Monthly Archives: June 2017

Museum of Flight

On my recent “Granddaddy” trip to Seattle in the spring of 2017, I got a chance to visit a museum I had wanted to explore previously. In August 2013, my wife and I met our daughter in Seattle for a weeklong adventure. One of my goals on that trip, in addition to hitting as many brew pubs as we could, was to take in some of the aviation-themed attractions. Going to the Boeing plant was, at least for me, a highlight of the trip. But after spending almost an entire day there, I didn’t think my wife and daughter would go for another multi-hour aviation adventure so I didn’t suggest the Museum of Flight.

So on this most recent trip, when my daughter suggested we take her son, my grandson to the Museum of Flight, I jumped at the opportunity. A word of disclosure is in order: This is not a paid advertisement for the museum. We had such a great time there; I just felt it was most worthy of a post.

We arrived on a rainy Wednesday morning not long after the museum opened. After purchasing our tickets, we made our way into the main hall where many airplanes were on display. One of our first stops was boarding one of the first Boeing 737s built, the world’s most popular airplane in terms of numbers manufactured.

It was glorious to see the plane lined from front to back with what we would refer to today as first class seats. It made me a bit sad to think I never got to fly in the 1960s when all passengers had this nice of accommodations (my first time to fly was not until 1980).

We then moved on to a children’s area where they had real single seat airplanes for kids to play in. My grandson had a great time “piloting” one of these…

…and getting to “fly” a helicopter.

I enjoyed getting to see some of the scale model biplanes hanging from the ceiling in this area.

One of my grandson’s favorite exhibits, one we would return to multiple times was Molt Taylor’s “Aerocar”, an actual flying car (my grandson, like me, LOVEs cars).

 

Another area of interest was the warplane exhibit which included warplanes from World War I (WWI) and World War II (WWII).

On display were many of the most significant planes from WWII but what intrigued me the most were the WWI planes, the old bi-planes and tri-planes I would have loved to have been able to fly.

Included were examples of Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel and a SPAD XIII much like the balsa and tissue scale model I built growing up.

Another display area of interest to all of us was the Boeing Red Barn, a replica of the original Boeing plant when planes were made of wood and canvas.

In a covered outdoor area, were many important modern airplanes. It was a real treat to get to board the Concord and experience what the luxury of Mach II flight might have seemed like.

This was a plane I had only seen one other time when one landed in Memphis many years ago.

Another fun plane to enter was Air Force One, the Boeing 247D jetliner used by Richard Nixon on his historic trip to China.

A real treat was to enter a modern Boeing 787, the Deamliner, currently Boeing’s newest airplane design. Maybe one day we would get to enjoy flying on one of these.

This particular one is the third built which was used for certification.

After climbing aboard the other planes on display, we realized it was unfortunately time to leave before traffic got too bad. Without realizing it, we had spent almost five hours at the museum.

But we couldn’t leave before one more stroll past the Aerocar.

Over the next few days of my visit, my grandson mentioned several times about the “airplane museum.” My daughter recognized this was a destination they should return to as a family.

So on Saturday after dropping me off at the Seattle airport, they went back to the museum and bought an annual membership. Now my grandson could go as many times as he wanted.

And his dad would get to enjoy seeing the delight in his son’s eyes as he made his way from one display to another, over and over again.

A Swing Set Swinger

This girl is a swinger…

…and a slider…

…and a see sawer.

So when her grandmother (my wife, affectionately known as Mimi) mentioned that she needed to get a swing set for her own backyard, it was absolutely the most logical thing. Just her granddaddy (me), the person who routinely takes her to the Children’s Museum each week where she gets to play on these things indoors, never thought of it. But thanks to Grandmother’s forethought and initiative, this was remedied this past spring.

This box was delivered to my son’s house just before spring break when her parents would both be off from school. Rather than picking up my granddaughter for our usual Wednesday afternoon together at the Children’s Museum, I came over for the assembly process at my son’s house.

As we removed the pieces from the box, my granddaughter thought it was great fun to get in the middle of things, even though she had no clue as to what the final product would be. But this partially assembled slide seemed as good a place as any from which to watch the action unfold.

The first step was to assemble the cross bar from four separate pieces that had to be tightly screwed together. Interconnecting the first two, my son and I failed to notice that the bar had been engineered to have a top side and a bottom side. And wouldn’t you know, as luck would have it, the first two bars came together very tightly with one side up and one side down. This was due to my tendency not to read over the entire directions prior to assembly in spite of how instructions always say to do so (this was certainly not the first time I had had to dissemble something to reassemble if correctly). We labored over getting them separated for quite a while until my son came upon the idea of spraying some WD40 on them to get them separated. That worked well although our hands were slightly slippery after that.

From then on, we tried to pay close attention to the fine details in the directions where such helpful notes were highlighted. In a relatively short time, we had the frame assembled.

At this point, my granddaughter may have begun to recognize what her daddy and granddaddy were putting together with hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches.

To confirm her suspicions, we attached a couple of swings and quickly my granddaughter was ready to have some fun.

After that, we couldn’t put the rest of the swing set together fast enough.

Once we had assembled the two different gliders, we had enough swings for the whole family to swing on.

All that remained was the slide and the see saw.

And before we could even attach the slide to the frame of the swing set, my granddaughter was already climbing the ladder to slide down.

Playing on a see saw is one of my granddaughter’s favorite activities at the Children’s Museum, the spot she usually goes first as soon as we arrive. So when she realized she was getting one of those too, she jumped down on the yellow seat before I could even attach the fulcrum to the side frame. Trying as hard as I might, I could not attach it with her sitting on it.  When we lifted her off, she sadly burst into tears. So we had to finish as fast as we could so she could get back to her fun.

It ended up taking us about six hours to complete the swing set, just about the time the online reviews indicated it would take to assemble it, that is once you subtract the time it took us to separate the first two pieces. Fully assembled, the swing set was larger than any our kids had growing up. But Grandmother had wisely chosen one that all three of our grandkids could play on together at the same time when they were in town.

Since installing the swing set, our granddaughter has had literally hours of pleasure swinging in her own backyard. Now when I bring her home from Parent’s Day Out, one of the first things she does is head to the back door to go out and swing.

Now she just has to wait for her two cousins to come to town so all three can play together. And when they do, my wife will have realized her dream of seeing all three of our grandkids having a great time swinging together. What fun we have to look forward to.

Thanks Mimi!

Kids Photos on My Office Desk

Some additional items that I will need to take home before I retire are the photos that have graced my office desk for all these years. I started working at this location over 30+ years ago, before my daughter and youngest son were even born and when our oldest son was just one year old. So you could say, my kids have literally grown up with me while I worked here.

The earliest photos I brought to display on my desk were the ones that were taken when they were in school (or pre-school), the ones taken by a professional photographer in September at the beginning of each academic year. Each fall, they would get a new picture made and I would bring them all to work to replace the previous year’s photo. I have used these same frames all that time so the frames themselves are almost as old as my kids.

During the year, it was a gradual growing up process that my wife and I witnessed. But when I replaced the photo from the year before with the newest one, there was typically a stark difference in their appearance. My daughter was actually born five days after I started working here so every year she celebrated her birthday; I too celebrated a work anniversary.

Each time I added a new photo, I put it in front of the previous photo so that the frames include all ten or so photos of each child. Their last photo was of a high school graduation, a college graduation, or a graduate school graduation photo (not necessarily a reflection of their highest achieved degree but rather just the last time the event was captured by a professional photographer).

I often thought these would make a nice collage, all 5 X7 prints in a single matted frame but since I have previously scanned all these photos, I could also make a digital collage.

It is bitter sweet to look back over the photos and see how each child has grown over the years.

Photos have always been some of my most prized possessions as they bridge us back to another time, a time we may not be able to recall so easily within our mind. But it is also with the knowledge that these photos provide only a visual image of each child at that stage of their life. To know their personality, to know the fine adult that they have grown into and to know the person whom they really are, you would have to have witnessed their growing up all these years.

Sadly working full time all those years, I missed a lot of this growing up and so these photos, no matter how precious they are cannot make up for that. But once I retire, I will be able to spend more time with each one of them, the families they have started (and the grandkids!), to reflect on the memories of them growing up, to get to know them more, and to share in the sheer joy of just being there with them.

Wednesday with Granddaddy – Double Treat

Last year, I wrote about how much I enjoy every Wednesday since I get to spend the afternoon with my granddaughter at the Children’s Museum of Memphis (CMOM).  She and I have been going there for a full two semesters now, ever since her parents have been back in school. It is a wonderful routine that she and I have gotten in to and, the few times I have traveled and not been available, we have both sorely missed our time together. Well in May of this year, I got a double treat when my daughter and grandson flew in town for a two-week visit.

It was a very special time to be with them since my daughter and her family live so far away. And with my granddaughter’s parents out of school for the summer, there were lots of time to get together over the two weeks so the two cousins could play with each other, here seen sharing cups of ice at Mimi’s café.

Since it had been almost a year since we had all been together, it also afforded us an opportunity to get some professional photos taken of the grandkids.

With nice spring weather, there were also several chances to have cookouts together…

…and learning to share.

It was definitely an exciting time for all.

But for me, the highlight of the visit was getting to go to the Children’s Museum with two of my three grandchildren along with their parents (sans our son-in-law who was on a business trip) and my wife and fellow grandparent affectionately named, Mimi!

For my granddaughter, having been so many times with me to CMOM, she has almost a routine of what she likes to do once we walk in the door. For my grandson, this was a new experience so starting out with Mimi in a police car seemed an appropriate place to begin the adventure.

In fact since it was a new exploration for my grandson, I spent a part of my time going back and forth between where my grandson was at the time and where my granddaughter was.

With her parents there, my granddaughter also got to do some special things with Mommy and Daddy that my granddaughter and I had not been able to do before.

And throughout our time there, I tried to make sure I spent an equal amount of time with each grandchild wherever they were in the museum so that they did not perceive me as showing favoritism to one or the other.   On the occasion when they were in the same place…

…I never could seem to get them both in the same photo at the same time.

Being interested in cars like me and so also mechanically inclined, my grandson spent some time taking the wheels off the car in for repair…

…before running over to the FEDEX plane and loading up packages for delivery. I think he manually cranked at least 20 packages up the conveyor belt all the while my granddaughter was sliding down the circular slide from the back of the plane, each doing what they thought was the most fun.

We fortunately had about two hours at the museum so the two cousins got to shop together at the little grocery store, cook together in the little kiddie kitchen, and do lots of other fun activities.

I don’t know if anyone noticed the gleam of joy in my eyes getting to watch them both play. It was a real thrill for me, one I would love to have more often. And my keen observation noted that they both made the same tongue motion as they played, a small telling behavior revealing they were related.

At 5:00 when the museum closed and for our grandkids, went “night-night” as we always say, we made our way out to the parking lot. But the fun was not over yet. We drove over to my favorite burger place for a well-earned dinner.

As we talked and waited for our food to arrive, I reflected on the wonderful time I had had at the museum watching my grandkids play. I knew they had had fun too and I hoped my fellow adults had also. But deep down, I knew this was particularly a special treat for me—a double Wednesday treat with two grandkids—one that might not be so easily detected by the casual observer. But a treat it was indeed, one that I hope to get to repeat one day, hopefully with all three of my grandchildren making it a Triple-Treat!