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WINGSPREAD E-zine for April, 2019

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

Contents

  • New story: “The Snow Sermon”
  • Writer’s Corner (New contest, upcoming new novel)
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information

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

*New story:

 The Snow Sermon

                               Grow old along with me!
                               The best is yet to be,
                               The last of life, for which the first was made:
                               Our times are in His hand
                               Who saith “A whole I planned,
                               Youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
                                      —from Robert Browning, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”

“Barbara, the snow’s late this year.”

She looks up from her pie crust work. “Yes, it’s only five days ’til Thanksgiving.”

But today, the wind chills. Gazing out the window I’m surprised by the fine flakes falling here in Minnesota, hundreds of miles away from my California childhood.

Our first snow is inevitable but still a surprise. We turned the clocks back just two weeks ago (“spring ahead; fall back”), but today, less than a month from winter solstice, the sun appears tardily over the far end of the pond. It will rise in its low southern arc and set early.

We are the shrouded ones, billeted in carpentered cocoons….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/04/04/the-snow-sermon/

*This story is excerpted from my book Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying. 2016

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

 

 Writers’ Corner

A contest for you:  Send in your best palindrome (that is, a phrase spelled the same backwards and forward. E.g., “Madam, I’m Adam.”) It can be borrowed, or original. I’ll choose the one I like the best and publish it in this E-zine. If you send in a palindrome, I’ll send you one of my unpublished stories. Deadline: May 15, 2019. Send to: hurd@usfamily.net.   Have fun!

Word of the Month:  Trust. The writer must trust her reader, allow her reader to fill in the picture. Don’t over-describe. Suggest, hint. Let the reader’s imagination do the rest.

Author of the month: Charles Dickens. (1812-1870). Oliver Twist (1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1841). A Christmas Carol (1843), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Dickens paints well the tragedy and poverty of the Industrial Revolution in England. Memorable characters.

Book of the month: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, 1853. Vintage Dickens—several sub-plots, amazing character development, and descriptions of early 19th century London. How an interminable law case in Chancery Hall (Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce) wreaks havoc and ruin on many people. Only recommended for the long-suffering reader.

 Watch for my upcoming novel: Atheist in the Institute. A young Californian loses his girlfriend, travels east to Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago, but fails to reach his dream job. Oh¾he’s also losing his faith, and soon declares himself an atheist. Spoiler alert—it does not work out well. Presently in the “edits” stage. Target publication date: Fall, 2019.

 Answer to last month’s puzzler: Which is the only planet in our solar system that circles the sun on its sideUranus. It is tilted 98o. Jupiter is tilted 3o, Earth, 23o.

 

LEXIPHILIA – WHO ON EARTH DREAMS THESE UP? A lexophile, of course!
(A lexophile is a lover of words, especially in word games, puzzles, anagrams, etc.)

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t            control her pupils?

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

 

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

 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.

The Snow Sermon

 

                               Grow old along with me!
                               The best is yet to be,
                               The last of life, for which the first was made:
                               Our times are in His hand
                               Who saith “A whole I planned,
                               Youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
                                      —from Robert Browning, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”

“Barbara, the snow’s late this year.”

She looks up from her pie crust work. “Yes, it’s only five days ’til Thanksgiving.”

But today, the wind chills. Gazing out the window I’m surprised by the fine flakes falling here in Minnesota, hundreds of miles away from my California childhood.

Our first snow is inevitable but still a surprise. We turned the clocks back just two weeks ago (“spring ahead; fall back”), but today, less than a month from winter solstice, the sun appears tardily over the far end of the pond. It will rise in its low southern arc and set early.

We are the shrouded ones, billeted in carpentered cocoons. I belong to a bookish breed. We inhabit an indoor world full of the smell of classroom chalk, students to-ing and fro-ing in the halls, and all this experience seasoned with specialty coffee and good conversation. Even at home, my fingers rest on computer keys, pretending that the seasons never change.

The seasons never changed in the California of my childhood with its palms, eucalyptus, magnolia and orange trees. But today the Minnesota sun hangs low on the horizon and the spruce branches slowly whiten. The harbinger snow warns, “Nothing is forever.” Almost for the first time, I realize that what is true for the seasons is also true for my own life.

Last summer, here at 45 degrees north latitude, the sun rose straight out our east window and brought slow-motion dawns and leisurely dusks. Now the luminous light of late afternoon dims, along with my mood.

I reluctantly relinquish the long, languid days of summer, but I want to grasp fall forever—her wild rains and winds, her stratospheric flocks of geese, and her small, furry creatures that scuttle across our narrow strip of pond-side prairie. Last week, the colder winds encouraged the top-branch leaves to redden, turn brown, then relax their grip. They fell to the lawn, rendering their last sweet smell of decay where they clustered downwind of the tree in a burnt-red and yellow oval. I smelled the still-unfrozen leaves and wondered, Where was I when these fell? These days are precious, and we all face the south sun. I didn’t notice fall’s warning—the browning tips of the tall red-top grasses, the drooping prairie flowers. But first snow means that fall is fading.

I step out the door onto virgin snow that overwhelms the green stems of cut grass. No animal tracks blemish the pristine whiteness—only my footprints.

The crystalline flakes arrive mute, indiscriminate, taking their time to land, more comfortable on the skin than fall’s stinging raindrops. I pull my coat around my chin and think, I need a hat and gloves.

Our marigolds glow deep maroon in the lambent light. Their tendrils still climb the iron shepherd’s crook, but with looser grip. The hostas along the house that shot out long exuberant spears now wilt, their energy spent. In the garden, the bottoms of the tomato stalks are turning brown. The broccoli survives first frost, then fades. Even the deer shun the dying plants.

I lie down spread-eagle on the lawn and stare up into the falling flakes. A light wind blows the snow slantwise through the maple’s witch-finger branches. I cannot feel it as it whitens my hair and clothes, but I taste it and smell its freshness. The snow stifles all sound except the distant cry of geese. I’m glad to be alive today, to see, to taste, to experience heaven’s bright herald of winter.

Pleasure Creek pond lies still, but somehow it senses the weather’s shift, anticipates the icy patina that will soon obscure her face. The geese swim carelessly, agnostic about their future, congregating with cocked heads, assaying the season. Snow sifts down into the bordering, browning prairie grass, whitening the tiny husk of each shriveled prairie flower. Milkweed pods burst open and spew their filaments.

The seasons teach me the cycle.

Hopeful spring says, “Start, take heart, scatter abroad, be reckless and wild.”

Ebullient summer says, “Work, sweat, thrive; strive while you’re alive.”

Savory fall says, “Gather, rejoice, revel in the harvest.”

But winter’s annunciatory flakes say, “Get ready! Check the snow shovels. Drain the garden hoses. Secure the patio furniture. The weather is changing. Treasure what you have. Embrace your now.”

I realize for the first time that I’m in the early winter of my life. I have a new appreciation for Woody Allen’s words—”I don’t want to achieve immortality by my work; I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”

My branches are still sturdy, but they feel more the winter’s winds. Some of my life-leaves have fallen. More and more, conversations drift to health matters. I’m learning new words—mitral valve, atrial fibrillation, gout, LDL, neuropathy.

The snow carries a severe mercy and an unexpected grace—”I make all things new. I erase, cover the dirt of your past. I shroud sorrows and heal wounds. I redeem. Savor me. I’ll blanket you with bitter white, but I’m preparing you for glorious spring. Trust what you cannot see. Weeping lasts for a time, but joy comes in the morning.”

Can I be thankful for winter’s snows? There’s a light at eventide that illumines winter’s day, that shines softer, deeper, more faithfully. As Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, “And though the last lights off the black West went. Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs…”

Winter enforces a pause—”Cease, withdraw, retract. Listen, read, pray. You can hear God better in your quiet.”

I must let winter do its silent work. The first snowfall helps me focus, makes me grateful for what I have. Like an unexpected hospital stay, it sharpens my joys, helps me to value life more, helps me to see how precious it is.

I’m so thankful now, in the early winter of my life. I wish to pay attention, to read the seasons, to prepare well for my own winter and beyond. Before I return to my fireside, I say, “First snow, I welcome you. Teach me well the wisdom of winter.”

WINGSPREAD E-zine for February, 2019


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

Contents

  • New story: Corralito: A Life Hangs in the Balance
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzlers
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread subscription information

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

New story: Corralito: A Life Hangs in the Balance

It’s a late, cloudy afternoon in 1968, and I’m circling over Corralito now, checking for animals on the strip, and wondering if the injured Tzeltal man is still alive. A tiny radio transmitter provided the means to call out for the airplane. The tiny strip lies tucked in below a terraced cornfield, so the approach follows the contour of the low hill. At the last minute the airstrip appears in the windshield, and soon the cut grass feels good under the wheels. I taxi the Cessna 180 over to where an injured young man lies inert on a stretcher, his tumid stomach bulging below his shirt.

A Tzeltal man talks to me in broken Spanish—-“Capitán, Mario was feeding stalks into the trapiche (sugar cane press) when the horse bar caught him and squeezed him against the press.” As we lay the injured man in the airplane, I notice that he’s a young man, and so probably has a good chance of pulling through. Antonio, his brother, stands by, mute….

 To read more, click here:   https://wordpress.com/post/jimhurd.com/1298

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

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Inciting incident. Les Edgerton says the inciting incident is the event, usually in the first few pages, that sets the stage for the “story-worthy problem” that is worked out in the rest of the book.

Example: Jane has just discovered a dark secret about her fiancé that may cause her to bow out of the marriage.

 

  Book of the month: Washington: A Life. Les Chernow. 2011. A thick book! The tale of how George Washington, in war and in peace, because the “Father of Our Country.”

 

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

 

Puzzler: Which is the only planet in our solar system that circles the sun on its side?

Answer to last month’s 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?    The lawyer in London is his sister.

 

 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

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.

Corralito: A life hangs in the balance

It’s a late, cloudy afternoon in 1968, and I’m circling over Corralito now, checking for animals on the strip, and wondering if the injured Tzeltal man is still alive. A tiny radio transmitter provided the means to call out for the airplane. The tiny strip lies tucked in below a terraced cornfield, so the approach follows the contour of the low hill. At the last minute the airstrip appears in the windshield, and soon the cut grass feels good under the wheels. I taxi the Cessna 180 over to where an injured young man lies inert on a stretcher, his tumid stomach bulging below his shirt.

A Tzeltal man talks to me in broken Spanish—-“Capitán, Mario was feeding stalks into the trapiche (sugar cane press) when the horse bar caught him and squeezed him against the press.” As we lay the injured man in the airplane, I notice that he’s a young man, and so probably has a good chance of pulling through. Antonio, his brother, stands by, mute.

We depart Corralito for San Cristóbal, the capital of Chiapas State, Mexico, our home base. But last night a squally Norther has blown across the region and draped its soggy rainclouds across the mountains. I probe the entrails of the storm, testing one cloud-clogged pass after another. Finally, I see a bit of light where the Comitán highway snakes between two high peaks. I high-jump the mountain pass and drop quickly into the San Cristóbal bowl. We’re in the clear now, but I look up to see a solid wall of clouds plugging the path ahead! I bank steeply in the cramped head of the valley, pulling on flaps to decrease turning radius and reverse course. The cliffs are so close it feels like the wing is buried halfway into the mountainside. We level out, but at best angle of climb the 180 just barely clears the pass.  I’m thinking we’ll need to divert to Tuxtla, about one-half hour away, but at the last minute we find a small hole in the clouds, slide over the lip of the San Cristóbal bowl, and drop down toward the landing strip.

We land in the late afternoon light. Chuck, the chief pilot, helps me load Mario into our old Chevy van to drive him to the small hospital for X-rays. The doctor tells us, “His interior organs are damaged and his only hope is to go to Tuxtla.”

We can’t fly at night; we must drive him down. So again we load him into the van, and soon we’re on our way up out of the bowl and down the winding mountain road. Antonio must feel helpless in the hands of strangers struggling to save his brother’s life. I sit in the back next to the patient feeling his heaving chest, listening to his labored breathing.

The brother asks me, “Will we get there in time?”

“We’ll try our best,” I tell him.

Then Mario’s breathing gets shallower, interrupted. He starts foaming at the mouth—his lungs must be filling with fluid! I tell Chuck to drive faster. His breath is getting fainter and fainter. Then his breathing stops. “Chuck; he’s not breathing!” I yell.

Chuck stops the car and comes around to examine the man. I suggest we give him artificial respiration. But Chuck says, “He’s gone, Jim.”

Antonio begs us to continue on to Tuxtla, but Chuck tells him, “There’s nothing we can do; it’s too late. We’ll have to go back to San Cristóbal. If there’s still a little bit of life in him when we arrive, we’ll see the doctor again.” I watch Antonio and wonder if he’s understanding anything, since he speaks little Spanish.

We head back, drive into town, and rouse the doctor in the middle of the night to ask for a death certificate. But we can’t quickly get a permit to fly the body, so we’ll have to do it secretly. We drive into our darkened hangar and carefully lay the man in the plane. Before rigor mortis sets in, his forlorn brother works to arrange the limp limbs in Tzeltal fashion.

It’s the first time I’ve seen someone die. That night I vomit, and lie sleepless all night.

The next morning at first light, Chuck takes off to fly the body back to Corralito. My eye follows him as he climbs out over the valley—a tiny dot silhouetted against the dark mountains. I know something of grace in my life; I now pray grace for the dear, waiting family who will never again speak with their beloved Mario.

I trust that we can continue our work here in Chiapas State, and that our flight service can help lighten the load for many of these Chiapanecos.

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.

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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.