Living History--Director's Cut
Updated 11-29-2010 at 10:57 by spero525 (Spelling. Grammar. Late night.)
The place I grew up had many small quirks, one of which was perhaps not so small. One of the locals had a restored P-51 Mustang and frequently took it for a low loop over the orchards and vineyards that surrounded my parents' house. As a young child I didn't much appreciate the living history that caused a racket and left everyone staring upwards, but as I grew older and learned what the P-51 was all about, I began to understand why people stopped to pay attention.
The P-51 was not my first introduction to "real planes", as my grandmother calls them. My grandfather was a test pilot for the P-40 Warhawk before moving on to flying transport planes for most of WWII, and I grew up hearing lots of stories.
I have several dozen cds (recorded from tapes) full of his voice recounting adventures, close calls, the victories, the sadness, the adrenaline...
Sometimes he spoke at length on mechanics or aircraft handling. He almost always had a plane he was "fixing up" or restoring, and when I was very young I remember seeing pieces in his garage. I also remember the early Model Fords he kept and repaired, and once he took me for a ride in order to test whatever adjustments he'd made.
It's the only memory I have of him driving. Shortly afterward he had two strokes, and with the loss of most of his mobility came a very different life. No more rebuilding, no more tinkering. It greatly saddened me, but I was happy to see him then take to the tape machine, recording his life one chapter at a time.
When he passed on (some 14 years ago) he left behind nearly 10 years worth of recordings, and 2 years ago I finally received my copy. I cannot begin to describe my gratefulness at having this!
I hope to share these discs of history with the next generation in my family, because history IS living, and it causes a racket whether we look up or not. Those who look, learn. And those who learn never forget.