Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soaring Through Life

My Papa Blanton loved his family and friends, loved his Bible, and loved to tell stories concerning his youth. After begging him to tell me about the olden days, he would launch into tales regarding growing up at the turn of the century telling me about courting young ladies at ice cream socials and explaining the proper way to prepare a turtle stew for a gathering of men. He seemed to enjoy watching my nose crinkle up in disgust regarding the details concerning de-shelling that poor sweet turtle. Then one afternoon he told me a new tale about seeing his very first airplane as it flew low over his father’s fields and eventually landed. 
I was mesmerized by the story. 
Can you imagine a time when a plane was an oddity–a cause for excitement?

After the Wright Brothers completed their flight in in 1903, towns and cities all across the United States experienced their first airplane sighting including Douglasville. Since there were no flight plans or rules and procedures in those days I'd like to think the pilot flew in and circled Douglasville's downtown commercial district a few times waggling his wings a bit to say hello to the folks on the ground before landing on a grassy field at a nearby farm. Finding a spot to land wouldn’t have been difficult since there were plenty of fields brimming with crops and cotton or dotted with grazing livestock on the edge of town in every direction and as far as the eye could see.  
It’s very probably the pilot of the first plane to land in Douglasville was Hugh Watson–a barnstormer, which means he flew from town to town performing stunts and providing rides in his flying machine for anyone who had $10 and was brave enough to climb aboard.
You can read the rest of this column over at Douglasville Patch.

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