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  #101  
Old 09-03-2019, 01:14 PM
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Default 16. My People

General Ulysses S. Grant, mounted on his steed and facing the setting sun as if guarded by the Lion of Judah, was accompanied by a ferocity of battle set in bronze.







The son rested and soaked his feet in the cool waters of a fountain located at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The son sat at the edge of the pool with his people and laughed with the children as they all watched eight opposing jets of water fall and rise, fall and rise, meeting with a mighty collision at the apex of their flow over the center of the bath.



The people were told to leave at closing time, and soon the son found himself again with his people at the Lincoln Memorial where he watched the sun set the east ablaze with the glowing embers of twilight.





For several minutes, the son stood on the west balcony of the memorial behind a girl who remained completely oblivious to his presence there. She was taking dozens of photos of herself and contorting her face, her lips, her neck and her body in as many ways she could think of while the dying day of her generation grew dimmer and dimmer.



Then it was time to leave. The son walked back toward the Silverado. He saw the waters of the Potomac gleaming before the arches of the Arlington Memorial Bridge---the very bridge that would take him back to his home for the night.



It was dark by the time the son made it back to Culpeper. He was the only living soul on the field when he arrived, but there yet remained in the pilot’s lounge a not-so-subtle reminder that his people were never very far away. They were never so far away as to be out of reach or intangible. His people were calling out to him and yearning for his return at the coming of a new day. He could hear them. He could see them.



Then he turned off the light and lay down in the cool darkness where he felt himself being gathered.
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  #102  
Old 09-03-2019, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Chastain View Post
At precisely 2:00 PM, the son witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was an emotional event that moved the son to tears.
I can only imagine. My late grandfather - representing the Odd Fellows - laid a wreath on that tomb back in the sixties. I have a photo somewhere. I was young back then and didn't recognize the significance.
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  #103  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:50 AM
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Default 17. Love







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  #104  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:51 AM
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The son did not have to return the Silverado until 9:00 AM the following morning after witnessing in Washington D.C. a day earlier. He slept soundly for seven straight hours before waking up at dawn. After packing his gear, he checked the weather. The day was expected to be clear and beautiful in every direction within striking distance of the Dove. So before anyone showed up at the FBO, the son climbed into the pickup and drove to the Wal-Mart in Culpeper to make a few purchases. He bought a batch of blueberries, fig bars, and a pouch Ricola lozenges that he enjoyed while airborne. There was an herbal kick to the candy that made him feel more alert and attuned to the art of flying.

When he got back to the airport, the son found the FBO open and requested a fuel truck. The lineman let him top off with 13.7 gallons. Back inside where the son paid his bill, he met Mattie, a charming 3-year-old girl who introduced herself and her pet terrier. They both wanted to play, but the girl’s grandfather thought she was being a pest. The son told him that she was not being a pest. He left the FBO a little regretful that he could not indulge the playfulness of Mattie and her dog.

As he was wrapping up his pre-flight inspection, the son was approached by a tall, slender man wearing a bright blue shirt who wanted to take a closer look at Descending Dove. He told the son that he was currently building an experimental version of a WWI British fighter, the Nieuport 28. He invited the son step over to a large hangar to have a look.





The builder then introduced the son to a British pilot in his mid-seventies who owned a Percival P56 Provost.



With a smile and the spring of a teenager, he leaped effortlessly up onto the wing and cleared the canopy for the son to climb in and explore. Then he hopped down and welcomed the son aboard.





After thanking his hosts for the tour of their hangar, the son told them it was time to depart.

“Where are you headed?” the Nieuport builder asked. The son told him that he was going north for the time being but was still unsure of his destination for the day. But one thing was certain: the morning was too beautiful to waste on the ground.

He left the hangar, climbed into the Dove, cranked over, and taxied out. Soon, the son was airborne again and heading due north. He leveled off at 11,500 feet before turning to the northeast and clearing the Washington Dulles Class Bravo airspace. About twenty miles east of Camp David, the son turned due east and flew directly toward Atlantic City. The city itself was abuzz with boat traffic in all directions.





Ten miles out to sea, the son made a 90-degree course change to the north-northwest and flew along the Atlantic seaboard. It was Sunday morning, July 14, 2019. Over JFK International, the son tuned in to a New York City radio station broadcasting a live Catholic Mass.



He listened to a powerful sermon on the love of the Good Samaritan, replete with cathedral-size echoes of the priest’s heavy Brooklyn accent. The radio station began to fade over Connecticut. He continued flying the northeasterly course until he encountered much cooler, cloudy weather over New Hampshire where the son began making an aggressive descent. He shot for an airport called Parlin Field (2B3) and ducked below an overcast as he maneuvered around terrain toward the airport. He had flown for 450 miles in 2.5 hours. On final approach, the son could see a lovely little town under his starboard wing as the runway ahead drew him in.



After landing straight-in on Runway 36, the son taxied up to a large, old-style arched hangar and shut down for fuel. To his surprise, he had arrived at a town called Newport, New Hampshire. He was reminded of the World War I fighter he saw that morning in Culpeper---the Nieuport 28. And he knew the father had brought him there for the best of reasons.

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  #105  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:52 AM
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Default 17. Love

No sooner had the son opened the canopy than he was greeted by a short, sudden burst of happy raindrops that were large and fat and covered the Dove in pearls. After topping off, the son pushed the Dove to a tie-down and prepared to explore the facilities on the field. It was cool and clean and breezy out, a refreshing change from the two straight weeks of hot humid weather that seemed to follow the son wherever he flew.

As the son began wiping down the Dove, there pulled up into the parking lot a black SUV. A large man got out. He wore a blue button-up shirt and dress slacks and appeared to be very business-like as he walked up to a small red building near the flagpole, entered a code on the keypad, and walked in. A few minutes later, the man came back out and walked up to the son. He spoke with a very distinct New England dialect.

“We got a little weather heeyah!” he said with a smile. He introduced himself as Kevin, a local pilot and real estate broker.



He complimented the son on the Dove and asked him if he had built it. The son told Kevin about his father, about their having spent the better part of ten years working on the plane together. And then the son told Kevin about his father’s passing in December. He told him about it being the first trans-American trip without his father being in the world. Then Kevin told the story about losing his own father, about holding his hand as his father looked at him and spoke the last words he would ever speak on Earth: “I love you, Kevin.” And then his father died.

Kevin and the son both wept briefly together by the Dove as they expressed how much they missed their fathers. Then, very cheerfully, Kevin invited the son over to the little red building so that he could get settled in. Kevin showed him the code for the after-hours access keypad, the Wi-Fi password, and the assortment of bicycles he could use if the son wanted to pedal into Newport.

“Are you staying here tonight?” asked Kevin.

“Yes,” the son replied. “Thank you for the help, Kevin.”





Kevin handed the son his business card and asked that he look him up or give him a call the next time the son came to Newport. Then he left the building and drove away. The son went out to the Dove and gathered his sleeping bag and pillow and brought them back into the pilot’s lounge. He set them on the couch and spent some time exploring the interior of the building. He heard somebody call in over the radio, and he watched a C-172 touch down and taxi over to a row of hangars. He decided that he felt more like walking into town than riding a bike, so the son shut the door behind him and proceeded into Newport.

About a quarter mile down the road, a car pulled up alongside him. An older gentleman in his late seventies asked the son if he wanted a ride. The son thanked him and climbed in. His name was Harold. It was the pilot of the Cessna Skyhawk that had landed earlier. He asked about the son’s RV-8 and about where he was from and what he was doing in Newport. The son told him everything. Harold expressed a deep-seated frustration with how, like himself, all the local pilots were getting too old and there were no younger pilots in the ranks to replace them, to help with the heavy lifting in running the airport. The son agreed that he, too, was witnessing a sharp decline in the private pilot population.

Harold dropped the son off downtown and pointed out a few restaurants, the only ones still open on Sunday. Then the son thanked Harold, got out, and started walking through the streets and neighborhoods.





The B&M Railroad Depot, originally built in 1897, was the last remaining vestige of the transportation system that once shaped Newport. While all the tracks and ties had long since been torn up and carried off into the shades of history, there yet remained an outline of where they once had been laid.



A reshaping of the town apparently sprouted up from flat bed of the train’s demise. The son stood before an empty baseball field that was spread out playfully along the track bed, a resurrection of life where a great American pastime patiently awaited its players, parents, umpires, and coaches.



The son turned back toward the town’s center and crossed the street. There was a long rectangular park that served as the town square with a gazebo at one end. In the center of the park, the son found a veterans memorial. He absorbed the names of the fallen there as he walked around the monument.





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  #106  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:52 AM
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Default 17. Love



Across from the looming steeples of an old house of worship, the son turned up a hillside overlooking the downtown district and walked through the neighborhoods there.







Behind a Catholic church, the son discovered a 130-year-old crypt whose occupant, a retired clergyman, awaited resurrection in the shades of promise that invited a yearning look upward toward an approaching fulfillment.



The old high school, with original 1896 brickwork, stood proudly with newer additions built onto one wing, as if to give strength and support to a bygone era in public education.









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  #107  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:53 AM
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Default 17. Love

Walking from the Old Courthouse restaurant, the son turned downtown again. There was an open door to his left. A call for him to enter stopped the son in his tracks. It was a bar. Owned by another man named Kevin and his loving companion, the tasting room for the Widmer and Davis Artisan Distillery had only a week earlier served up its grand opening in Newport. Another reminder of the Lion of Judah graced the company’s label.



Would the son like to come in and try a shot or two? The son was grateful for the invitation but instead accepted an opportunity to converse. They asked about from where the son had ventured, and he told the couple about building Descending Dove in California with his father and about flying it through America. Then Kevin told the son about their unique blends of bourbon and whiskey, about vodkas they distilled from peach and watermelon. The couple wished the son safe travels as he left the bar and continued walking the streets of Newport.





From an early original, a local artist had resurrected an iconic symbol that had for many years stood sentinel over the City of Newport---a golden eagle with wings outstretched and talons in full clutch of a mounting sphere.



A replacement was strung atop the Eagle Block building where the Salt Hill Irish Pub now occupied it. The son could feel a voracity gnawing within him as he walked inside to have dinner. He went upstairs and sat at the bar where he ordered a Salt Hill classic: Bangers and Mash. It was a plate of Irish sausage, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes. Next to him sat an old man in his mid-eighties with a very sour look on his face. He wore suspenders, a flat-brimmed hat, and on his belt he had strapped on a knife and short-barreled revolver. The son could tell he was a regular patron by the way the lovely young waitresses treated him. They called him Frank the way nurses would a dying patient. The girls working the pub, including Bianca and Kianne, provided a loving counterpoint to Frank’s unwillingness to smile.



After dinner, the son headed back up the main street to the north. The breeze was blowing through town with a clean invigorating chill.





At the town square, the son noticed people were setting up lawn chairs by the gazebo. There was going to be an outdoor concert in the park where the veterans memorial cast lengthening shadows over the grass. The son saw men setting up vending tables in front of an old Methodist church building across the street. He decided to go have a look.



Inside, he was greeted by a very friendly parishioner named Don who gave the son a brief history of the Good Shepherd Methodist Church. It was a 170-year-old sanctuary with a 99-year-old pipe organ. A 100-year anniversary of the pipe organ was being planned by the congregation. Paintings of Jesus on both sides of the instrument were original, including the painted-on frames. According to Don, a prisoner of war from Germany, Baron Albert von Reiger, used the funds from his work to pay his fare back to Germany following the Great War.



After the tour of the sanctuary, the son thanked Don and walked back over to the concert in the park. People were showing up at a quicker pace, carrying their lawn chairs and blankets from a parking area to the west.

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  #108  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:54 AM
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Back at the town square, the son watched a man in his eighties take a park bench, which was stationed under a tree by the gazebo, and swing it so that it was facing the performance. He wore an Americana-styled shirt with the words, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. The son decided to sit down next to the old man. The man told the son that he was waiting for somebody else to sit there with him.

“I promise to get up as soon as she shows up,” said the son. He extended his hand and introduced himself. The old man took hold of it and reciprocated.

“Dick,” he said. “Good to meet you. Where are you from?”

“Merced, California,” said the son.

“Wow,” said Dick, “you’re a long way from home! What on earth brings you to Newport, New Hampshire?”

The son told him.

Soon, the performers were getting things ready on the stage of the gazebo. They were a duo. It was a large, bald man in his sixties wearing a Hula shirt and playing keyboard, while next to him a local woman assisted with singing. They performed popular music from the 60s, 70s, and 80’s while children played with an assortment of props near the stage, invited to do so by the performers themselves. The audience applauded between songs and laughed when the keyboardist made jokes about his age and about his experiences as a performer on cruise ships.





Dick shared with the son a life story, including a few exploits as a loadmaster aboard the C-119 “Flying Boxcar” during his career in the Air Force. When his companion Bonnie showed up with her own lawn chair, Dick introduced her to the son. Bonnie was a woman in her fifties who appeared rakishly thin to the point of being anemic or half-starved. She did not appear capable of smiling. There was a distinct mark of suffering and guarded sensitivity crossing her bony visage. Dick got up and walked over to the vendors across the park. The son tried to strike up a conversation with Bonnie, but she seemed more intent on just listening to the music. Then Dick came back with popcorn and funnel cake for all of them.

“Thank you, Dick! Wow, what a treat!” said the son. He looked over and saw Bonnie. She was smiling broadly and eating her funnel cake.

After about an hour, realizing that he had to walk close to two miles back to the airport, the son decided to leave the concert. He thanked Bonnie and Dick for their company. Suddenly, Dick took hold of the son’s arm and crumpled something into his hand as he got up to leave.

“I really appreciate what you’re doing,” said Dick. “I want you to have this.”

It was a twenty dollar bill.

“Oh, Dick, you don’t have to do this!” the son said, a little embarrassed. “I really appreciate the kindness but---”

“No, take it,” insisted Dick. “I want you to go and have a good dinner somewhere.” Again, the son felt embarrassed, but he sensed in Dick an intense desire to express the kind of love that can only be expressed between a father and his son. And in that moment, the son submitted to his own father’s wishes and accepted an act of love from a man who only an hour earlier had been a perfect stranger moving a park bench under the shade of a tree.

The son walked away, overwhelmed with emotion and lost in thought. A Good Humor Ice Cream man appeared to mirror the son’s demeanor as he departed the town square and headed back to the airport down a long country road, the tilt of twilight casting a warm humbling splash over the scenery.















Back at the airport, the son arrived just as a couple was preparing to depart in a Super Decathlon. He entered Parlin Field from behind the old arched hangar, and the wife, a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, waved to the son from the back seat of the airplane. The husband walked out of the little red building. He told the son where they were going. Then he waved goodbye and climbed into the Decathlon and cranked over in the sunset.



The son walked back into the little red building as he watched the Decathlon back-taxi out of sight behind him. He stood before the window looking out over the tarmac. Moments later, the plane took off and turned west into a blaze of gold beyond the tree line. He watched it disappear as he felt his own heart beating.
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  #109  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:34 AM
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  #110  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:35 AM
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The son slept for six straight hours on the couch. He kept the air conditioning unit running throughout the night which not only kept the air moving, but it provided a steady drone of white noise that kept him from waking up to every little crick and crackle of the little red building. The son wasted no time packing his gear. Within half an hour, he completed a runup and took off into the cool of the morning on Runway 18. The city of Newport fell away from him as he departed to the southeast.



Only 63 miles later, the son was again on the ground and tying down the Dove at Minute Man Airfield (6B6). There was only one transient tie-down cross open. He took it. The FBO was still closed by the time he finished covering up the Dove for the day.



The son called the Enterprise car rental company in Maynard, a city only 3 miles away. A young man by the name of Trevor answered. When the son told Trevor that he needed somebody to pick him up at the airport, Trevor paused.

“Ummm . . . which airport?” he asked.

“Minute Man Airfield,” said the son. There was another long pause.

“Ummm . . . where exactly is that?” Trevor asked, bewildered.

“It’s about 3 miles from your office,” the son replied.

There was the sound of a keyboard clacking in the background as Trevor apparently started an online search for the airport.

“Are you still there?” the son asked.

“Oh, okay, I see it!” said Trevor excitedly. “I should be there in the next fifteen minutes or so.”

“Great,” said the son. “Thanks. See you soon.”

As he awaited Enterprise to show up, the son walked down the taxiway. He saw something interesting off to the side. It was a large unmanned aerial vehicle which sat on a slab of concrete next to a series of tanks and trailers. A fat man in a striped shirt squatted inside with his arms folded over his chest, his feet resting on a skid as he stared straight ahead. Apparently he was waiting for someone to show up. There was a grumpy look of disgust and impatience covering his face as the son walked by.



There was also a college-age kid on the slab who began trailing the son suspiciously when he started asking the fat man questions about the aircraft, like was it similar to the UAV that Google was experimenting with in Hollister, California? The son said he had seen it a couple of times.

“We don’t need batteries,” grunted the fat man. “We use liquid hydrogen.”

“Are you taking it up today?” asked the son.

The man shook his head. “Hasn’t flown yet,” he said disgustedly.

“It hasn’t flown yet?” the son asked, surprised. “When do you expect to get it airborne?”

“We can’t tell you that,” said the kid. He was still trailing the son. Suddenly it dawned on the son that they were trying to make a state secret out of something that was on public display. It was clear that a tension had formed with the son’s approach to the aircraft, that his curiosity was needling into a set of plans that begged for disclosure but was instead being guarded with troll-like resistance. The son thanked both the fat man and the kid and walked back to the FBO. It was open now.

Inside, the son met Sheldon, a lineman that the son met back in 2016 when he landed at Minute Man, and Don, the owner and manager of the airport. Don wore a cowboy hat because, as he said, “I’m originally from Texas.” Sheldon sat down behind the counter as Don showed the son a large, beat-up coffee mug that read, “Don ‘Bad-Eye’ McPherson.”



“Still works!” said Don as he took a swig.

Just then, Trevor walked up to the door wearing an Enterprise shirt. He was no more than 22-years-old and was slim, suave, and constantly smiling. The son greeted him, then turned and thanked Don and Sheldon for their time. Trevor took the son to a black Jeep Wrangler out in the parking lot. It was going to be his car for the day because there were no economy vehicles available. Trevor drove the son to the Maynard office where they inspected the Wrangler together and settled the contract. Then the son began his way into Boston using the route Trevor had given.

“Just take Highway 20 all the way in,” he said. “If you’re planning on coming back tonight, try to get out of Boston before 3:30. Traffic gets crazy around then.”

“Okay, will do,” said the son as he shook Trevor’s hand. He climbed into the Jeep and drove out of Maynard through a convoluted, seemingly haphazard series of turns which tunneled and twisted through a thick New England forest of hardwoods. Only a half hour later, the Boston skyline appeared.



He parked in front of a bakery only steps away from the Boston Common, America’s oldest park, founded in 1634. There, he got out, marked the time, and with two hours ticking away on the parking meter, the son started walking though the city. He began at the Public Garden.





On one side of the garden, the son discovered the Ether Fountain, dedicated in 1868 and depicting the Good Samaritan at the top, the Lion of Judah at its base.





There were many children in the garden, playing and filling the scene with giggles and laughter as the son glided back toward the Swan Boats on the lagoon. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day with spirit-shaped wisps drifting high above the city in a dreamlike panorama. Everyone, especially the children, seemed to be frolicking with joy through Boston.

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