Originally sent March 14
I've had several emails lately with all good, uplifting, 'news' for a change! I hope those who sent them won't mind my sharing.....
From the eMail bag.....what have our grads been doing......
Mike Gill, '71, is just back from a gathering of fellow pyros. Mike attended the 21st Winter Blast in Lake Havasu City, Az. The annual blast is under the oversight of the Western Pyrotechnic Assoc (firework makers).
The 4 day event was attended by enthusiasts, hobbyists, experts, and company reps from the US and foreign countries.Seminars, training, and demos were held daily, in addition to the Trade Show.
There are always large fireworks displays each night with a special public display on Saturday night. Mike has been making fireworks since Junior High and has attended 17 of 21 of these annual winter gatherings....plus the summer get-togethers!
btw...Mike made some of the fireworks that were shot at the 1976 Bi-Centennial Celebration at the Statue of Liberty in NYC. He also did the pyro show for Donny & Marie Osmond show in Norman some years back. Yes, he is the youngest of my brothers.
More from Alice Maksim....Now that my parents are deceased along with siblings, I come there for special times with my Lawton daughter, Sara Mazzo (and two grandsons, Evan and Ryan), who you may know along with her husband, Mike, are professional photographers.
In October, I flew to OKC where my childhood friend, Verna Le (Brammer) Ziders picked me up. The occasion was Miss America's 2007 wedding. Beautiful and lovely homegrown, Lauren Nelson. Sara created and designed her wedding cake which was her grandee finale. This was a masterpiece and required 3 men and 2 vans to transport it to the newly renovated Skirvin Hotel. (What mother would not want to be present and deliver her own accolades?) Once the 6 layered cake, covered with 86 pounds of paste icing, was set up Sara donned her photographers hat.
My first glimpse of Sara, in her beautiful black glitzy attire behind a camera, was a beautiful sight. There was no trace of the stress and the midnight hours which such a feat would demand. Although it would take days going into a few weeks for both she and Mike to recover and to realize it was really over and had been successful.
I imagine most of Lawton know of this happening and heard about it plus the absolutely beautiful and breathtaking floral arrangements Ramon [John, '53] designed for Lauren.
Alice (Dezelle) Maksim, '53
Great email from Charles Darling......My Grandson Ian (7-years old) recently saw the movie "Memphis Belle." The film, if you have not seen it, is based on the true story of a B-17 bomber crew assigned to an 8th air force unit stationed in England. The "Flying Fortress" crews had been taking an awful pounding over Germany and not one had completed the requisite number of missions to qualify for rotation back home. Most were shot down, wounded, killed or captured before they could be relieved of bombing duties. (As I recall, it was 25-missions to go home.) Morale was low and replacement crews faced a grim future. The "Belle" crew made it and went home after some harrowing experiences in the skies over Europe....becoming national heros.
Ian was quite impressed with the movie and the young men who risked everything to save the world from Nazi oppression (remember he's not yet eight.) He had a lot of questions about the war and what caused it and he asked me if the Memphis Belle still exists. I told him it did and was on display in its namesake city. He wanted to go see it. Grandad vetoed that, but offered instead to drive him to Palm Springs, where the Air Museum has a flying B-17 bomber on static display....and you can go through it.
Then when the lad learned my dad, for a brief time during the war, was a radioman aboard a Flying Fortress, that cemented the deal and we had to go immediately.
With grandad in tow, Ian crawled through the forward hatch and inspected every inch of the four-engined behemoth (actually, very tight quarters inside). He hesitated when he peered into the bombay compartment, with its doors open to the hanger floor, but was coaxed into crossing the very narrow catwalk through space where bombs once hung. He arrived in the radio operator's compartment and inspected every inch while sitting on the operator's tiny stool. He then pointed out to me and a museum docent exactly where, in the movie, enemy shrapnel had ripped through the compartment, narrowly missing the radioman. Took a minute, but I got it. He was concerned about my dad's safety. It was touching.
While Ian roamed among the beautifully restored WWII aircraft, period cars, motorcycles, munitions, uniforms and other memorabilia, had a chance to speak with another docent about kids and this museum. He told me the museum was hellbent on educating children. When the local school system's strained budget would no longer allow bus trips to the air museum, the foundation stepped in and bought gasoline for sixty such trips. Apparently, kids love the place. More importantly, they learn what happened in the war and are exposed to the artifacts and recorded human histories of the time.
I fear they are not getting much of this information in California's public schools. Even if a few lessons touch on the subject, it is a dry recitation of dates and names. In these museums, history comes alive and suddenly has a face, name and physical presence....an echo of our past where some of this country's finest, and most desperate, moments can be recalled.
It struck me that our generation should be taking youngsters to these museums, if for no other reason than to pay tribute to our fathers, uncles, grandparents.....and hope that by exposing them to history at an early age, we might accomplish an important final mission of our own. Remembering that Fort Sill has a very good museum, Lawton has the Great Plains Museum and many communities have quality exhibits that kids might find fascinating, my hope is that adults will take the time to hold the hands of curious young folk and let them see, with their own eyes, the country, the events and the people that are their heritage.
Besides, it will frustrate the hell out of revisionists who like to tamper with American history instead of holding it in high regard.
btw...Charles is class '64 and semi-retired in California after a lifetime with ABC.
I appreciate these 'storys' so very much and hope all of you enjoy them as much as I have. Georgia