Stuff My Dad Said:

My parents had three children – one of each.

The day we got our wings:

There was a box factory in our home town, and one of their specialties was fabricating airplane wings. For those small planes they used during the war for reconnaissance. (I say that as if there were only one war.) My brother Bob, our pal Frank and I planned the trip to the factory to purchase two wings. They were about 20 feet in length and covered in canvas. They charged fifty cents per wing, and we were ready! Well what can three boys do with a couple of airplane wings? As you can imagine, it was a sight to see, two outspread airplane wings going down the road, with three sets of legs propelling them. Quite a mutation.

We took our “bird” down to the pond, which was in a park at the end of the road. Only it wasn’t a park back then, it was just a place. Up on one side there was a hill with the railroad tracks atop. It was a sledding hill in the winter. Some kids would toboggan down the other side, but there were trees at the bottom, so many of us didn’t see that as a smart thing to do. We transformed our wings into rafts when we put them in the water and rowed about on them, using sticks for motoring. When we had exhausted “all the things you can do with an airplane wing in the water,” we hauled them to the shore. I managed to step on a broken bottle and badly cut my foot. Blood everywhere! Three heads together – three boys heads together – had to come up with a strategy to get me home. Our brilliant idea was to leave one of the wings there and use the other as a stretcher. A new twist on the mutation - one airplane wing going down the road, with two sets of legs propelling it!

Head first, Scandinavian Style:

Idle hands are the devil’s playground? Well, boys have no intention of having idle hands. They build things. And of course, when they see any amount of standing water, they build diving platforms! And then they dive into the water. I proceeded to hit my head on the bottom. Hard. (One might wonder why my hands didn’t go in ahead of my head.) I probably had a concussion, or maybe I died. Maybe all of the years that followed have been a dream. After all, before that, my life was calm, well-ordered, exemplary. Did I conjure up my time in flight school? In Vietnam? Do I really have a wife and four daughters … nah! Who would make up a life with the ya-yas!

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