You'll always be one of the boys.

Things I remember about working around an airport and teaching flying with a bunch of man-boys:

1. For one of my first glider lessons, my instructor, Don, described how a man should handle the stick in a plane.  "Hold it like a man would hold a woman - firmly but gently."  But he said to me, "Hold the stick like you would a man, firmly but gently."  I looked at him.  He was quiet, then laughed, and then cracked up.

2.  One very foggy day near Oakland Airport I saw a very cool biplane, a  WW II Stearman, coming in low.  I was in my '67 VW bug running an errand.  Gosh, I thought, I know that plane.  Sure enough, it was a good friend of several of the flyboys.

Milo was his name.  He had a banner towing business, flying around sporting events while advertising all things...from beer to wedding proposals.  If it needed towing, he could create a dollar amount to charge for it.

He didn't have much to do with me.  But I treated him with awe, just listening when he spoke with his strong accent.  Maybe it was Czech.  He mostly ignored me.  

The plane sounded very rough, coughing and gagging along.  He was bringing in a banner he had been towing.  He had to dump the whole thing in order to stagger back to the airfield.  I saw the banner drop...about two blocks from where I was!  I was on a freeway overpass.

I found the banner before anybody else got to it (it was worth quite a bit), and wadded it up, as best possible, into my dinky car.  I called his business and left a message on his machine.  He got his banner back.

And what was interesting....he started talking to me. And then he took me up for a flight.  And then he'd talk about my excellent piloting abilities to others.  I was now acceptable.  I had a new best friend forever. And he was.

3.  When I started telling the flyboys that I was pregnant with our first child, they didn't really know what to do or say.  Finally Mayfield, late one afternoon, looked at me with my slightly bulging tummy, and said "Marilyn,  I don't care what Carl has done to you, you'll always be one of the boys."

4.  Carl and I had a deal.  I could fly pregnant, as long as I could move the stick fully side to side, fore and aft, and keep my feet on the rudder pedals.  Towards the end that meant getting rid of the back cushion, but I always stayed within the rules.

As I was putting the gliders to bed at the end of a summer day, Bud (the owner) greeted a guy who wanted to take a ride.  He said, "Well, we can have you go up with Merlyn, over there.  She's just tying down the plane but you guys can take it out."  Bud hollered over at me.  I turned around.  Suddenly the customer decided he would come back later.  He had to get home, once he looked at me.  Bud thought that was the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen.  He still told the story the last time we all got together.

We've had several reunions here at the house over the years.  We stopped getting together once Bud died about 18 months ago.  I may have to be the instigator to round up the flyboys.  Yeah, I think I can do that.  

Live richly, marilyn


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