WINGSPREAD E-zine for January, 2019


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
January, 2019                                                                                                 James Hurd

Contents

  • New story: Flying the Bright Red Line
  • Writer’s Corner
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Puzzlers
  • E-zine subscription information

*********************

New story: Flying the Bright Red Line

When I walk into Dirk Van Dam’s office and sit down, he tells me, “Jim, I want you to work on cross-country a bit and then we’ll ride again.” In other words, I’ve failed the cross-country stage check. I taste the bitter fruit of failure. I’ll have only one more chance before they cull me, wash me out.

I need to practice for Van Dam’s recheck, so the next week I lay the Chicago sectional aeronautical chart on the ready room table and draw a bright red line from our little grass airport, Moody-Wood Dale, to Dixon. It should take 50 minutes to fly to Dixon, but with the forecast headwind, I add five more minutes. To check my groundspeed, I draw little cross-hatches for checkpoints every twenty miles or so—a road, railroad, or other good landmark.

Just after takeoff I try to follow the red line on the chart. The northwest wind will blow me south, so I steer five degrees north of course….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/01/21/flying-the-bright-red-line/

(*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

WRITER’S CORNER

Word of the Month:  Story-worthy problem. Without a problem, you ain’t got a story. A story must start with trouble that threatens the protagonist’s wellbeing, his future, his very identity. (After Les Edgerton, Hooked)

 

Book of the month: Hooked: Grab readers at page one. Les Edgerton, 2007. Edgerton’s simple thesis—“Hook ‘em!”  If your reader doesn’t read the first sentence, paragraph, page, first chapter, you’ve lost ‘em. Highly recommended.

Author of the Month: Ron Chernow. A scrupulous researcher, he tells you way more than you care to know about people, but tells it in a compelling way. Washington: A Life, 2010. Alexander Hamilton, 2004, John D. Rockefeller 1998.

Watch for my upcoming novel: A young Californian travels east to train for mission aviation at Torrey Bible Institute. One problem—he’s losing his faith, and upon reaching campus, declares himself an atheist. Target publication date: Fall, 2019.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

NEW PUZZLER:   A lawyer in London has a brother in New York who is also a lawyer. But the brother in New York does not have a brother in London. Why not?

Answers to last month’s puzzler: Two fathers and two sons go hunting. They shoot three ducks and each one gets one. How is that possible? Answer: One of the hunters was a son and also a father¾grandpa, son, and grandson.

 

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD  E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share the e-zine, blog, or stories with interested friends, “Like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “Unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Flying the Bright Red Line

When I walk into Dirk Van Dam’s office and sit down, he tells me, “Jim, I want you to work on cross-country a bit and then we’ll ride again.” In other words, I’ve flunked the cross-country flight check. I taste the bitter fruit of failure. I’ll have only one more chance before they cull me, wash me out.

I need to practice for Van Dam’s recheck, so the next week I lay out the Chicago sectional chart on the ready room table and draw a bright red line from our little grass airport, Moody-Wood Dale, to Dixon. It should be a 50-minute flight, but with the forecast headwind, I add five more minutes. To check my groundspeed, I draw little cross-hatches every twenty miles or so at prominent landmarks.

I takeoff and try to follow the red line drawn on the chart. The northwest wind will try to blow me south , so I correct five degrees to the north. I identify landmarks and write down passing times—-railroads, major roads and rivers, high tension wires, tall radio towers, tiny towns with their water towers. All these help me stay on the red line. Airports work best as checkpoints, because you can fix your location precisely, and they’re good to spot in case of an emergency.

I stray three or four miles to the right, then overcorrect back left, zigzagging across the invisible red line. And sometimes my checkpoint times are off by two or three minutes.

I’ve never landed at Dixon. The chart says it sits at 785 feet above sea level, and the east-west runway is 3900 feet long. No control tower, so I fly across it at 2500 feet to check the windsock and look for other aircraft. The windsock indicates a landing to the west. I smell the plane’s burnt exhaust. I descend, then line up with the narrow, gravel runway, approaching with a lowered right wing against the northwesterly wind, plopping down on the strip and rolling to a stop. I get out briefly to feel the cool breeze.

The flight back to Moody-Wood Dale goes well. But will I be ready for Van Dam?

The next week, Leo, my fight instructor, tells me, “Plan a flight to Joliet; we’ll leave in thirty minutes.” Under the whining ready room fan, I draw a straight red line across the chart to Joliet, then check the weather—good visibility, but low overcast.

Leo Lance, faintly smelling of cologne, climbs into the Cessna 150 cockpit beside me. The tiny plane creaks as we taxi over the rough sod toward the runway.

After takeoff I circle, then get on the red-lined course. I tell Leo, “I can’t climb because of this low overcast, so it’s hard to see very far ahead.”

“Yeah,” he says, “Just try to identify everything you pass on the ground.”

I look down at the map, out through the windshield, down at the map again, my sweaty left finger pressed against the red line. After about ten minutes I look down at a railroad track diverging from our heading, and several small towns.

Leo says, “Can you find those towns on the chart?”

“Here’s the railroad track, but I’m not sure which towns those are.”

“Just hold the heading you planned on and soon you’ll see something you recognize.”

We cross a major road at an angle. Is that the Interstate or just some other divided highway? I identify a small airport and determine we’ve drifted about three miles left of the red line. Is there that much wind or did I just choose the wrong heading?

I make a ten-degree correction to the right, but five minutes later we’re right of course, so I correct back left five degrees.

Then we pass a town off to our left. Is that Bolingbrook? If so, we’re about three minutes slower than I calculated. Did I allow enough extra time for takeoff and climb? Headwind? Maybe it’s not Bolingbrook….

Mr. Lance reads the entrails of the squally dark clouds ahead. “We won’t land at Joliet,” Leo says. Let’s turn around and navigate back to Wood Dale.”

We turn around and head back home. After we land Leo sits closed-lipped. I’m surprised when he sends me back to Van Dam for a recheck.

The day of the recheck arrives, with visibility only five miles. Weak light leaks through the haze. I’m worried. Van Dam says, “I want you to plan a flight to Des Moines. We won’t actually fly there, but we’ll start out on that route.” So I check weather, draw a long red line on the chart, and plan a heading to compensate for a forecast ten-knot wind from the south. We walk out into the breeze.

Mr. Van Dam (no one calls him Dirk) folds his 6’4” frame into the tiny Cessna 150 alongside me. With his tightly-curled, grey-flecked hair and sharply-chiseled face, he’s as serious as the county morgue. We call him the Great Stone Face behind his back. He holds the power to wash me out of the program.

We hurtle down the grass airstrip and bounce into the air. Van Dam watches, but doesn’t talk. After we find the red line, he says, “Let’s try some instrument flying.”

The plastic instrument hood forces me to fly by instruments, only. “Just keep the VOR needle centered,” he says. Simple enough. The VOR allows me to follow an electronic signal to the VOR station. After about ten minutes he takes the hood off and says, “Okay; where are we?”

I realize I’ve lost track of where we are on the chart! I stare down through the haze at the roads, tiny towns, and cow-flecked fields rolling backward under our wings. Have I gone farther than I think? I try to estimate how many miles we’ve flown since I put the hood on. Has the wind blown me off course? I wipe my sweaty hands on my pants and peer out the windshield at a small circle of landscape surrounded by haze. Nothing seems familiar, nothing I can correlate with the chart.

Then, a miracle. Looming out of the haze just ahead, I see the two high-tension transmission lines crossing. I put my finger on the chart and point to the thin, black lines crossing. “We’re right here.” Mr. Van Dam nods and says nothing.

We land, then walk back to the admin building in silence so dense you could top it with whipped cream. But his silence is good. I’ve passed the cross-country stage check!

Exiting out into the bright, hazy sun, I sit with the other guys on the lawn chairs along the flight line. I bite into my sandwich, smelling the bread, and the freshly-cut grass, and listening to Paul Harvey on the radio. On this fall day in 1961, I somehow feel clean, blessed that I remain a member of this coterie of brothers. And thankful.

Wingspread for October, 2018


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
October, 2018                                                                                                 James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story: Reggie Ratcliffe and the Fundamentalists
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzlers
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • E-zine subscription information

*********************

New story: Reggie Ratcliffe and the Fundamentalists

 That October of 1959, Reggie Ratcliffe sat in the lounge of the Delta Kappa Epsilon frat house at UCLA when a friend called him over to the telephone. It was Sally

“Hello, Reggie. There is something I have to tell you—I’m pregnant….”

Two years before this phone call, Reggie’s mother had embraced Christian faith listening to evangelist Charles Fuller’s Old-Fashioned Revival Hour, and she drew her whole family to Stanton Community Church, and Reggie came along. For a weekday church event, Reggie would often wear a white tee shirt and jeans with the little red “Levi” tag on the back pocket—Stanton kids were pretty informal—but on Sundays he always wore a collar shirt . . . .

To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2018/10/22/reggie-radcliffe-and-the-fundamentalists/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Verisimilitude. Beautiful word! The art of creating scenes, characters, events so real that your reader gets pulled into the narrative. Helps guarantee your reader will not wake up from the dreamscape of your story.

 

Book of the month: Lord Peter Wimsey: The Complete Short Stories. Hodder Paperbacks. 2018. The delightful stories of Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey, the desultory, sleuthy creation of Dorothy Sayers. He accidently shows up to solve conundrums that have baffled even Scotland Yard.

Author of the Month: Jerry B. Jenkins

Jenkins’ eschatology may be criticized (the “Left Behind” series), but I highlight him because, in his own words—-“Writing has been my life for 45 years, resulting in 195 published books, 21 New York Times bestsellers, and more than 70 million copies sold.” He provides (for free and for purchase) great writing resources online. He edits The Christian Writer’s Market Guide: Everything You Need to Get Published. So, it’s possible he has a few things one can learn about writing.

 New puzzler

Two fathers and two sons go hunting. They shoot three ducks and each one gets one. How is that possible? (answer next month)

Answers to last month’s puzzlers:

  1. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer.  How is this possible? Billy lives in the southern hemisphere
  2. In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg.  Why not?   In California (and elsewhere) you need a camera
  3. What was the President’s Name in 1975?  In that year, he was called Donald Trump
  4. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?  Second place
  5. Which is correct to say, “The yolks of the egg are white” or “The yolk of the egg is white”?  Neither; the yolk is yellow
  6. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field? One

 

My upcoming novel: A young Californian travels east to enroll in Chicago Bible Institute and train for mission aviation. Along the way he becomes an atheist. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work out very well.
Third revision is done. Target publication date: Summer, 2019.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 

 Free subscription to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD  E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Reggie Radcliffe and the Fundamentalists

 

 

That October of 1959, Reggie Radcliffe sat in the lounge of the Delta Kappa Epsilon frat house at UCLA when a friend called him over to the telephone. It was Sally.

“Hello, Reggie. I needed to call and tell you I’m pregnant….”

Two years before this event, Reggie’s mother embraced Christian faith listening to evangelist Charles Fuller’s Old-Fashioned Revival Hour, and she drew her whole family to Stanton Community Church, and Reggie came along. For a weekday church event, Reggie would often wear a white tee shirt and jeans with the little red “Levi” tag on the back pocket—Stanton kids were pretty informal—but on Sundays he always wore a collar shirt.

He didn’t talk much about religion, but came faithfully to Stanton where he found a lively youth group that socialized and did a little Bible study. They played circle games that Reggie called “swing the butt” games. One of the high schoolers was Bob Burchitt. Bob was not part of the “in” group. Once Reggie told Sally, “I tried to mispronounce Bob’s name ‘Burshett,’ but Mrs. Wallace [the youth leader] insisted it was ‘Birdshit’.” Sally smiled, embarrassed.

 

Reggie and his friends came of age in 1950s car-crazy Southern California. He bought a 1947 metallic purple Ford, nosed, decked and hung, with a 3.6L flathead V8 engine, twin pipes, seatbelts he’d installed himself by drilling holes in the floor, and furry white dice dancing from the rearview mirror. When he floored it, you saw the smoke and smelled the burnt gasoline. He single-handedly birthed the Clutchers Car Club, a sacred fraternity of motorheads.

It was a dark spring night when the Clutchers gathered in the barn at Jeff Adam’s Villa Park orange ranch. Cars pulled in, parked among the orange trees, and their drivers squished a few oranges walking into the barn, which was swept and all alight. Eight guys showed, all wearing grey jackets with “Clutchers” embroidered in white on the back. Jeff’s dad kept an old Fordson tractor in the barn, plus a harrow, a couple of plows, and a sledge with runners on it that he pulled behind the tractor to gather rocks or transport new trees for planting. In one corner was a rusted-out 1932 Ford hot rod that served as the club’s eternal project. After pushing these items against the walls, Reggie precisely circled a few equally-spaced chairs under the lights in the middle of the barn.

 

The guys had elected Dan Hanson president, a fact which Reggie resented. A friendly, approachable guy with a nice smile, Dan seemed a bit self-conscious. “Well, I guess we’ll get started. Anybody have anything?”

Mack said, “I wanna install three two-barrel carburetors on my Chevy to give more power. I already bought the intake manifold and carbs—cost me about $150.00.” The hard part’s getting the links adjusted so the front and back two-barrels will kick in when you stomp the throttle down.

Everybody nodded approvingly. Dan offered, “I know a guy who can adjust the links.”

A Clutcher could never let his car alone—he had to install twin pipes, mill the heads, chrome-plate various engine parts, nose and deck it, and always, repaint with metallic paint.

Then Jeff spoke up. “I’ve been working on the lime run, about 50 miles long. I figure four guys will drive their cars and each one can take a couple passengers. My dad gave me five sacks of lime. Let’s divide it into about 30 paper bags. Make sure the bags split and spread the lime when they hit the pavement. We’ll finish at a secret destination where we’ll meet for dessert. I need one guy to go with me to put the lime packets out.” Lime runs were fun. Theoretically it wasn’t a race¾most guys spend most of the time trying to track the lime route because it’s easy to miss a turn.

After about an hour the guys broke up to get some soft drinks cooling in a bucket of ice. Jeff’s mom had provided glazed doughnuts. Reggie grabbed one. “You know Hill Crest Park, where some guys park with their girlfriends? Jeff and I were driving up there last week, shining a flashlight into the cars. Startled a few people. But if we saw bare bottoms, we moved on.” People smiled. Some of the guys had girlfriends, but they didn’t talk to each other much about sex.

They walked back to the chairs. Specks of dust whirled under the single light. “We talked about a tune-up party this Saturday at my house,” Dan said. “Clean and gap spark plugs, set the timing, change points and condensers, stuff like that. You should do that every 5,000 miles. How many can come?” Several hands went up.

Reggie objected, “Dan; you and I planned this, but we said next Saturday; not this Saturday!”

Dan looked confused, shuffled his feet. “Well… I thought we’d talked about this Saturday, but maybe I’m mistaken…. I guess we can do it next Saturday ….”

Reggie frowned, “I’m sure we said next Saturday. I wrote it down. You said you’d check with your Dad.” Score one for Reggie. Dear Reggie—outgoing, confident, very easy with girls. And he gaslighted like this with his girlfriends and with people he wanted to control. Like tonight, it usually worked—getting people to doubt their own memories and minds.

Dan lived out in Westminster where his father owned a huge truck garage with lots of tarmac outside. Perfect place for a tune-up party. “You guys all know how to get to my house.” He sketched a crude map on the chalkboard hanging on the wall, carefully labeling the streets and turns.

The meeting broke up about 9:00 p.m.

That week, Reggie had a proposal for Shawn, who had never been invited to join Clutchers Car Club. “Hey, Shawn—let’s go over to Orange and race along Almond Avenue. We’ll see who has the most powerful engine.” A huge blind bump bulged up where Almond crossed the mainline Santa Fe railroad track. Shawn had bought his 1950 Chevy with its inline six engine a few months after starting at Stanton, and he had painted it metallic blue.

The next week they picked a low-traffic night and lined up side by side at Walnut Street, then they punched it. The two cars accelerated side by side to fifty miles per hour when they hit the blind bump and briefly became airborne. They squashed down on the other side where, fortunately, no cars were stopped. They weren’t worried—they assumed themselves immortal. Nearing the Main Street signal light, Reggie nosed Shawn out and won, leaving a pungent smell of burned rubber as they slid to a stop.

Later, the guys both signed up for a school-sponsored “economy run” that started at Hagen’s gas station. Reggie used his own 1947 Ford but Shawn’s dad let him drive their 1955 Chevy station wagon. Dad explained, “A better car for this type of competition—the race makes allowances for different car weights. I’ll ask our mechanic to tune the car for economy.” The route ran through El Toro, out to Laguna Beach, followed the road through the mountains to Corona, and then back to Hagens—about 100 miles total. A 1953 Cadillac won the run, but Shawn beat Reggie.

To be anybody in 1950s Southern California high schools, you had to have a car—the student parking lots were full of them. Bus riders were second-class citizens, but owning a car put you into an elite club not all guys could join. Guys would pick up their friends and drive them to school. Cars gave status, bonding, friendships.

 

Reggie thought his car a chick magnet—probably true. He’d already had a few serious girlfriends. But when he came to Stanton he met Sally— reserved, sophisticated, different from the other girls. Although experienced with girls and unencumbered with high moral scruples, he wasn’t a bad kid; just that when his family joined Stanton, they didn’t have a Fundamentalist background along with all its lifestyle expectations.

Reggie hoped Sally liked his car. He asked her, “Do you wanna drive down to the beach with me this Saturday evening?”

Sally hesitated. Cocky, self-confident, Reggie had a certain reputation. She considered him a monumental temptation and a monumental attraction. People didn’t know anything about his father; he lived with his mother. He didn’t “speak Fundamentalist” like most Stanton people. Sally’s parents, Ben and Jane Wilberforce, had some serious reservations, especially because Sally was only 16. But she loved his blue eyes and friendly smile and, in the end, she accepted.

They started dating regularly—driving up to Los Angeles’ Olivera Street to enjoy the smells and tastes of Mexican food, or taking long drives down the coast toward San Diego, with full-body embraces at the end of each date.

One weekend when they were walking through Disneyland, Reggie suggested a drive-in movie. Sally objected, “But you know what Pastor Carter says about going to the movies….”

“He never really forbade people,” Reggie said [a borrowed line from Eve’s tempter]. “He just said it was not the greatest of ideas. But he said we need to make our own choices.”  Reggie slipped his arm around Sally’s waist. In the end, she said yes.

.

Reggie would drive down from UCLA to Costa Mesa to pick Sally up, and by late summer they were seeing each other two or three times a week. Reggie stayed at Sally’s apartment longer and longer, especially when her roommate wasn’t there. For the first time in her life, Sally’s summer school grades started slipping.

One night in late August they parked along the beach to watch the moon reflect on the waves, then drove back to Sally’s apartment to share a bottle of wine. The Fundamentalists preached against wine, but it had always been a part of Reggie’s family tradition. And Sally’s parents secretly used it, saw it as a sign of sophistication and style, but they used it prudently, with meals. Sally and Reggie had three or four glasses each.

That night, Reggie didn’t go home.

 

WINGSPREAD E-zine for August, 2018


“Spreading your wings
in a perplexing world”

August, 2018                                       James Hurd    

Contents

  • New blog article: California Car Crazy
  • Writer’s Corner
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Puzzlers
  • E-zine subscription information

*********************

New blog: California Car Crazy

California Car Crazy is about the teen-age car culture of the 1950s—powerful, all-consuming—that forged young male identity. And about Reggie, who immersed himself in the craziness….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2018/08/17/california-car-crazy/

 (*Request: Please share with others and, after reading the article, leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Chronology. How your piece flows through time. Is it linear or does it jump around? Especially in a novel, it’s easy to get things mixed up or out of sequence. Create a timeline, or even a table, to keep track of when your characters do what. Avoid anachronisms—for instance, having your character use a cellphone before the cellphone was invented.

Book of the month: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. Broadway Books: 1998. An amazing tale of what happened when Bryson found a little trail near where he lived and decided to follow it. It’s all here—-history, botany, human nature, and emotions of exhilaration and exhaustion.

Answers to last month’s puzzlers:

  1. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May.  What was the third child’s name?     Johnny
  2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop who is five feet ten inches tall and he wears size 13 sneakers.  What does he weigh?     Meat
  3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?     Everest
  4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?     None
  5. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly? The word     “incorrectly”

 

New puzzlers (answers next month)

  1. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer.  How is this possible?
  2. In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg.  Why not?
  3. What was the President’s Name in 1975?
  4. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
  5. Which is correct to say, “The yolk of the egg are white” or “The yolk of the egg is white”?
  6. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD  E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

California Car Crazy

1950s Southern California was car-crazy. Reggie drove a 1947 metallic purple Ford, nosed, decked, and hung, with a 3.6L flathead V8 engine, twin pipes, seatbelts he’d installed himself by drilling holes in the floor, and furry white dice dancing from the rearview mirror. He was the guiding light behind the Clutchers Car Club, a sacred fraternity of motorheads.

Reggie’s mother had a powerful religious conversion listening to Charles Fuller’s Radio Hour, and this drew the family to Stanton church in 1957. Reggie came along. For the Wednesday night events, Reggie would wear a white tee shirt and new, blue Levi’s—the kind with the little red tag on the back pocket—-Stanton kids were pretty informal—but on Sundays he always wore a collar shirt.

He didn’t talk much about religion, but he always came to Stanton Church where he found a lively youth group that sang songs and did a little Bible study. They played circle games that Reggie called “swing the butt” games. One of the high schoolers was Bob Burchitt. Bob was not part of the “in” group. Once Reggie told Sally, “I tried to mispronounce Bob’s name ‘burshett’ but Mrs. Wallace [the youth leader] insisted, ‘No; it’s ‘bird shit.’” Sally smiled, embarrassed.

 

It was dark on a Tuesday night in November when the Clutchers gathered in Jeff Adams’ barn at his dad’s orange ranch in Villa Park. Cars pulled in, parked among the orange trees, and their drivers walked into the barn, which was swept and all alight. Eight guys showed up. They all wore grey jackets with “Clutchers” embroidered in white on the back. Jeff’s dad kept an old Fordson tractor in the barn, plus a harrow, a couple of plows, and a sledge with runners on it that he pulled behind the tractor to gather rocks out of the orange grove or transport new trees for planting. In one corner was a rusted-out 1932 Ford hot rod that served as the club’s eternal project. After pushing these items against the walls, Reggie set a few chairs in a circle under the lights in the middle of the barn. He was precise—they were all equally spaced.

Dan Hanson was the current president. A friendly, approachable guy with a nice smile, he seemed a little self-conscious. “Well, I guess we’ll get started. Anybody have anything?”

Mack said, “I wanna install three two-barrel carburetors on my 1946 Chevy to give it a bit more power. I already bought the intake manifold and the carbs. The hard part’s getting the links adjusted so the front and back two-barrels will kick in when you stomp the throttle down. I figure it’ll cost me about $150.00.”

Everybody nodded approvingly. Dan offered, “I know a guy who can adjust the links.”

A Clutcher could never let his car alone—-he had to install twin pipes, mill the heads, chrome-plate various engine parts, nose and deck it, and always, paint the cars in metallic colors. He had only two goals—make it more powerful and make it more beautiful.

After about an hour, the guys got up to get some soft drinks cooling in a bucket of ice. Jeff’s mom had provided some snacks. Reggie grabbed a glazed donut. “You know Hillcrest Park, where some guys park with their girlfriends? Jeff and I were driving up there last week, shining a flashlight into the cars. Startled a few people. But if we saw bare bottoms, we moved on.” People smiled. Some of the guys had girlfriends, but they didn’t talk to each other much about sex.

They walked back to the chairs. “We talked about a tune-up party this Saturday at Dan’s house,” Reggie said. “Clean and gap spark plugs, set the timing, change points and condensers, check fluids and lights, stuff like that. You should do that every 5,000 miles. How many can come?” Several hands went up. “You guys all know how to get to Dan’s?” Dan lived out in Westminster where his farmer father had a huge truck garage and lots of tarmac outside. Perfect place for a tune-up party. Reggie sketched a crude map on the chalkboard hanging on the wall, carefully labeling the streets and turns.

Then Jeff spoke up. “I’ve been working on the lime run. ‘Bout 50 miles long, I think. I figure four guys will drive their cars and each one can take a couple passengers. My dad gave me five sacks of lime. Let’s divide it into about 30 paper bags. Need to be sure they split and spread the lime when they hit the pavement. We have a secret destination where we’ll meet for dessert at the end. I need one guy to go with me to put the lime packets out.” Lime runs were fun. Theoretically it isn’t a race. In fact, most guys spend most of the time trying to track the lime route¾it’s easy to miss a lime mark. You drive until you see a splash of lime on the pavement to show you where to turn.

The meeting broke up about 9:00 p.m.

 

That same week, Reggie had a proposal for Shawn.

“Hey, Shawn—let’s race along Almond Avenue in Orange. We’ll see whose engine is more powerful.” Shawn had bought his blue 1950 Chevy with its inline six engine a few months after starting at Stanton, then painted it metallic blue. But the guys never invited him to join Clutchers Car Club.

They picked a quiet night and lined up side by side at Walnut Street and then punched it. A huge blind bump bulged up where Almond crossed the Santa Fe mainline railroad tracks. The two cars were speeding side by side at fifty miles per hour when they hit the blind bump and briefly became airborne. Fortunately, no cars were stopped on the other side. They squashed down on the pavement and accelerated. They weren’t worried—they were in their late teens and knew themselves immortal. Just before they braked for the Main Street signal light, Reggie nosed Shawn out and won.

The next month, the guys both signed up for a town-sponsored “economy run” that started at Hagen’s gas station. Reggie used his own 1947 Ford but Shawn’s dad let him drive their 1955 Chevy station wagon. His dad explained, “A better car for this type of competition—-the race makes allowances for different car weights. I’ll ask Slim, our mechanic, to tune the car for economy.” The route ran through El Toro, out to Laguna Beach, followed the road through the mountains to Corona, and then back to Hagens—-about 100 miles total. A 1953 Cadillac won the run, but Shawn beat Reggie.

In 1950s Southern California, cars gave status, bonding, friendships. You picked up your friends and drove them to school. To be anybody you had to have a car—-the student parking lots were full of them—-a car put you into an elite club only some guys could join.

Bus riders were second-class citizens.

What Do Mennonites Do After High School?

This is a report of a study on people who graduated from Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1953. Although people pursued many different paths, the data show amazing persistence of Mennonite identity over the years.

———————————————————————————

Results of Lancaster Mennonite High School
Alumni Survey

James Hurd and Barbara Breneman Hurd [Barbara is a 1953 graduate]

 This survey was created to find out what has happened to the Lancaster Mennonite High School (LMH) class of 1953, especially their education, church and Anabaptist commitments, and experiences of their children. The results are a testimony to the grace of God and the power of LMH.

Graduates from the year 1953 met in Lititz, Pennsylvania this June to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their graduation. Thirty-five people of this class attended, plus 14 of their spouses.

We were interested in understanding how “useful” an LMH education is, and how to measure its impact over the years. What did people do after graduation? What vocations did they pursue?  How many alumni attend an Anabaptist/Mennonite church today, and how many still identify as Anabaptist? How many sent their children to LMH or to an Anabaptist school?

Forty-two surveys were returned, including surveys from LMH’ers and from their spouses. We refer to all these as “respondents.” Fifteen of the respondents were males; 27 were females. Thirty-five of these were graduates of LMH.

General

Of all respondents, 20 had lived primarily in Lancaster County (55%), ten in a different Pennsylvania county, six in a different state, and three had lived outside of the U.S.

Of those who listed their primary vocation, eight females listed parenting/homemaker (no males listed this), seven people listed a blue-collar-type job (e.g., trucking, market), 19 listed a white-collar-type job (e.g., teacher, salesman), and three listed a church-related vocation (pastor, missionary).

Who did these LMH’ers marry? Overall, 14 out of the 35 graduates (40%; ten females and four males) chose an LMH spouse .

Education

Nine LMH’ers (26%) reported they’d received an advanced degree beyond high school.

Eighteen LMH’ers (51%) reported that at least one of their children had attended LMH! In the 14 cases where both parents were LMH’ers, 10 of the parents (71%) had at least one child who attended LMH.

Anabaptist loyalty

Who is still Anabaptist? Twenty-six LMH’ers reported that they were presently attending an Anabaptist/Mennonite church (76%). Four reported attending an “Evangelical” church, and four reported attending an “other Christian church.” Twenty-seven reported that they still considered themselves Anabaptist/Mennonite (77%). Five considered themselves “Evangelical,” and three, “other Christian.”

Twenty out of 30 LMH’ers (67%) reported that today, at least one of their children identifies as Anabaptist/Mennonite. But of the 14 graduates who married fellow LMH’ers, 11 had children that today identify as Anabaptist/Mennonite (79%).

 Discussion

This survey showed that LMH trained people well for work in many roles—most graduates worked for years in white- or blue-collar roles.

Graduates demonstrated a high loyalty, both to LMH and to Mennonite/Anabaptist church and belief. Forty percent of the LMH’ers had married fellow LMH’ers. Most of the respondents are now in Anabaptist churches, and most have children identifying with Anabaptist/Mennonite churches.

This study has some limitations. We could not survey 1953 graduates who failed to attend—on balance, those who attended were probably more loyal to LMH and to the Anabaptist movement than those who did not. If respondents had written in some answers rather than merely ticking boxes, more data would have been revealed. For instance, it is not clear which individuals are widowed or never-married. And where people did not answer questions about their children, they may have merely chosen to not answer, or, more likely, they have no children.

Future studies should include:

1.      More marriage data—married, divorced, widowed, or never-married.
2.      Focus groups or short narratives about the Mennonite/Anabaptist experience of the alumni, to give a deeper picture of graduates’ life experiences.

This survey reveals the amazing journeys of the members of the LMH class of 1953. It provides testimony to the power of an LMH education, to the graduates’ influence down through the years, and to the continuing vibrancy of the Anabaptist/ Mennonite experience.

 

WINGSPREAD E-zine for June, 2018

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
June, 2018                                                                                                       James Hurd    

Contents

  • New blog article: Your Body Knows What’s Good for You
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book of the month
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Puzzlers
  • E-zine subscription information

*********************

New blog article: Your Body Knows What’s Good for You

Like most people, I have two desires¾to satisfy my food cravings and to live a heathy, long life.

When I was a teenager, I was skinny, so I didn’t worry about getting fat—I just fed my body what it craved. Every weekday, before I left the Orange Daily News to deliver my newspapers, I would walk next door to the jewelers and put a dime in his pop machine to buy my bottle of Coke. Then, biking to my paper route, I would stop at the gas station and buy a Heath candy bar. One time I bought a quarter pound of fudge, took a chaste bite, and then ate the whooole thing in ten minutes. [Foolish, but it was totally worth it].

Even today, I favor ice cream and chocolate over leafy vegetables, carrots, peas, or green beans. My wife, the voice of reason, fights a long-term battle against my cravings….

To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2018/06/23/your-body-knows-whats-good-for-you/

(*Request: Please share with others and, after reading the article, leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Narrative. You want lots of this in your piece. It’s that part of your piece that moves it along—it’s what is happening. Narrative is distinct from description, reflection, explanation, backstory, etc.

Question of the Month: How long should your novel be?

Answer to last month’s question: How do you write internal dialogue? There are three ways: 1. Use quote marks, as in any other quote. 2. Use italics. 3. Use neither. Example: John thought, When should I tell him the naked truth?
I prefer the third way because it is less jarring. But your reader must know that it’s internal dialogue.

 Book of the month: Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press, 2006. Frankl’s dark, psychological narration of his life in a Nazi death camp and how a few survivors found meaning enough to fight to survive.

 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Puzzlers (answers next month)

  1. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May.  What was the third child’s name?
  2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop who is five feet ten inches tall and he wears size 13 sneakers.  What does he weigh?
  3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
  4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
  5. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Your Body Knows What’s Good for You

Like most people, I have two desires—to satisfy my food cravings and to live a healthy, long life.

When I was a teenager, I was skinny, so I didn’t worry about getting fat—I just fed my body what it craved. Every weekday before I left the Orange Daily News to deliver my newspapers, I would walk next door to the jewelers and put a dime in his pop machine to buy my bottle of Coke. Then, biking to my paper route, I would stop at the gas station and buy a Heath candy bar. Another time I bought a quarter pound of fudge, took a chaste bite, and then ate the whooole thing in ten minutes. [Stupid, but it was totally worth it].

Even today, I favor the ice cream and chocolate food groups over leafy vegetables, carrots, or peas. My wife, the voice of reason, fights a long-term battle against my cravings. She cooks wonderful, healthy meals, but I still major on desserts. She says, “I give up! Eat what you want. But don’t expect me to take care of you when you get sick.” (Empty threat.) She’s already picked out my tombstone epitaph—“I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Despite all I’ve learned about nutrition, despite the scientific evidence, despite my wife’s rational suggestions, I still eat junk food.

There’s a reason I eat this way—I’m an expert at self-deception (SD). I tell myself: “I eat better than my friends,” “I’ll eat better next week,” “I know a guy who ate junk food and lived into his 90s,” or, “Just this one time; I’ll take just one piece.”

Do I believe these lies? Well, it’s complicated. The best explanation is that I believe the lie now. (Why spoil a great experience!) And just after eating, I can repent and believe the voice of reason. This allows me to enjoy my junk food and still preserve my self-respect—to see myself as a rational, disciplined person who will make good (future) decisions. But of course, that’s a lie also, and my fake resolve doesn’t motivate me to change my behavior.

Why do we do this? SD is always motivatedyou have reasons to deceive yourself. You self-deceive because you want something. What you want is to have your cake and eat it too, so you act on one conviction that contradicts a more important conviction. You want to satisfy an immediate desire or give yourself permission to violate a moral code.

SD works because of our compartmentalized brains. Each of us has a “reptile” brain (hippocampus)—older, simpler, and associated with instinctual behavior, such as “fight” or “flight.” In addition we have a new brain (“neocortex”) that is rational and deliberating, the part of our brain that says, “Wait a minute—will this serve your long-term interest?” We can call the hippocampus “Junior,” and the neocortex “Mother.” Junior does what Junior wants to do; Mother does what she plans to do. SD occurs when we let Junior win over Mother.

But why worry about a little innocent SD?

Because it’s not innocent. The stories above show how SD can be dangerous to your health. SD promotes lazy, habitual eating that may lead to addiction. SD represents a divided care for yourself, and works against a healthy, integrated personhood. Most seriously, it tempts you to “self-divinize”— to substitute your own flawed judgment for God’s.

What to do about SD? How combat the voice of Junior and listen to Mother’s voice?

First, I need to continually remind myself to focus on the long term, to remember that I’m constantly investing for the future, and to focus on behaviors that will enhance that future.

Second, it helps if I can find an accountability partner—a brave, faithful friend who will hold me accountable, who will constantly tell me the truth and call me out when I’m self-deceiving.

Third, I can reward myself when I’ve made a good decision. Like Mother used to say, “If you eat your carrots and broccoli you’ll enjoy your dessert more.”

Finally, I can listen more to the voice of the Spirit, that voice that knows me most intimately, cares most deeply about me. I can base my choices, not on my desires of the moment, but rather on God’s highest, best purpose for me. My body thinks it knows what’s good for me, but the Spirit knows even better.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for April, 2018


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
April, 2018                                                                          Hurd    

Contents

  • New blog article: “Fortress in the City”
  • Writer’s Corner
  • This month’s story
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Selected quotes
  • E-zine subscription information

*********************

New blog article: “Fortress in the City”

Shawn stepped off the train, plunged into Chicago schoolboy-confident and felt something he’d never felt before—-hot, dripping humidity. His shirt stuck to his skin as he clutched all his worldly possessions (a suitcase and a duffle bag) and waded through a sea of people—parents herding their children, red caps hustling luggage, boys selling The Chicago Tribune. He remembered what his grandfather had said the first time he’d arrived in New York’s Grand Central Station—-“I saw lots of people I didn’t know.”

After a ten-minute Checker cab ride down LaSalle Street, Shawn stood inside CBI’s stone arch, feeling the granite-walled coolness. The train journey had ended, but his adventures at Chicago Bible Institute had just begun….

To read more on the blog, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2018/04/20/fortress-in-the-city/

(*Request: Please share with others and, after reading the article, leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Description-splitting: Splitting up your long descriptions of persons and places, and spreading them throughout your story. That way your reader won’t skip over them.

Question of the Month: How to write your character’s internal dialogue?

Last month’s question: How do you refer to future events if you’re writing in past tense? You, the “omniscient narrator” know the future. So, you could write: “He could not know, but he was talking face to face with she who would be the Queen of England.” Note the use of would when referring to future events.

Tip of the Month: Even in a novel, you must be true to widely-known facts. If a person is walking the streets of Chicago in 2018, she will not see Meigs Field Airport (demolished five years ago).

 Book of the month: Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. As he narrates an amazing tale, Dickens takes on a journey through 18th century England—through the streets and through the minds of his characters.

This month’s story

A husband hurried down to the sheriff’s department to report that his wife was missing.

Husband: My wife is missing. She went shopping yesterday and has not come home.

Sergeant: What is her height?

Husband: Gee, I’m not sure, maybe a little over five-feet tall.

Sergeant: Weight?

Husband: Don’t know. Not slim, not really fat.

Sergeant: Color of eyes?

Husband: Never noticed.

Sergeant: Color of hair?

Husband: Changes a couple times a year. Maybe, dark brown.

Sergeant: What was she wearing?

Husband: Could have been a skirt or shorts. I don’t remember exactly.

Sergeant: What kind of car did she go in?

Husband: She went in my truck.

Sergeant: What kind of truck was it?

Husband: Brand new 2016 Ford F150 King Ranch 4X4 with eco-boost 5.0L V8 engine special ordered with manual transmission. It has a custom matching white cover for the bed. Custom leather seats and “Bubba” floor mats. Trailering package with gold hitch. DVD with navigation, 21-channel CB radio, six cup holders, and four power outlets. Added special alloy wheels and off-road Michelins. Wife put a small scratch on the driver’s door. At this point the husband started choking up.

Sergeant: Don’t worry buddy. We’ll find your truck.

———————————————————————-

Yep. Some men are capable of a great love…

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Selected Quotes

  • A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.
    Leo Tolstoy
  • Like its politicians and its wars, society gets the teenagers it deserves.
    J.B. Priestley

 Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and put in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.