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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.

I am sitting in my study, as I do four days a week, writing.  Each afternoon through mid-evening I teach private lessons. But prior to teaching, I have three-scheduled hours of writing time, cheerfully followed by errands, and household chores. I am fortunate to spend my mornings, somewhat leisurely, writing, simply because one lady told me I could write, and then, she showed me how to write.

Darren Paquin

Although my younger siblings cringed when Darren Paquin pulled out my high school essays, written nearly a decade earlier, they also expressed some pride that their eldest brother was still remembered in the classrooms, and hallways, of Elwood Community High School. They often razzed me for my writing skills, but they never realized how much effort, time, and work, I put into writing, and especially, depending on the topic, research, and outlining.

Since the fall of 1982, I have continually used the “rock of writing” learned in Mrs. Paquin’s classroom: an outline. I can remember the encouragement, and insistence, that was her daily mantra, “Outline.” I always knew, when I ran into writing issues, the first question I would be asked, “Where’s your outline?”

One day, Mrs. Paquin hovered over my shoulder as I struggled with a particular paragraph in an essay. “Let me take a look at your outline.” It was such a casual request, yet one I was dreading that morning. I had no outline. I admitted that I had skipped a procedure in the very thing I now promote as a teacher: PROCESS. Mrs. Paquin straightened, looked down, and just stood there with a ‘are-you-kidding-me-? smile. For several seconds, she said nothing. Finally, using her red flair-tipped editing pen, she tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “You know I expect more from you.” And with that, she moved on to the next student, but turned to reaffirm her statement with a smile, punctuated with a wink.

For my sons, former students, and current students, who are reading this, I am sure there is a breeze, accompanied by the sound of a flock of fleeing birds, as they shake their heads, and roll their eyes. “I expect more from you,” an oft used phrase in The Haasienda, runs a close second to our family motto: “Always do your best – always!” That morning in Mrs. Paquin’s advanced composition class seemed to add a new element to my life’s journey, and future career. Through the years, the phrase became ingrained in my soul as a constant marker, reminding me to continually challenge myself to do better in all areas of my life.

My favorite photo of Mrs. & Mr. Paquin

Several years after I graduated from high school, Mrs. Paquin began a new chapter of living as she began her own process of survival. Her heart specialists prescribed an outline for living, and this outline included a transplant from a heart donor. As you can see from the posted video below, she kept to the outline.

I always tell my sons that I will never be their friend, nor they, mine. I explain that my mother will never be my friend.  She is my mother. Yes, we have had a wonderful relationship for the past 47 years, but I could never reduce her status as anything other than the very reverent title,  Mother. The same holds for Mrs. Paquin, and several other Elwood teachers who have had a tremendous impact on my life. Yes, in many ways, Mrs. Paquin, has been a valued friend, but as she was thirty years ago, she still is, today, my beloved Teacher.

I continue to learn from this wonderful lady through the inspiration of faith, hope, and perseverance she demonstrates. I am so grateful that when God was designing Mrs. Paquin’s life-outline, I was included as one of the many subheadings.

And I must be honest… I did not create an outline for this particular blog-post. Sometimes, the heart has it’s own outline.

Mrs. Paquin, know you are loved…

25 Years of Heart Transplant at St.Vincent Heart Center

Note:  Mr. Gordon Paquin was my high school principal, and one of the best role models for a fatherless teenager. Mr. & Mrs. Paquin have two children, Dawn and Derek, who attended high school with me. 

I am finishing up the writing of a musical on the Wright Brothers, and in one particular scene, I recreate the concept of the hobble skirt when a modesty cord is tied around a young lady’s long, voluminous skirts prior to a flight with Wilbur Wright. A fashion designer happened to be in the crowd, watching these famed flights of 1909, and captured a new fashion design when the lady scooted away from the areoplane with the modesty cord still in place. In my research, I discovered the young designer was from Paris’ famed, The House of Paquin. You can bet The House of Paquin is mentioned in the musical!

On May 25, 1910 at Huffman Prairie, just outside Dayton, Orville Wright piloted two unique flights.

First, he took off on a six-minute flight with Wilbur as his passenger, the only time the Wright brothers ever flew together. They received permission from their father, Bishop Milton Wright, to make this flight. They had always promised their father that they would never fly together to avoid the chance of a double tragedy and to ensure one brother would remain to continue their experiments.

Next, Orville took his 82-year old father on a nearly seven-minute flight, the first and one of Milton Wright’s life. The

airplane rose to about 350 feet while the elderly Wright called to his son, “Higher, Orville… higher!”

And that’s how I felt today while being one of the first to ride the new carousel – the new gem of Dayton’s Carillon Park.

After lunch I rode with several Wright brothers enthusiasts to the site of the Wright family home on Hawthorn Street, just off Third Street in West Dayton. August 19th, 1871, Orville Wright was born in the front second floor bedroom. Three years later Katharine Wright was born on the same day, in the same room. We spent some time in the Wright brother’s bicycle shop on Williams Street, and then the aviation center across the plaza.

We stopped by Woodland Cemetery to pay our respects to the Wright family, and passed by Hawthorn Hill, the gorgeous mansion crowning a gigantic hill in Oakwood.

I retrieved Quintin from home so we could attend the Carillon Park/Dayton History annual meeting. I was slightly miserable from the heat and decided I would show Quintin the same things I visited earlier that afternoon. While at the cemetery, a couple from Oklahoma City approached and asked if I knew much about the Wright family.

It was nearing 5:00pm, and I knew I should be at the meeting. However, with a passion for history, I believe there is a duty as an ambassador to share Dayton’s history with others. By 5:20pm we were heading over to Carillon Park.

We stood in the back of the tent, catching the last 10 minutes or so of Brady Kress’ speech.

Brady Kress…

Dayton was so lucky to be blessed with the likes of Wilbur & Orville Wright, Charles Kettering, Col. Deeds, John Patterson, and countless others, but we are equally blessed with Brady Kress who is equal as a visionary to the Wrights, Kettering, Patterson, and Deeds combined! As local news media maestro, Jim Bucher, claimed, “Brady is Dayton’s own version of Walt Disney!”

Bucher is so right on target!

As Brady concluded the annual meeting, he encouraged everyone to check beneath the seats of their chairs. Thirty-three lucky people would find, taped to the bottom, a gold carousel coin honoring them with the first ride. I was a bit disappointed that I was not seated in one of the several open chairs and even considered making a mad dash for several.

As Quintin and I turned to head to the ribbon cutting ceremony, I saw Amy Kress, Brady’s wife, and her father coming towards us. Her father, Mr. Schwartz handed me the gold coin taped beneath his chair. He had already ridden the carousel during his granddaughter’s birthday party, and Amy said I would probably be thrilled to ride it. Of course, all week long Amy has endured my emails of childish glee – but she did start it several years ago when she first told me of the carousel’s unique design. Two of the special designs were to be Orville Wright’s Saint Bernard, Scipio, and Wilbur Wright’s dog, Flyer. I even loaned Brady one of my books that contained a photo of the original Flyer.

I know Mr. Schwartz was talking to me about something as we walked to the ribbon cutting, but honestly, I was not even close to earth as I held tightly to that gold coin. Being one of the lucky 33 ranked right up there with

  • getting to hold Mary Todd Lincoln’s gloves
  • holding the small portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln’s father, Robert Todd
  • thumbing through Bishop Wright’s family Bible and holding his spectacles (thanks to Melba Hunt)
  • holding Orville Wright’s white dinner jacket which he wore to a White House dinner in 1942 (again, thanks to Melba)
  • meeting Vice-President Gerald Ford in July 1974
  • singing “The National Anthem” as the first actual performance at The Schuster Center for the Hard Hat Concert
  • standing a few feet from John Glenn and Neil Armstrong during the closing ceremonies of the 2003 flight centennial

I am sure there have been other major highlights like these – and beyond the arrival of a new son, or the birth of one my brother’s children. Today was one of those exciting, magical moments for me.

After the ribbon cutting, Quintin and I joined the crowd of 450+ and strolled into the building. The exhibits were great, but to be truthful, I was aiming for the carousel. We can return any time to enjoy the wonderful new exhibits.

We entered the carousel pavilion, and I heard workers calling for folks with the golden coin. I barreled through the bodies with out causing casualty to anyone and presented my golden coin. Willy Wonka, here I come!

I got to Flyer before a kindly looking woman who was eyeing this ride. She just thought it was an ordinary dog displayed on the carousel. Poor thing got a quick history lesson right there, and then. When I told her my dog was named Flyer she backed off and found another ride. One friend asked, “What if Amanda Wright Lane [the great grandniece of the Wright brothers] had been the lady and had wanted to be the first to ride Flyer?” Well, there was a cute little bi-plane representing her uncles and it would have only been fitting for her squat her rights on it!

I am hoping to head to Carillon Park Sunday afternoon to take in the exhibits.

Dayton – thank you for supporting our community’s rich history, and thank you, even more, for entrusting it to Brady Kress.

“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”
Charles Kettering

What an incredible evening!

Dinner at UNO’s with Quintin was loaded with good humor, and great food.  I love eating at UNO’s prior to a show at The Victoria Theatre, or The Schuster Center, because there is that familiar electricity in the air that is not only energizing, but comforting, as well.  I absolutely love that feeling I get before a production begins.

Quintin’s eyes devoured the expansive, imposing lobby of the Schuster Center.  While at the ticket center, I personally met someone who had just written me that morning about my posts on Facebook.  It was such a nice surprise.

We took our seats – four apart – and the families began pouring into the auditorium.  Yes, it looked like a sea of young sprouts ready to watch Disney On Ice, but I love seeing the little peeps at the theatre, or in concerts.  Seated next to me was a plump little thing not older than 8 years, who had no control over her body, whatsoever.  Within a few minutes I had dubbed her Princess Bounce A Lot!

We were up in the upper balcony, and could not see the incredible dome which, to me, is one of the most gorgeous memorials to The Wright Brothers.  The dome is the constellation’s configuration above Dayton the night before the Wright Brother’s first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.  Every time I see it I am quite touched.

I don’t believe I have ever attended a production where giraffes simply walking across the stage received an ovation; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen giraffes on stage… well, perhaps in some productions of Children of Eden.  The opening number continued to build, and build, and build until there was this enormous wall of sound, and a scenic moment of set, costumes, lighting that was breathtaking.  I kept thinking how famous scenic & lighting designer, Jo Mielziner would have reacted to this moment – and the many more that were to follow.

I had thoroughly enjoyed the animated motion picture, The Lion King, when it first appeared on the scene years ago, tonight the story’s line came to life in a much richer expanse.  I love the themes where the protagonist has no idea when it is his time to step up the role for which he is truly intended.  I saw some Hamlet peek through, but more of Moses and Lincoln.  Good always triumphs over evil.

Several times I looked down the row to see how Quintin was taking in this epic experience.  I know I probably teared up a little as I watched him bounce to the music, his head toss back with laughter, and a smile remain on his face.   Following intermission, Princess Bounce A Lot and her mother were escorted to different seats, so Quintin joined me.  I could tell he was loving every minute.  After the show we walked over to Riverscape, and he cheerfully pointed out his favorite moments.

As I sit here, several hours following the production’s close, I cannot decide if I watched true musical theatre, or something beyond legitimate musical theatre.  At times, the beauty on stage seemed to be living scenery choreographed to music.  And, it truly does not matter.  All that matters is that I was fortunate to share this experience with a new son.

Although I am a passionate historian, I must admit that I was rather lazy in my study of Dayton history. Normally, I am on top of my historical surroundings, and learn as much as possible. However, when I moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1990, I was not at all certain I would remain here more than 3-5 years. I anticipated moving to New York City, or even to Virginia near Williamsburg, or Washington, DC. Perhaps I had an unaddressable fear of learning too much about the Miami Valley for fear of it gluing me here.

Twenty years later, I still feel slightly negligent in knowing Dayton’s history. I seem to know more about the Wright Brothers than I do most of Dayton, and the surrounding area. Still, it was not until the summer of 1999 that I even gave the Wrights a second thought. I had been to the Air Force Museum when my parents visited in 1992, but I found it agonizingly boring. My dad had to stop and read every placard, and photograph nearly every plane. Mother, still with tints of red in her hair at the time, was photographed in front of the plane painted with the title, “Strawberry Bitch.” Each visit to the museum still prompts a photo with a family member standing in front of the plane.

Seven years later I was on my three week vacation that took me to:

  • Niagara Falls (ugh… another story)
  • a drive through the Adirondacks
  • a pass through Schroon Lake
  • Stowe, Vermont to visit the Trapp family members (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) at the Trapp Family Lodge
  • Manchester, Vermont to visit Robert Todd Lincoln’s home, Hildene
  • FDR’s home/grave in Hyde Park, NY
  • Val-Kil, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home & retreat near Hyde Park
  • New York City
  • Flushing Meadows – the site of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs
  • Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Sagamore Hill
  • Montauk Point Lighthouse at the tip of Long Island
  • Assateague Island to see the wild horses because my fourth grade teacher, Diana Lane, read us the book, THE MYSTERY OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND in 1974
  • A brief trip through DC – only driving and looking, no stopping
  • A trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel
  • A visit with my aunt and cousins
  • The Outer Banks
    • Wright Memorial (merely drove around it and left)
    • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (which had just finished its hydraulic move the day before)
    • Ocracoke Island
  • A visit with my grandfather and family at Grandpa’s mission program in Southeastern Kentucky
  • Gatlinburg for three days with family
  • Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mary Todd Lincoln
    • Henry Clay home
    • ice cream at Cheapside
    • Lexington Cemetery

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I took advantage of this East Coast vacation, packing as much in as possible. I knew that once I began adopting children, this kind of vacation would be on hiatus.

The memorial at Kitty Hawk meant absolutely nothing to me. I drop past it, only to return since it had a Dayton connection. I took a photo, and drove on not wanting to indulge any time in listening to a (biased) NC park ranger talk about airplanes.

September 1999, while roller blading in Centerville’s Stubbs Park, I was resting on a rock when I noticed a tiny sparrow hopping in the parking lot, picking at some food dropped by patrons from the previous evening’s concert. I had always been terrified of birds growing up, so I had never considered how they got their bodies into the air, supported by seemingly fragile wings.

As I watched the sparrow my eye caught a jet floating through the sky as it prepared to land at Dayton International.

“How did that thing get into the sky?”

As I continued to watch the bird and the plane (no Superman), I heard voices of two young boys arguing. I even turned around, expecting to find two lads arguing.

Nothing.

The voices continued.

Finally I heard the one boy call the name of the other, and there was no doubt as to who they were, and why I was privy to their aggravated conversation.

The next day, I returned from the USA Air Force Museum with nine books on the Wright Brothers. I had received “my mission” while resting in the park.

Prior to that September day, I had never given the Wrights much thought. By April 2000, I was finally sketching out plots, scenes, and characters.

July 2000, I drove to Kitty Hawk, stood on the Wright Brothers’ Memorial and flew a kite to toast the start of what would be a fascinating journey for the next decade.

My goal was to finish the musical, then titled, TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, for the 2003 anniversary.

Gail Whipple - lyricist-composer

In 1998 I got a new saxophone student, Lucas Whipple – a neat 10 year old boy with a wonderful personality. I eventually began teaching his sister, Andra, piano and voice. Their mother, Gail, a fantastic musician (vocalist, pianist) was teaching music at South Dayton Preparatory School and asked if I’d please teach beginning piano there.

In January 2003, Gail and I were chatting about the Muse Machine musical we had just seen. Her husband, Tim, was the Muse board president. Gail and I began discussing musical scores, and she played a few of her own songs that were clearly “musical theatre.” I promptly asked her to assist me with TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, and she agreed.

Leslie Merry, Composer

A month later, I hosted the first read-thru of the book with approximately 20 theatre friends at my town house. Gail attended, and brought her friend, Leslie Merry, introducing her as “a musician friend of mine.”

Within a few days, the trio of Gail, Leslie and Darin were embarking on our collaboration. Other than directing, this was my first collaborative effort, and I did not know what to expect with our first work session. I had tossed out ideas for styles on several songs. Quietly, Gail and Leslie tossed them back, presenting something completely different from what I was hearing… and it was magnificent. Throughout the years, I continued to toss to them what I was hearing in my head, and they provided something different… entirely different, and much more clever, and exciting!

As with any project, it evolved. The history of flight anniversary flew by and we knew that we still had a product. However, the Wrights’ story had changed. Their sister, Katharine, was now an integral part of the story, and it now began five years after they first flew at Kitty Hawk. We had uncovered more drama, and depth to their story – the story after the story with most are most familiar.

The working title soon changed to THE BIRD LET LOOSE, and the underlying theme was about “control.”

  • The secret to flight was in “control”
  • There was an international race to “control” the sky
  • There were battles over financial “control”
  • There were internal issues of “control” within the family circle

It was the right path for this musical.

Now, the 99.5% completed project is a grand mixture of our theatrical forefathers’ creations… there are hints of RAGTIME, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SECRET GARDEN, EVITA, SUNDAY IN THE PARK, CAMELOT… the musical is dramatic, comedic, filled with suspense, interwoven with political intrigue (well, nothing that would arouse the interest of James Bond, but remember, it is 1908-1945)…

I was blessed to find a lyricist (Gail) who could arrange lyrics as wonderfully as Hammerstein, Lowe, and Rice, and a composer (Leslie) who could immediately whip out a strong melodic line rivaling Rodgers, Lerner and Webber but with a heavy flavor of Sondheim. And the score is, perhaps, more Sondheimesque. The lyrics, in many places, are simply too good to be true due to the clever, concise arrangement of thoughts and words. I would hand Gail a paragraph of thoughts, and she would return lyrics that made my jaw hit the floor. The lyrics and music, together, are outstanding, and I honestly believe their contributions to this project far surpass my work on the book. The three of us, each being musicians, have also contributed to one another’s individual assignments – which has been a splendid delightful process for we each trust one another, and are, too often, like one mind.

I humbly bow to my two collaborators, and will always be grateful for their magnificent contributions to the future success of this musical.

My personal journey with this project began a decade ago. The three of us were also working professionals, raising children, involved musicians, busy volunteers, and confronted with personal, and professional experiences that sometimes kept as from moving ahead on the project consistently. Before Gail’s family moved to California, we had many fantastic work sessions, and reading sessions (about six, in all). Now, Leslie and I will work together, and collaborate with Gail, using all the modern technologies.

What a thrilling journey it has been!

Jose and I just returned from seeing CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010). A very good movie, indeed.

I can remember seeing the original in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school. I recall very little of that movie, but seemed to be fairly accurate when leaning over to Jose and sharing upcoming moments. So much of what I remembered came directly from my high school Latin teacher, Diana Garner. Mrs. Garner was one of the most fascinating teachers I have known, and I cannot believe how much of her teachings are still with me in my professional life, as well as in every day life. Generally, I tend to rely on so many skills taught by Mrs. Garner, and my advanced composition teacher, Darren Paquin.

On the drive home, Jose and I discussed the many connections between mythology, and Christianity, and even some of the connectedness to STAR WARS. We discussed some of the similarities between the birth of Christ, and how it was very similar to various aspects of mythologies preceding his birth. Very interesting conversation, and good reading material for comparisons.

I thought the movie was well cast with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, and Alexa Davalos. However, accompanying Harry Hamlin in the 1981 version was a plethora of screen giants, some who were near the end of their careers, and lives, with the exception of Maggie Smith and Claire Bloom who are both still active in their profession, Flora Robson, Burgess Meredith, and Sir Laurence Olivier gave the movie a LOVE BOAT quality since the cheerful television show revisited so many aging stars.

The movie was good, predictable (naturally), and epic in many ways. I am always impressed, and amazed at how quickly technology has changed from my teen years to the generation of my son’s. I now liken my self to my great-grandfather on whose lap I sat as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Grandpa Garrett was only 6 years old when the Wrights first flew at Kitty Hawk, and at age 16 he bought his first horse and buggy. When he began farming, it was with a horse and plow. When Grandpa Garrett retired from farming in 1966, he sold his tractors, combines, tillers, and all other farm machinery. When he was born, the first telephone was installed in the White House. When he died in his 100th year, I received an email telling me he had passed away in the night.

One day, I hope to marvel with my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in the continued advancement of technology, reminding them that when I was a teen we did not have computers, cell phones, internet, IPods… hell, by the time my great-grandchildren are born, these current technological thrills will be extinct!

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

There is some tennis event on NBC. The skies above the Miami Valley have resembled a tennis match all morning… for a few minutes the sun shines, and shortly, the dark clouds hover… back and forth.

The storms for the past two nights have woke me, and the pounding rains lulled me back to sleep each time. Yesterday afternoon, and evening, the heat and humidity were unbearable. This afternoon, a cool breeze keeps the curtains in my bedroom dancing back and forth from the screen windows while the shadows of trees moves across the kitchen cabinets and floor. The wind chimes on the deck create a continues song.

I know my week was not nearly as busy as so many others, but for me, it was extremely busy. The past few days of relaxation, after nearly nine straight days of continuous activity, were most welcome.

Friday, after teaching, I ran a few errands with Jose, and then we settled on a meal from Steak N Shake. Neither of us were interested in doing anything, so we each settled on our own movies. I had received It’s Complicated from Netflix, but it just did not interest me; so, I settled on several on-line movies:

  • The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection
  • HH Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
  • The Bible According To Hollywood

Saturday morning alternated between rain and sunshine, so I settled at my laptop in my bedroom with several books, and my Netflix movies running:

  • Cold Case Files: Killer In The Country
  • The Jewish People: A Story of Survival

A little after Noon, I completed some household tasks, and started several loads of laundry. Rain storms hit pretty hard for a while, so I returned to my room and watched portions of several movies, occasionally chatting with Jose as he passed back and forth from the kitchen to the basement.

I drove Jose to work since the storms were striking intermittently, and ran errands to Dollar General and Kroger. Back at home I worked at my desk a little, keeping an eye on the sky and the clock should Jose need me to pick him up.

I decided to research a little more on Cornelius Vanderbilt, a minor character in the Wright Brother’s musical.

Jose arrived home from One Lincoln Park, and offered me a tray of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. As always, the chef created a triumph!

Jose descended to the basement to XBox360 world, and I turned on more Netflix as Flyer and Logan snuggled next to me. I know my selections would boar most, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these historical figures.

The story of the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek, Michigan, was extremely interesting, as was the story of hotel giant, Conrad Hilton.  The Kellogg brothers, and Conrad Hilton, were all incredible entrepreneurs, well ahead of their times.

Conrad Hilton was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor – who, to my surprise, is still living! Her sister, Ava had died, but I figured this other Gabor sister was also deceased. If you get a chance to Google Ms. Gabor’s more recent photos, please do. I will post them. Despite being in her 90’s, she still grabs some of the glamour… barely. I had not made the connection of this gentlemen to Paris Hilton!

I received an email from a student’s parent that she was watching Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I knew of the play, but had never seen the movie. She grew up near Katharine Hepburn in Connecticut, and watches all Ms. Hepburn’s movies. I decided to research it, and then pull up the movie on Netflix.

The movie, which includes Ms. Hepburn, also stars Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards (who starred in the original stage play), and a very young Dean Stockwell who is more popularly known from his roles in Quantum Leap and Battlestar Gallactica. I read a good deal about the 1962 movie’s director, Sidney Lumet (1924- ), and his style of directing. What a fascinating director.

I have a feeling I am being “encouraged” to study this director. I was introduced to Mr. Lumet’s work last night. This morning I was watching a morning news program Anderson Cooper, and Googled him. I had no idea he was the 3rd great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt – who I had researched Saturday evening – and the son of Gloria Vanderbilt – a wife of Sidney Lumet!

Coincidence?

I was so moved by this movie that I could not turn it off to go to sleep. At 2:45am, I finally decided that I must. I should have continued watching it as it was less than an hour that the newly arrived storms were waking me.

If you live in The Miami Valley of Ohio, please take time to visit the many sites under the management of Dayton History, beginning with Carillon Park. Other sites associated with Dayton History are:

  • Hawthorn Hill, the home of Orville Wright
  • The John Patterson Homestead
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar home
  • Old River Park

Dayton has such a rich heritage, and there are many wonderful sites in which families can absorb our history.

Karen Carpenter said it best with…

Since the early morning it has been a steady shower here in Kettering. The skies seem forbidden of allowing the faintest glimmer of sunshine through. Jose did a great job on cutting the lawn yesterday afternoon, so the rain will refresh the lawn, and some of the plants I transplanted last weekend.

Have been busy doing nothing but business stuff today, and working with Rita who looks after my studio items. The agenda for tonight’s ACTION board of directors’ meeting is completed, and now I am hoping to do some items around the house.

Yesterday was fun doing yard work with Jose, and then relaxing to some movies on Netflix. I drove Jose to youth group, and then ran some errands. Since he did a nice job on the lawn he had a 12-inch sub waiting on him from Subway.

I settled in with some work while watching AMERICA – THE STORY OF US on The History Channel. The series has not been holding my interest as much as I thought it would. Last week I paid scant attention to the show. Last night, I watched the segment on The Statue of Liberty, and then began paying attention when during the history of Henry Ford thinking they would feature the Wright Brothers… nothing. Grrrr….

Tonight I will finish teaching and hurry to ACTION for the board meeting, and then return home and head to the gym with Jose.

Several neat videos from THE HISTORY CHANNEL:

Wright Brothers First Flight

Wright Brothers First Flight – Part 2

Orville Wright – 1909 Test Flight at Fort Myer

I found this site which looks very interesting… have not explored it, yet!

Dayton History Books On-line

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
–– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A weekend of hacking, planning and prepping, cleaning, and all sorts of other mundane, yet slightly invigorating tasks. I still cannot log into my Facebook account, and this is most aggravating.

Sunday I clicked on an icon in my start-up menu, having completely forgotten it was there. It was Microsoft Office OneNote.

Microsoft Office OneNote is a software package for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. While OneNote is most commonly used on laptops or desktop PCs, it has additional features for use on pen-enabled Tablet PCs, in environments where pen, audio or video notes are more appropriate than an intensive use of keyboards.  OneNote notebooks are designed for collecting, organizing and sharing possibly unpolished materials, typically for projects usually targeted at publishing in some way. Pages can be moved inside the binder, annotated with a stylus, word-processing or drawing tools. Users may add embedded multimedia recordings and web links. OneNote’s file format (.one) is proprietary. One of OneNote’s innovations is the integration of search features and indexing into a free-form graphics and audio repository. Images (e.g., screen captures, embedded document scans, or photographs) can be searched for embedded text content. Electronic ink annotations can also be searched as text. Audio recordings can also be searched phonetically by giving a text key, and can be replayed concurrently with the notes taken during the recording.

I am still learning the program, but have thoroughly enjoyed getting organized through this incredible tool.

This week, and next contain particularly busy days. While working on the Wright Brothers’ musical, I am also preparing for Magsig Middle School’s career day, which I have thoroughly enjoyed in previous years. I have a few items to touch up on the presentation, and then I am good to go. Thursday is an endocrinology  appointment for my diabetes.

The following week I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, and a home visit from an ACTION Adoption Services case worker to prepare my home study.

And I am also adjusting to the new schedule of trying to master 10,000 steps (walking) per day. For the most part, the slightly new diet is very agreeable, and I am loving the fact that my appetite is greatly diminished – especially where meal portions are concerned.

There is not much more to report here. I am behind in starting my writing for the day as I have been doing other odds & ends.

I have not seen Harvey, the white squirrel newly moved into my neighborhood. For several mornings, Harvey has scampered down the tree outside my study to look in on me. He will position himself on the tree and fence, and stare in through the window. I did happen to capture him on film the Saturday morning.

“I am convinced that attitude is the key to success or failure in almost any of life’s endeavors. Your attitude-your perspective, your outlook, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about other people-determines you priorities, your actions, your values. Your attitude determines how you interact with other people and how you interact with yourself.” Carolyn Warner

Vote for the Wright Brothers to represent the State of Ohio at the United States Capitol! From March 20 through June 12, 2010, Ohioans can cast their vote on who should be honored in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Eleven notable Ohioans are in the running to become the subject of a new statue in Statuary Hall; the Wright Brothers count as one and would be honored together.

Beginning on March 20, you can download an official ballot at http://www.legacyforohio.org, or beginning March 22, you can pick up a ballot at any Dayton History location.

There is no age limit for voting, so the whole family can participate!

However, only one vote is allowed per person, and each person must complete an official ballot.

Ballots may be turned in at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House now through June 12.

Below is some information, taken from the State’s site, on the individuals….

• Grant lived in Ohio from birth until he was 17
• Ashley lived in Ohio all his adult life
• Edison born in Ohio but moved at age 7
• McCulloch lived in Ohio his entire life
• Owens was born in Alabama, lived here through college, and moved on
• Reznik was born in Ohio, moved on at 18
• Sabin moved here at age 38; traveled a good bit and retired in DC
• Stowe lived here for 18 yrs
• Upton lived here her entire life
• Wilbur & Orville Wright: Wilbur born in Indiana and moved to Ohio as a child; Orville born in Dayton; and with the exception of living in Indiana for two years, the brothers remained Ohio residents

Ulysses S. Grant

• Ulysses Simpson Grant was the commanding general of the Union Army at the conclusion of the American Civil War, and the 18th President of the United States.
• Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
• In 1823, his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio where his father operated a tannery.
• On March 3, 1839, Grant received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
• Grant graduated from West Point in 1843. He ranked twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine students.
• first military assignment outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
• sent to Corpus Christy, Texas when tensions increased between the United States and Mexico over land claimed by both nations.
• participated in the Battle of Palo Alto in 1846 and the assault on Molino del Ray in 1847
• Grant was promoted to first lieutenant
• moved to Detroit; moved to Sackett’s Harbor, New York
• grew disenchanted with army life; resigned his commission and returned to Missouri
• unsuccessfully tried his hand at several occupations, including farming and real estate
• working as a clerk in his father’s leather goods store in Galena, Illinois in 1860
• visited the headquarters of George B. McClellan in Cincinnati seeking a staff position, but McClellan would not receive him
• appointed Grant to a colonelcy of the Seventh District Regiment
• U.S. Senate approved an appointment of Grant as a brigadier general of volunteers due to his previous military experience
• received permission to begin a campaign on the Tennessee River – captured Forts Henry and Donelson; first major victories of the war for the Union military
• General Henry Halleck, assumed personal command of Grant’s army, reducing Grant’s leadership position; Grant considered resigning from the army, but his friend, William T. Sherman, persuaded him not to
• promoted to the rank of major general in the regular army and given command of all Union forces in the West
• promoted Grant to the position of lieutenant general and named him commander of all Union forces
• Lee surrendered his army to Grant on April 9, 1865
• Congress appointed him General of the Army
• first term as president was troubled with corruption – numerous political leaders, including the vice president, were accused of trading political favors for monetary compensation.
• Grant remained above the corruption, but many Americans faulted him for poor leadership and his inability to control his cabinet.
• Grant won reelection in 1872
• Sought a third term in 1876 and 1880 but rejected
• Congress reappointed Grant as General of the Army

James M. Ashley

• James Mitchell Ashley was an ardent abolitionist and a prominent political and business leader in Northwest Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.
• Ashley was born on November 24, 1822, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
• When he was four years old, his family moved to Portsmouth, Ohio.
• became the editor of the Portsmouth Dispatch, and later the Portsmouth Democrat.
• admitted to the Ohio bar, but never practiced law.
• moved to Toledo – became active in local politics and helped organize the Republican Party in the Toledo area
• elected Ashley to the United States House of Representatives
• reelected four times until he lost in 1868
• championed abolitionist causes before and during the Civil War
• hard-line Reconstructionist
• first representative to call for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would outlaw slavery
• championed the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
• served as the chairman of the House Committee on Territories
• strongly opposed Mormonism
• successfully campaigned to reduce the size of Utah to limit Mormon influence
• played a leading role in President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment; believed that Johnson was a co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, but he was never able to produce any hard evidence
• appointed Governor of the Montana Territory; unpopular with Montana residents; removed from office after fifteen months
• became involved with railroad construction and helped to establish the Toledo
• ran for the US House of Representatives in 1890 and 1892, but lost both elections

Thomas A. Edison

• Thomas Alva Edison was a world famous inventor and highly successful businessman who designed and manufactured many devices that greatly influenced history.
• Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio.
• At age seven, Edison moved with his family to Port Huron, Michigan.

William M. McCulloch

• William Moore McCulloch was a civil rights activist and member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio in the mid-twentieth century.
• William McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio, in 1901
• elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1932
• House Minority Leader from 1936 – 1939
• Speaker of the House from 1939-1944
• first House member to serve three consecutive terms as Speaker
• special election elected McCulloch to represent them in the United States House of Representatives, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Robert F. Jones
• McCulloch went on to represent western Ohio in the House in twelve succeeding Congresses through 1973
• champion of civil rights
• bipartisan support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was instrumental in the adoption of that legislation
• President Lyndon Johnson publicly recognized McCulloch as “…the most important and powerful force” in the enactment of the bill.

Jesse C. Owens

• Jesse Owens was one of America’s greatest track and field athletes. He won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games.
• James Cleveland Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama.
• When Owens was eight years old, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
• Life in Cleveland did not prove to be as successful as the Owens family had hoped. Owens had to take jobs after school to help his family financially.
• senior year in 1933 set a world broad jump record of 24 feet 11 ¾ inches
• proved to be one of the greatest athletes in the history of The Ohio State University
• tied one world record and set three new ones
• 1936 – competed in the Olympics in Berlin, Germany; won four gold medals and set or helped to set four Olympic records
• left Ohio State amid pressure to cash in on his newfound fame
• was successful as a spokesperson for a variety of companies, charitable groups, and non-profit organizations, including the United States Olympic Committee
• served as a goodwill ambassador for the United States around the globe
• presented Owens with the Medal of Freedom
• posthumously inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame

Judith A. Resnik

• Judith Resnik was an American astronaut who tragically died in the explosion of the Orbiter Challenger on January 28, 1986.
• Judith Arlene Resnik was born on April 5, 1949, in Akron, Ohio
• received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University
• doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland
• accepted a position with RCA, designing circuits for phased-array radar control systems
• worked for the National Institutes of Health as a biomedical engineer in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology
• briefly worked for the Xerox Corporation
• selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Association as an astronaut
• helped develop software for NASA’s space shuttle program
• flew into space as a mission specialist on the Discovery’s maiden flight, making her only the second American women in outer space
• killed on January 28, 1986 aboard the Challenger
• posthumously awarded Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Albert B. Sabin

• Albert Bruce Sabin was an American medical researcher who developed an oral vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis.
• Sabin was born on August 26, 1906, in Bialystok, Poland, then a part of Imperial Russia.
• 1921 – immigrated to Patterson, New Jersey
• became a naturalized U.S. citizen
• enrolled at New York University
• conducted research at the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in England
• 1939 – accepted a research position studying the cause of polio, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
• served as a consultant to the U.S. Army Epidemiological Board’s Virus Committee during WWII
• returned to Cincinnati to continue his research on the polio virus
• determined that the virus lived primarily in the intestines of its victims
• developed a live vaccine; Jonas Salk had produced a “killed” vaccine for polio a few years before Sabin’s discovery
• World Health Organization permitted Sabin to test his vaccine in Chile, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Sweden
• 1960 – U.S. Public Health Service allowed Sabin to distribute his vaccine to Americans
• last case of polio in the U.S. occurred in 1979
• remained at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital until 1969
• president of the Weizmann Institute of Science
• consultant for the U.S. National Cancer Institute
• Distinguished Research Professor of Biomedicine at the Medical University of South Carolina
• consultant at the Fogarty International Center for Advanced Studies in the Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health
• died of congestive heart failure (1993) at Georgetown University Medical Center

Harriet B. Stowe

• Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American author and ardent abolitionist. She is most notable for authoring Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a fictional work that demonized the evils of slavery, and galvanized anti-slavery sentiment in the North prior to the American Civil War.
• born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut
• 1832 – the Beecher family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio
• began her writing career
• first story published in Western Monthly Magazine in 8134
• became friends with John Rankin, whose home in Ripley, Ohio served as a stop on the Underground Railroad; formed the basis of her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• 1850 – moved to Brunswick, Maine; wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• objected to the federal government actively assisting slave owners in their efforts to reclaim their runaway slaves in Northern states; hoped that her readers would rise up against slavery
• book sold more than 500,000 copies during its first five years in print
• 1862 – met President Abraham Lincoln while she was visiting Washington, DC; Lincoln reportedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!”
• moved to Andover, Massachusetts
• established a winter residence in Mandarin, Florida; lived in Oakholm until 1870;

Harriet T. Upton

• Harriet Taylor Upton was a prominent suffragist and the first woman to serve as vice-chairperson of the Republican National Committee.
• Harriet Taylor was born on December 17, 1853, in Ravenna, Ohio
• moved to Warren, Ohio
• father elected as to Congress
• accompanied her widowed father to Washington, D.C.
• immersed herself in the women’s suffrage movement, working closely with her mentor, Susan B. Anthony
• dedicated herself to securing the right for women to vote
• began Ohio Women in Convention
• emerged as a leading women’s rights advocate during the 1890s
• served as president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association from 1899 to 1908 and from 1911 to 1920
• first woman elected to the Warren Board of Education
• first woman to serve on the Republican National Executive Committee in 1920
• ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 1926
• instrumental in the passage of the first child labor law, founding the Warren chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and founding and serving as the first president of the Warren American Red Cross Chapter
• authored several children books
• also authored several histories, including A History of the Western Reserve; The Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children; and History of Trumbull County

Wilbur & Orville Wright

• Wilbur born in Indiana, moved to Ohio as a child
• Orville born in Dayton, Ohio, and was a LIFE-LONG RESIDENT OF DAYTON, OHIO! (Did live temporarily in Richmond, Indiana)
• Wilbur attended public schools but never graduated from high school or attended college
• Orville attended public schools and graduated from high school, but never attended college
• Wright brothers had an interest in flight that had been sparked by a toy shaped like a helicopter that their father had given them as children
• the two men began experimenting with wing designs for an airplane
• continued to experiment with their airplane designs, first with gliders and eventually with powered flight
• first successful flight of a powered airplane occurred at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903
• attempted to sell their design to the United States military, but the government was still too skeptical about the possibilities of flight
• 1908 & 1909 – Wilbur Wright was gaining international attention for the brothers’ designs by setting aeronautical records in France; also sought newspaper coverage by flying around the Statue of Liberty and then flying along the Hudson River;
• continued to develop new advances in aeronautical design.
• Wilbur died on May 30, 1912
• Orville continued to work on new developments in aircraft design
• 1916 – chose to sell the company that he and his brother had founded so that he could concentrate on aeronautical research and design rather than on manufacturing
• Orville was one of the original members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
• served on NACA for a total of twenty-eight years
• NACA is known as the predecessor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• received the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal for “great achievements in aeronautics”
• elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences

By Jessica Wehrman |

Monday, March 30, 2009, 04:20 PM

Amanda Wright Lane spent two years arguing that the national park devoted to her great-grand uncles Wilbur and Orville needed two more sites to fully tell their story. On Monday, March 30, her arguments bore fruit: President Barack Obama signed into law a massive parks bill that included a provision adding Hawthorn Hill, which is the Wright Brothers’ home and the Wright factory buildings to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

Wright Lane and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, the key proponent of the measure in Congress, sat in the audience in the White House’s East Room for the bill-signing ceremony.

wright-lane

Wright Lane beamed as Obama signed the bill, and as the audience applauded the bill’s passage, she turned to Turner and shook his hand. “I’m really happy for our community,” she said, adding that visitors to the park can now learn about her great-granduncles’ family life and learn about how they manufactured commercial airplanes in Dayton.

Not many people, Turner said, knew the latter. Wright Lane confers with Turner before the bill signing.

Hawthorn Hill, in Oakwood, was designed by Wilbur and Orville Wright and was the family’s home until 1948.

The Wright Company factory buildings are the first U.S. buildings designed and built for the manufacture of airplanes.

The park currently includes Huffman Prairie, the Wright Cycle Company, Carillon Park, the Wright Memorial and the Paul Laurence Dunbar House. Wright Lane and Turner.

wright-lane-1

The bill also allows community organizations including Dayton History, which operates Carillon Historical Park, Aviation Trail and other partners that operate the park’s sites to receive grants from the National Park Service to help operate the park. Turner, R-Centerville, said such partnerships may become necessary as government funds become tighter and tighter, because it’ll help national and local governments team up to fund similar preservations.

As for adding the sites? “It should’ve been done when the park was created,” Turner said.

I feel as though I am finally catching my breath for the first time in a month.

Where do I begin?

Well, I am vocal director for Beavercreek High School’s production, The Pajama Game. The director and I are up against a few “waves” to pull this production off. Due to some items beyond our control, the students’ morale was been sinking. Finally, two weeks ago, I began vocal rehearsals, and I managed to bring the cast up in spirits, as well as song.

I have also been working WGI (Winter Guard Internationals) and MEPA (Mid-Eastern Performance Association) competitions. For the hours we work, money is applied to our child’s band fees. By the time I have finished with this season, I believe I shall be slightly over what I owe.

Last summer, Jose was not planning on doing marching band, and therefore, I did not attend the processing day. A bill was never sent to me, and it was not until Rita was doing my taxes that she inquired about last year’s marching band fees. There was a balance of $397, and then I knew I would have $415 for this coming season’s fees.

I have actually had a blast working with the different band parents. For three different MEPA competitions I worked at Centerville High School selling T-shirts and raffles for a Yamaha marching snare. I took my lap top, and plenty to work on, and actually accomplished a good bit of writing and editing. These were fun events.

On top of this, I have been working on the Wright Brothers’ musical, and after sending it off to a local director who expressed interest in reading it for a possible production, I pulled out the musical I began writing in 1986, Love Is Eternal – Mary Todd & Abraham Lincoln.

I have truly enjoyed working on these two musicals. I have always loved the musical on Mrs. Lincoln, and am enjoying bringing it back to life.

This past Sunday, after leaving Centerville High School, I hurried to Yellow Springs to meet the Lockharts and their family at Young’s Dairy to celebrate Mike and Valerie’s 25th anniversary. It was such a wonderful time with my adoptive Ohio family.

So, today was actually the first day of spring break. I fell asleep last night by 11:30pm, and was wide awake at 4:00am. I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie, and then fell back asleep until 7:00am. I fed the pets, took my sugar, ate breakfast, swept the first floor, did a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and my desk tops – and was settled at my desk by 9:00am to write on the Lincoln musical.

By 1:30pm I was drained. I thought I’d take a quick power nap so I could watch Bewitchedat 2:00pm. However, I slept until 4:00pm. Jose went to work, and I worked. Flyer and I walked over to One Lincoln Park and walked home with Jose where the neighbor boy was waiting on Jose. Since they were playing XBox, I worked some more.

Tomorrow, I shall teach for four hours, and plan on taking Jose and his friend, Michael, to see a movie at Danburry.

Wednesday I have the entire day off but Jose works – so that shot any chance of us going out of town.

Thursday and Friday I will work at Trent Arena from 6:45am – 11:00pm for the WGI contest. Ugh! But it is a ton of money towards Jose’s band fees.

Saturday morning we will drive to Indiana to meet up with other family for Mother’s birthday dinner. We will spend the night at Mother’s and return home so Jose can work.

Then, Monday, April 6th (Mother’s birthday), I will hit everything full speed – The Pajama Game vocals, writing and editing on Love Is Eternal, perhaps some work on The Bird Let Loose, teaching, and trying to find extra time to spend with Jose during this very busy period. I suppose my weekends will be taken up with rehearsals for Beavercreek’s musical, with the exception of mid-April when I will work one last WGI competition. The production goes up the first weekend of May, and then it is on to all the concerts and events that pile into the last four weeks of the school year.

Ahh… time to rest and enjoy some television…

Another busy week behind us…

Beginning last Monday I was not feeling well, and my temperature hovered around 100-101 degrees. My sister-in-law, Stacia, had been taken ill with strep last weekend, and then my brother, Destin, got it this week. Their boys, Parker and Fred, have been up and down with this winter’s crud.

Some of my activities:

  1. finishing touches on ACTION Adoption’s display board for adoption fair
  2. taught lessons
  3. helped Jose with homework (he particularly asks me to help him study for history because, “Dad gives me a ton more information and makes it fun.”)
  4. helped Beavercreek show choir on Tuesday
  5. got cable installed Thursday (ugh… I hate addictions)

bewitched

Friday morning, I woke to discover the television still on The History Channel. So, at 6:00am, I watched MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, followed by a great History Channel documentary on The Declaration of Independence. I ran a few errands and got my hair cut, returning to my desk by 10:00am where I worked on the Wright Brothers’ musical for five hours while watching THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, BEWITCHED, and THE WEST WING.

westwing-cast-2001-2002

Ahhh….  

Friday night, after I taught lessons, we drove to ACTION where Jose gave a remarkable presentation about his birth family’s experiences, foster care life, and being adopted. I am so proud of my son, and especially, his public speaking skills. Although it was somewhat informal, he was stellar! One family had been in a private meeting and entered about five minutes late; Jose paused while they got situated, smiling at the family the entire time. Then, he briefly introduced himself, and explained his topic. Brilliant, and so very considerate.

Upon our return, Jose hit his XBox, and I hit The History Channel for “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” and “Stealing Lincoln’s Body.” By 3:00am, I was asleep.

At 6:30am Saturday I was wide awake watching CNN… yes!

8:30am I was at the adoption fair setting up the display.

percussion

At 10:30am I left the adoption fair and hurried to Fairmont’s Trent Arena where I worked the admission’s table for the WGI percussion competition. I got to work with Steve & Lorie Lamb, again, and a new couple that I also a new couple whose daughter will be a freshman next year. That certainly made my scheduled time of 11:00am- 7:00pm o fast.

While the contest was starting, bad weather had begun moving in from the north. Many parents from Toledo and Michigan had rough drives down to Kettering. When I left at 7:00pm, the driveway was iced, as were my car’s windows.

Jose and I went to supper at a Chinese buffet. I was still feeling uncomfortable, still. I returned to my bedroom with NOW, VOYAGER (1942) with Bette Davis. My grandmother always loved Bette Davis, and I remembered her telling me this was one of her favorite movies. It was very good, and of course, it was scored by one of my two favorite film composers, Max Steiner, who scored GONE WITH THE WIND (my other favorite is John Williams).

This morning I woke with CNN, and waited for a telephone call to see if I would be needed for the finals round of the percussion competition. While fixing an egg white omelet, Jose came downstairs, feeling miserable. I took his temperature and he had a 102 fever. He retreated to the basement with a half gallon of orange juice, after taking some meds. I had him call his manager at One Lincoln Park, and instructed him to drink the OJ and tons of water.

My head is congested, but the Mucinex is keeping it flowing… yuk!

I am propped up in bed, listening to Robert Schuller, ready to work on the Wright Brothers’ musical. Flyer is snuggled next to me (she pulls down the sham and pillows on the passenger side, and props her head up to watch television), and Logan is on my lap, curled up under the hospital table on which my laptop is situated… this hospital table was one of my best purchases – allowing me to work from my bed late at night or early in the morning – or on lazy Sunday mornings.

 I have three students this afternoon beginning at 4:00pm. And I hope to spend the evening resting with… well, cable.

 

Jose’s youth group had an interesting discussion on how “doubt” is often crucial to faith.

The youth were asked that upon waking this morning, count your blessings, and to walk through the next few days in a state of gratitude. My friend, Jeff Carter, sometimes will list on his blog items for which he feels blessed.

I am going to start a practice on our kitchen dry-erase board – and each evening, Jose and I will list one or two items for which we feel blessed. 

This morning, to start this process, I am providing my own list:

  1. My son
  2. Music… Theatre….
  3. My family
  4. Music… Theatre….
  5. My friends
  6. Music… Theatre….
  7. My students and their families
  8. Music… Theatre….
  9. Abraham Lincoln (remember, his 200th birthday is this Thursday!)
  10. Music… Theatre….
  11. Wilbur, Orville & Katharine Wright
  12. Music… Theatre….
  13. Education
  14. Music… Theatre….
  15. My co-writers, Gail Whipple & Leslie Merry
  16. Music… Theatre….
  17. Flyer & Logan
  18. Music… Theatre….
  19. Teachers – former, current and future
  20. Music… Theatre….
  21. Our home & neighbors
  22. Music… Theatre….
  23. Having Diabetes – learning how to understand, believe in, appreciate, and love my health
  24. Music… Theatre….
  25. Having my spirituality
  26. Music… Theatre….
  27. Knowing that I am loved
  28. Music… Theatre….
  29. My wonderful career which affords me the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people
  30. Music… Theatre….

The long, long weekend is over…

If parents work shifts at the Winter Guard International (WGI) or percussion contests, money will be applied towards your child’s marching band account. So, I volunteered for Saturday. Kathy Symes, the parent coordinator, and one of my favorite band moms (I haven’t forgotten you, Jill Chabut!) asked me earlier in the week if I could work all day Saturday, and all day Sunday.

Sure!

Saturday morning  I left the Haasienda at 8:30am to walk to Trent Arena on the other side of the high school, while chatting with Mother briefly on the telephone.

trent-arena-ext

Trent Arena on the Kettering Fairmont High School campus.

Saturday, from 9:00am until 7:00pm I worked the admissions table. The couple who assisted me on the first shift, Steve and Lorie, were an absolute blast. They both grew up in Fairborn. Steve was in the military, and they lived in multiple locations before moving to Kettering.  Their daughter is a trombone player, and a sophomore. Steve and Lorie could not be more adorable!

The afternoon shift flew by – though, my partners at the admission table were not as exciting. However, I got to see several friends from Ball State, and by the day’s end my stomach muscles were sore from holding them in every time I ran into someone from college!

I joked around with the guests coming in for the day – putting on their paper bracelets – alot more fun than handling money which I hate (instant math!). I got tons of laughs from the people as I explained the paper wrist wraps were compliments of James Free Jewelers, and that everyone from a one hundred mile radius was flocking in to buy one. The winter guard students assured us that you could wear the bracelets in the shower for three months before they rotted off.

Now, if you have never been to a WGI event, you are missing some fun experiences. They are so different than show choir contests. Winter guard and percussion ensembles seem, to me, to be completely made up of a different type of teenager. Many guards have teen boys in them, and the open or world class guards have a number of guys in them. There were a ton of male choreographers in attendance, both as staff, and in the audience. And perhaps 90% of the men in attendance for these events are gay, or heterosexually challenged.

Now – having set up the flavor of the event…

This one lady entered the lobby, and she was dressed To The Nines! Sharp. She unbuttoned her coat, revealing an ample bosom. However, the ample bosom was quite exposed as the neckline descended in a long “V” ending just above her navel. As she paid her money I could not stop staring at how freely they seemed to dangle, apparently unaccompanied by a sturdy undergarment. After paying for her entry fee, she moved to my end of the table, offering her wrist for me to wrap the paper bracelet. Upon closer inspection it was terribly obvious that she was not wearing a bra, as “Twirly and Whirly” were about to Samba right on out of her sheer, black blouse (which, come on… not appropriate for this type of event!).

The mother sitting next to me waited politely until the woman had left the table, and then grabbed my arm with the most astonished look on her face. Thank heavens I was not the only one to have witnessed “the twins.”

“Why would she wear such a top to a high school function?” my admission table partner asked.

“Well, if you ask me,” I replied, “if she is here to pick up a man, this is the WRONG place to find one in this crowd!”

Botticelli or da Vinci could have taken their easels and made a day out of it with some angel or Madonna painting!

Jose worked from 2:00pm-7:00pm, and by the time I arrived home Saturday night I was dead to the world – but could not rest. I remember TWO AND A HALF MEN coming on at 11:30pm, but I don’t recall anything after that until I woke up at 4:30am. I coaxed my self back to sleep until 6:30am.

Sunday, I walked back to the high school at 8:15am (while chatting again with Mother) and was in an entirely different position. Instead of sitting and enjoying people, I was inside Trent Arena at the very top, coordinating all the judges’ score sheets and the hand-held digital recorders. I had two students to work the balcony and floor, but I still managed to climb up and down the bleacher steps a good 60 times. There were a few times I just did not know if the heart was going to keep up with me… but with some encouragement, and some medication, we made those steps look carefree.

trent-arean-int

The shows were interesting, and incredibly delightful. I managed to squeeze in one restroom break between 9:30am-3:30pm. I know, from years of experience, to pack items on which I can work when board, and snacks. I was a good little boyscout. And I ripped through some chunks of the Wright Brothers’ musical.

Towards the end, an elderly couple entered – he looked every  bit the grandfather, and she was dazzling. The WGI staff was making quite a stir about them, reminding me of Len Thomas and Brian Breed tripping over themselves to get to Virginia Waring – the wife of Fred Waring – when we were having a cocktail party at Penn State in 1984 prior to the television taping of Fred Waring’s America. Eventually, the couple moved near me, taking seats set up on the indoor track around the arena balcony.

The lady turned, looked at me… smiled. I returned the smile. She looked familiar but I was so tired that I could not place where I knew her.

During a break between guards, she smiled again, and then I recognized her!

Marlene Miller.

Fred J. Miller, and his beautiful wife, Marlene, have one of the number one band clinic organizations, and band uniform/equipment companies in the nation, and headquartered right here in South Dayton. They are co-presidents of their family run business, and their three children are the vice-presidents. The Fred J. Miller drum-major clinics are fantastic, and they also provide many of the same clinics as Smith-Wallbridge Clinics with which I was associated in high school and college.

millers

Fred & Marlene Miller, and their three children.

As Mr. & Mrs. Miller and I chatted, I discovered they were good friends with one of Elwood’s most prominent choreographers, Tudy Smith. Tudy was one of the nation’s foremost baton twirlers, and her daughter, Selita, was Purdue’s Golden Girl. For many years, the Elwood Variety Shows sparkled under the brilliant designs of Mrs. Smith, and her musical companions, Clifford Brugger and Rex Jenkins, band legends in Indiana. Tudy was also the choreographer for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City for many years. A sweet, beautiful and wonderfully classy lady!

tudy_smith

Tudy Smith

Fred J. Miller, and Tudy had also served as presidents of the United States Twirling Association (USTA) throughout the years. Mrs. Miller told me that Tudy had just been inducted to the Twirling Hall of Fame.

I had the best chat with the Millers, who delighted in sharing that they were celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and that they had met, and fell in love at Smith-Wallbridge Drum-major Camp in Syracuse, Indiana. We discussed all the familiar names of Dr. Charles Henzie, Merl Smith, Margaret Smith, Gary Smith… great teachers in my drum-major days!

By 3:00pm the contest was completed, and the awards were given.

I stayed to help with tear down, and clean up, and then dragged my very tired, aching body home.

However, by 6:30pm I was sweeping the house in preparation for the teaching week, folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and prepping my weekly calendar. I received a note from Valerie Lockhart – Mike’s father passed away this morning. Just after reading her email at 7:30pm, Jose called from work so I could pick him up and drive him to SIGNS youth group.

While he was at SIGNS, I ran to Dollar General to get paper items, and then to Meijers to get groceries. By 8:30pm I was back at the YMCA (where SIGNS is held), and home by 9:00pm. We unloaded groceries, and I baked a cake for my neighbor lady’s birthday, some brownies for the Lockharts, and prepped some food for this week since it will be a BUSY week.

Monday thru Thursdays are my busiest days as I have 12-14 students each day, and only 8 on Fridays. My Friday students have been squeezed into the other four days this week since we have school off this Friday for the long Presidents’ Day weekend. Tuesday night I will cut out slightly earlier than normal to work with Beavercreek High School’s show choir.

And on top of all this… a theatre director has indicated interest in the Wright Brothers’ musical to see if it might be something a local, and reputable theatre company could produce. So… while it is so nice to have this nibble, there is certainly no assurance of a production. But, I am hopeful, and working like the Devil to tie up some loose ends.

Hopefully, Friday Jose and I will be able to fully celebrate his birthday which was January 14th. With show choir contests, youth group events, WGI contest, and other items, we have not been able to celebrate his 17th birthday.

This week our weather is expected to be in the 40’s and 50’s… beautiful! I am hoping to squeeze in some walking time… just where is yet to be determined. I do some of my best writing while walking!

It is now 11:18pm and I am signing off and heading to bed… I WANT MY BED!!!

Much love to all!

PS. Just as I was ready to sign off, Jose came in to show me he had been upstairs working on homework. He realized that he had forgotten a biology assignment of 69 questions. He said, “I was so exhausted and was wanting to go to bed, but I knew the right thing was to get the assignment done.”

YES!

So, for nearly 45 minutes, we talked about academics, life, adoption, and how far he has come these past five years. My son is finally kicking in to the academics, and realizing his great potential!

And though I am still terribly tired, I have an energy surging through me that is nothing more than the knowledge of the blessings I feel at this moment…

Tuesday morning, I hurried my morning routine along so I could be out the door by 8:45am to vote. As I was getting into the car, I twisted my back – somehow – and was in great pain. Muscle spasms shot through me, and I questioned whether I should even be driving. After all, the church was just across the street; but there were a few errands to run after voting.

I walked right in, signed in with no wait, and took a seat. Normally, I always have experiences at this particular polling site – my political affiliation shouted from one elderly worker to a very deaf elderly worker; a resident from One Lincoln Park who seriously believed my joke that Eleanor Roosevelt was running for president; touch screens that are too difficult to push; and workers that are not adept at policy. 

Today was different.

I sat, gently, in one of the folding chairs set up for those anticipated long waits. A nicely dressed gentleman entered, full of enthusiasm and charisma. The location had been moved from a small, cramped room to the gymnasium in the church, and the elderly gentleman insisted we all get a game of basketball going.

This man had an energy, and enthusiasm about life that made me forget about my painful spasms shooting through my back. I heard him tell the workers, “I will probably be the oldest person voting today.” The one female worker assured him there would be folks older than their 80’s.

“Nope! I am one hundred three and a half years old!”

I looked up to examine the centurion with an additional three and one half years tacked on. Due to my condition, he was walking more erect than I was, and even had a bounce to his step. He finished signing in. There were a dozen chairs set up, and I was the only one seated. I was not in the mood for a chat, but he aimed his stride right towards me, and took a seat. 

He immediately charged into the conversation, sharing that he lived in One Lincoln Park, the retirement village next door to the church (and where my son works).

I asked him when he first voted.

“1924. I voted for Calvin Coolidge.”

I chuckled. My grandmother was born that year.

“I was born in 1905 and Teddy Roosevelt was president. The Wright Brothers had just flown a year or so before.”

I perked up. I asked if he was born in Dayton.

“Yes, I was.” He went on to explain where he lived but I was not familiar with that particular neighborhood.

I asked if he ever had a chance to see Wilbur Wright who died in 1912.

“I saw Wilbur several times and up close. Nice man. I was about six or seven when he died. I remember the funeral – all the carriages and all the bells rining all over town. A few days later my parents took me to the cemetery – you know, the one by the university. There were so many flowers. I met Orville a number of times, too.”

I asked a few more questions about Wilbur but he could not recall much more – just that he had seen him in person and that he, along with his brother, seemed like a nice man.

I asked if he went to dining service at One Lincoln Park.

“I never miss a chance to be with people. I go there every meal.”

I asked if he knew the tall, thin Mexican boy.

“Jose? Of course. He is such a delightful young man. Polite and kind. Do you know him?”

I explained he was my son and the gentleman really sized me up… I knew what was going through his mind.

“I adopted Jose.”

“Ah! Good for you. You chose a good young man.”

The gentleman looked around and said, “I hope this doesn’t take too damned long. I have a walk to get in this morning.”

I asked how often he walked.

“Every day. Two miles.”

Smack! I needed that one. I sucked my stomach in and tried to look a little more perky.

He went on to describe that he gets up at 6:00am every day and is often frustrated that other people are not yet up and “ready to start their day.” He looked over and said, “some people fight old age and don’t welcome it.” I learned that he plays cards, goes to concerts at the Fraze Pavilion in the summer, goes to the Rec Center when the snow and ice cover the sidewalks, chats with others as much as he can, and will not watch television in a group of people. “I like to talk to people – see what makes them tick. You can’t learn anything about others when the TV is loud because most of my friends are completely deaf, and most fall asleep.”

It was my turn to vote. I offered to let the gentleman go before me.

“I’m one hundred three and a half, not one hundred and eight. You go right on.”

Before I left he said, “When I was a kid I loved saying I was six and a half or what ever age I was. Then I stopped using it. When I turned 90 I realized it was time to start saying ‘one half’ again. That ‘one half’ was just as important as the landmark age.”

He soon stepped next to me at his booth and had difficulty figuring out where the credit-card card went.

“Now where in the hell does this damned card go?”

I showed him.

I finished voting and took leave of the wonderful spirit. He wished me well and said he hoped to see Jose soon.

Despite my painful muscle spasms, I was walking a little taller. I tried to match the spring in his own step, but it hurt too much.

Still, I was invigorated.

I had just touched history… all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright Brothers. I write about these great Americans. Today, I met someone who remembered them first hand. This gentleman seemed to sum up what life, and our country is all about – hope, enthusiasm, determination, gratitude, and love for mankind.

Now, that is a blessing!

 

At 12:05am the five buses carrying the marching band passed in front of the house. I was standing on the front steps smoking my pipe and letting Flyer explore the symphony of smells in the front yard when they passed. Bringing up the rear was Mike Berning, the band director, and his family, honking as they passed.

This week was just incredibly busy. I worked my butt off, but always seemed to be behind in accomplishing all I wished. My email is backed up a mile long, but the study and rest of the house is organized and efficient.

Today I woke after a semi-restful sleep, and plowed right into writing and researching on the Wright Brothers’ musical. I took some time out during lunch to read up on the economy and some of the boiling political issues. At 2:00pm my first student arrived, and at 5:15pm my last student was leaving – an early night with one student ill, and another on a college visit.

I ate some rice, broccoli and cheese casserole, and green beans, and relaxed with two episodes of TWO AND A HALF MEN – one of my favorite shows.

At 8:00pm I dove into the musical writing, and edited a good deal. 11:15pm, I was trying to tackle one particular scene with no success. An email from my lyricist, Gail, who now lives in California, arrived, offering some suggestions to the very scene that had been giving me fits for over an hour. With a few more emails, I knew which direction we should take and by midnight I was sending off the latest draft through the miracle of the internet.

Gail Whipple – another Oscar Hammerstein II

Around 12:20am I walked Flyer over to the performing arts wing and met up with Jose. It is a beautiful evening, just a little chilly – but still nice.

Tomorrow we will run some errands and try to find something fun to do together until it is time to head over to the stadium for the marching band invitational hosted by Fairmont. We will probably be tripping in after midnight.

In two weeks the marching band season will conclude, and Jose and I shall hopefully have more time together. I so enjoy my time with him, and his humor and cheery disposition is a great comfort. In a few years, it will just be me, Flyer and Logan, unless I adopt more sons.

Today is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday… what a great lady! Even Jose has one of her quotes posted above his bed.

It is 11:35pm on a Wednesday night and I am finally winding down after a full, productive day. After thinking through all I have accomplished I feel like I have competed with my cousin, Dana, who seems to cram four days into one.

This was my Wednesday:

6:00am     Woke up on my own; began reading my daily newsletters from BeliefNet and theatre groups

6:30am     Cleaned living room ceiling fan, mirrors, dishes

7:00am     Dusted living room, study and bedroom; washed dishes

7:30am     Berry green tea, Cheerios (heart healthy); put chicken thighs on to boil; folded two baskets of laundry

8:00am     At desk writing on Wright Bros’ musical, while watching a DVD on Wrights

11:30am   Deboned chicken; made salad; watched a Netflix DVD on Anthony Robbins

12:30pm   Reorganized the closet in my study, brought down a book case from Jose’s room for my study; reorganized some of my book cases in my study

1:00pm     Took a nap

1:30pm     Afternoon Emails and newsletters

2:30pm     Started spaghetti and sauce; showered & dressed

2:45pm    Finished spaghetti; cleaned the bathroom

3:15pm    Talked to Jose

3:30pm    Began teaching

4:00pm    Had an unscheduled break – watched OPRAH…

Today’s show was on ways to save money during this economic crises. One family described how they cut down their electric bill from $150 per month to $50 each month by unplugging unnecessary items. Hmm… good idea. During this break I reconfigured the living room so that the entertainment unit and all but the torch lamps are on a timer from 2:30pm-8:30pm each day. I may change this so that I just unplug it so that it is off on the weekends, too.

5:00pm    Resumed teaching

8:30pm    Finished last student; grabbed some spaghetti while chatting with Jose just home from work

9:00pm    Began reconfiguring my study’s electrical items; only computer remains plugged in 24/7 and monitor is turned off when not in use (generally do this); Jose and I redid the basement and kitchen

10:00pm  Jose and I sat and talked in the study; his girlfriend called and he chatted with her while I redid the electric items in my bedroom

11:00pm  Jose took care of electrics in his room; I finished some late nite items with business, washed more dishes and cleaned the counters

And the day is done… I feel invigorated, and slightly tired; however, the mind is still going strong. Flyer is snuggled next to me on the passenger side of the bed, and Logan is on my legs while I type on my laptop which is situated on a hospital table. I had to turn up the television volume to hear Letterman’s Top Ten because Flyer is snoring loudly.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is an exceptionally busy day:

  • I will connect with my co-writers
  • hopefully accomplish a good deal of writing
  • start teaching at 1:00pm-6:00pm (my shortest day)
  • run some errands
  • relax until Jose returns home from marching band around 9:30pm

We spend most of our evenings chatting, not even watching television. It is a wonderful relationship, and we enjoy one another’s company tremendously.

Another enjoyable week.

Monday I reunited with a former student with whom I lost contact 20 years ago. His family was wonderful to me during my Muncie days, and Nathan was always one of my favorite former students. In short, his mother has been the Lutheran pastor in my hometown (which I did not know), and Nathan has lived around the corner from me for eight years.

Friday night, Nathan joined me for the Fairmont vs. Beavercreek game, and we had a great time catching up. We actually started with the wonderful Fairmont Firebird tradition of STEP OFF. The band lines up in front of the school’s performing arts department, marching around the school, and through the neighborhood to the stadium. Once at the stadium they march under the stadium, pounding the drums and chanting. It is a thrill to watch. The game was actually kind of fun – but I was also seated behind Jill & John Chabut. The bands were wonderful.

After the game, Nathan joined Jose and me as we drove Jose’s friend, Matt, back to his house to pack some clothes for over night. The band was to leave at 6:30am for contest in Massillon, Ohio which is approximately three hours from Dayton, and I told Matt he was welcome to stay so his parents would not have to get up so early. Once back home, Nathan and I sat up until 5:30am chatting – and I think there was some dozing.

Jose’s friend, Matt

Saturday I taught two Beavercreek students until 12:30am, enjoyed a brief visit from Christi and Carrie Salchak, and then ran some errands. I took a nap, and then showered and dressed. Nathan came over and we watched the delightful Disney movie, ENCHANTED.

Jose and Matt burst through the door at 3:30am, tired, but thrilled from the long adventure. The band made it into the night finals and placed 9th.

Sunday, I chatted with Mother, learning that my younger sister was to be married this evening. Not surprising, but events leading up to this evening’s nuptials have me concerned for my nephews – their future, as well as their safety. Life and choices… but not my problem, nor will I allow it to concern me.

Jose and I went to a Mexican lunch after Matt left with his mother, and then we grabbed a few items from Meijers. I worked on the musical while Jose watched movies before he headed to work. Jeff Carter and I chatted on the telephone, and I resumed work on The Wright Brothers project.

What a short, but long week.

Recovery from a three day weekend is always a little tough, but this year was a little easier. I set up a new system with my private teaching studio: if there are five Mondays and Tuesdays in the month, I only teach four. So, Monday and Tuesday were my days off for September. I did not accomplish as much as I hoped, but I did catch up on some much needed rest.

Wednesday and Thursday flew by, and though our schedules are packed in the evening, I did get to spend time with Jose, and worked with him on German and social studies. His teachers report a great deal of effort, so far.

Friday I hit the Wright Brothers’ musical pretty hard, trying to tackle one particular song that has been a struggle.

I taught for four hours, and then headed to ACTION Adoption since Jose was with the marching band at an away game at Lakota West High School, just north of Cincinnati.

I thought it would be a night in the big room with support group, but Cissie, one of the staff, asked if I would please teach an independent study to one of my favorite couples. I almost did not go to ACTION, but am so glad I did. Bill & Ann Impson are the neatest couple, and I love every minute I get to spend with these two. They are finishing up their home study, and I cannot wait until they are deeply involved in the search for children. These two just make my day.

Saturday, Jose will have band from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and I am hoping to write as much as I can. In the evening, I will take Jose to dinner, and then maybe grab a movie.

Sunday, nothing until the early evening when I teach two lessons.

Not much to report…

In 1908, Wilbur Wright, demonstrating the Wright flying machine for the French government, captured the attention, and imagination of the entire world. Wilbur, along with his brother, Orville, who was preparing for the United States’ demonstration at Fort Myer in Virginia (outsideWashington, DC), had released man’s bonds with earth five years before. Taunted by skepticism, as well as fear of rivals seizing their design, the brothers stopped flying for three years.

Now, in 1908, it was time to prove to the world that man could fly. And in doing so, the brothers, along with their sister, Katharine, became the Twentieth Century’s first international celebrities.

One hundred years later, in Beijing, China, the United States has another international celebrity – Michael Phelps.

I have watched, with great interest, enthusiasm, and awe how this young man has broken records, and ties, to become an international icon.

To me, Wilbur, Orville, and Michael are so much more than heroes and legends – they are examples re-claiming, even shouting, the age old mantra that each of us is capable of great things. We do not need Kitty Hawk or Beijingto fulfill our dreams. What we do need is faith, determination, passion, desire, guts, vision, and perseverance.

“Lord, give me the ingredients to fly as high as the Wrights, and as fast as Phelps. Amen.”

For the past several months, or so, I have been experiencing a feeling – as John Adams called it in the musical 1776 – “discontentment.” As I was writing a good friend earlier this afternoon, I feel like all these major musical theatre characters singing about the excitement festering within.

Here are some examples:

Tony in WEST SIDE STORY:

Could be!
Who knows?
There’s something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

Who knows?
It’s only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there’s a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!

Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something’s coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
Phone’ll jingle, door’ll knock,
Open the latch!
Something’s coming, don’t know when, but it’s soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!

Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
To me!
Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It’ll be there!

Come on, something, come on in, don’t be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And something great is coming!
Who knows?
It’s only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight . . .

Jekyll in JEKYLL & HYDE:

This is the moment!
This is the day,
When I send all my doubts and demons
On their way!

Every endeavor,
I have made – ever –
Is coming into play,
Is here and now – today!

This is the moment,
This is the time,
When the momentum and the moment
Are in rhyme!

Give me this moment –
This precious chance –
I’ll gather up my past
And make some sense at last!

This is the moment,
When all I’ve done –
All the dreaming,
Scheming and screaming,
Become one!

This is the day –
See it sparkle and shine,
When all I’ve lived for
Becomes mine!

For all these years,
I’ve faced the world alone,
And now the time has come
To prove to them
I’ve made it on my own!

This is the moment –
My final test –
Destiny beckoned,
I never reckoned,
Second Best!

I won’t look down,
I must not fall!
This is the moment,
The sweetest moment of them all!

This is the moment!
Damn all the odds!
This day, or never,
I’ll sit forever
With the gods!

When I look back,
I will always recall,
Moment for moment,
This was the moment,
The greatest moment
Of them all!

Something is festering inside – a burning desire to be doing something else. The past month I have had some strange “reminders” about the Mary Todd Lincoln musical… why? Who knows…

I am so ready for this next great adventure – whatever it is. The signs continue to herald that the time is near. Perhaps it is already here and I am not recognizing it… maybe there is nothing to recognize. Maybe I am supposed to just dig in and work…

I have been to Oberlin College twice. In 2002, I traveled through Oberlin on my return trip from visiting the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammonsport, New York. I tried to locate the fountatin dedicated to Katharine Wright Haskell; however, no one seemed to know where it was.

This past March, I drove to Baldwin-Wallace College to watch a premiere of a drama by Jack Winget. En route, I stopped through Oberlin, having researched the fountain’s location. Most of it was covered, but the cherub was clearly visible.

I just received this link to the following article from Betty Gabrielli… neat article about the memorial fountain.

Seventy-six years ago, a marble fountain crowned by a small boy playing with a dolphin first graced the plaza fronting Allen Memorial Art Museum. The bronze figure, a replica of the original by the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio, was a small, delicate sculpture, an angel lifting into the air on wings.

The fountain is a kind of love letter to Katharine Wright, the sister and “third member” of the powered-flight team of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from her husband, journalist Henry “Harry” Haskell.

At Oberlin, Katharine was a member of the Class of 1898. Harry, who was two years ahead of her, tutored her in math. They remained friends after graduating, and during the next 30 years, Katharine not only went on to support her brothers, Wilbur and Orville, but she also became the second woman ever elected to the Oberlin’s Board of Trustees. During that time, Harry married and became a journalist, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and eventually editing the Kansas City Star.

In the 1920s, with Harry now a widower, they began a courtship, largely by letters. In 1926, despite the adamant opposition of Orville, who had been Katharine’s constant companion for 14 years after Wilbur’s death, Katharine and Harry married. “They were two Victorian people caught up in a passion that neither understood,” says Harry’s grandson, Harry Haskell. “They were swept off their feet by each other.” But their happiness was short lived. In 1929, while preparing for a European trip, Katharine caught a cold that turned into pneumonia. She died on March 3 at the age of 54.

In 1931, as a tribute to Katharine, a bereft Harry sent 25 crates of hand-cut Italian marble to Oberlin to be assembled as a fountain and inscribed with the words: “To Katharine Wright Haskell 1874-1929.” Installed near the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the fountain quickly became a campus favorite, attracting visitors, students, and bridal parties, but over the years the structure began to deteriorate, and the water flow eventually ceased

That has recently changed. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, including friends and family members, particularly the late Katharine Wright Chaffee ’44 and the Wright Family Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, the fountain has been restored to full working condition by internationally recognized Fairplay Stonecarvers of Oberlin.  

To celebrate its restoration, a public program will be held Friday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn of the art museum, located at 87 North Main Street in Oberlin. Among the speakers will be Judith Haskell Zernich ’72, granddaughter of Henry J. Haskell; Marianne Hudec, grandniece of Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine Wright; James P. Howard, director of principal gifts at Oberlin; Stephanie Wiles, John G.W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum; and sculptor Nicholas G. Fairplay.

In the event of inclement weather, the program will take place in the museum.

Media Contact:  Betty Gabrielli

A century ago, aviation marvel occurred with flight by Glenn Curtiss

HAMMONDSPORT, N.Y. — On a steamy Fourth of July evening a century ago, a wood-and-fabric biplane lifted off from Stony Brook Farm and stayed airborne for about 1.5 kilometres in a stupendous triumph over gravity witnessed by more than 2,000 people.

It was the first pre-announced public flight in America, the first heavier-than-air flying machine outside Europe to officially remain aloft and under control for a kilometre or more. And it helped elevate pilot Glenn H. Curtiss to national hero status – to the dismay of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The Wrights’ epochal flight over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903 had been cloaked in secrecy. Fearing their ideas would be stolen, the Ohio brothers spent much of the next five years out of the public eye as they tried to lock down patents to secure commercial control over the nascent aerial age. Historians say their first flights were spotted only by five passersby, and before Curtiss made his mark, fewer than 100 Americans had glimpsed the marvel of aviation.

In Europe, by contrast, “people were showing up by the hundreds and even the thousands” to watch pioneers of flying, said Tom Crouch, a Wright brothers biographer and senior curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Curtiss, a motorcycle builder who set a land speed record of 219 km/h in January 1907, accepted an invitation that summer to supply powerful, lightweight engines to a five-member Aerial Experiment Association led by inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Within a year, the team invited the Aero Club of America to send representatives to Curtiss’ tiny hometown of Hammondsport in western New York to observe his attempt to fly its insectlike June Bug plane across bucolic Pleasant Valley on Independence Day 1908.

His first try when the overcast skies finally cleared late in the day could have ended in disaster. The June Bug, which was supposed to rise only a few metres, shot more than 60 metres above the crowd before Curtiss cut the eight-cylinder engine and glided back down without causing damage. The tail section had been wrongly angled.

On his second attempt at around 7:30 p.m., the plane with its crackling, smoky engine bobbed unevenly three to six metres above vineyards, potato fields and a racetrack. It flew for 1,551 metres in 1 minute, 42.5 seconds before touching down just short of the village limits.

Crowded on the grassy hillsides, onlookers roared out their delight, honked their horse-and-buggy horns and swarmed down into the fields and adjacent pastures to greet the intense but taciturn aviator.

“This thing was wobbling back and forth and up and down, but it kept going and going and going as everybody got more and more excited,” said Trafford Doherty, director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum and grandson of a Curtiss test pilot.

Looking out across the same crop field in Pleasant Valley, with tree-topped ridges on each side and a sliver of Keuka Lake barely visible on the horizon, Doherty noted little has changed about the site that locals hope to have listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At a picnic and music gala on Saturday, a model club plans to fly a quarter-scale, remote-controlled model of the June Bug above the valley. A full-scale reproduction sits in the nearby Curtiss museum, which is packed with aircraft, motorbikes and memorabilia and draws 30,000 visitors a year.

Soon after the June Bug success, the Wrights went to court to try to keep Curtiss planes off the market in a labyrinthine dispute only set aside with America’s entry into the First World War in 1917.

“I’m well aware of their genius, but I think the Wright brothers also hampered the development of American aviation through patents and court battles,” Doherty said.

Crouch thinks too much is made of the rivalry.

“The Wright brothers may have driven a few small potatoes out of the field, but they certainly didn’t have a big impact on Glenn Curtiss,” Crouch said. “He’s a much better businessman than they are.”

Curtiss racked up dozens of patents for landing gear, ailerons and other innovations still present in aircraft today. He developed the first practical seaplane in 1911 and the flying boat in 1912, earning renown as “the father of naval aviation.” From 1916 to 1918, he turned Buffalo into the airplane manufacturing hub of America.

He rolled out success after success: The first open flying school in the U.S. The first water-cooled engines, to extend air travel. A Curtiss-designed behemoth vanquished the Atlantic in 1919, only stopping on the Azores, 17 days before Britons John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop crossing.

“You get told in grade school that the Wright brothers invented the airplane, but it’s a great simplification,” Doherty said. “This was a science that was developing all over the world.”

The Wrights were undeniably first, but others moved the technology forward, he added. “Now, at last, you’re starting to see a more even-handed attitude toward Curtiss.”

I love these photos of the Wright family taken in June 1909 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds during the Dayton Celebration. Behind the delegation’s grandstand are bleachers holding several thousand school children forming a “singing American flag.”

Below…Bishop Wright is delivering the invocation.

Behind him are: Governor James Cox; Leontine (niece of Wright Brothers; wearing white dress); Wilbur; Orville; Netta Wright, sister-in-law (dressed in white); Lorin Wright, older brother of Wrights.  

 

 Photo below…

(Front Row) Wilbur; Orville; Bishop Milton Wright (father of Wrights); Milton Wright – nephew of Wright Brothers.
(Back Row) Leontine (niece); Ivonette (niece); Katharine (turned around); Netta, sister-in-law
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

This is, perhaps, my favorite photo… Katharine is being social, and chatty. But what I love most is Bishop Wright chatting with his eldest grandson, Milton – his namesake. Grandfather and grandson obviously have a great rapport, engaged in conversation. I love the way Bishop Wright is turned in his seat, devoting his attention to younger Milton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orville, Katharine & Wilbur Wright. 1909

It was August 1999 that I was on the tale-end of a three week vacation when I ended up on the Outer Banks.  The previous weeks I had been to:

  • Niagara Falls
  • through the Adirondacks
  • Stowe, Vermont to visit with the surviving von Trapp children
  • down through Manchester, Vermont to visit Robert Todd Lincoln’s beautiful estate, Hildene
  • Hyde Park to visit FDR’s home
  • Manhattan to visit friends and race taxi cab drivers (um… no joke)
  • Long Island to visit Teddy Roosevelt’s home and Montauk Lighthouse (I also sat and chatted with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her daughter, Tatiana
  • Assateague Island – because in 4th grade Mrs. Lane had read us The Mystery of Assateague Island
  • Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel
  • Jolliffe Road & Methodist Church
  • and down to the Outer Banks – one of my sanctuaries
    • Currituck Lighthouse
    • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
    • Ocracoke Island

I drove by Wright Memorial, but gave it little thought. Big deal. When Mother and Dad came to Dayton, we went to the Air Force Museum. Dad loved it. I was bored.

As I drove past the huge pylon on top of the hill from which they flew, I glanced, but continued on. As I passed it again, I decided to at least get closer – after all, I was now a Daytonian. What would others think of me if they discovered I had not paid homage to the Miami Valley’s most popular brothers?

That following September, I was roller blading through Centerville’s Stubbs Park. As I sat on a rock resting, I watched a little sparrow flitting about the parking lot, nibbling at food dropped from some event.

“How did that little fellow get his body up into the air, and maneuver to another location?”

I had never really considered this… well, I had never really cared.

I looked up to see a huge plane jetting across the horizon, heading for Dayton International Airport.

“How does that big thing get into the air?”

My eyes went back and forth between the sparrow and the plane… and then… from somewhere came the voices of two young boys. I looked around.

I was alone… or was I?

Again, the voices began – and after a few minutes it was clear I was listening to a conversation between Wilbur and Orville Wright.

But why? And furthermore, why me?

And then it was clear: a musical!

The following day I was in the book store of the Air Force Museum, purchasing books on the Wright Brothers. When I research projects, I always buy books as I like to make notes and have them at my disposal 24/7.

Wilbur Wright

It has been almost nine years since I began researching the Wright Brothers, and their remarkable sister, Katharine. In January 2000, I set down in my own handwriting the first few scenes. Within a year, I had the book completed. The Wrights had become an obsession, and I scoured Dayton for every piece of information.

One day I tripped into The Kettering-Moraine Museum, and was met by the director, Melba Hunt. A fascinating, somewhat eccentric lady that knew her Wright history. In the museum, I was introduced to many relics belonging to the Wright family. A year later, after a friendship had developed, I was invited behind the velvet ropes…

  • I touched the quilt made by Susan Wright, the mother
  • I held Bishop Milton Wright’s spectacles
  • I glanced through the family Bible with all the notes pertaining to births, marriages and deaths
  • I held several of Bishop’s canes
  • I touched Orville’s bed
  • I sat at Katharine’s desk
  • Melba handed me a jacket to hold while digging through a closet; the white dinner jacket, covered in a clear plastic cleaning bag had a note: “Orville Wright wore this jacket to a dinner at the White House with Franklin Roosevelt, 1942.” I reached up under the plastic and held the jacket’s sleeve
  • and then, Melba handed me a little box which I opened… I pulled out two relics – a sliver of wood and a swatch of material from the very first Wright flying machine that flew at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. The one that hangs in the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum has been completely restored, and most of the wing covering is now at the Dayton Air Force Museum.

What a great day!

In 2003, two wonderful ladies joined me as my co-writers: Gail Whipple, my lyricist, and Leslie Merry, my composer. These two have been the most marvelous colaborators, and I cannot say enough for what they’ve brought to this project.

Orville Wright

So, here we are in June 2008. It has been a long haul. In the mean time I have continued to teach, raised two sons, shared my home with five foster sons, endured countless trials with all these boys, performed in several shows and major concerts, directed ten shows, worked with show choirs, traveled, buried two grandparents, welcomed two new nephews, and countless other moments in life – joyful and trying.

The past three weeks, my youngest son has been with my brother and his family in Indiana, and I have tackled one of the most amazing experiences withthis project. I completely isolated myself, with the exception of two ball games for the Lockhartfamily, and a movie night with Sophie Lockhart. I would teach all day, Mondays through Wednesdays, and then work until 2:00am. Thursdays through Sundays were spent working in the yard, spring cleaning, and writing. No matter what errand was at hand, the Wright project consumed me as I battled so many moments where I just could not budge anything.

Katharine Wright

Finally, something clicked earlier this week, and everything began falling into place. The past few days have been intense, exhilarating and fulfilling. I completely rearranged the outline, deleted a few characters (gulp), cut one of my favorite scenes, and strenghtened the musical for what may be the final rewrite.

Over the past nine years, I have become so fond of Wilbur and Orville Wright, and their sister, Katharine. What an interesting family, an inspiring family. One of my favorite places to visit is Woodland Cemetery and the Wright Family plot containing the remains of Bishop and Susan Wright, Wilbur, Katharine and Orville, and the remains of twins born between Wilbur and Orville, Ida and Otis (they died shortly after birth). There were two other brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin, both older than Wilbur.

Katharine entertaining crowned heads of Europe, 1909.

Katharine is the most fascinating. She graduated from Oberlin College in Northern Ohio, and taught Latin and Greek at Steele High School in Dayton. Katharine was the only Wright child to graduate from high school. In fact, neither Wilbur or Orville graduated from high school.

 In September 1908 (nearly one hundred years ago), Orville was injured in a crash while demonstrating a flyer for the United States Army. Katharine left her teaching position to nurse him, never returning to her career. Instead, she served as her brothers’ social secretary, and accompanied them throughout Europe, charming kings, queens, princes and other notable figures. Spains’ King Alphonso said she was the “ideal American woman.”

Katharine & Wilbur – Katharine’s first flight – note the modesty cord on her skirt.

One day, Wilbur took Katharine on her first flight. Her voluminous skirts were tied with a “modesty cord.” With the flight completed, she scooted away from the plane, the modesty cord still in place. Katharine’s playful moment had surpassed her charm and wit. A fashion designer from Paris’ House of Paquin captured the moment – thus was born, the Hobble Skirt!

Wilbur died in 1912, and Orville was devastated. He did not possess Wilbur’s understanding with business, and especially, the ability to tackle the endless court battles protecting their patent. Katharine was at his side. They retired to a beautiful home, Hawthorn Hill, in Oakwood (less than a mile from where I live).

Katharine Wright Haskell

In 1925, Katharine fell in love with Harry Haskell, a fellow graduate of Oberlin. Harry and his wife, Isabelle, were both great friends of Katharine, and had Harry asked her, Katharine would have married him. In 1923, Isabelle died from cancer. Katharine, always the true friend, sent endless letters and gifts to Harry, now the editor for The Kansas City Star. Within a few years, they had fallen in love.

However, Katharine was terrified to tell Orville of her engagement. Orville imagined this unspoken, unwritten pact that they would always remain together. Finally, Katharine and Harry told Orville, and he exploded, refusing to speak to Katharine. 

On Nov. 20, 1926, Katharine, 52, and Harry, 54, were married in the Oberlin home of friends. Katharine moved with Harry to his home in Kansas City. She told friends that her new life as a wife was a fairy tale come true.

The Wright sister would never see her brother again – until he came to her bedside the day before she died.

Orville Wright lived until 1948, but Katharine and Harry Haskell had just two years and three months together. Despite a bad cold, Katharine was planning a trip abroad with Harry in the winter of 1929. It had been 20 years since Katharine’s first trip to Europe, when she had flown in her brothers’ magical flying machine and met King Edward VII of England, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

A couple of weeks before Katharine and Harry were to board a ship for their trip abroad, her cold turned into pneumonia. The death watch began. Harry asked his wife if she wanted to see Orville.

 

Orville arrived on a Saturday. Harry asked Katharine if she recognized her brother.

“Yes, of course,” she whispered. She died on Sunday, March 3, 1929. She was 54.

Katharine Wright had been revered by kings and presidents. She had been to the White House – walked right up to Presidents William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge, and shook their hands boldly. Like the royals in France, the presidents were charmed.

Katharine Wright might be just a footnote to history, but author Richard Maurer said she was far more than a footnote to the lives and achievements of her brothers.

“You can take the airplane out of the lives of the Wright brothers, and they would have been pretty insignificant and uninteresting people,” Maurer said. “That’s not true of Katharine. She did not let the airplane define her.”

If the life of the Wrights were a movie, Maurer said, the sister would be the star:

“Katharine has a bit part, but she’s the character you remember. In the story of the Wrights, she gets the Academy Award for the best supporting actress. Katharine Wright steals the show.”

 

In March 1929, Orville received word that Katharine was dying from pneumonia. He was finally convinced to visit her, arriving the day before she died. Katharine was 53. Orville requested her body be returned to Dayton where she now rests between Wilbur and Orville – a fitting place for the sister who gave so much of her self to the brothers who taught the world how to fly.

Orville Wright. 1945

In 1948, Orville suffered a heart attack and died. That following December, the original Kitty Hawk Flyer was installed in the Smithsonian following a thirty-three year battle which finally resulted with the institution’s recognition that the Wrights were indeed, the first to fly.

So, my journey with the Wright family is nearing an end. There will be additional re-writes, eventual rehearsals and performances, but my intimate work with the Wrights will be over. Once a director steps in, it is much like sending your child off to school for the first time… the acorn can not be closed once the oak begins to grow.

I have several projects on deck, crying to be written:

  • The Mink Story
  • finishing Love Is Eternal: Mary Todd & Abraham Lincoln
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • King Edwards VIII & Wallace Simpson
  • a musical on the ghosts of five first ladies, The Sorority
  • and so many more…

But in the meantime, I am enjoying this time with the Wrights… they have been wonderful companions these past nine years.

 

Footnote: Katharine’s husband, Henry “Harry” Haskell, went on to marry a third time, outliving his third wife. Harry received three Pulitzer Prizes for his editorials – one of which warned the world about the new German chancellor, Adolph Hitler.

Getting ready to shower and head to training for the update of my adoption license.
 
I finally hit a point last night where I could just write no more on the Wright Brother musical.  Normally I can go strong until 1:00-2:00am. But my brain just gave out. I had completely changed the entire format, and spent all of Thursday and Friday ripping it apart and putting it all back together. I eliminated one character and had to go through the entire script deleting his name, and reassigning his lines that were important to the story. So, around 9:00pm I brought my laptop and everything inside, and came to the bedroom with a DVD on Ronald Reagan – the PBS series. Great movie.
I woke at 7:00am, but have had trouble stirring… dark and gray outside, but the sun is struggling to peak through.
 
Logan, my cat of 14 years, seems to be slowing down in so many ways. Getting up onto things seems to be tougher for her. In the morning, each pet gets a little dish of moist food, and I set Logan’s up on the kitchen table because Flyer always goes after it. Normally Logan would hop right up, but now I lift her to the table. I’ve noticed, for some time, how she calculates getting up to tables, rail on deck, etc. She has even been forgoing  napping or sleeping on my bed, and remaining on the floor. When my alarm goes off each morning she is always up in my face meowing and bugging me to get my butt into the kitchen for her moist food. This morning, I had to call her into the kitchen. She came running and yapping, but she is definitely slowing down. Amazing how youthful and sprite she appears when there is a baby bunny to chase and kill.
 
Tons of stuff in the news: 
  • Obama & Clinton now a team on the trail
  • Nelson Mandela celebrates his 90th birthday
  • and Wal-Mart will now be spelled Walmart and have a burnt orange background.
 
Time to shower and head to training…. ugh. Not one of my favorite things. Material is stuff I have been teaching the past five years.
 

In my research on the Wright Brothers, I have often come across references to Darius Green and his Flying Machine (1868), and finally took the time to read this delightful tale.

The chief rival of the Wrights, Glenn Curtiss, considered the father of naval aviation, grew up in Hammondsport, New York on the banks of Lake Keuka. Glenn’s grandmother was a good friend of John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916), the author of Darius Green and his Flying Machine. I am currently pulling in some references for the musical to be sung by the character of Glenn Curtiss.

Darius Green and his Flying Machine

If ever there lived a Yankee lad,
Wise or otherwise, good or bad,
Who, seeing the birds fly, didn’t jump
With flapping arms from stake or stump,
Or, spreading the tail
Of his coat for a sail,
Take a soaring leap from post or rail,
And wonder why
He couldn’t fly,
And flap and flutter and wish and try –
If ever you knew a country dunce
Who didn’t try that as often as once,
All I can say is, that’s a sign
He never would do for a hero of mine.

An aspiring genius was D. Green;
The son of a farmer, age fourteen;
His body was long and lank and lean –
Just right for flying, as will be seen;
He had two eyes as bright as a bean,
And a freckled nose that grew between,
A little awry – -for I must mention
That be had riveted his attention
Upon his wonderful invention,
Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings,
And working his face as he worked the wings,
And with every turn of gimlet and screw
Turning and screwing his mouth round too,
Till his nose seemed bent
To catch the scent,
Around some corner, of new-baked pies,
And his wrinkled cheeks and his squinting yes
Grew puckered into a queer grimace,
That made him look very droll in the face,
And also very wise.

And wise he must have been, to do more
Than ever a genius did before,
Excepting Daedalus of yore
And his son Icarus, who wore
Upon their backs
Those wings of wax
He had read of in the old almanacs.
Darius was clearly of the opinion
That the air is also man’s dominion,
And that, with paddle or fin or pinion,
We soon or late shall navigate
The azure as now we sail the sea.
The thing looks simple enough to me;
And if you doubt it,
Hear how Darius reasoned about it.

“The birds can fly an’ why can’t I?
Must we give in,” says he with a grin,
“That the bluebird an’ phoebe
Are smarter’n we be?
Jest fold our hands an’ see the swaller
An’ blackbird an’ catbird beat us holler?
Doos the little chatterin’, sassy wren,
No bigger’n my thumb, know more than men?
Just show me that!
Ur prove ‘t the bat
Hez got more brains than’s in my hat.
An’ I’ll back down, an’ not till then!”
He argued further: “Nur I can’t see
What’s th’ use o’ wings to a bumblebee,
Fur to git a livin’ with, more’n to me; —
Ain’t my business
Important’s his’n is?
That Icarus
Made a perty muss —
Him an’ his daddy Daedalus
They might ‘a’ knowed wings made o’ wax
Wouldn’t stand sun-heat an’ hard whacks.
I’ll make mine o’ luther,
Ur suthin’ ur other.”

And he said to himself, as he tinkered and planned:
“But I ain’t goin’ to show my hand
To mummies that never can understand
The fust idee that’s big an’ grand.”
So he kept his secret from all the rest,
Safely buttoned within his vest;
And in the loft above the shed
Himself he locks, with thimble and thread
And wax and hammer and buckles and screws
And all such things as geniuses use; —
Two bats for patterns, curious fellows!
A charcoal-pot and a pair of bellows;
Some wire, and several old umbrellas;

A carriage-cover, for tail and wings;
A piece of harness; and straps and strings;
And a big strong box,
In which he locks
These and a hundred other things.
His grinning brothers, Reuben and Burke
And Nathan and Jotham and Solomon, lurk
Around the corner to see him work —
Sitting cross-legged, like a Turk,
Drawing the waxed-end through with a jerk,
And boring the holes with a comical quirk
Of his wise old head, and a knowing smirk.
But vainly they mounted each other’s backs,
And poked through knot-holes and pried through cracks;
With wood from the pile and straw from the stacks
He plugged the knot-holes and caulked the cracks;
And a dipper of water, which one would think
He had brought up into the loft to drink
When he chanced to be dry,
Stood always nigh,
For Darius was sly!
And whenever at work he happened to spy
At chink or crevice a blinking eye.
He let the dipper of water fly.
“Take that! an’ ef ever ye git a peep,
Guess ye’ll ketch a weasel asleep!”
And he sings as he locks
His big strong box: —

“The weasel’s head is small an’ trim,
An’ he is little an’ long an’ slim,
An’ quick of motion an’ nimble of limb
An’ ef you’ll be
Advised by me
Keep wide awake when ye’re ketchin’ him!”

So day after day
He stitched and tinkered and hammered away,
Till at last ’twas done —
The greatest invention under the sun!
“An’ now,” says Darius, “hooray fur some fun!”

‘Twas the Fourth of July,
And the weather was dry,
And not a cloud was on all the sky,
Save a few light fleeces, which here and there,
Half mist, half air,
Like foam on the ocean went floating by
just as lovely a morning as ever was seen
For a nice little trip in a flying-machine.
Thought cunning Darius: “Now I shan’t go
Along ‘ith the fellers to see the show.
I’ll say I’ve got sich a terrible coughl
An’ then, when the folks ‘ave all gone off,
I’ll hev full swing fur to try the thing,
An’ practise a little on the wing.”
“Ain’t goin’ to see the celebration?”
Says brother Nate. “No; botheration
I’ve got sich a cold – a toothache – I
My gracious – feel’s though I should fly!”
Said Jotham, “Sho!
Guess ye better go.”
But Darius said, “No!
Shouldn’t wonder ‘f you might see me, though,
‘Long ’bout noon, ef I git red
O’ this jumpin’, thumpin’ pain ‘n my head.”
For all the while to himself he said: —

“I tell ye what!
I’ll fly a few times around the lot,
To see how ‘t seems, then soon’s I’ve got
The hang o’ the thing, ez likely’s not,
I’ll astonish the nation,
An’ all creation,
By flyin’ over the celebration!
Over their heads I’ll sail like an eagle;
I’ll balance myself on my wings like a sea-gull:
I’ll dance on the chimbleys; I’ll stand on the steeple;
I’ll flop up to winders an’ scare the people!
I’ll light on the liberty-pole, an’ crow;
An’ I’ll say to the gawpin’ fools below,
‘What world’s this ‘ere
That I’ve come near?’
Fur I’ll make ’em b’lieve I’m a chap f’m the Moon;
An’ I’ll try to race ‘ith their ol’balloon!”
He crept from his bed;
And, seeing the others were gone, he said,
“I’m gittin’ over the cold ‘n my head.”
And away he sped,
To open the wonderful box in the shed.

His brothers had walked but a little way,
When Jotham to Nathan chanced to say,
“What is the feller up to, hey!”
“Don’o’- the’s suthin’ ur other to pay,
Ur he wouldn’t ‘a’ stayed tu hum to-day.”
Says Burke, “His toothache’s all ‘n his eye!
He never’d missed a Fo’th-o’-July,
Ef he hedn’t got some machine to try.”
Then Sol, the little one, spoke: “By darn!
Le’s hurry back an’ hide ‘n the barn,
An’ pay him fur tellin’ us that yarn!”
“Agreed!” Through the orchard they creep back
Along by the fences, behind the stack,
And one by one, through a hole in the wall,
In under the dusty barn they crawl,
Dressed in their Sunday garments all;
And a very astonishing sight was that,
When each in his cobwebbed coat and hat
Came up through the floor like an ancient rat
And there they hid;
And Reuben slid
The fastenings back, and the door undid.
“Keep dark!” said he,
“While I squint an’ see what the’ is to see.”

As knights of old put on their mail –
From head to foot an iron suit
Iron jacket and iron boot,
Iron breeches, and on the head
No hat, but an iron pot instead,
And under the chin the bail,
(I believe they called the thing a helm,)
Then sallied forth to overwhelm
The dragons and pagans that plagued the earth
So this modern knight
Prepared for flight,
Put on his wings and strapped them tight
Jointed and jaunty, strong and light —
Buckled them fast to shoulder and hip;
Ten feet they measured from tip to tip
And a helm had he, but that he wore,
Not on his head, like those of yore,
But more like the helm of a ship.

“Hush!” Reuben said,
“He’s up in the shed!
He’s opened the winder — I see his head!
He stretches it out, an’ pokes it about,
Lookin’ to see ‘f the coast is clear,
An’ nobody near; —
Guess he don’ o’ who’s hid in here!
He’s riggin’ a spring-board over the
sill!Stop laffin’, Solomon! Burke, keep still!
He’s a climbin’ out now — Of all the things!
What’s he got on? I vum, it’s wings!
An’ that ‘tother thing? I vum, it’s a taill
An’ there he sits like a hawk on a rail!
Steppin’ careful, he travels the length
Of his spring-board, and teeters to try its strength.
Now he stretches his wings, like a monstrous bat;
Peeks over his shoulder; this way an’ that,
Fur to see ‘f the’ ‘s any one passin’ by;
But the’ ‘s on’y a caf an’ goslin nigh.
They turn up at him a wonderin’ eye,
To see — The dragon! he’s goin’ to fly!
Away he goes! Jimminy! what a jump!
Flop — flop — an’ plump
To the ground with a thump!
Flutt’rin’ an’ flound’rin’ all ‘n a lump!”

As a demon is hurled by an angel’s spear,
Heels over head, to his proper sphere —
Heels over head, and head over heels,
Dizzily down the abyss he wheels —
So fell Darius. Upon his crown,
In the midst of the barn-yard, he came down,
In a wonderful whirl of tangled strings,
Broken braces and broken springs,
Broken tail and broken wings,
Shooting-stars, and various things;
Barn-yard litter of straw and chaff,
And much that wasn’t so sweet by half.
Away with a bellow fled the calf,
And what was that? Did the gosling laugh?
‘Tis a merry roar from the old barn-door.
And he hears the voice of Jotham crying,
“Say, D’rius! how do you like flyin’?”

Slowly, ruefully, where he lay,
Darius just turned and looked that way,
As he stanched his sorrowful nose with his cuff.
“Wal, I like flyin’ well enough,”
He said; “but the’ ain’t such a thunderin’ sight
O’ fun in ‘t when ye come to light.”
I just have room for the MORAL here:
And this is the moral — Stick to your sphere.
Or if you insist, as you have the right,
On spreading your wings for a loftier flight,
The moral is – Take care how you light.

 

 

 

This is what my writing area looks like on the back deck. I generally “hit the deck” around 7:00am, setting up my work area, checking Email, and attending to other business while listening to THE TODAY SHOW from the small television on a shelf behind me.

The umbrella, purchased for the Outer Banks’ beaches last summer, has made a wonderful table umbrella, and also serves me in organization – I must have an organized area. Sometimes, I have 4-8 papers or items clipped to the umbrella which functions as a Lazy Susan. The base which holds the umbrella is filled with sand from the beach directly across the road from where the Wright Brothers first flew in 1903, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Flyer, the dog, and Logan, the cat, are always nearby. Logan generally rests on one of the deck rails so she can survey anything that walks, crawls or flies through the yard. Flyer always chooses to be near the door should I decide to move inside for any reason – she will seldom let me out of her sight. Now, when Logan spies something and goes into pounce-mode, Flyer stealthily moves to the steps to join Logan in her reconnaissance mission… and if it is worth it, they will both jump into the yard for the merry chase.

Today the humidity is already beginning to rise, and by Noon I will probably move inside and remain through the thundestorms we are expected to receive.

So this is my space when not teaching. It is a lovely, relaxing setting, and I could not be happier. A space in which to write, and spending time with my friends, Wilbur, Orville and Katharine Wright.

 

 

I am hoping everything now goes as planned.

I finished teaching this evening at 5:30pm, just as a major 30 minute downpour ended. It was a nasty storm, and it looked like a fog settling in.

This morning I spent four solid hours on the Wright Brothers’ musical – major, major changes. I sent an email to my wonderful co-writers to receive their blessing on this over-haul, as it is slightly large.  At this juncture I hate making major changes without their input, and this overhaul is loosing four characters (not major ones), and an entire scene that was my absolute favorite because other playwrights and theatre folks said it was one of the funniest scenes; however, it did not advance the plot any longer.

Tonight, Thursday and Friday I will dig in and complete as much as I can.

Saturday morning until 3:30pm I will be in training for the update of my adoptive license. A pain in the butt, but something that needs to be completed.

Sunday, I will do as much as I can to prepare for the trip to Fowler, and the on to Chicago the remainder of the week. Mary Tarlano, from ACTION, will come by Sunday morning to do a walk-through of the house so she can complete the adoptive license update. The remainder of Sunday I hope to mow the lawn, and pack.

Monday (June 30th), I will teach about five lessons to students I missed this week due to camps and vacations – I do not want them to go two weeks without a lesson.

Tuesday morning (July 1st). I will head to Fowler, retrieve the boy from the Haas home and head 100 miles due North to Chicago. I hope to take in a lot that first day.

Will post the remainder of the itinerary as we get closer. Am keeping a close watch on the weather forecast.

 Favorite Photo of the Day… my nephew, Frederick Lee Haas, six months old June 30th, 2008

THURSDAY
  • Logan, my cat, has been with me fourteen years, today.
  • I called the dentist about my temporary crown, and they got me in at 11:40am. To save on gas, I took the bus to the Dayton Mall area. The one thing about the bus is that it forces me to walk! I logged in some great walking time. Following the dentist, I strolled through the mall – a place I generally avoid – and then went to Wal-Mart for some basics.
  • I arrived home a little after 2:00pm and took a nap, and then read my Glenn Curtiss books for three hours, taking notes. I received an email from Valerie Lockhart that Jackson did have a game, afterall, at the high school’s field. I decided to remain home until I received a last minute email from Val – Jackson learned he would be pitching… Uncle Darin could not stay home. I spent a great time with Valerie – Jackson was on the field, Mike was taking stats in the dug out, and Sophie was at camp.
  • After the game I drove to Kroger, and then home to work until 2:00am.
FRIDAY
  • Darin Jolliff is 43 years old – still. Today, Darin Jolliffe-Haas is twenty-four years old. Anniversary of my adoption.
  • Woke at 6:30am, took tea on the deck while working on studio emails. Read more on Glenn Curtiss, and then began making long, detailed notes on how to insert some new material regarding Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell.
  • Drove to ACTION at 5:00pm, and ate salad while talking to Pat Hill. Taught a wonderful new group of prospective parents on “discipline” which I entitle “creative discipline.” After class ended at 10pm, I talked with Pat, Cissie and some others until 11:30pm.
  • At home I was wide awake. I watched a little TV, and then read, hoping to fall asleep. The last time I coherently saw the clock, it was 4:15am.
SATURDAY
  • Woke at 7:30am – wide awake. Drank my tea, ate an egg white omelet, and worked on Wright Brothers notes. At 9:00am I mowed the lawn, trimmed and raked. I took Flyer on a walk, and then returned to the deck for more scene sketching. 
  • After showering at 1:30am, I drove to Carillon Historical Park which is filled with Dayton History! Good stuff!
  • En route, Jose called me from Wal-Mart. With some of his earned money he purchased Guitar Hero. I will never see the boy once he returns home unless I venture into the basement. Again, he sounded happy and recounted all the work, and fun he has been having with Destin, Stacia, Parker and Fred.
  • Just before entering the park I ran into Ross Cali, one of my favorite musicians of all time. Ross came to the USA from Italy at the age of 17. He joined the Air Force and was in the Band of Flight. Ross married, and started Mita Copiers out of his garage. He built a wonderful little empire which he passed on to his son, Tony. Ross has played clarinet with some of the finest musicians, and best professional concert bands and orchestras all over. Ross was my principal clarinetist when I was conductor of the Centerville Community Band for seven years. Ross is just about the best there is – both as a musician, and as a person.
  • I slowly walked through the Wright exhibit – a replica of their famous cycle shop, the museum wing, and then the memorial hall where the 1905 Wright Flyer III rests – a national historical landmark. I went to the other sites, but absorbed as much Wright stuff as I could.

Newcomb’s Tavern – 1796 – original structure

 Replica of Wright Cycle Shop

  • I left the park and went to the Wright Brothers’ neighborhood – took some photos of their old home’s site.
  • Memorial structure on the original home site of the Wright’s home on Hawthorn Street.

  • Came home, ate supper, and worked until 12:30am on Wright Brothers.
SUNDAY
  • 8:00am I woke, grabbed my tea and called Mother. Watched a little of MEET THE PRESS – I know I should be open-minded, but Tim Russert made me want to watch his program. Even Dr. Schuller didn’t hold my attention.
  • I moved to the deck to work until 3:00pm when dark clouds began hovering, looking as though they would burst at any moment… they did not. I napped until 4:00pm, took care of some emails, and while typing this I have supper in the oven.
  • The rest of the evening will be filled with actual writing…
  • Tomorrow starts another teaching week of three days – but lightly filled! Over half my students are at clinics, camps, or on vacation! I am looking forward to this writing opportunity.

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