2017-03-16 / Viewpoint

Chandler Yesteryear

Let’s go fly a kite
Jim S. Powell

Spring has sprung, and it brings back memories of trying to fly kites when I was growing up in Chandler in the 1940s. Yes, I said trying because I never had much luck sustaining a kite in the air for very long.

However, when the windy days of early spring arrived, I realized it was the ideal days for kite-flying. It became the topic in elementary school among us boys. That encouragement always gave me a ‘can do’ attitude about launching a kite high in the sky.

Fannie Beth Ellis, a childhood friend, and I made the first kite I can remember. We made it from the Tyler newspaper pages and thin sticks. We tied the sticks into a cross making the horizontal stick slightly shorter than the vertical stick, forming the frame, tying it together with twine.

The tail was cut from my Grannie Powell’s colorful quilt scraps. It was pieced together so it would help create a balance for the kite. Using the frame as a pattern, we cut the newspaper sheet about two inches larger than the frame, so it could be folded around the frame and glued. Next, the tail and cord were attached. Fannie Beth’s mother gave us the 15 cents to buy a spool of kite cord at Smut Blake’s store. That first poor kite’s fate was doomed because we flew it too near the trees and it ended high up, ripped apart in a tree branch. Our parents had cautioned us not to fly it close to power lines or trees. We had also been warned that newspaper kites would tear easily.

Later, after I begged long and hard, Mama gave me 10 cents to buy a Hi-Flyer kite at the S.S. Kresge’s 5 and 10 cents store in Tyler. The lettering on it said, “Hi-Flyer-

Boy, I just knew I couldn’t fail flying this kite since it was “store bought.” Back then, anything “store bought” was the best to be had! The Hi-Flyer was a great design with a good balance and, I got it flying high into the air. Things were going pretty good until the wind died down and the kite began to sink. I struggled trying to ease it to the ground, but it suddenly made a nosedive into the ground so hard that it broke the thin sticks. That was the end of my kite flying. Every March on a sunny, windy day, I think about kite flying and wonder if I could fly one. Then, I think about my age and think, “you have to be kidding yourself!

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