Museum Story Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION — I hope that with pictures and the story of how the museum I first named AIRCHIVE came all the way to Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport over the course of 40 years and why you should help AeroKnow Museum find a new home before we lose the home we have and we both disappear. More about all that as I share the story. Please return to this blog, follow it, support AeroKnow Museum as you are inclined.
I cannot remember a time as a young child BEFORE I became fascinated by airplanes. I was interested in many things as a child. I wrote my first short story before I started attending kindergarten at Lawrence Elementary School in Springfield. I loved ducks, dogs, music, swimming and was very interested in girls, though exactly why would remain hard to explain for the first 12 years or so. My parents reminded me, as I grew into a youngster who could take a picture, that when I was an infant in my mothers arms, a family friend, CPA Bill van Meter took the three of us for a short spin around the city in his new Cessna 195. They said I cried from the instant the big round Jacobs radial roared to life, through the entire flight until we had taxied back to the hangar and Mr. van Meter turned off the motor. Mom and Dad may have exaggerated but not by much. Through grade school. we would often go out to the airport and watch the airplanes fly. I loved every minute, but I never wanted to fly. The first picture is of me shaking hands with singer/movie star Gene Autry in the airport parking lot. Dad took the picture. Mr. Autry was in town to appear at the Illiinois State Fair.
The following pcture is of me on the ramp in front of Hangar 1. That hangar today is 20 feet from where I’m writing these words.
. . . . I had begun building plastic model airplanes in second grade. The first kit I built was the Hawk (manufactured) model of a MiG-15. Our next door neighbors, the Bruningas had a son my age. I gave him his first model kit, an Aurora kit of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero for his birthday. I had friends in grade school who loved planes too: Alan Sherman, Bobby Briggle and Jeff Halden. I spent a lot of time in Miss Allen’s second grade class drawing airplanes when I should have paid more attention to Miss Allen who was beautiful.
. . . . .One summer during the years I attended Benjamin Franklin Junior High, Dad and I were standing at the fence watching the airplanes when Bill Castor, owner of some local grocery stores, a friend of Dad’s, came to us and invited us to go flying with him down to Lambert Field in St. Louis where he had to pick up a small package at the airline terminal. Instantly I remembered being afraid of flying and almost as instantly decided not to be afraid of flying anymore. Dad sat up front in Mr. Castor’s Cessna 172, and I strapped in in back. It was a wonderful trip. Every flight I’ve taken since has been wonderful too.
. . . . . . Junior high friends were friends I would cherish well into the years. Jim Richardson was a wonderful friend who began building flying models with friends Mike Evoy, Phil Arndt, Gary Baldwin, Joe Berger formed a flying model club. Mine were never as successful as those my friends built, but in addition to trying and failing to EVER successfully fly a control line model and getting into tow line free flight models (some success there) I was “the official photographer” though I didn’t realize it at the time and we all had great tun.
. . . .. . . Tadd Baumann built plastic models, and his dedication and skill with the early Aurora 1/48 kits of World War One airplanes inspired me. We were true pals i the best sense of term well into the years also. While attending Franklin I began buying model airplane magazines and reading them until they wore out. Many of the first were relegated to trash, but early on I began removing pictures and articles I wanted to save to enjoy later. By the time I was attending Springfield High, Mom gave me a five drawer file cabinet. It’s part of AeroKnow Museum today.
. . . . . .High school and early college passed incredibly quickly. Aviation became a necessary second fiddle to girls and growing up. Still I kept buying magazines, books, building plastic models. When I first moved away from home, Mom and Dad kept my things safe. Afterr renting a nice duplex at 822 S. MacArthur with a friend, Allan (can’t remember his last name) whom I knew from Lum’s Restaurant where we worked, I began moving things from 2016 S. Whittier into my bedroom.
Here are the first pictures taken of me getting SERIOUSLY serious about airplanes.
This chapter concludes in 1974. My life would mandate a return home to be with my recently divorced mom in 1977 after I accidentally broke a bone in my left foot. I would remain home less than a year before moving to a new apartment on north 5th Street where I had significant space for myself, aviation and a consistently wonderful life as a red-hot lover. More ab out that in Chapter Two, coming soon.
Please support AeroKnow Museum. Write to me in the comments or email me — Job Conger if you want to visit AKM at the airport or just meet with the museum founder/director who would very much like to meet you as well.
Thanks for reading this post.
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