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Archive for August, 2010

The last few months have not generated as many posts as say, the same time last year. August, as initial frustration over nil help with the move to the AeroKnow Museum at the airport seemed to blossom into hope (as well founded as the heart-felt assurance that tomorrow, pigs WILL fly) I began to smile again. Sure I’m working almost not at all at The Granite Guy and I’m not pursuing full-time employment  — understanding full-well that a looser is NOT the person who doesn’t find work; a looser is the person who doesn’t TRY — all so I can finish the big move and reconfigure my house so there’s more open space for me. . . . so there really isn’t much to reveal to the world worth revealing. I’ve deliberately held off updating my story after sharing the circumstance of my brother Bill who has serious liver trouble. It was important that the first post newcomers and regular visitors saw what the news about the August 29 fundraiser. Now it’s time to resume posting about more than that.

The fundraiser was a big success. Marjorie, one of Bill’s children shared the news late Sunday with her Facebook friends. I consider myself lucky to be one of her “newest” Facebook friends, even though I’m not very new. Monday came the word that Bill did not feel well enough to get out of bed to go to a scheduled doctor’s appointment, and an ambulance was called to take him to the hospital. Because I know some of Bill’s friends who are not into Facebook have begun to read my blog, I will usually post new of Bill first so they can catch up and move on. I have heard nothing from Bill’s family via Face’ or e-mail since Monday.

Last night I showed the still-vacant upstairs duplex to a fine couple, one of whom engaged me to recite my poetry and Vachel Lindsay’s poetry at Iles Elementary School a few years ago. It’s a magnet school for gifted kids, and it was terrific to be there. She isn’t writing much poetry these days, but she and her significant other seemed as impressed with the place, and I was impressed with them. He drives a pickup truck and so I ask you: what’s NOT to like about these people? I gave them an application to complete and return. If they do, and things check out okay, I am confident that crippling vacancy will be filled to my significant delight.

The more time I spend at the AeroKnow Museum, the more time I want to spend there. To save you, the valued “Honey & Quinine” reader the burden of slogging through my posts about it, I’ve launched a new blog named after the support organization which was created to encourage involvement in the success of the museum. The blog is called “Abe Lincoln’s Air Force” and can be read at http://aeroknow.wordpress.com

There is a Springfield Chapter Illinois Pilots Association meeting starting at 6:30,  Wednesday, September 1 at Jim Thornton’s hangar on Charlie Ramp at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. You don’t have to be a pilot or even a member of IPA to attend the potluck event. Just drive to the main gate, honk your horn a few times, and someone will come let you in. If they don’t recognize you, simply say you’re a prospective IPA member, and follow them back to the open hangar with Thornton’s Cessna 182 out front and all the cars parked nearby.

Thursday night, LincolnLand Community College and University of Illinois Springfield are hosting visual arts gallery receptions for my new friend Adam Persbacher at LLCC and an equally worthy person at UIS. E me if you want to know more.

Today I’m continuing to take back my house. Earlier this morning I cut all the card stock I had been stockpiling for years in the back room (recently reclaimed and transformed into my bedroom) to fit as stiffeners on a bunch of 9 x 12 mailing envelopes (ex Springfield Air Rendezvous air show to be over-labeled with my return address) and inserting each into an envelope ready for mailing Abe Lincoln’s Air Force member certificate and cards. As you can tell, I’m having a bunch of fun.

I need to call George at The Granite Guy to see how he’s doing, and if he wants me to work this week. Keep your fingers crossed. I can use the bread.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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My brother William Harrison Conger came into the family two years after me and 14 years after our sister Dorothy. Bill and I went our separate ways, and he’s been living in Florida many years. During those years, from what I observed during our correspondence that ended about 16 years ago and subsequent contact with every one of his children and I believe two of their mothers, it’s become clear that he has led an exemplary life, doing far better as a business man and family man than his older brother. I am proud of him, and I believe our mom and dad, long since passed on, would be proud of him too. Through family contacts, I’ve learned that Bill is seriously ill with a liver ailment and needs a liver transplant to keep going.  I know that many Springfieldians remember Bill during his years in his home town and would help him if they knew he was in serious distress. Here is a call to action for those friends and to any of mine who want to help a good man in need.

The University of Miami Medicine is slated to perform the operation for a cost exceeding $500,000. A lot of pre-operation testing is not covered by his insurance, and there are sure to be other expenses as he gets back into the swing of things at the business he owns with his charming wife. On Sunday, August 29, a fundraiser will be held in Florida. Since no one reading this post will likely fly down for it (I wish I could) details of that mean nothing here. FUNDS to help pay for what’s ahead are urgently needed. A bank in the area can accept donated deposits. I have just discovered when I called the bank that they cannot accept donations over the phone. But you are welcome to call them and ask for customer service to verify that this is all legitimate and on the up and up.

TIB Bank, 305-451-2000

Donations may be mailed to
TIB Bank
P.O. Box 574
Key Largo, FL  33037

Make checks payable to the William H. Conger Medical Fund.

Any donation will help. In my circumstance, I am unable to donate as much as I want, but I am mailing a donation today.

I hope you will too!

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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A few days ago, I arrived at AeroKnow Museum at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport for another afternoon of shuffling it into shape before letting the world beyond just us friends know about it. Walking to the truck I saw two linemen (the hard-working gents who direct arriving aircraft to their parking spots and refuel them) walking into position about 100 feet apart on the tarmac on the other side of the barbed-wire-topped fence. After depositing a first load in my office and outbound for the truck again, I understood why they had taken position there. Three F/A-18 Hornets were taxiing in to replenish their fuel before resuming a cross-country trek. I stopped long enough to watch them park and shut down, then continued with the task at hand.

I have been cautioned by the FBO manager NOT to ask military pilots for permission to take pictures of their airplanes after — early into my set-up — as I later explained to one of the pilots visiting Friday, I have the appearance of a 60-year-old and the enthusiasm for aviation of a 14-year-old. Even so, I wanted to let the three visitors know about the little museum and Abe Lincoln’s Air Force. WHY? So I could ask for support? No; so I could talk to some terrific pilots, thank them for serving, and give them a (honorary, not for money and offering no benefits) an AeroKnow Museum/Abe Lincoln’s Air Force membership card, a souvenir of their brief encounter with our fair city. I have considered giving them honorary membership certificates, suitable for framing, but they are 8 x 10 on expensive paper, and no transient pilot is going to want to go to the hassle of finding a place to put the thing. The question was . . . How do I engage these fellows?

Der Adler, German aviation magazine, July 1940

Though there is no room for the AeroKnow magazine collection at the airport, I have brought some rarer publications to display and share with special people. Copies of the German aviation propaganda magazine Der Adler (The Eagle) which I had acquired from a French correspondent in the 70s, French and German editions, are among those now at the airport museum. I picked up the issue above, took it out to the three pilots relaxing in the lounge and said “Gentlemen, do any of you speak German?” None did. “Here’s a German aviation propaganda magazine, part of the AeroKnow Museum across the hall you might enjoy looking over if you like. Welcome to Springfield.” Then I returned to my work in the office.

Half an hour, Brandon “Fart” Gasser knocked on the open door frame, holding the magazine, and I invited him in. “Just wanted to return your magazine,” he said. “Thanks for sharing it.”
We talked about his flight. He and two others were part of six Hornets that had departed after carrier practice on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, and were flying back to the east coast. The other three aircraft were following and would arrive soon. I showed him some of the historical material in the museum, including my book Springfield Aviation and a color photo of the last image in that book: an F-14 departing SPI at the end of the last Springfield Air Rendezvous. Brandon said he had never seen a better picture of an F-14; could not believe I took it from the ground. He is too young to have flown the Tomcat; he went right into what are now called “Legacy Hornets,” the first version, smaller than the newer F/A-18E. I gave him a membership card, and he gave me a VFA-34 coin, a terrific token of respect/appreciation that about knocked me down! I thanked him as sincerely as I would if he had given me a piece of an F/A-18! I was simply delighted. His mates called to him that it was time to move out, so we said goodbye.

The other flight of three Hornets had landed and parked at the opposite end of the tarmac and for about 45 minutes we had “bookends of Hornets” facing each other several hundred yards apart. Incredible!

A few minutes later, Eric “Donkey” Zilberman, one of the new arrivals visited the museum and gave me some VFA-34 stickers, adhesive-backed reproductions of the unit insignia. I asked him if he would mind posing for a picture.

Hornet pilot visits AeroKnow Museum

He said “You can come out and take pictures if the airplanes if you like.” I replied that I was busy getting the collection set up, that I had been cautioned against asking to take pictures of military aircraft because despite the body of a 60-year-old, I have the enthusiasm of a 14-year-old, and poorly reigned interest had been unwelcome by some USN Hornet pilots who had visited earlier in the summer. Eric said, “It wouldn’t be an imposition at all.” I declined because I didn’t want to explain it all to the line and office people. With the manager not present, if there was a way my walking out tot he Hornets with my camera could be misunderstood, it WOULD be misunderstood. Besides these gentlemen — and officers — had significantly made my day by simply visiting and talking “shop.”

After Eric and associates departed, I posed the coin Brandon had given with the Der Adler they had looked over and returned.

VFA-34 meets The Eagle

Hornets uber Heinkel -- from an article in Der Adler

I believe what happened during the VFA-34 pilots interface with AeroKnow Museum, pilots based on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln visiting Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, leaving mementos of their unit and taking souvenirs of Abe Lincoln’s Air Force is unique in the aviation history business and in the airport business. It speaks to why AeroKnow Museum should succeed and grow at this airport, and it speaks commendably for the character and generosity of VFA-34 members.

It was a terrific afternoon at the airport!

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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In August 2009, I was working 40 hours a week at The Granite Guy. This spring I began working 26 hours a week, and in recent weeks I’ve been working 12 hours or fewer. He owes me $2,400 back pay.  I still drive the truck George loaned me, but my residents who signed a one-year lease last September broke it and moved out in July. I’m advertising the vacancy on Craigs List, had some people look at it, but I’ve not signed papers. The loss of rent money combined with not seeing a penny from The Granite Guy since JULY — despite earning about $118 from my article in the August Springfield Business Journal — is negatively impacting my lifestyle.

Since launching the AeroKnow Museum at the airport in June, supporters have contributed just more than $300, but I’m not touching a penny of that. It belongs to the Museum. Support for the Museum would allow it to re-pay part of the $77 loan I made to it in June so we could buy more shelving. Without a complete Museum optimized to generate contributions, every day it remains incomplete generates negative reactions from passers-by who would contribute to an enterprise which appears poised for success. Many of those passers-by won’t look a second time, so the lack of pay from George Jaworski, some of which would allow me to LOAN AeroKnow Museum funds to be re-paid when support happens, is bleeding my hope and the future success of what promises to be an aviation landmark in this community and well beyond it. In the meantime, I invite anyone who has four- or five-drawer filing cabinets looking for a good home to contact me. Visit the newly re-activated AeroKnow web site — http://www.aeroknow.com — to learn how to reach me.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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A good fellow I met when the aviation history organization he belongs to displayed a beautifully restored B-17 at the local airport in June posted a picture of a new shoulder patch (he purchased and promised to wear) to his Facebook friends, among them moi. My version of the first word on that patch is “efk.” The patch has an illustration of a cartoon dog most would recognize as “Snoopy” from Charles Shultz’s  family comic strip Peanuts, extending a finger from his clenched doggie fist and appearing to say “‘Efk’ Jane Fonda.” I suspect that if Schultz were alive today, he’d object to the similarity of the illustration to the character he created and to the use of the character in the context presented. That’s not my gripe. Extremists with little regard for law call copyright theft “little stealings” and often invite those who suggest using a non-copyrighted illustration to go efk themselves. My gripe is not that people don’t like Jane Fonda. I don’t like her. Her antics in Hanoi, North Vietnam which shamed brave pilots and soldiers sweating out the war in POW camps were reprehensible. Today, I would not sit at the same table with her.  My gripe is the use of the word I spell “efk,” which every reader of Honey & Quinine understands.

I believe “efk” is a lie and an unfortunate, obscene perversion of our language and our humanity as presented on that shoulder patch and in any context that suggests REVENGE and/or hatred for another human being. The Facebook friend explained he had attached the new patch with Velcro so he could remove it when children were around. I wrote him that some folks might suggest he remove it when adults were around as well. This offended him.

I explained it seemed hypocritical for a patch to suggest patriots should engage in intimate sexual relations with someone they clearly don’t like. It seemed oxymoronish that one could despise a woman for her disparagement of a war our country’s leaders declined to win while acquiescing to the notion of intimately engaging Jane in bed or on or under a picnic table, in the road (“No one will be watching us. . . “) or in the cockpit of a C-130 or on the barrel of a tank (in this heat? whattaya NUTS? — or wherever lovers come together. My Fb friend wrote back that I missed the point. There was also the finger.

The point is that we really aren’t meaning ‘efk” whan we say “efk.” We are saying something far more ominous. Those who say “efk” mean HURT her. Force intimacy against her will, show her who’s BOSS, man! Make her sweat. Make her cry. Make her regret her Hanoi visit. Take off a hand, an ear, a nose, a tongue, something our Saudi Arabian friends’ jurisprudence system might proscribe. In 90 percent of the time I encounter the word, “efk” doesn’t mean “as people who like and/or respect each other, let’s have fun first, worry about  like, love and respect second, and take off our clothes.” Fully 90 percent of the time “efk” means “HURT THAT UNMARRIED MOTHER DOG” or “HURT THAT SPERM DEPOSITOR TO AN UNMARRIED MOTHER DOG.”

Is this kind of statement for those who wear their right-wing Christianity as though it was the Medal of Honor . . . . . now just a gosh darn minute here . . . . . . . is it that kind of statement ANY Christian should make, should find reason to approve? I’m not talking to Diests who believe in one God but not the Lord who brought His “new and improved” message to the world in the New Testament” after showing us how God behaves in the Old Testament. I’m talking about the perfect message exemplified in the life of the son of the Creator who said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we are true believers behind the patina of our faith, we should understand that hurting others is counter productive and therefore not appropriate for true believers. Sure it’s okay to disagree, to loathe, but it’s not okay to encourage the diminution and desecration of our sacred humanity by urging others in our ranks to destroy it.

I am against hurting others for their failures.

“‘Efk’ you” doesn’t mean I want to have recreational intimacy with you, and it shouldn’t mean that. “Let’s DO it”  and variations should get that idea across. “Up YOURS” seems to say the same thing as “I strongly disagree with what you’ve said, and I will never sit at your table because I consider you a deliberately uninformed, babbling porcine.” I’ve never said “‘Efk you” to an adversary, never said “‘Efk’ (insert adversary’s name here),” and I never will. WHY?

Because that is not what I will ever mean when addressing an adversary.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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Exit From Dizzyland

I was getting along nicely at Dizzyland on Wabash, mostly taking pictures of control line modelers flying their airplanes and visiting often with friends Jim Richardson, Mike Evoy and others. Owner Bob Peterson seemed an older brother, always with a smile and wisdom about the hobby. My renewed interest in plastic models — which I discovered I could build and finish reasonably well, and enjoyed more than flying models — led to plans to start a plastic model airplane club and hold meetings at Dizzyland with Bob’s solid support. I posted a note that our first meeting would be on a Sunday, starting at 1. Then something happened at home that prevented me from attending that meeting. The weather was too hot, and I didn’t want to ride my bike out to the place, even though the shop was air-conditioned. Later in the day I did bike out, and Bob was clearly disappointed when I arrived. “Several people came, but when you didn’t show up, they left. Go figure.” he said. So ended my first attempt to organize a plastic model airplane club. Other attempts would follow, including one that will coincide with the evolution of the new AeroKnow Museum at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

Bob had noticed my interest in the artistic elements of the model action (I had designed color schemes for several friends’ airplanes) and not long after the club flub, invited another regular visitor, Randy, and me to paint a model company logo on the side of the shop. Randy would paint his version on his side, and I’d paint my version of the same illustration, a fox riding a model airplane, on another side. The public would select the winner by voting. Randy was a far-better artist than I, and he won the competition by a country mile, he deserved the win. But I was peeved. When I uttered a snide “sore looser” remark in earshot of Bob Peterson, he walked over to me with a Carl Goldberg kit of a Half-A Blazer free-flight model kit I had been competing to win, plopped it onto the shop counter and said “Here’s your prize, Job. Now don’t bother coming around again.” Then he turned his back on me and walked away!  I was absolutely crushed!  This was the first time the power of my creative speech was reflected back to me in far-greater negative outcome than I imagined would happen. I remember the aftermath as I might remember the aftermath of a car wreck: absolutely no clue to what happened to Dizzyland AND the flying model friends I had hung with regularly up to the banishment. The business closed in late 1964 if memory serves. Today a Jeffrey Allens store (mostly crafts and artificial flowers) occupies the space where Dizzyland stood. Years later, Bob launched and ran a fireplace specialty store on south MacArthur in the site of the former Don’s Drive-In. I visited and we chatted warmly. About the same time Bob and I encountered each other when I was working at K’s Merchandise Mart and again, chatted like long-lost friends. With him was his wife Judy, a KNOCKOUT example of that wonderful half of humanity. During the few times we talked, we never discussed Dizzyland, and I wish we had. He died a few years ago.

During summer vacation between my junior and senior years at Springfield High School (SHS), the World’s Fair was taking place in New York City. Earlier in the year (1964) my parents had agreed to pay for my taking the group tour of New York and Washington, DC led by SHS teachers, and before the trip began, Dad, who was head clothing buyer for Roberts Bros., a men’s clothing store on the north side of the square downtown, arranged with some contacts in NYC to get some tickets to a Broadway show for me and three of my friends who were also making the trip. I told him it would be great if we could see either “Hello Dolly” which was the RAGE that year, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” – a comedy I had heard great things about (starring Zero Mostel) and two other shows. We were amazed when tickets for four front row center seats for all four shows arrived in the mail in early May! Since we had time to attend only one, we selected “‘Forum” and sent the other tickets back to Dad’s generous friend out east.

Among the 30 or so students signing up for the trip were Bob Gilbert, Carl Musson and Bill Adloff. My Civics teacher, Tom Hughes — terrific fellow — would be one of the chaperones.
The group gathered at the GM&O train station at what later became the Amtrak station at Third at Washington and rode to Chicago, transferred trains at the huge Union Station and continued to DC on the Pennsylvania Central line. We didn’t have sleeper cars, and we didn’t need them; we slept just fine on the coaches. Well into the night I awakened to the view of Pittsburgh steel mills running at full tilt. Flames from the smelters were shooting high into the air, lighting up the night, and the smoke from the chimneys was unbelievable, like something from Dante’s Inferno.

Next time: Incredible Sights and I Can’t BUY a Dance

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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I’ve just committed myself . . . . . now don’t get your hopes up . . . . . . . for the first time in more than a year,  to memorizing a poem I have not encountered previously. The poem is Sara Teasdale’s “I Am Not Yours.” It was the poem du jour e’d to me by the Academy of American Poets from  http://www.poets.org and it knocked me over at 8:40 on a Sunday morning. I had just posted a birthday greeting to my long-time friend Ken Sibley who is alive to care that I did (because he’s a competent thinker and essayist, dedicated educator, friend of Vachel Lindsay and all around nice fellow) and returned to my email where I read the poem by Miss Teasdale. It was written in 1917, about the time Vachel Lindsay was going ape’ about her and she was keeping him at “bay” with both arms and almost a 10-foot pole.

I say almost a 10-foot pole because she was impressed enough by the late bloomer from Springfield that she traveled from home in St. Louis to the Capital City to spend some socks-on time with him and even went with him to New York City (New York CITY? — Yes, New York City) where he showed her off to his big city friends (including Edgar Lee Masters) like a new Corvette. She enjoyed the way Vachel moved, but her heart was waiting for a Lexus. And for the record, both fatally did themselves in, crashing intentionally with their hands on the wheels of their separately purchased destinies. Sara was a Mary Todd Lincoln on the arm of a dreamer/preacher; not a future president. That’s one reason she didn’t really connect to the ardent one from Springfield.

I always considered Sara a second-string Emily Dickinson, but that doesn’t keep me from liking her and most of the poems she wrote. Ken Sibley is a local sage, a combat veteran of World War II in the Pacific, a former school teacher, principal, family man and poet/essayist and respected by everyone I know who knows him; tireless in his involvement with the local creative writing community, the man we all want to be when we grow up.

So, I’ve posted the birthday note to Ken at Facebook and will share this post with Honey & Quinine readers in a few keyboard strokes. I’ll recite the newly memorized poem at the next Springfield Poets and Writers gathering at Norb Andy’s on Capital Avenue August 18. Bring some poems of your own to share. Things begin about 6:30.  The best way to acknowledge the poets of the past is to show others how the art they inspire in today’s word crafters lives on in word and rhythm.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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