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The day was productive. Not as productive as I had originally hoped, but things were accomplished.

I managed to complete:

  • grocery shopping
  • miscellaneous shopping
  • scattered grass seed
  • watered seeded areas and flowers
  • was surprised by a thoughtful gift and card
  • wrote some blogs
  • made whole wheat spaghetti, fettuccine, and beef chunks for supper
  • nursed a sinus infection all day

The big item of the day was making anchors for four outdoor solar lights. I placed these lights along the flagstone walk; however, they are a pain to pull up from the ground when I mow. So, I put on my creative cap, and decided I would experiment. I bought four $2 flower pots, made my own Plaster of Paris, made temporary string grids, and inserted the solar lights. I plan on pouring on a layer of glue and spreading store-bought rounded glass stones, or stones on top. We’ll see how this works!

Tomorrow, Friday, Quintin has percussion rehearsal from 9:00am-9:00pm. I will cut tons of lilacs and prepare in bouquets for some to swing by to pick up, and I will deliver several to some friends. As the afternoon begins, I will have coffee with a friend who lost her fury pal of ten years earlier this week, try to write, and prepare for the busy weekend. I will be working the volunteer table for MEPA on Saturday for approximately 12 hours, and again on Sunday for about 10 hours.

And, then on Monday, it is a non-stop push until mid-June with no breaks!

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We’ve all had days when even those folks with a positive spirit just feel overloaded. Normally, anything tossed directly into the path can easily be gotten around. However, there are those days when you look ahead to see piles of debris every few feet…

And then comes that God wink… something, or someone, reminding you that all is well with the world, and that most things are not permanent. What is most special is when those reminders/winks come from someone whose recent path was somewhat destroyed by tragedy. Yet, they rose up with miraculous courage, strength, and spirit to reexamine, readjust, rebuild, and reenter their path.

When I returned home from grocery shopping, feeling like a whupped pup, I found this beautiful planter on my front porch, accompanied by a card that readjusted my own vision of my path.  For a moment, I felt humbled.  Yet, I quickly realized there was no reason to slip into a guilty state – after all, I AM HUMAN!

And I love being human because I can grow!

With renewed spirit, and a readjusted vision for the day, I set out with a newly purchased bag of grass seed, and spread hand fulls in the bare areas of my front lawn.   The tempo of my day took an abrupt turn for refocusing on the positives in life, and returning to my normal pace of growing as a human.

As I watered the newly distributed grass seed, hostas, and other beauties of nature sprouting in this very early Spring, a familiar hymn haunted my mind…

Soft as the voice of an angel, breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, after the shower is gone

Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice, making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

“You know he always salutes just to me.”

That was Mrs. Shirley’s story, and she was sticking to it.

It was a regular Friday scene at Panther Stadium during four years of football.  The band would finish half-time, pass before the cheering crowds, and a darling grandmother in the stands would wait for her salute from the drum-major.  After receiving her salute, Mrs. Shirley would turn to those seated near her to remind them that the drum-major saluted her – and only her!

In my younger years, Mrs. Shirley was the lovely woman who greeted Mother while shopping in downtown Elwood, always patting the back of my head, or scratching the top with her fingernails.  In elementary school, and junior high, Mrs. Shirley became more commonly known as Kim & Brent Boston’s grandmother who often visited the Elwood roller skating rink across from Callaway Park on 19th Street.  Mrs. Shirley’s daughter and son-in-law, Carole & Bruce Boston, owned the fantastic family gathering place which was a terrific source of entertainment in the 1970’s.  I always felt special because Mrs. Shirley greeted me by name; however, I honestly believe she knew almost every kid’s name. Still, to a second grader, that was special.

In high school, my very special relationship with Mrs. Shirley began.  At the 50-yard line following the marching band’s half-time show, I saluted as the band passed the stands in final review.  That was my moment as drum-major, and it was Mrs. Shirley’s moment, as well.  It began as a joke: “I know you are just saluting me after half-time.”

Before too long, I was saluting Mrs. Shirley, directly.  When the drum-majors would offer a pre-show salute, or salute at the end of a number (which was standard procedure in that era), my salute was directed at Mrs. Shirley.  And, of course, the final salute following the half-time show was shared with Mrs. Shirley.

Yesterday evening, March 28th, Mrs. Shirley quietly left the stadium at 5:20pm.  I offer this blog post as a final salute, a tender, loving farewell to a special lady.

Mrs. Shirley, I know the angels are celebrating your arrival, and showering you with salutes.

God bless you, Dear Lady…

Salute…

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I grew up in a wonderful town right smack-dab in the middle of Indiana.  In fact, Elwood, Indiana is called, “The Heart of Hoosierland,” due to the intersection of two major highways, State Routes 37 and 28.  As a kid, I always loved my hometown’s title because it gave us an easily located spot on the map.  Although it is still an easy location to describe to my fellow Ohioans who inquire about where I grew up, I now find the word, “heart,” is more descriptive.

Willkie returns to Elwood, August 1940

Willkie returns to Elwood, August 1940

Perhaps the most incredible moment in my hometown’s history was August 17, 1940, when Elwood son, Wendell L. Willkie, returned home in triumph to accept the Republican nomination as a candidate for President of the United States, racing against incumbent president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The stories surrounding the legendary Willkie Day are some of my favorites. 

WENDELL L. WILLKIE, PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER

All through high school, I worked at the Elwood Public Library, an original Carnegie design.  I was often assigned to the Elwood History Room, and basked in the collected legacies of my community.  I was blessed to come in contact with countless citizens during my tenure at the library, and though many of those grand folks are no longer with us, I cherish their spirit.  Through these characters from the script of my youth I gained so much insight, and an even greater love for Elwood.

Growing up in Elwood was pretty typical of any other kid living in the Midwest in the 1960’s through the 1980’s.  We swam at the city pool, played baseball, enjoyed playtime at Callaway Park, had marching band practice, participated in or watched thrilling parades, attended the Spring home show at the armory, watched Fourth of July fireworks, and went to schools rich with educational personalities.

Every August, Elwood added a touch to Central Indiana life that clearly put the stamp on the community,

A familiar St. Clair specialty

A familiar St. Clair specialty

 distinguishing it from others: the annual Glass Festival parade and celebration, and the smell of spices added to the cooking tomatoes at several of the local canning factories.

Elwood was once home to several plate-glass factories, as well as several glass blowing companies, primarily the St. Clair Glass Company – The House of Glass.  In 7th grade my science fair project was “The Making of Glass,” for which I received grand champion.  My mother, and grandpa, took me to the glass factory where I interviewed Joe Rice, and was even allowed to make my own paperweight.  Still to this day, I get excited when I spot a St. Clair glass piece at flea markets or antique stores.

The tomato industry has been a staple in Elwood for nearly one hundred years, perhaps longer. I know many of my family members had seasonal jobs at the canning factories, supplemented by hundreds of migrant workers who arrived each summer to pick the tomatoes.  I don’t believe I’ve ever stepped foot in Fettig’s Canning Factory, nor the current leader, Red Gold, headquartered in Elwood, but the scintillating aroma that wafted over the town each August was a signature smell.  I think the scent from the canning factories is one of the most welcoming, yet, now, wistful smells, second only to my mother’s Este Lauder’s Youth Dew.

Elwood, when I was younger, was a mecca for beautifully designed, and well-maintained buildings that were indicative of that era of grandeur, the 1880’s thru 1920’s.  Even the older elementary schools, and the Central and Wendell L. Willkie schools in the center of town were great testaments of a community’s dedication not only to education, but beauty, and perfection.  The design for many of the buildings piqued my great interest in architecture, and the scenic interiors of the buildings were equally sensational.  Sadly, the majority of these buildings no longer stand.

The Variety Show's Glass Baby Food Jar Stages

The Variety Show's Glass Baby Food Jar Stages

The true beauty, and inspiration of Elwood, Indiana, went far beyond its fascinating history, community events, tomatoes, glass, and wonderful architecture.  The true gem of Elwood was, and has always been, its people.  There were always so many wonderful people in Elwood, and fortunately, I am connected with a majority of these fine folks on Facebook.  So many of these gems impacted my life in one way, or another, and I still treasure what I have carried through life from so many of these individuals, and families.

Growing up in Elwood was, quite simply, idyllic. I am sure I would have had a great childhood in nearby communities Alexandria, Tipton, or Anderson, but thanks to my ancestors, many of whom were pioneers of Madison County, and the townships of Boone and Duck Creek, I was blessed to be raised in Elwood.  It could not have been a better childhood.

As an adult, I have been fortunate to live in two super Ohio communities, Centerville, and now, Kettering.  I have fantastic neighbors, not unlike Luther & Ida Myrick, Dick & Betsy Herndon, and Don & Susan Fortner, and so many others.  We have great schools, many events, beautiful homes (the architecture for public buildings is somewhat sparse), many local sports, a great marching band, and tremendous individuals who add so much to our daily journeys.  Although Kettering, Ohio is currently my home, it will never match the depths of all I treasure in my hometown of Elwood, Indiana.

I miss the Elwood Glass Festival, and seeing the familiar faces at the park.  I can never replace the delicious meals at Mangus Cafeteria or Wolff’s Restaurant.  I recreate in my mind the echoes of the Panther Band and all the familiar sights and sounds of the annual Variety Show, especially the baby food glass jar stages created by the phenomenal trio, band directors Clifford Brugger, Rex Jenkins, and choreographer Tudy Smith.  And each August, I do miss the smell of the tomatoes when the spices are added.  Most of all, I miss the faces so familiarly attached to my youth.

Within a few months, my immediate family will be entirely removed from Elwood.  In fact, it will be the first time in nearly two hundred years that my own Clary-Noble-Greenlee-Ball line has not resided in Madison County, or nearby Boone Township where nine generations of my family rest peacefully in the tranquil Forrestville Cemetery, surrounded by the heritage of so many of our family’s farms.

Though my visits to Elwood will naturally become more infrequent than my current half dozen, or so, visits each year, I will never be truly disconnected in spirit, nor in my deep-rooted devotion to the community, and most importantly, the numerous individuals who added their own imprint on the mosaic which depicts my life.  These loving, inspiring folks are truly the “heart” that places “The Heart of Hoosierland” on the map.

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“If no one responds to the ad in the paper, you can keep him.”

I am sure I was not the only boy in the country to hear those words from his mother.  I heard those words in September 1970.

My description of the meeting was that the dog was at Burger’s Dairy Store after school, and followed me home.

Almost…

I did find the discarded puppy on the raised slab of concrete leading into the store, right next to the soda vending machines.  The little Manchester dog looked up, wagged his tail excitedly, and somehow, wiggled into my arms.  I carried him down the block, carefully setting him down at the tall hedge that separated our yard from Dick & Betsy Herndon’s yard.  Fortunately, he followed me to the long, stone steps that led up to our wrap-around porch on the top of the big hill at Ninth & Main streets.

No one claimed the dog, and he became a semi-permanent fixture in our home.

In 1970, one of my good friends was Debbie Poynter, a neighbor, and a fellow kindergarten student at the nearby Washington Elementary School.  Debbie’s nickname was “Pokey.”  According to her older sister, Julie, the nickname was bestowed on Debbie because she was so “pokey” while feeding as a baby.

So, in honor of Debbie (my grandfather also nicknamed her, “John”), I named this new dog, Pokey.

It was the idyllic “boy and his dog” story… Pokey followed me everywhere… he slept at the foot of my

Pokey 1982

Pokey 1982

bed… gathered up my belongings when I was away for the day… chewed up one of Mother’s shoes and gloves… chewed the feet off of one of my action figures from Johnny West’s Best of the West… and the best, was always so happy to see me.

Due to several vicious attacks by a neighbor’s German Shepherd, Pokey became fearful, and anxious.  the scars on his neck healed, but he nipped, and even bit at strangers.  My grandfather could not bear seeing Pokey chained up in our backyard, and asked if he could keep Pokey out at the farm.

The last ten years at Grandpa & Grandma’s were truly wonderful years for Pokey.  I don’t believe any dog had a more spacious, warmer dog house with loads of installation installed for the winter months.

Every weekend we ventured the thirteen miles South of Elwood to my grandparents’ home, we were always excitedly greeted by Pokey who still followed me about.

In 1982, I had not seen Pokey in months due to marching band.  Grandpa told me Pokey had really slowed down, and was having difficultly getting around. It had gotten to the point that they had to set Pokey down off the porch for his potty-breaks; he was too infirm to walk down the steps.

Darin with Pokey & Duchess 1982

Darin with Pokey & Duchess 1982

Thanksgiving morning, we arrived for dinner at my grandparents’ house, and Pokey recognized the car. With great effort, and tremendous difficulty, Pokey rose, walked down the three steps, and met me in the middle of the driveway.  He was still the ever devoted companion, and still excited to see me.

Christmas morning was a repeat – Pokey rose to greet me in the driveway.

That was the last I saw my wonderful pal.  The next month, Grandma Donna found him in the garage.  Her dog, Duchess, was laying with her paws wrapped around Pokey, and crying.

It’s been thirty years since my little Pal died, and since then, I have been blessed with three other wonderful pals – Flyer, Chief and Navi.  Still, I will always remember Pokey’s companionship, and his constant devotion, so often echoed by Flyer’s own devotion – and more so, that of Navi and Chief.

NOTE:  I could not tell the Story of Pokey without including this tidbit which has become legend in our family stories.  I was in the high school musical, OKLAHOMA! when Pokey died. Mother decided it best not to tell me of Pokey’s passing until after the musical closed that weekend. I hurried home for supper that evening before returning to the high school. While eating, my brother, ten years younger, and I got into a squabble. His final thrust was, “Your dog’s dead! Grandma found him in the garage this morning. He’s dead.”  I looked with horror to my mother for confirmation. She nodded. I can still remember the shock, but even more so, the look on Mother’s face that alternated between 1) sympathy for me, 2) aggravation with Destin for spilling the beans, and 3) biting her lip to keep from chuckling.

One month ago, on February 26th, a seventeen year old boy was gunned down in Sanford, Florida.  Why? The answer is not exactly clear, however, it appears that racial profiling may have been the root to this young man’s murder.

The country has sung out in unison against this heinous act, and even our president spoke up, giving this young man a place in humanity.

One of the major symbols of this out-cry has been “the hoodie.” All sorts of photos have been crossing my Facebook feed of

Racism is NOT a disease with which we are born… it is taught. Even in 1949, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II weighed in on racism with the song, “You’ve Got To Be Taught” from SOUTH PACIFIC (co-written with composer Richard Rodgers, and co-writer/director Joshua Logan).

When my one son was in 8th grade, he let his hair grow to shoulder length.  One day, we were walking from Kroger, and he stopped to tie his shoe as I continued walking.  He had not yet caught up with me when a police officer, driving by, slowed down and kept a vigilant eye on my son.  It took me a moment to realize why the officer was eyeing my son.  I immediately realized my son, of Hispanic descent, was a victim of profiling.  I was infuriated, and called to the officer, “You can stop profiling my son!”  The officer was taken aback by my comment, attempted to stutter something, and drove on.

Profiling is not just a racial cancer.  Profiling spreads to all areas of our world, and in all areas of our lives.

I am always amazed at how abruptly Spring can spring.  Overnight, there seem to be surprising changes, and the world suddenly has a little more color, and beauty.

This morning, as the grey skies lightened a bit, I could see the magical transformation that greeted this day.

The lilac bush should be in full bloom this weekend.

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I discovered this neat little tidbit on The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

Even before he was president, Rutherford B. Hayes envisioned where technology would take the United States. In 1851 Hayes was a passenger on the first train to operate between Cincinnati and Dayton. He described the experience in a letter to his future wife Lucy Webb and, demonstrating his propensity for forward thinking, predicted air travel:

Sept. 19, 1851 – I went to Dayton yesterday and back celebrating the completion of the railroad which makes Dayton a suburb of Cincinnati. Only two hours and a half to Dayton! Shades of departed coaches “buses,” and canal boats, hide forever your diminished heads! The ‘iron-horse’ has taken away your occupation, to keep it until aerial ships take it away!

Although Rutherford B. Hayes was a man of the 19th Century, his attitude toward innovation and willingness to embrace its potential reflect an individual whose thinking extended far beyond his time.

I currently have an electronic contraption that obtains data I input, as well as data from my new glucometer which contains a blue-tooth for transmittal.  It is pretty neat to draw the blood onto the glucometer’s test strip, push some buttons, and watch the information transfer.  This is then fed to the endocrinologist’s computer for monitoring while on this new medication.

Some pretty nifty stuff!

I think I could count this weekend as a relaxing, refreshing success, and one I enjoyed immensely.

With the last few glimmers of Friday’s evening light, I managed to mow the front lawn, trim, and blow debris within 45 minutes. The next morning, the rising sun illuminated the previous evening’s progress, and I was pleased.

Saturday morning, I finished up a rescheduled lesson, and then Quintin and I set out for Woodland Cemetery for a photo-hike. As we passed the outer edges of the University of Dayton, the sidewalks, lawns, porches and restaurant fronts were filled with students garbed in Kelly-green T-shirts, and a drink in hand. Despite the fact I knew there is a ton of alcohol present along this familiar route, I loved seeing the students taking breaks from studies, and enjoying St. Patrick’s Day.

Woodland Cemetery is one of the most beautiful locations in Dayton.  Despite the fact I am in the minority with the living when hiking the stone bedecked hills, I am always rejuvenated after time spent there. Quintin and I covered a different path, this time, and saw new tombstones we’d not before seen. We also got to go into the old chapel which is covered with original Tiffany stained-glass windows, and mosaic-tiled floors.

At five o’clock, father and son went separate ways – son to percussion rehearsal, and father to dinner with his very dear friend, Suzanne Grote. Dr. Suz and I spent three hours of chatting away merrily about life, but mostly, theatre. She had recently seen her former student, Daniel Jenkins in the newly directed, David Doyle production, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, by Stephen Sondheim.  Daniel left Yellow Springs, Ohio, venturing on to a Broadway hit, BIG RIVER: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, in which he played Huck.  Daniel returned to the Broadway revival, several years back, to do the role of Mark Twain, and the voice of Huck. Daniel’s other Broadway shows: BIG: THE MUSICAL, MARY POPPINS and BILLY ELLIOT.

Sunday morning was overcast, and a sleepy one for me. At Noon, we took off for lunch at Frische’s, and returned home for more yard work.  The dogs have been enjoying the weather, and exploring the wonders of Spring.

The afternoon has been quiet, relaxing, and some time getting my nerd-on watching some documentaries.

Although I enjoy my weeks of teaching, I do enjoy these less hectic times on the home-front.

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Hey Gang,
One of the area schools has an end of the year concert where the seniors are invited to sing solos.  I have a student who is wrestling with ideas of what to sing.  Generally, the songs are more along the lines of a ballad.  The student is thinking along the lines of songs that contain words, or ideas regarding:
  • gratitude (for being a part of the ensemble because this has been a part of the student’s life throughout high school)
  • moving on
  • what I have learned from you
One initial idea, which is still on the back-burner, is Barbara Streisand’s, “Circle.”

If anyone has any ideas along these lines, please feel free to share.  We still have about two months, but we want to be prepared, naturally, ahead of time.

Thank you!
Darin

Last night, Quintin and I enjoyed a late dinner at The Noodle Company located in The Greene.  Afterwards, we grabbed some videos since he did not have to be at school Friday until 11:30am due to the on-going OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) for sophomores, only.  We settled down with Adam Sandler’s JACK & JILL, and though I am not a true Adam Sandler fan, I did laugh a good deal.

After the movie, I began the process of preparing my taxes, and remained at the job until 2:30am.  I slept, off and on, until 7:45am, at which time, I rose to get the morning chores completed – feeding dogs, taking my meds, sugar checks, breakfast.  The taxes were completed in less than three hours, thanks to continued preparation throughout the year.

In a few hours I will teach my regular lesson load, as well as some additional make-up lessons. Quintin has percussion rehearsal until 8:00pm, and I should be finishing up teaching.  Hopefully, we can grab another movie.

Saturday morning will bring several more make-up lessons, and then some fun time of hiking in Woodland Cemetery, or Carillon Park, until Quintin’s 5:00pm-9:00pm percussion rehearsal.

Sunday, I believe, is a completely free day… absolutely nothing on the agenda. It would be nice to trip down to Cincy to the zoo, or aquarium, but I’ve not made arrangements for the dogs.

A friend, Debbie Allen, sent me this neat article on Charles “Charlie” Taylor, a mechanic for the Wright Brothers.  Charlie earns a good deal of the credit in the final phase of the brothers’ preparations for powered flight.  I knew a good deal about Charlie’s involvement, but was unfamiliar with the rest of his story.

Charles E. Taylor: The Man Aviation History Almost Forgot

Air Line Pilot,  April 2000, page 18

By Bob Taylor

When I was appointed safety program manager (airworthiness) for the Cleveland FSDO, one of the duties assigned to me was to conduct the Charles E. Taylor Award Program, the purpose of which is to honor the mechanics who have been connected with aviation maintenance for 50 years or more. However, one question always came up about the program: Who was Charles Taylor? I was embarrassed because I didn’t know the answer. So I did some research, and here’s what I found.

Three men were involved in the invention and development of the first powered airplane-that’s right, three. Everyone knows about the Wright brothers, but the third man was Charles E. “Charlie” Taylor, a quiet genius who loved cigars and the sound of machinery. Although he contributed to powered flight-one of the greatest human achievements-his name was almost lost in aviation history, until now; and without Charlie, that first powered airplane would never have gotten off the ground.

Charlie Taylor was born on a little farm in Cerro Gordo, Ill., on May 24, 1868. As a boy, Charlie moved to Lincoln, Neb., with his family. He quit school at the age of 12 and went to work as an errand boy for the Nebraska State Journal. However, Charlie was mechanically inclined, so later, when he began working with machinery in the Journal’s bindery, it came easy for him.

When Charlie was in his 20s he moved to Kearney, Neb., where he went into the business of making metal house numbers. There, in 1892, Charlie met a young lady named Herietia Webbert and married her 2 years later. In 1896, the Taylors moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Charlie worked for Stoddard Manufacture, which made farm equipment and, later, bicycles. In Dayton, Charlie met the Wrights. Mrs. Taylor’s uncle rented a building on West Third Street to the Wright brothers for their bicycle business. This was a convenient connection-in 1898, when Charlie started his own machine shop, Orville and Wilbur Wright brought him special jobs, including a bicycle coaster brake they had invented but later dropped.

Charlie eventually sold his tool shop for a profit and went to work for the Dayton Electric Co. However, he didn’t like his job there, so he accepted when the Wright brothers asked him to work for them at $18 per week. This was a good decision for several reasons: The Wright brothers’ shop was only six blocks from where Charlie lived, he could ride a bike home for lunch every day, he was making $8 a week more, and he liked the Wright brothers a lot.

Charlie started to work for the Wright brothers on June 15, 1901, making routine repairs on bicycles. This let the Wright brothers pursue their glider experiments, which included trips to Kitty Hawk, N.C. After one of these trips, the brothers decided they needed more-accurate aerodynamic data than was available, and they decided to build a small wind tunnel with a delicate force balance. With this, they would measure the amount and direction of air pressures on plane and curved surfaces operating at various angles and would improve their theories based on their gliding experiences.

Building the wind tunnel was the first job that Charlie Taylor undertook for the Wright brothers that had any connection with aeronautics. The wind tunnel was a rectangular box with a fan at one end driven by a natural gas engine. Charlie ground hacksaw blades and used them for balances in the tunnel. The Wright brothers conducted many experiments in their wind tunnel, and from this data, they began to make their 1902 glider, with Charlie machining many of the parts.

On Aug. 13, 1902, the brothers shipped the glider to Kitty Hawk. They made several flights with the glider; and on Oct. 31, 1902, the Wrights returned to Dayton to make plans for a powered airplane. Through their experiments, the Wrights were able to accurately predict the horsepower-eight-that was needed to produce and achieve powered flight. The next problem was where to get a light engine that would produce eight horsepower. The Wrights knew that a steam engine might suit their purpose, but a gasoline engine would be safer and more efficient.

On Dec. 3, 1902, the Wrights sent letters to almost a dozen automobile companies and gasoline engine manufacturers asking if they could produce or modify an engine that would develop eight to nine brake horsepower, weigh no more than 180 pounds, and be free from vibration. Most companies replied that they were too busy to undertake building such a special engine.

Falling back on their own mechanical experience, the Wright brothers decided to design and build their own engine. They estimated they could build a four-cylinder engine with a 4-inch stroke and a 4-inch bore, weighing no more than 200 pounds with accessories included. By their calculation, it would develop the horsepower necessary to power the airplane in flight.

Now the problem was to find someone to build the engine, but that was easily solved. The brothers decided that they would give that task to Charlie and that they would build the airframe.

Charlie was excited about this new challenge. From his knowledge of mechanics and design, he knew that the engine design was basic, straightforward, simple, and capable of succeeding. Charlie had very limited knowledge of gasoline engines, but he used his craftsmanship, genius, enthusiasm, and efficiency to tackle the task.

Charlie started building the engine in the winter of 1902-03. Without any formal drawings available, Charlie or the Wrights had to crudely sketch out each part on a piece of paper. After a thorough discussion about the drawing, Taylor would pin it above his workbench and go to work to complete it. Using these sketches and specifications, he finished the engine in 6 weeks-an amazing accomplishment.

I want to describe in some detail how Charles Taylor made the engine, so you can appreciate the craftsman he was. The first problem that Charlie and the Wrights faced was how to design the crankcase. The case had to be light and strong. Aluminum was still a rare metal in those days, and getting a good sound casting was difficult. John Hoban, foreman of Buckeye Iron and Brass Foundry in Dayton, took on the job of making the crankcase using the strongest aluminum alloy he had. The cylinders were turned from fine-grain gray cast iron and had a bore of 4 inches. The top and bottom of the cylinders were threaded so they could be screwed into the crankcase and a water jacket could be screwed onto them.

Charlie’s next major task was making the crankshaft. Being a mechanic most of my life, I would never even try to take on a project of making a crankshaft with the equipment that Charles Taylor had-a drill press, a lathe (both run by a natural gas engine), and hand tools.

Charlie secured a plate of high-carbon tool steel that measured 15/8 inches thick, 6 inches wide, and 31 inches long. On the plate, he traced an outline of the crankshaft and carefully, painstakingly drilled hundreds of holes along the outline of the crankshaft. This weakened the plate enough so he could knock the excess material away with a hammer and metal chisel.

Once he had done this, he had the rough-cut crankshaft ready for the lathe and the finish cut. With the small natural gas engine chugging away at full power and driving the large, wide leather belts that turned the lathe, Charlie turned out a nearly perfect crankshaft to the thousandth of an inch.

The next part that Charlie worked on was a flywheel made from a solid block of cast iron.

Charlie carefully thought out the connecting rods, intake valves, exhaust valves, pistons, valve guides, rocker arm, and numerous other parts that made up the complete engine and tailored them to fit the operation of the engine. Charlie painstakingly assembled the engine part by part, fitting and refitting each piece with the meticulous care of a jeweler making a watch. He scrutinized every detail. He assembled and disassembled the parts, time and time again, making sure of their operation until all the parts were working in harmony.

Building the engine took a lot of genius and ingenuity, and it was finally complete and assembled in February 1903. It was mounted on a test stand and ran well, producing 8 horsepower at 670 rpm and 11 horsepower at 1,000 rpm.

As a result of getting an engine that produced 12 horsepower at full rpm, the Wright brothers were able to add another 150 pounds to the aircraft, which allowed them to strengthen the wings and framework. The engine drove two counterrotating pusher propellers by means of chains. The Wright brothers designed and tested propellers in the wind tunnel and built several propellers that could be used for their first successful flight.

Charlie also made all of the metal parts, including the metal fittings used to join the wooden struts and to which the spruce spars and Roebling truss wires were attached.

On Sept. 23, 1903, the Wright brothers left Dayton for Kitty Hawk to start preparation for their first powered flights, and the Flyer followed them on September 25. They assembled the Flyer and installed the engine on November 2. To reduce the danger of the engine falling on the pilot in a wreck, they placed the engine on the lower wing to the right of center. When they started the engine, the vibration from the irregular firing caused the prop shaft extensions to fail. Charlie made new shafts out of solid steel, which held up during the first flights.

On Dec. 17, 1903, in the mid morning, after a run of about 40 feet at a groundspeed of approximately 7 to 8 mph, the first successful airplane to carry a human lifted off and flew 120 feet in 12 seconds, thus introducing a new era of transportation. Orville and Wilbur Wright each flew twice that day, making successfully longer flights, until Wilbur’s 59-second flight, which covered 852 feet over the ground, ended in a soft crash. Although the Wrights’ first flights weren’t publicized that much, Charlie and the Wright brothers were very excited.

The Wright brothers decided to build another flying machine, but decided against going again to Kitty Hawk. They looked near Dayton for a level place for flying. After a few days of searching, the Wrights found a suitable 90-acre pasture, often called “Huffman Prairie,” which belonged to Torrence Huffman, a Dayton bank president. He allowed them to use it for free-provided they didn’t run over his cows. Charlie and the Wrights built a hangar to house the airplane and moved into the new facility on April 20, 1904.

Charlie took care of the field and facility while the Wrights went around the country and world. Charlie was the first airport manager.

In a 1948 interview, Charlie said that he had “always wanted to learn to fly, but I never did. The Wrights refused to teach me and tried to discourage the idea. They said they needed me in the shop and to service their machines, and if I learned to fly, I’d be gadding about the country and maybe become an exhibition pilot, and then they’d never see me again.” How prophetic those last words were!

The Wrights were trying to sell the aircraft to the U.S. Army and started to make demonstration flights on Sept. 3, 1908. Orville flew and Charlie kept the aircraft in good flying condition.

On September 17, Charlie was slated to fly with Orville, but before the flight, larger propellers were installed to compensate for the heavier weight of the two men. At the last minute, Charlie was replaced by Lt. Thomas Selfridge, a 20-year-old West Point graduate from San Francisco.

During the flight, Orville heard a strange noise. He looked around, but saw nothing. However, he decided to shut down the engine and land. Suddenly, they felt two large thumps, and the airplane shook violently as Orville tried to control the airplane’s descent to the ground. About 20 feet from the ground, the airplane started to correct itself, but it was too late. The airplane hit the ground, killing Lt. Selfridge and badly injuring Orville Wright. Lt. Thomas Selfridge became the first passenger casualty in a powered aircraft.

After the accident, Charlie investigated the crash scene and found that the new propellers that they installed before the flight had delaminated. Charlie reported his findings to Orville, who was in the hospital recovering from his injuries. Charles was the first person to investigate a powered fatal accident flight.

Charles Taylor continued to work with the Wright brothers until 1911, when an adventurer and pilot, Calbraith Perry Rodgers, wanted to make the first continental flight across the United States. Rodgers bought an airplane from the Wright brothers and enough parts to build two more airplanes.

Orville realized that the airplane would not last more than 1,000 miles without being properly maintained, so he lent Charlie to Rodgers knowing that Charlie would be the only person who could keep the airplane flying for that distance successfully. Charlie sent his family ahead to California and got on the three-car train that was to accompany the flight. One car of the train was a repair car in which the aircraft parts were stored and the airplane repaired.

Crossing the United States took Cal Rodgers 47 days-3 days 10 hours of which was actual flying time. His longest single flight was 133 miles. He crashed 16 times, and the airplane was repaired so many times that at journey’s end only the rudder, the engine drip pan, and a single strut of the original airplane remained-a testament to the skill that Charlie used in keeping the airplane flying.

This was the last of Charlie’s big adventures. Charlie returned to Dayton and worked for the Wright-Martin Company until 1920.

Charlie eventually moved to California and lost touch with Orville Wright, but things turned bad for Charlie. The Depression hit, and Charlie’s machine shop failed. He lost his life’s savings in a real estate venture, and his wife died.

Charlie Taylor’s contribution to aviation was forgotten until 1937, when Henry Ford was reconstructing the old Wright bicycle shop in Dearborn, Mich. Detectives found Charlie working at North American Aviation in Los Angeles for 37 cents per hour. None of his co-workers realized he had built the engine for the first successful airplane.

Charlie worked for Ford until 1941, when he returned to California and worked 60 hours per week in a defense factory. However, in 1945, Charlie suffered a heart attack and was never able to work again.

In November 1955, a reporter discovered Charlie in Los Angeles General Hospital’s charity ward-he was almost destitute. His income was his Social Security retirement check and an $800-a-year annuity fund that Orville Wright had belatedly established before his death in 1948.

The aviation industry immediately started a campaign to raise funds for Charlie. He was moved to a private sanitarium, where he died a few months later, on Jan. 30, 1956, at the age of 88. Having no close relatives, Charles E. Taylor was buried in the Portal of Folded Wings Mausoleum dedicated to aviation pioneers, located in Valhalla Memorial Park, Los Angeles.

Charles E. Taylor was the last of the three who shrank the world by building the first successful powered airplane-the mechanic who made the flight possible.

Since I was very young, I’ve immersed myself in presidential history, and have loved visiting historical sites associated with our nation’s leaders.  Today, my friend, Jeff Carter, and I were discussing our bucket lists of places to visit, and I decided to make a list of places I wish to visit, and places I’ve visited.

Presidential Sites I wish to visit:

  1. Truman’s Independence, Missouri home
  2. Truman’s Library & Grave in Independence, Missouri
  3. Eisenhower’s grave in Kansa
  4. Wilson’s Washington DC home
  5. Wilson’s birthplace in Staunton, Virginia
  6. Roosevelt Campobello Island summer home
  7. Roosevelt’s Warm Springs in Georgia
  8. Adams’ Peacefield Home & Birthplaces
  9. Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia
  10. Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas
  11. Nixon’s Library, Grave & Birthplace
  12. Ford’s Library & Grave
  13. Reagan’s Library & Grave
  14. Kennedy Library
  15. Andrew Johnson’s Home/Gravesite in Greensboro, Tennessee
  16. Buchanan Pennsylvania home/grave in Pennsylvania

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Presidential Birthplaces & Homes visited:

 

Carter

Birthplace Site

Plains, Georgia

Carter

Home

Plains, Georgia

Grant

Birthplace

Point Pleasant, Ohio

Grant

Boyhood home

Georgetown, Ohio

Harding

Birthplace site

Ohio

Harding

Home

Marion, Ohio

Harrison B

Birthplace site

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison B

Home

Indianapolis, Indiana

Harrison WH

Birthplace

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia

Hayes

Birthplace site

Ohio

Hayes

Home

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Home

Nashville, Tennesee

Jefferson

Home

Monticello – Virginia

Lincoln

Birthplace

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Family home

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Home

Ash Lawn – Virginia

Polk

Home

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Home

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Birthplace

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt T

Home

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Birthplace

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tyler

Home

Sherwood Forrest – Virginia

Washington

Birthplace

Virginia

Washington

Home

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Presidential Grave Sites:

 

Grant

Manhattan, New York

Harding

Marion, Ohio

Harrison WH

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison, B

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayes

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Nashville, Tennessee

Jefferson

Monticello – Virginia

Kennedy

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Lincoln

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Richmond, Virginia

Polk

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Taylor

Louisville, Kentucky

Tyler

Richmond, Virginia

Washington

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Wilson

Washington Cathedral, Washington DC

 

Presidential Related Sites Visited:

 

Carter

Various Sites

Plains, Georgia

Jefferson

Memorial

Washington, DC

Kennedy

Limo @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Mary Todd Home

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Mary Todd Birthplace Site

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Todd Family Graves

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Home

Kentucky

Lincoln

Harrogate Museum

Harrogate, Kentucky

Lincoln

Sarah Bush Site

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Ben Hardin Helm Grave

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Lincoln Museum & Library

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Chair @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Memorial

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Peterson House

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Ford Theater

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Law Office

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Church pew

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Old State Capitol

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Pioneer Village

Rockport, Indiana

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Home

Manchester, Vermont

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Grave

Arlington Cemetery

Lincoln

Edwards Home

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Thomas & Sarah Lincoln Graves

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Home (Moore)

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Gettysburg Sites

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Presidents

The White House

Washington, DC

Presidents

Smithsonian Institute

Washington, DC

Roosevelt

Eleanor’s Val-Kil Cottage

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt F

Home where married

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt F

Memorial

Washington, DC

Roosevelt T

Island & Memorial

Washington, DC

Washington

Monument

Washington, DC

Presidential Birthplaces & Homes visited:

 

Carter

Birthplace Site

Plains, Georgia

Carter

Home

Plains, Georgia

Grant

Birthplace

Point Pleasant, Ohio

Grant

Boyhood home

Georgetown, Ohio

Harding

Birthplace site

Ohio

Harding

Home

Marion, Ohio

Harrison B

Birthplace site

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison B

Home

Indianapolis, Indiana

Harrison WH

Birthplace

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia

Hayes

Birthplace site

Ohio

Hayes

Home

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Home

Nashville, Tennesee

Jefferson

Home

Monticello – Virginia

Lincoln

Birthplace

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Family home

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Home

Ash Lawn – Virginia

Polk

Home

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Home

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Birthplace

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt T

Home

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Birthplace

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tyler

Home

Sherwood Forrest – Virginia

Washington

Birthplace

Virginia

Washington

Home

Mount Vernon – Virginia

 

Presidential Grave Sites:

 

Grant

Manhattan, New York

Harding

Marion, Ohio

Harrison WH

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison, B

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayes

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Nashville, Tennessee

Jefferson

Monticello – Virginia

Kennedy

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Lincoln

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Richmond, Virginia

Polk

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Taylor

Louisville, Kentucky

Tyler

Richmond, Virginia

Washington

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Wilson

Washington Cathedral, Washington DC

 

 

Presidential Related Sites Visited:

 

Carter

Various Sites

Plains, Georgia

Jefferson

Memorial

Washington, DC

Kennedy

Limo @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Mary Todd Home

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Mary Todd Birthplace Site

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Todd Family Graves

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Home

Kentucky

Lincoln

Harrogate Museum

Harrogate, Kentucky

Lincoln

Sarah Bush Site

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Ben Hardin Helm Grave

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Lincoln Museum & Library

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Chair @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Memorial

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Peterson House

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Ford Theater

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Law Office

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Church pew

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Old State Capitol

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Pioneer Village

Rockport, Indiana

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Home

Manchester, Vermont

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Grave

Arlington Cemetery

Lincoln

Edwards Home

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Thomas & Sarah Lincoln Graves

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Home (Moore)

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Gettysburg Sites

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Presidents

The White House

Washington, DC

Presidents

Smithsonian Institute

Washington, DC

Roosevelt

Eleanor’s Val-Kil Cottage

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt F

Home where married

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt F

Memorial

Washington, DC

Roosevelt T

Island & Memorial

Washington, DC

Washington

Monument

Washington, DC

Friday afternoon, I ventured to over to the middle school down the street to watch Fairmont’s PM-Concert Band in the OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association) perform their contest literature.  They received a II-Division rating.  Quintin worked as a judge’s assistant later in the evening.

Saturday, Quintin worked in the main office from 8:30am-Noon.  I was mentally, and physically, exhausted from a very long week, and remained in my bed/sitting room the remainder of the day, reading, napping and watching some movies.

Saturday night, after a quick bite to eat at Panera, we attended the production, CHILDREN OF EDEN, written by Stephen Schwartz. The production was beautifully sung – when you could hear it. The orchestra, which was very good, over-powered the entire production.  The only time I could hear the lush beauty of the music was during the few moments when the cast sang a capella. Even the dialogue underscoring was drowned.

Sunday morning was a flurry of activity: Quintin was up showered, fed, and at the high school for a 7:00am rehearsal call, preparing for their 11:38am performance at the MEPA contest in Centerville. I rose after Quint was gone – having slept three hours – and hurried to the National Museum of the United States Air Force to secure three tickets for the Presidential Gallery. Unfortunately, all parties needed to be present to present their identification.

At 10:15am, our dear family friend, and member of the god-parent team, Jeffrey Carter, arrived. Jeff, currently a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, judged a show choir competition in Fort Wayne on Saturday, and stopped by for a visit prior to heading on down to Cincinnati to see MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.

After chatting, and playing with the fury trio, we moved on to Centerville High School to watch Fairmont perform at MEPA. Uncle Jeff finally got to meet Quintin, following the contest, and they hit it off beautifully. We left CHS, and headed immediately to the Air Force Museum where we spent several hours.

Following dinner at Milano’s, we spent some time chatting at The Haasienda before Jeff traveled on to Cincy. It was such a nice visit, and we both look forward to seeing Jeff again this summer.

It was a busy, yet, very relaxing weekend!

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[Hit the play button on HOUNDS OF SPRING; listen as you read, and then, sit back and enjoy this fantastic piece of band literature by Alfred Reed.]

A beautiful day it is!  It is only 50-degrees this tenth day of March, but you could not ask for a more glorious day of sunshine, and Spring in the air. And tomorrow, those of us who get to set our clocks forward one hour will get to enjoy even more lovely days such as this.

Quintin was out the door to work in the office for the OMEA site until Noon. I satisfied any cravings shared by the office workers with a box of Bill’s Donuts.

I returned home to work in the front yard with the weed trimmer, and the leaf blower! Their electrifying sounds were music to my ears. How I love time to work in the yard, and that season is rapidly moving upon us.

I relaxed the afternoon away, watching some television, reading, and napping. I will now do some house work, and then get ready to go see CHILDREN OF EDEN with Quintin at the very close Playhouse South.

Tomorrow is percussion with MEPA at Centerville High School, and the arrival of Jeffrey Carter, friend/godfather, who will pass through Dayton for a few hours before heading to Cincinnati to see MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, starring Daniel Jenkins.

A friend from high school, Elisa Abner-Taschwer, was so thoughtful to send me this info on the Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield!

Take advantage of this great deal!

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