Archive for the ‘aviation history’ Category

Since January, I have stopped being a poet so that I could pour my heart and soul into a major project at AeroKnow Museum. Most readers will laugh and then sigh as I explain the obsession has been the consolidation of less-than-whole page (8.5 x 11 inch) scraps of information into single-page amalgams of information. I finished the project last Thursday.

Last January I started pulling scraps from every file in the museum’s Research Room: — 15 file cabinets — filling 12 (case-of-reams-of-office-copy-paper-size) boxes with them, and then setting them aside in the Intake Room to be further processed through two of the three requisite tasks leading to the return of the information removed back to the Research Room. In the meantime, too much of the rest of my life as ceased to exist.

The task was time-consuming to be sure, but it was made easier, thanks to my almost completely walking away from good people in this community whom I have known and appreciated for years. Most of this walking away has occurred since last August when I  started coming to grips with the angst of my frail mortality as I approached my 65th birthday. I’ve attended far fewer poetry and visual arts events than I attended before launching AeroKnow Museum at the airport.

I have completely walked away from Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site. For almost three years, I had been inviting the site director — who, through her occupation connection to history might have (logically) enjoyed seeing it — to visit AeroKnow MUSEUM. Until August I invited her every time I attended an event at the Lindsay landmark. Until November, I had renewed my membership in the Vachel Lindsay Association and attended the annual meetings. Not any more. I have not walked away from my appreciation of Vachel Lindsay and his poetry. I will continue sharing my Vachel Lindsay program and reciting his poems for anyone who will have me. My profound disappointment with the  “Lindsay elite” would be harder if my treasured Lindsay scholar and friend Dennis had not taken his own life about a year ago as Vachel’s birthday approached. The positive outcome of all this is that I better understand what I believe Vachel was experiencing before he took his own life in early December 1931. Springfield killed the poet pretty deliberately and well. The people of my own hometown Springfield (“this, the city of my discontent” — Vachel Lindsay from his poem “Springfield Magical”) killed my friend Dennis pretty well. I will not allow myself the incapacity to live, an incapacity I have felt looming in their company. They will not kill me.

The last poem I wrote this year was inspired by a painting displayed at a gallery in October. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to write the poem “We Wander” and delighted to share it with an attentive audience, excellent people who delighted in hearing it — and other fine poems from poets inspired by other fine paintings. I WANT to be writing more poetry. People who read it, like it. So why the HELL have I not thrown myself into the pursuit of becoming the next Rod McKuen or Henry Gibson? Because I reap more direct reward from aviation and the few friends I have come to know from that on a daily basis than I have reaped from the SEVERAL (but not many) friends I have come to know, since about 1989 with my poetry and songwriting/performing. The  poetry connecting — now that I must work Saturdays for an employer whose last paycheck was given t me almost two months ago — comes once a month TOPS. Sometimes not even that. The aviation affirmation comes every day of my life.

Meanwhile, back at the airport, since last spring this year, at least two or three days a week, I arrive at the museum office between 5 (when the host business opens for the day) and 5:30 two or three times a week, and darn near every day but Sunday before 7. On Sunday, I sleep late and arrive by 9 without fail.  My consciousness is what I call “water seeking its own level.”

I am wrapped up in the web of what I call “syncopated sunshine” — a rhythm of life that is inconsistent and hard to swing to.

On days I shower, I roll out of bed at 4, and arrive at the museum at 5, sometimes a few minutes before, and eight of 10 times, the early arriver is already there at the occasional 4:55 and the building’s front door is unlocked. Other times, I am out of the sack at 4:30, teeth brushed, (no time for coffee) dressed and out to the museum by 5 or close to it.

In theory, I should be able to do this consistently by hitting the hay by 9, if not 8:30. I need no more sleep than six and a half hours’ worth. In reality, I am ALLOWING  the travails of my workplace to figuratively “tie one hand behind my back.”  I leave work at 5 — and go directly to the museum until 6:30 to avoid the rush hour traffic going home. I ALWAYS find something to work on. No big surprise there.  But, if I’ve had a really rotten day at work,  I go by to see if there is a Wall Street Journal I can have. The FBO that provides fuel and maintenance to local and transiting aircraft receives a State Journal-Register and three Wall Street Journals daily. Pilots and passengers departing the FBO after landing to refuel may take a WSJ to read about their airplanes in transit elsewhere. If there are any left when I arrive after work, the counter crew may approve me taking one or they may indicate a few more flights are scheduled for the evening, and all WSJs on hand need to stay until those flights have come and gone. THEN they will slide one under my office door.  WSJs are important to the museum because I read every issue I get and clip anything related to aviation so I can file it upstairs.

On a good night I’m home by 7, but if the day at work was better than typical, and my outlook is good, I will work at the museum until 8, sometimes until 9 and on really good days until 10. They close at 11 pm.

On a good night, I’m eating dinner by 7:15 and washing it down the hatch with cheap Burgundy. I am trying to drink more iced tea and less burgundy, but it’s not working out very well. Regardless, even with iced tea, I am exhausted from semi-combat at my employer. I am often asleep in my recliner by 7:40, and awaken most frequently around 11 when I turn off the lights and go bed, but even that isn’t easy. Late night radio before midnight totally stinks. Last night it was so bad, I listened to a “sports radio” station as my head hit the pillow, not because I’m a sports fan but because the only other two stations I can receive clearly in the bedroom are right-wing diatribe and financial advice (two separate radio stations). At least I’m not offended by sports radio.  Getting to sleep is easy. I don’t drink more wine when I wander in after the early evening “nap” because I’m already half asleep.

Getting back to sleep after AWAKENING at 2 am is the problem! It is pure, freaking purgatory. I DON’T want to get up and do something. What the hell is there to do in my house?  I have begun to work on AeroKnow tasks at home just to stay awake after dinner. Sometimes I delay dinner because I know I won’t go to sleep before I eat.  I REALLY want to confine museum work to the museum and my employer who doesn’t complain if he sees aviation material on my showroom desk because he knows my FIRST PRIORITY while I am there is MY EMPLOYER. That’s as it should be.  I am HAPPY to earn my pay  . . . whenever . . . he decides . . . . to pay me.

My home computer is an old laptop I purchased about two years ago with a small screen. I cannot work with the small screen, even with a full-size keyboard plugged into it. Sooooooo I am committing my resources to a new desktop computer for HOME this Christmas, but not before. In fact I will  go shopping for one AFTER Christmas because I expect prices to be lower then.

With the desktop computer at home I HOPE to sleep solidly for at least six consecutive  hours a night by not napping. If I’m tired after dinner with or without wine, I will to to the frikking bedroom after turning off the lights and the thermostat to 55. Then I will use the time from whenever the hell I do awaken to write poetry or songs or whatever, even AeroKnow Museum tasks.

The real hard part? Holding onto things until January. That will be the hard part.

Live long . . . . . and proper.


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Story in a box.

The picture of the gentleman in the dapper hat (upper left) sat on his wife’s bedside reading lamp table when John Thornton Walker was serving as a liaison pilot with the U.S. Army in Italy.  It had been taken at a Springfield, Illinois studio but had moved with Gerri (Geraldine) Walker when she returned to her home town in Indiana.  It came back to Springfield almost a month ago.

For the better part of the past week, I have engaged what promises to be a long task of transforming the story of a World War II hero from Springfield, Illinois from a box of photographs, newspaper clippings, two pilot’s log books, documents, and certificates into a book which I believe people will purchase and read and cherish. The book will describe the life of Gerri’s husband who attended Springfield High School, whose father was a Springfield firefighter,  who learned how to fly as Springfield Commercial Airport (re-named Southwest Airport in 1947), joined the Illinois Army National Guard before Pearl Harbor was attacked and flew artillery spotting and forward liaison planes (commonly known as “grasshoppers”) . . . . and never came home.

The box of memorabilia and a remarkable, restored, 65 pound brass plaque which used to greet visitors to Walker Army Airstrip, Virginia (dedicated to her husband in 1951)  were donated to AeroKnow Museum by the Walkers’ daughter Connie and her husband Richard Strouse.

Left to right: Richard Strouse, Job Conger, Connie Walker Strouse.

John Thornton Walker seldom signed  his full name or even “J. Thornton.”  As Thornton Walker he wrote aviation column for the Illinois State Journal.  His friends called him T. Through most of the book I’m writing about him and through most of my “Book Reports” here at Honey & Quinine, I will call him “JTW.” Some of JTW’s story was shared in my book Springfield Aviation produced by Arcadia Publishing and available everywhere 

Last week I started transcribing the information he recorded in his two log books: every flight he made that begins with his first flight as a student pilot April 7, 1937 and ends in his second log book, October 11, 1942 when he was training to be a liaison pilot with the US Army at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

Here are my transcription from the first flights recorded in his second log book. He was 26 years old when he started it. . . .

11-8 – Decatur to Springfieldd – Taylorcraft BC — NC21221 —  :33 – picked up Dr. Turley’s plane
11-6 – Springfield to Springfield —  Fleet – NC726V —  :16 – took Gerrie for a ride
12-4 –– Springfield to Springfield  — Fleet – NC726V – 21 – vertical turns
12-16 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft BL —  NC21218  —  :05 – hop in new Lycoming 50 craft
12-17 — Springfield to Springfield –  Taylorcraft BL – NC21218 —  :08 – hop in new Lycoming 50 craft
12-24 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft 40  — NC19655 —  :15 – flying from right side
12-24 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft BC – NC21221  —  :04 —  hop with Metz
                                                                                                                  _____ 78:07
We know that he flew hardly at all during November, especially compared with 12 flights in April that year. Weather may have been a problem in November; perhaps a heavy work schedule or busy social life. We do know he was having fun in the air, picking up a friend’s airplane on the 8th, flying with his wife and later with a friend named Metz. He took many friends up for “hops” most lasting 15 minutes or less in the air.  He was also honing his new skills, practicing vertical turns, getting to know the new 50 hp Taylorcraft, but spending most of his time since his first lesson in 40 hp Taylorcraft. Before supper on Christmas Eve, 1938 he had logged 78 hours and seven minutes in control of a flying machine.

I don’t know for sure that I will include this transcription of when and where he flew, often the purpose of each flight, in what airplane and  its registration number, and how long he was in the air each time he flew as a student or pilot in command of the airplane. I believe JTW’s experience is typical of all Americans who learned to fly as civilians before World War II, and that is why I am inclined to include the transcription. I’m already laying it out in an appendix at the end of the book. I know that I will include pictures of most of the airplanes he flew, thanks to him being an avid photographer and to his family donating many pictures to AeroKnow Museum.

Every fact I have today was provided by a member of the Walker family. When Rich and Connie Strouse visited Springfield, they also visited Walker’s former home at 614 1/2 S. Douglas Avenue. I have contacted an employee of the State Journal-Register (modern version of the Illinois State Journal of Walker’s time, but was advised that their preserved newspapers (on microfilm I’m guessing) are not available to the  public at large, of which I am a member.  If  YOU know anything about the family of John Thornton Walker I cordially invite you to contact me by way of AeroKnow Museum or via my home telephone. The number is in the white pages.

FINALLY, I invite you who want to know more about JTW and his family — or have information and photos of the old airport, airplanes and pilots who flew from there to visit my AeroKnow Museum blog — http://aeroknow.wordpress.com  and my AeroKnow Museum Gallery of Flight blog — http://akmgallery.wordpress.com

I think when the book now in process comes off the press, we will have a record of a remarkable citizen of Illinois’ capital city who has been unknown or forgotten by almost everyone alive in Springfield today. What do you think?

Live long . . . . . .  . and proper.

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A friend from an advanced planet visited my home and my city last weekend. His name is Peter Pero, and the advanced planet is Chicago, which is my way of saying “it’s another world.” I know because I visited the city, his home and his charming wife Byung earlier this year when I was invited to share the story of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay, his poetry, my poetry and s0me of my songs at Chicago’s College of Complexes, a club for citizens who like to think and learn. It was a fab weekend, I wish to bejeebers I could visit and perform there again, and if anybody’s interested, the full story of my visit can be found in my Honey & Quinine posts around March of this year. Peter wanted to learn more about the Lindsay fanatic, my city and  my aviation museum.

Friday night we had dinner at Casa Real on North Grand, not far from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The place was packed, and noisier than some jet engines I have stood next to. The food and service were excellent. After, we drove to a Shop’N’Save across the street and bought a few six packs of Michelob Premium Amber Ale. There was most of a gallon of Carlo Rossi Burgundy already at home in case that proved insufficient.

Peter was impressed with my collection of vinyl records. They seemed as rare as arrowheads to him. He was delighted to find my Phil Ochs album “All the News that’s Fit to Sing” in the rack. Phil was a passionate folksong writer/performer whom Peter remembered when Ochs sang at the Art Institute of Chicago some weeks before he committed suicide. Peter had not heard Ochs’ song “The Thresher” which I’ve been playing and singing since about 1968, and it was as much an education for him as his memories of the man were for me. I introduced him to one of my fave musician songwriters who lightened the sky like a Roman Candle and sadly faded to oblivion: pianist Biff Rose. I saw Rose twice on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, bought all three of his albums and mourned is sorry fade to ignominy. We listed to all three albums, plus some Basie, The Dillards, a Mike Nichols and Elaine May comedy album; also part of an album by Southern regional comedian Dave Gardner (who played Springfield’s Lake Club in the 60s; my father met him when he visited Roberts Bros. downtown to buy some clothes). The evening was a hoot, and it was a late night for the both of us: lights out about 2:30.

I respect the wishes of my house guests in the main — the worst exception being “Lenore” of the spring of 2009. I could write a book consisting mostly of my regrets about that wonderful encounter that went south faster than the Titanic, but with no permanent fatalities beyond the death of a dream. I’ll spare you the details —  and Peter recommended commencing the rest of the morning at 9:00 am. I was happy to oblige, but my morning commenced in my home office at 7, which is late for me.

A visit to the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law offices downtown was item #1 on the day’s itinerary. Unfortunately, the place was short-staffed, and the one person there was in he middle of a scheduled group tour. We heard him advising the gentleman at Tinsley Dry Goods souvenir shop, accessible through an open door at the back of the visitor orientation area on the Law Offices’ ground floor. Tinsley is a terrific gift shop for anyone seekiln’ Lincoln. We looked around; nothing lightened our wallets.

We went next door to Prairie Art Alliance’s Gallery II, delighted it was OPEN a little after 9:30 and equally delighted to encounter my friend, manager Jennifer Snopko at the welcoming desk.

Jennifer Snopko, proof positing that not all works of art hang on walls

I had not been there since playing and singing at their First Friday gallery reception, and it was great to see so much new art.

Peter Pero, visitor from an advanced planet at Prairie Art Alliance Gallery II.

watching tourists from other planets outside Gallery II

view from the front desk at Gallery II

With the permission of their chaperones, the young ladies outside Gallery II posed for Obewan Cameraguy.

The group tour was still underway upstairs at the LHL Offices, so we boogied across the street and half a block south to



The Golden Frog Cafe, which, sadly ceased operations seven days after our Saturday visit, offered some terrific souvenirs, among them this.

The Golden Frog where the creative thinkers group Writers Bloc was certain to be in session. Since I must work most Saturdays, this was my first opportunity to visit the new meeting venue.. The writers are all long-time friends of mine, and it was great fun to introduce my friend from an advanced planet.

We enjoyed a light breakfast and coffee, all prime chow and caught up with the peoples’ lives. Peter wisely decided to try a third time to visit the Lincoln-Herndon under-staffed Law Offices while we natives jabbered away in the usual way, and he returned later appearing satisfied with  his good fortune visiting the upstairs main event over there.  He was just in time to savor, following his return, the sounds of Bossa Azul, a local “bossa and jazz” trio I am happy to call friends.

Bossa Azul at play (and song) October 20 at The Golden Frog Cafe.

briDEEP, briDEEP, briDEEP

We stayed for a set of their scintillating strains before taking off to the airport.

Peter visits the Research Room at AeroKnow Museum

AeroKnow Museum is best seen in daylight. Yes, there are lights there, but daylight is the best time to see the six rooms upstairs. We were also less rushed than then previous evening when he arrived, parked his car for the entire visit  in the free parking lot, and I became host and tour guide in my pickup truck.  He seemed to appreciate the collection. Too bad he doesn’t live closer to Springfield. A friend who might want to help is a terrible thing to waste.

considering a model of a Japanese torpedo bomber in the Kits Room

It was at that point that the battery in my Sony Cyber-shot ran out of juice. To give it time to recharge, we departed for lunch at the restaurant Galery II’s jovial Jennifer had recommended for Peter’s first HORSESHOE SANDWICH (choice of meat on open-faced toast — white, whole wheat or rye — and smothered with french fries and an incredibly well-prepared cheese sauce), a Springfield landmark like Lincoln and Lindsay. The Brickhouse is located on west side of 5th Street between Adams and Monroe. Jennifer was absolutely RIGHT about their horseshoe sandwich. There were many customers, but the ambiance was commendably quiet, absolutely terfiic!  I was blown away by the sprinkling of chive on the top and the mildly “warm” seasoning of the sauce. I am not a hot sauce fan, but I totally enjoyed the treatment of the sandwich. It was too “hot” for the visitor from an advanced planet. When he asked for a simple lettuce salad, our server brought an AMAZING production of greens and a plethora of additional items (carrots, olives . . . all sorts of salad “fixin’s”) Peter was knocked over by its appearance, and so was I. He didn’t even want dressing on it; just wanted it to tame the seasoning of the cheese sauce. He gave half of it to me, which went home in a “doggie bag,” and I enjoyed it with dressing, with dinner Sunday night. I can’t wait to go back to The Brick House for another horseshoe.

We returned to the airport to retrieve my camera with battery charged, and then it was back to town to tour the Illinois State Museum.

outside the entrance, a happy surprise


I don’t know WHAT this is, but it was great to see the words of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay and the artistic creation of my friend Felecia Olin!

information about the creation at the base

It was as interesting as always, and Peter was impressed.

posing with a creature that was native to these parts, even before Abe







Then we drove out to Washington Park to hike off some of the horseshoes we were digesting.The walk was excellent. Lots to see and photograph.






Foreground: Peter Pero. Background: Washington Park’s Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon during the annual PumpkinFest.






view of the carillon in late afternoon


Peter and inspiring sculpture

My friend Felecia Olin was having a one-woman gallery showing at The Pharmacy (visual artists organization) Warehouse,, walking distance from my home. We walked over there and spent about an hour. Because my Cyber-shot was out of battery again, I took my Canon EOS 20D SLR with a telephoto lens. I knew I would photograph everything  at atleast 70mm and up to 300mm, it was my only choice, and I thought it would be  great fun to play with it. I was right.

Around the gallery, people come and go, talking of Feliciangelo. (Sorry TSE)


a painting by Springfield artist Felicia Olin


visitors to FeliciaWorld, a terrific event

We walked home drank more ale on the front porch. Joining us was my guitar. We serenaded the lawn grubs for about two hours in the perfect autumn-crisp air and turned in early.

The next morning I occupied myself in my home office for two and a half hours waiting for 9 am, and it was time well spent. Then we walked over to my favorite breakfast restaurant a few blocks away and enjoyed another fantastic meal before heading out to the airport where Peter was reunited with his car, and he motored home to an advanced planet.

The visit was great fun. I felt like I was on VACATION.  As soon as Peter can find me a place where my songs and poetry — and reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poetry — are welcome for the cost of train fare, I intend to return north, and Peter hopes to bring an aviation enthusiast friend to Springfield, probably next year.

Thanks again to Peter Pero for the memorable visit and to you, the cherished reader of Honey & Quinine for reading this post. If you are into poetry, guitar, aviation or Lincoln and want to visit my town and stay at a semi-famous house where a visitor from an advanced planet slept two nights on a parlor sofa, let me know. I’d likely love to welcome you too.

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

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For the past year I have stopped at my AeroKnow Museum, at the airport to work from 5:15 until sometimes 9 or 10 and always until 7 or 7:30. There was always something I could do, most of it enjoyable, all of it necessary. For a good part of this year I’ve limited my model airplane building to time spent twice a month at a local club meeting when I would put a few projects into a carrying box with essential tools, glue, paint and perhaps a brush or two. The anticipated outcome of my socializing twice a month has not been reciprocal as I anticipated it would be. To accomplish what needs to be done at the airport, I’m reduced my club meeting presence to once a month.  I’ve also opted out of most poetry activity, including the open mic gathering downtown next week.  I WILL BE playing and singing my folksongs at a gallery reception next Thursday, and I’ll have my poetry books for sale. I may even sell one.

THAT would be a first.

The circumstance at my employer continues to challenge. I ALLOW IT to suck my typically moderately more positive attitude dry.  Why?  When I leave this orb with no forwarding address, I do not intend to leave clinging to some hope to see my next breakfast. I will leave, content to have had more that one chance to make things work even though I’ve failed every time.  I will be resigned and glad to go. The time comes when one recognizes that passing woes are “temporary” to be sure, but sometimes they are symptomatic of a greater, permanent dynamic that will not change for the better.

So I hurried home last night. I didn’t even stop at the airport. Night comes sooner and visitors fewer after the sunshine sayonara.  I will not pollute my time there with bitterness.

The ready-to-eat  chef salad from Shop ‘N’ Save supermarket was excellent with the Kraft Catalina dressing, and I had two peanut butter and strawberry preserves sandwiches for dessert with a surprisingly moderate assistance down the hatch with my friend Carlo Rossi (Burgundy wine; not to be confused with Burgundy beer or Burgundy replacement auto parts). I enjoyed the vice president candidates’ debate and the Charlie Rose program that followed on PBS. I went to bed and was asleep in fewer than 10 minutes. I slept well and awoke about 5:50 this morning to return to the airport museum.

I am not an angry hummin’ bean.  But home — sans lady-love interest, sans domesticated animal, sans a model airplane, but with books to read, a guitar to play, a TV with something worth watching two or three nights a week on PBS (five if I include Charlie Rose. I’m usually in bed by 10 in recent months), I am more inclined to go there after “work.” I ask for no volunteers at home, so the absence of volunteers at home does not shame me.

Tonight, I will hurry home again.

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

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What was probably going to happen.  Door Matt (DM for short, not his real name) knew in his heart there could be no positive outcome as a result of his ing every piece of paper he called his own from the desk he had occupied for four years at Stone Circus. DM was on a crusade. He was hell-bent on making a point with Simon, (not his real name) his employer, would likely misinterpret anyway. “Still, still a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” he said to himself. Into the big box placed desk-side went hundreds — maybe thousands — of articles and clippings he was processing for the museum at the airport. Also newspaper clippings from the past several days Wall Street Journal about aviation but also about record producers (George Martin), songwriters and poets and politics.  DM would sort things out in the coming days at the airport. Into the box went the fire  remaining Elmer’s glue sticks he had purchased  to affix small clippings to clean sides of 8.5 x 11 inch paper he was using for the second time. Into the box went the fork and knife he had brought to the Circus from home for occasional lunches worth the eating. Also the salt shaker, the jar of Jif Extra Crunchy peanut butter, his work lunch served from a butter knife to his tongue at least five days a week for the past few years, and sometimes six. No one would know from what was left behind that Door Matt had ever worked there.He even put his Arcadia Publishing Springfield Aviation books and his books of his own poetry, all the brochures about his reciting and the airplane museum . . . into the damn box.  Every CD he had played on the boom box he had brought to work in 2010 . . . into the damn BOX! Then the boom box itself.

DM had interfaced cordially with his associates who worked for the Circus and the printer next door, through the open hole in the wall behind his desk. He was not fuming, but he was focused. He wasn’t rushed in the final hour before the stroke of 5 pm, but he was deliberate. He didn’t want to miss a thing.

Through the rest of the evening and into the next day at the airport he watched the clock, he imagined what would happen. Simon’s “Number 3” who is usually the first indentured servant to arrive would see no radio on the table behind the desk, the books would be gone. Curious, he would open the drawers at the desk where DM  sits most of the day and find absolutely nothing in two of the drawers, strangely vacant of all traces of Door. And he would keep this to himself.

Simon would arrive soon after, see the same visual tableau before him — especially the missing radio and books (He’s not one to open drawers unless he must.) and wonder what had happened. He might even call DM, especially when it registered that there were no stacks of airplane articles on Door’s desk and the table behind it. Surely Luci — the other part timer who help Tuesdays and Thursdays until DM arrives in mid-afternoon would mention it to Simon.  THEN Simon would call Door and ask< “What is going on. Are you coming into work today?”

Or not.

Perhaps Simon would wait out Door; see if he would appear and punch in at the assigned time. They he would learn what’s going on, and Door would set the record straight: he just wanted to get rid of all the clutter he had created.. He was establishing a new policy that he would carry IN to Stone Circus at the start of his day no more than he intends to carry OUT of Circus at the end of it. If DM could not remember to make a decent lunch in his own house to bring to work every day, that would be simply be “tough beans for Door Matt.”


Simon would explain he thought Door had quit his employment, and based on what Simon seen, Door’s services were no longer required at Stone Circus. .

Yes, that was the downside, and it was a vision in his consciousness like the ghost from Christmas Dickens all de lib long day today. ‘Twas not a happy likelihood. As Door had told a friend at a club meeting the night before, “I have a choice,” he said, out of earshot of others in the room. “I will keep working for Simon, or I will die. The choice is mine.”

It was with that sobering prospect in mind that Door breezed into the showroom at 1:48 today as though nothing unusual was going on, and it was evident, in his conversation with Luci, that nothing WAS! She had not noticed the missing radio/CD player behind the computer chair, had not noticed the missing piles of clippings or the two empty desk drawers or the mysterioux absinth of peanut butter and salt. Neither had Simon, she said.

It was obvious in the two-minute phone conversation with Simon later in the afternoon that the owner had noticed nothing unusual.  He just wanted to know how Door’s day (star of so many movies with Rock Hudson in the 50s, but I digress) had been. “Everything is fine,” said Matt.

And that . . . . . was that.

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

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Before I began my series of 31 consecutive posts as my 65th birthday approached,  I swore that I would not spend my 65th working for the employer I was working for on the day I puked that prediction. Technically speaking, my prediction was correct. But don’t call me Kreskin. I was given the day off. I returned to the employer September  6 and have been here since. Three events over the last week have led me to reconsider my priorities and my talent for predicting, of which I have none. The conclusion is this: As long as I am employed here at the stone fabricator’s showroom, I will not attempt to earn another dime as a journalist.

As Jack Benny said at the start of his first radio show, “There will be a slight pause now, for those of you listening to say, ‘Who cares?'”

Now that I’ve shared the conclusion, I share a consideration of the events that led to it.

Two weeks ago, a friend I worked with as we prepared for Springfield Air Rendezvous over the course of about 11 years that concluded with the final event in 2006,  who had not once visited my aviation museum over the last two and a half years I’ve been developing it, walked into my office at the airport. I’ll call her Joan, not her real name. Joan explained that a friend of hers, performing an excellent aerobatic routine these days  at air shows all over the USA was coming to Springfield to spend of few days before leaving for her next performance engagement. I’ll call her Patty, not her real name.

Before I could show Joan much of the museum, she received a call that Patty was on the ground and taxiing in, to park her aircraft in one of the hangars. We exited onto the ramp, and I photographed Patty’s arrival; later several pictures of her, her airplane, and Joan. It had been a long travel day for the pilot, and she was ready for some rest and relaxation. She intended to practice her routine during her planned eight-day visit with Joan, and she also promised me a ride in her airshow aircraft, a two seater. I promised lots of pictures and looked forward to showing her AeroKnow Museum. I also promised to convince my Springfield Business Journal publisher or Illinois Times publisher to allow me to write about Patty, Joan and looking back on Springfield Air Rendezvous. IT’s publisher gave me a green light eventually.

For the next three days, I kept Joan informed of when I would be in my museum office so she and Patty could visit at most any convenient time. Joan wrote back that plans were hard to figure, and she would call me when they wanted to come by. In the meantime, I obtained a “maybe” from SBJ and a “yes” from Illinois Times.  At the end of 14 days I have not heard from Joan or Patty. There will be no article and no tour of AeroKnow Museum with the women.

There will be a short pause, now, for th0se of you listening to say “Who cares?”

I did, but I don’t care anymore.

Last week, the SBJ publisher, who had declined the offer re Patty and the airshow gave me what he said would be a headline story, but he didn’t give me a deadline. Usually he does, but I didn’t worry since the big DUE DATE falls during the final week before the new month begins.  This Tuesday, I learned I assumed too much. I have two short work days during the week at my part-time employer who is half a month behind in paying me what I have earned. Learning that the deadline I had not anticipated would give me only ONE short work day to prepare the story — to do interviews over the phone and in person, take some pictures, and write the story over the weekend before what I wrongly anticipated would be the September 24 deadline, I e-mailed publisher the unhappy news that I could not produce the story. Better to let him know early than lie about my circumstance until it was too late for him to assign the story to another writer who did not owe his or her soul to a granite fabricator. In my note to him, I apologized for causing him significant inconvenience. I also said that if I never receive another story assignment from him, I will understand why.

I have not heard or read word one from him since Tuesday, and I believe I will never hear or read from him again. My response from IT, what was offered in terms of word count allocation and pay for the story I had in mind, that the publisher was offering me charity compensation for a story that meant almost nothing to him. I would have written a charity-pay story for him if Joan and Patty had called as they promised, even without an airplane ride. But since their response proved as meaningful as their words, it doesn’t really matter to anyone.

I have been a journalist only because I love journalism and because up until now, I have enjoyed a circumstance that allowed me to commit time to that profession. It’s no longer the way with the stone man. The woman who has been working five hours a day Tuesdays and Thursdays, allowing me time for writing and for AeroKnow Museum is proving as dependable as . . . . . . let’s just say she is not as dependable as hoped. I cannot set appointments for interviews at what should be predictably available times when there is always a chance I’ll have to cancel the interviews. I will not be as erratic with those who I commit my writing talent and the integrity of my word to as those with whom I work at my only other employer allow themselves to be.

I am surrendering my “journalism card,”

Damn it!

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

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A visitor from California by way of Blakesburg, Iowa is due about the time I usually wrote my A’ching 65 posts, so I’ve just finished my lunch (Payday candy bar, my only certain “payday” in too long) after a morning of SOLID focus in the Research Room upstairs, a friendly conversation with a husband and wife flight crew with NetJets, and some logging of digital images on CDs. It’s cool here in the ground floor office, thanks to the air conditioning, but honestly, I was okay with the temperature upstairs — had to be 85 with 99% humidity; sure felt like it.  I think, as I approach 65, I’m becoming more Zen in my take on life. It’s the acceptance of minor trifles, an attitude of what some residents of the USA would call “What will be, sera.” Take my bathroom sink — please!

Before my friend David Tabb moved to Indianapolis, he talked me through the process of changing the faucet washer (something like that) in my bathroom. He had purchased a small box of these rubber things at Ace Hardware for something like $1.23, and that box, minus ONE, is still in the sink-back medicine cabinet where I put it in 2006 or so when David last visited. Less than a year after replaced the washer, I started having to apply real pressure to prevent the drip action from the hot water side of the sink. Last year, the cold water side began to drip. Unfortunately, David was happy in Indy and I wasn’t going to call a plumber to fix dripping faucets.

Then about last January, I surrendered to the water trifle when I turned both faucets so hard OFF that I they dripped nothing and I left them that way. My toilet is similarly afflicted. As long as I keep the heavy porcelain top off the water tank, I can hear and see no water flowing after the tank has refilled from a flush. The top has decorated my bathroom floor, instead of the top of my toilet, since about last October. Nobody ever visits me at home, these days, but if Jack Frost starts working his magic in Hell and someone does, I will graciously return tank top to is rightful location and loosen the faucet handles  so the little room can accommodate all comers . . . and goers.

It’s not as much an inconvenience as you may think. I brush my teeth at the kitchen sink. On the rare three to six days between showers when I need to wash my face, I do it in the kitchen. My wash cloth and towel hang on the handle I use to open the oven. I might just as well make a linen closet out of the inside of the oven because I have not used the oven since Gore ran for president, maybe before that.

If it weren’t for the shower, I’d hardly ever use my own bathroom. About 90% of the time, the public restrooms at my employer and at the airport suffice. These are times I appreciate living alone. I would not dare require this kind of compromise with another hummin’ bean in the house. I’m too nice for that . . . and I’m sure it would be tolerated just one time before I heard the cacophony of bags being packed for hasty changing of address.

The sum total of the circumstance suggests about “a D-minus life,” and I’m okay with that. I’m Zen with that. I like Zen. If I were afraid of Zen, I’d be Zenophobic, and I would never be that.  At least not to a legal citizen of the United Snakes of America.

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

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