Saturday, September 15, 2007

When The Stick Breaks, The Kite Will Surely Fall

The wind was blowing really hard that Saturday. The year was 1947 and I was 11 years old. We lived on Pipkin Street in the South Park area of Beaumont. J. L. Giles Elementary School was only one block away.

The wind plus the expanse of that school campus plus lots of 11-year-old energy made it a perfect time and place to go fly a kite.

However there was a problem. I was bored with the regular small kites like you bought at the store. I had learned in the Cub Scouts how to make kites and had been making most of my own kites for nearly two years. But this time, I wanted a really big kite.

My dad was working in town. My mother and sister had gone shopping. This left me at home to make my own decisions. Since the local stores did not sell large kites, I decided to make one.

The ingredients for making a kite call for string, sticks, paper and glue (paste). I already had on hand the string and glue but I didn’t have any paper or sticks. I considered gluing several sheets of the Beaumont Enterprise together. There were plenty of old newspapers around the house. However I feared that the glue job would not hold up in the strong wind. I looked around the house for some paper suitable for a large kite. None could be found.

Then there it was, staring at me as though to say, “Make a kite out of me.” The window shade on our living room window was the solution. This was a wide window, which meant that the shade was good and wide. The window shade would make an excellent large kite. But I needed two sticks. There was one stick in the living room shade. It seemed perfectly logical to borrow a stick from one of our other window shades. So I borrowed a stick from the window shade in my sister’s bedroom. I planned to put everything back together later.

Hastily I removed the living room window shade from its holder and unrolled it. Did you know that window shades are stapled to their rollers? The staples were too strong to remove. So I kind of had to tear the shade off of the roller. I wasn’t sure just how I was going to fix that but decided to worry about it later.

I proceeded to run kite string around the ends of the two sticks, which I had formed into a cross. After fitting and gluing the window shade around the stringed frame I ended up with a nice really big kite. I borrowed an old bed sheet from my mother’s linen closet and tore strips for a tail.

The wind was so strong and gusty I feared that regular kite string might break. So, I procured my dad’s rod and reel, which was decked out with nice strong nylon string.

My playmate, Jackie Garretson, helped me to carry the kite over to the school campus. He held the kite up and I ran. The kite went up. It was flying. A beautiful creation. Oops, one of the sticks broke. The kite came down really fast and crashed breaking the other stick.

I took the remains of the kite home hoping to replace everything before anyone got home. I didn’t remember tearing the shade but there was a big rip jutting right across the middle. And the broken sticks were beyond repair.

When dad got home, he aired out my backside. And what lesson did I learn? Never try to make a kite out of a window shade. That idea just won’t fly.

Winston Hamby


Post a Comment

<< Home