole arrangment — B-17 restoration extraordinaire, great IPA people and book-schlepping writer/photographer — are worth your time Sunday. I hope to see you there!

Live long . . . . . and proper.


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You are inspiring me, your in-tune-with-the-21st-century-ness to aspire to higher. Those who I despise are despised by others and unworthy of a nanosecond of my concern. If I have something to share in celebration of a friend or associate or stranger, I will share it here. The rest, I shall certainly feel, but I shall feel unto myself.

Your success is my first celebration, Barack and with it your profound inspiration to me as a writer and a human being. Here’s to a world where you inspire others to pledge themselves to the same “higher angels,” as Abe called them.

God speed!

Live long . . . .  and proper.

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Supermarket Seen

In Walgreens last week I encountered a small open basket on the checkout counter. It contained an assortment of oranges, apples and bananas. They were for sale:  69 cents a piece.

Heading home from work last night I stopped at Shop & Save because I was running low on Hellman’s and I had a garden or ripening tomatoes that would be going nowhere without it. I also discovered Pringles on sale, 10 for 10 dollars. If I had  had $100 to spare, I’d have really stocked up, but I settled for 10. Filled an entire plastic sack with them.

As I waited in the checkout line savoring happy faces a-plenty awash with the American dream of going home for a long weekend, I noticed, barely visible on the “last chance” shelves offering irresistible (they hope) baubles to shopping buckes and belles, a definitively 21st century icon. It was a talking Simpson’s pizza cutter. I am not kidding you. That is what I saw. I thought, as I waited, cool and content, of picking it up, purchasing one and taking it home to save, like a Barbie Doll in the original box, to sell on e-Bay in 20 years.

“Naaaaw,”: I said to myself. “That won’t define me. I’m different.” Then I took my 10 stacks of Pringles, a jar of Hellman’s, a new bottle of Kraft Catalina dressing and a bunch of Dole bananas home to a memorable evening of speeches, nourished by leftover baked chicken, a stack of Cheddar Cheese Pringles and some hefty hits on a big jug of Burgundy with my name on it.

Live long . . . . .  and nutritionally balanced.

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The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force has flown its immaculately restored B-17 Flying Fortress to town where is is now parked at FIrst Class Air, the fixed base operator next to the airport terminal. This warbird is restored in the colors of a late-war machine which flew without the olive green and grey camouflage of its bretheren who came before. I have seen and toured “Sentimental Journey” before, and I will be helping with the big doings there this weekend. You owe it to yourself and your family to visit probably the most authentically restored B-17s flying today. Walk through tours are $5 a person; flights are $425 a head. It will be here through August 31.

Between World War I and 1941, the word “warbird,” meaning “former military airplane owned and flown by civilians,” was not a part of our lexicon. The word had not been invented! Today, they are handled with kid gloves by those who have learned how maintain them, often from aging veterans who flew them in uniform and after, in war and peace. All you encounter in a Commemorative Air Force uniform has dedicated significant parts of their time and bank balances to keeping warbirds in the air today. This is particularly true of “Sentimental’.”

In 1955, ten years after the end of World War II, just a few past the Korean War, most Americans were content to almost forget about war. But as the last of the fighter planes and bombers were finally retired from more menial, less lethal duties in the services, a group of pilots living south of the Mason-Dixon Line organized to save military machines destined to be hacked to pieces and melted into aluminum ingots for new life as sauce pans. The organization was known for decades as the Confederate Air Force. A few years ago, it was renamed the Commemorative Air Force, and it’s a change for the better.

Sponsoring the visit, and helping with fund raising efforts including the sale of donuts, light lunch and beverages, are members of the Springfield Chapter, Illinois Pilots Association. If you encounter a guy in a young beard greeting visitors and passing out flyers about his new book entitled Springfield Aviation, be sure to say “hello.” I look forward to meeting you and introducing you to the rest of the clubhouse gang, some pretty good people and one magnificent airplane!

Fly long . . . . . . and proper.

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Tall Corn

It’s been a nutty week getting together my stories for the next Springfield Business Journal. The picture above was taken during the effort, though it has nothing to do with my articles. I saw a pattern I liked, and I photographed it; didn’t realize how good (to moi) it looked until I downloaded it. That’s the big diff between working with a camera and working with a keyboard. I’m so busy in essence “taking notes” with the shutter button that the best I can hope for is to compose the picture correctly as I encounter scenes with eyes away from the viewfinder and zero in often to shoot a chosen few. Unless I’m shooting a pictoral, what I have to say about the article in the image must be said in only one; two, tops. The text can reveal many angles; the picture only one. The picture is sometimes “the poem” to the 500 word story, but sometimes it’s a simply a synopsis. Either way, that’s okay. When a picture does NOT work, that’s because it’s less than either; it’s a snapshot. And that’s okay when snapshots are required.

My assignment was to photograph concrete. Maybe that’s why the green made an impression this week. The corn “looks like it’s rising clear up to the sky.” As Curly Joe might have said in Oklahoma: “Oh, what a beautiful afternoon.”

I’m peeved that if I were simply shooting snapshots, I could tell you where I was and what I was doing, but I can’t now because the point of my effort this week must be revealed in about a week. THEN I’ll explain the rest.

Things are nearing summer zenith, even though the daylight hours have been getting shorter for more than a month. Strange how the harvest comes after the crest of the season, after the perigee of the northern hemisphere’s spin around the sun. Is life more beautiful, in the garden, the field, the community of friends and family than it is after the apogee?

I think it is not. “These are the days of miracle and wonder” as Simon sings. “Cherish is a word that more than applies,” as the Association sang. “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.” Bob Dylan said that.

Live long . . . . . and proper.  — I said that.

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By Job Conger

From the stone skipped on the water
Ripples eminate beyond.
From the bouquet, gladly given,
Ripples, yes, and common bond.

In the storm-tossed voyage onward,
Breaking waves on bow and shore,
Consequence of stones and roses::
Ripples of our lives and more.

Words that seem so clear and certain
Scandalize with angry splash
Unconsidered when first written
Sullied page screams truth as trash.

Some with unprotected beaches
Disappear beneath the wave
When the tide of dreams mis-spoken
Steals the land; leaves naught to save.

But the shoreline girded rocky
Takes the angry ripples well
Insight or blight, waters amble
Equally to breaking swell.

Ripples come in many ways from
Love and spite and joy and pain,
Shaping who we are, exchanging
What we lose for what we gain.

In the quest for life’s safe harbor
Fortress-building on the shore,
Come the waves from hearts in motion:
Ripples of our lives and more.

I modified this poem written in 1999 (published in my book Wit’s End) to share here at H&Q today. The point in the modified version is that sometimes, what we think is so obvious and true, the best soup ever put to your lips, touches the lips (and eyes and ears) of others as a vile concoction unfit for human consumption. Sometimes negative thoughts are intended to generate positive outcomes. Other times they are shared in the hope of demeaning and punishing those who inspire negative reactions. As long as feedback to this blog is addressed to issues presented and not to sharers of points of view, every posting will be passed on to you, the valued Honey & Quinine reader. Feedback that demeans me — and others who post here — will not be shared starting now. My shoreline is girded rocky, and I will not disappear. I hope the same is true for all readers visiting this post.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Since my arrival here at the edge of the world, I’ve been at arms’ length with the office manager whose hours were reduced to accommodate the additional talent I brought to the business. If she were a wolverine she would hiss and spit when she talks, and the family resemblance doesn’t end there. I’m no longer “the cockeyed optimist” as she and the rest of the employees rail at the distracted but generally likable proprietor, and we agree how Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is destined to spend part of his retirement from politics in the old “Greybar Hotel” as Dave Letterman would say. Today we were politely conversing about the Blagovernor when our mutual accord became evident to both of us. The start down the path to common bond ended abruptly when I asked if she had gone downtown to watch the big event Saturday.

“You mean Obama?” she said as though tentatively touching an exposed electrical wire with her tongue to see if it was “hot.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Who else?”

“He’s a fool!”

END OF CONVERSATION! I said nothing; didn’t even shake my head. I just beat a tempered retreat to my part-time office out of ear, eye and buckshot.  

It doesn’t matter that so much of what the presumed nominee stands for would benefit her . . . . and me. The fat-cats she despises, the heartless meanies who don’t give her what she deserves will pay more taxes and the likes of her and me will pay less, but she doesn’t care. That he wants to restore the very high esteem in which most of the world held the USA before #43’s litany of lies and anti-freedom tyrannies began matters not to her. For our country to become again the moral example for those suffering indescribably from leaders who pillaged truth like a thief in the night pillages your grandmother’s silverware. . . . for the USA to be as good as she knows it used to be, that no longer concerns her. My associate would rather endure the swampy status quo instead of standing for justice and the hope of justice.

“He’s a fool!”


Because she can see no further than the color of his skin.

How cheaply we trade our comfort and promise of comfort for the greasy satisfaction of bigotry.

Live long . . . . . . and prosper.

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