Well, until today, I was older than my best friend, Paul. Today, he is as old as I am. Unfortunately, we both went over the hill a long time ago. In other words, we are a couple of old fa… never mind.
We have known each other for a long time. Even though he is a damn Yankee, he remains my friend. Actually, I don’t think he and his brothers qualify as damn Yankees, as they have been here too long. It is probably the fault of their parents—they are the ones who actually moved down here.
Oh, let me explain about damn Yankees. And y’all from up north, don’t take this too seriously. It’s [a] old Southern joke!
A “Yankee” is someone who comes down from the north, goes to the beach, or to the Disney World or other attractions, leaves all of their money here in the Sunshine State, and goes home. A “damn Yankee,” buys a house and stays.
I am so glad Paul’s family became damn Yankees and stayed.
Although he is not a pilot, Paul developed my tastes in airplanes. When we were young and in the fifth grade, I only had interests in jets when it came to airplanes. Paul introduced me to history; he gave me my interest in the War Between the States. He showed me a book with an illustration of Alberto Santos Dumont’s Demoiselle and lit my interest in ultralight airplanes. He told me about the First World War and the biplanes of that time. And he established my affinity for the gypsy pilots and barnstormers of the Roaring twenties and the following decade.
In the summer of 1986, I had the chance to repay Paul just a little bit for sparking my curiosity in aviation and history. I wish I had access to another biplane today because we would be gone in a heartbeat.
Had it not been for Paul, I would have probably never refined my interests in aviation. I might have ended up in some other job instead of raging around the skies with my hair on fire.
For this, I owe him a lifetime of gratitude.
©2011 J. Clark
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