LET US TURN BACK TO THE WRIGHT, BROTHERS AND SISTERS

PROLOGUE:
We had to go ahead and discover everything for ourselves.
–Orville Wright, 1901

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Friends, Readers, Countrymen —

If you have spent many a sleepless night
tossing and turning ’til dawn’s early light,
wondering if I’d e’er host another post,
take such worries off thy plate — they’re toast.

Yes, Brothers and Sisters, thy long wait is o’er.
I’m back, and who of you could ask for more
although I must confess
that most may ask for less. 😦

Never-the-less, Brothers and Sisters,
it is written in the stars that I must return to the scene of my rhymes and other crimes. It’s Kismet.

Notwithstanding the never-the-less, Brothers and Sisters, I digress.
I come here not to berhyme the Wrights, but to praise them.

Thus this follow-up to my May 17 post, THE DAY THE WRIGHTS DONE ME WRONG, because, by ancient axiom, it’s the Wright thing to do (If at first you don’t succeed, fly, fly again). And if this discourse has the unintended consequence of being the sleep-aid you need to catch up on those zzzzz, the added benefit comes at no extra charge.

But I doubt that will be the case with THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, which, it so happens, is the title of a book I just finished reading (by my favorite historian, David McCullough). It’s no less than you’d expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning author: a masterful biography which (quoting from the dust cover) “draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including personal diaries, notebooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence, to tell the human side of a profoundly American story.”

The Wrights spent years of trial and air working to construct the world’s first ‘aeroplane,’ but as reader Don Frankel noted on May 17, America paid scant attention even after their successful first flight Dec. 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (and Don wasn’t just whistling Dixie in his comment). Finally, in 1906, after numerous improvements (including a more powerful engine) and many test flights, “much of the scientific world and the press [began] to change their perspective on the brothers”, and they started to attract commercial and government–especially French, not American– interest.

To the latter point, President (and fellow Ohioan) Wm. Howard Taft spoke as follows in presenting the two brothers with Gold Medals on June 10, 1909, in Washington D.C.:

I esteem it a great honor and an opportunity to present these medals to you as an evidence of what you have done. I am so glad–perhaps at a delayed hour–to show that in America it is not true that “a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.” It is especially gratifying thus to note a great step in human discovery by paying honor to men who bear it so modestly. You made this discovery by a course that we of America like to feel is distinctly American–by keeping your noses right at the job until you had accomplished what you had determined to do.

There are many stories within the story of THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, many twists and turns and mishaps along the way. The Wrights weren’t ‘stick’ figures with no interests and little to commend beyond their mechanical genius. Wilbur, for example, wrote home from France in 1906 of long walks and “the great buildings and art treasures of Paris, revealing as he never had–or had call to–the extent of his interest in architecture and painting.”

Read this bio and you will surely be taken along for the ride, as was I, by “the human side of a profoundly American story” of two men most of us know only from dry history books.

So fasten your life jackets and come fly with me.

EPILOGUE:
We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the Earth. But we were wrong. We underestimated man’s capacity to hate and to corrupt good means for an evil end. –Orville Wright, 1943 (during WWII)

 

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RHYMES AT RANDOM

In a comment to my last post (CERF’S UP), I raised the possibility of re-publishing several of my poetic baubles from THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE. Generous soul that I am, suppose I add a bonus of bangles and beads to the baubles….for man does not live by words alone, but with the inspiration of Blyth spirit beautifully begetting beguiling music, without which our Kismet (fate) would be drab indeed:

Yes, my friends, I have rhymes — or, conversely, should I say….

And now, having strung my lead-in out this far / I wish upon a wishing star / to make appear my Random rhymes / from the pages of bygone times. / These rhymes abode in poems four / nothing less and nothing more / but not having used up all my string / I’ll save one of the poems for my next post-ing:

LOVER BOY

Narcissus was too perfect for sex or pelf —
He longed only to gaze in love at himself….
The moral of which is that, even in myths,
Too much reflection may be your nemesis.

THE BOOK OF WISDOM

Thou shalt not commit adultery;
Nor shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s spouse.
Shouldst thou succumbeth to temptation,
Thou shalt not do it in thy neighbor’s house.

CONCEIVABLY, THE COMPLEAT HISTORY OF HUMAN SEX

Adam and Eve,
I believe,
Were the start of it.

Everyone since,
I’m convinced,
Played a part in it.

NOTE: Ann Blyth, who played Marsinah (daughter of The Poet, played by Howard Keel) in the film version of Kismet, is one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

 

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME AGAIN

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. –Faith Baldwin

A year ago today, I published a post titled IT’S ABOUT TIME which, as it happens, was about time. That post featured songs about time, such as TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE (which is all about time playing the role of an impatient gadabout). For this year’s edition, with Daylight Saving Time coming up this upcoming weekend, I thought I’d save myself time by posting quotes, like the Baldwin above, that carry on the time theme (which almost rhymes with crime scene, which is a site where it is suspected a pun has been committed in bad Faith). So, without further ado, it’s time to get down to cases:

Things money can’t buy: Time. Inner peace. Character. Manners. Respect. Morals. Trust. Patience. Class. Dignity. –Roy T. Bennett [almost identical with ‘Things on Trump’s Top Ten Never To Do list’]

I have no faith in human perfectibility. Man is now only more active – not more wise – than he was 6,000 years ago. –Edgar Allan Poe [man “more active” in Poe’s time? Of course he was — humans had yet to become Couch Po(e)tatoes]

Throughout history man’s inventions have been timesavers — then came television [100 years post-Poe]. –Evan Esar

I’m afraid of time…I mean I’m afraid of not having enough time — time to understand people, how they really are, or to be understood myself. I’m afraid of the quick judgments or mistakes everybody makes. You can’t fix them without time. –Ann Brashares

It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning. –Vincent Van Gough

I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? –Meg Rosoff

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. –William Faulkner

It takes a lifetime to die and no time at all. –Charles Bukowski

And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit. –Martin Amis

Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead. –Hans Christian Andersen

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time. –Jorge Luis Borges

Over the silent sands of time they go/lovers come/lovers go/and all that there is to know/lovers know/only lovers know. –“Sands Of Time” lyrics, from 1955 film KISMET