Twelve Feet is Less Than Eternity

All wound up and looking for trouble!

All wound up and looking for trouble!

Adventures On The Farm
-Clarence Holm
In the morning, we had fed the pigs, collected the eggs and run up the road to check for mail. By mid-morning we were slaying dragons and hunting wooly buffalo. The afternoon started with a circus, featuring the warted toads along with black and yellow salamanders we had captured near the well to be exhibited as wild animals. We loaded our side show into our red wagons, hooking them up to our bikes and trikes and held a parade. We sang “ta-da” and banged on the oil cans we used for drums.
For three young boys, ages 4, 5 and 9 we knew we had to keep busy. We had learned that people on a farm that didn’t have something to do, were given a job by my mother.
After an afternoon nap we were well rested, so we decided to go exploring and poking around through the old garage. Under a shelf we found a rusted hammer, with one claw snapped off. On the shelf was a can of used nails dad must have put aside to be straightened. Leaning against the wall was some old lumber that we knew could be built into something…
It was Jim, the eldest and most worldly that decided we would build an airplane. We had seen them fly over the farm many times and knew the basic shape. We needed two boards for wings, one longer than the other and a board for the planes body, big enough to hold one passenger. So we grab three boards, precut to length. We found a six-footer for the body with another the same length for the front wing and a four-footer that seemed just right for the tail.
With the nails we found in the shop, we pounded the ship together. It was Jim who remembered we needed to turn the plane over, allowing us to crimp the nails down. “That’ll make it extra strong” he said.
We dragged the plane out into the sun to do a final inspection. We had no wheels to put under it, but once it was flying it wouldn’t matter. 
We took turns climbing aboard imagining the flight. In our minds we soared up high and chased the crows from the sky. Our excitement really grew once we convinced ourselves that this plane could really fly. All we needed was a way to get it airborne.”If we could drag it up on the barn roof, I bet we could do loop de loops” I said. “I know I can fly it!” Eugene the youngest shouted.
“Because Eugene’s the youngest, he should be first.” Jim ruled. “But” he continued, “since he’s so small we should start off a smaller building- like the garage”.
With that bit of wisdom we agreed on a plan. We would climb up on the roof with the old wooden ladder, dragging the plane to the peak. There Eugene would climb on board while Jim & I would push as hard as we could to get him started. Eugene would slide down the roof, gaining speed and would soar off the garage roof out into the pasture where he could land safely.
Just a short test flight!
Next would be me, then Jim, who would go up on the barn for the grand finale. He planned to fly the plane over to our cousin’s farm and wave to them as they looked up in awe.
It was a grand plan – one of our best.
“Clarence” Jim said. “Grab the plane and head up the ladder, I’ll follow and push.”  With that we sprang into action and in no time all three of us were up on the garage roof gazing off into the wild blue yonder. Eugene was excited and wanted to go, but Jim had some last minute instructions. “Hold on tight and don’t fly to far, remember this is only a test flight.” Jim said.  Eugene nodded sincerely.
With a mighty 1-2-3 we pushed Eugene and the wooden airplane off the peak and down the roof.
It never really got going; in fact it skidded really slowly with Eugene bouncing it forward, urging the plane to the edge. As we watched it reached the edge and flopped slowly off the twelve foot drop, disappearing with a mighty crash.
When it didn’t reappear soaring into the sky, we ran to the edge and peered down at our brother- motionless. As we watched we heard him gasp, as if he was drawing in all the air in the world. We knew what was coming next; this was not our first adventure!
Eugene’s scream pierced that summer sky and reverberated off the barn. We knew we had to shut him up, before he attracted Mom. We clambered down the old ladder and ran up to Eugene. “Are you OK?” “Look at how far you flew!” “Do you want to go again?”
Confused at first, he struggled to his feet. After a moments silence he said. “Did you see me fly? I flew the plane, but now it’s all broken.”  Then he shouted out, “Should we find more wood to make another, so you two can have a turn?”
At that moment, Mom called, “Supper” and another day had ended.

2 thoughts on “Twelve Feet is Less Than Eternity

  1. Such a delight! What small boy hasn’t “soared above the clouds” in an airplane of sticks and rusty nails! I know I did…until I abandoned it for a cape (one of Mother’s old towels!) to fly over Gotham City like Superman. Launching from our front porch railing, I flew about as far as your plane did! But it was far enough. The criminals of Gotham City never showed their faces again in our neighborhood! 😛

    • It’s true- we all, at one time or another, take a leap. Sometimes it ends, as in my first prom date, in a disastrous heap. But once in awhile you find you can fly! And if the winds are right, that one flight can take you to places you’ve never dreamed of.

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