July 22nd, 2018- think of the date as a “marker buoy”. Difficult to know where to start… there’s nothing for it but to take one step at a time, I guess, and begin what will be the last tome, epistle, ramblings… the last installment, chapter, verse… of this column, blog, Op-Ed, known as… Flying With Fred. You’ll have to wait until the end for particulars, but starting off, as I said…
It’s been an inexcusable amount of time since the prior missive… almost four years. As Jeff Dunham’s sidekick Walter would say: “… Holy Crap !!!…”. Why so long between writings? See FWF Vol.VI #8 early on for some lame-sounding self-pitying prose that is as good an excuse as any. Sorry to once again use cinema as a metaphor, but the movies Lucy and Interstellar come to mind this time around, with regards to their interpretation of what Time is, and how it passes. And passes. And passes; faster and faster. And how all the while, you and every thing you know is slowly… changing, changing, changing… and at my age, deteriorating. Having trouble keeping up these days. Maybe it’s just me, but many things that I’ve held near and dear have either gone sour, or- literally- died, in this last epoch of 48 months. That’s the worst of it. I’ve been informed that this is what is known as… Life.
I grieved, but did not cry, when my Dad passed over 17 years ago, and when my Mom passed in October of 2014. Both I and My Better Half cried (sobbed, actually), grieved and were saddened beyond bearing, it seemed, when we had to say goodbye to our daughter- canine daughter, that is- who we had to put down in April of 2016. The one and only Brandy, the Wonder-Dog. She was approximately 15+ years of age, and could no longer walk. The look in her eyes during the week prior to her departure seemed to say “enough”, and so we did as she asked. I’ve been involved with saying goodbye to a number of other four-legged family members over the years, but this time around it was very personal, very close to our Center, as it were. A better Dog I’ve never had, nor are likely to have again, in my lifetime. Damn if I’m not reaching for a kleenex…
Bill Gheduzzi died. Affable, likeable, helpful- ex full-scale flight Instructor- both a MAAW and WRAM member. A great friend; Bill. A Ying to Mike G.’s Yang. At age 68, this last April from heart disease and diabetes. Had recently moved into a wonderful new home, and bought a kickin’ Chevy pickup with all the trimmings. Was due for what today is a routine ( ! ) bypass procedure- surgeons found the heart too far gone for any repairs, and was coma-induced until they were 100% sure nothing else could be done. One moment he was here, the next- gone. I catch myself from time to time still referring to him as if he was here. This also is… Life.
And the WRAM died. Or, at least, what had been the WRAM (and what it represented) for almost 50 years. New “members” decided to kill The Show (as in, the WRAM Show) prematurely. Reasons cited varied from “…it takes too long to get there…” to “…it costs too much…” and everything in between. The remains were resurrected after a fashion by the A.M.A., and the 2017-18 versions, still being held at the MEC (Meadowlands Expo Center) in Secaucus, were- in my opinion- qualified successes. The great and worthwhile WRAM involvement in one of the three major industry trade shows in the country- as well as the hobby- is now history. Club Patriarch Frank DeVore continues to spin in his grave.
You’ll notice so far no mention of things like “Flying” or “Building”. I could not have believed it possible when I retired five ( ! ) years ago, but with few exceptions, there’s been precious little of the Former, and basically none of the Latter over the last 4 years (four years… damn… ). Averaged 3 times a year at the WRAM field, and if Al Reinhardt’s Training Tuesdays had not been in evidence, roughly that at Croton Point. God bless Al and his Dollar Store Combat Foamies. (Full Disclosure: I confess I’ve meandered over to Mamaroneck- 3 minutes away- for some brief, small electric flying over the Soccer and Baseball fields of the Bay Park, on a occasional weekday morning. Very convenient, and very lazy…)
Yes, all four years did find me at Rhinebeck and Shinhopple in September. I plan to pilgrimage to the Former for as long as I’m able. The Triplane is the only plane I’ve flown at the Aerodrome during the period, and a P-47 (one of three- two still in their shipping boxes- electric 1500mm wingspan extravagances I’ve allowed myself) and reliable Mr. Artizan at the N.E.A.T. Fair. The saddest tale of all may be that I keep moving the box with the still- unbuilt replacement Balsa USA Bristol M-1C all over the cellar, as I rummage through the accumulation of Airplane (and Train) things which have reached the Maxed-Out state; as in, no more room. Definitely, and without a doubt- no more room, to speak of. 36 years of things; all (yes, all) of them wonderful and unique things. And now, it’s all going to be moved. I hope to find time again for the Zen of creating more of our smaller-scale flying wonders, once everything reappears down South.
MBH (My Better Half) retired in late June after 42 years of what is arguably one of the- if not THE- most important and difficult job on the planet- Teaching. From Archdiocesan schools to private schools to public schools to Special Ed schools; a seasoned Combat Veteran if there ever was one. This is the Good News. The Bad News is that as of a few weeks ago we live right up against what was declared the MOST expensive Zip Code in the Country (Pound Ridge). This in one of the most expensive Counties in the Country, in one of the two most expensive States.
Taxes (primarily for schools we’ve never had a need for) and prices for everything, which seem to climb- however imperceptibly- from year to year, have finally (after almost 60 years) brought our safe, ordered, comfortable, reliable and cherished lives to a fork in the road we have to take- to rebuild same 1,100+ miles away, on reduced income streams. Economics drives everything, I’m afraid ( see Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and The Fall Of The Soviet Union for the best / biggest example of same in the last 40+ years ).
The city is called Ocala, in the upper third of Florida- almost smack-dab in the middle of the state. Many nice things (including at least three nearby flying clubs). Much, much less expensive. I’ll have family roughly 6 hours away in the Keys. It’s the Right Decision, if not necessarily the Best Decision. Many friends and acquaintances will be left behind- many memories, many good places and things. I suspect the emotional blow lurking out there will be substantial come our Closing Date in late August. The Snow Bird option looks more and more enticing…
Both I and MBH are community-centric. And I’ve found out at this stage of the game I no longer care much for Change. If you tell me it’s an improvement, well… maybe. Otherwise, it’s taken six decades to get to the point where we have an answer / solution for just about everything. Other folks have done it successfully (if not stressfully- God if I don’t sound like an Old Man bitchin’ ! ). I will be throwing away so many perfectly useful and functioning items which are now “obsolete”. I don’t need them, but I want them, dammit. Sorry, no room, no money to transfer them. That’s Life- again.
Now let’s get down to cases. I will no longer be able to do / help / contribute to the MAAW in the capacities I’ve been involved with for nearly 35 years- the best part of the job. Someone else will be stepping up to take over. I can tell you now that I will miss it all: the Members (99%), the Field- harassed on all sides, but still a great place to fly. The Flying in the Fall (and Spring and Summer, for that matter). I will miss making a difference; doing Good whenever possible. I will miss Al’s Foamies, I will miss Frank C’s sick heli aerobatics (which one day he may finally do away from the runway, etc.). I will miss Marland’s calm and precise flying. I will miss Peter P’s skills and attention to minutiae. I will miss Steve L’s joke routines and presence in the air. I will miss Ed M’s history / adventures with the club, and his Treasuring.
I will miss Dave L’s manning the Copilot’s chair for so many years. I will miss Doug B’s height and how far he’s come since he joined us. I will miss Al R., who Fate brought to us in a round-about way, but who’s been a blessing- thanks to his energy, creativeness and generosity. I will miss Erik and Carole; a true Success Story (Erik’s soloing, Carole surviving his Tween Years). I will miss Anthony R., who has not, I think, changed physically in the last quarter century, and the magic of his pattern flying. I will miss Fred (and Fran) Fryer, whose photography was a blessing from the moment he joined us. I will miss the Holiday party, and the June club picnic. I will miss Chet Babbin and Pete Baylinson- both of which left us too soon. I miss, and continue to miss, Fred Coleman; builder extraordinaire and sage counselor, and Dave Kirschstein; legal counsel. Both these gents were members of both the MAAW and the WRAM- both now gone. I will miss all of the people above, and many more who’ve come and gone.
What’s to come when I leave? I think the future of the MAAW is in good hands. The new folks driving the bus are dedicated and passionate individuals. The Old Timers will help them as necessary, which is the best combination possible. Your responsibility as members is to help them as best you can, by being the best members you can. Accordingly, I wish everyone the best of all things; it will continue to be so if everyone pitches in on all fronts. Cooperation, Common Sense, Common Cause. Keep these up and there’ll be many more years of RC flying on our small, magical plateau overlooking the Hudson. I plan to visit as often as I can- it’s where a piece of me will always reside. Look for the white pith helmet every now and then. Until that time, keep flying!