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As spring got warmer, things got busy with school and such.
All of that reading, writing and arithmetic temporarily pushed back my plans to build a British Spitfire out of cardboard gleaned from behind the Parr Brothers’ Furniture store.
I didn’t like it, but I had to wait until summer vacation to assemble my English fighter plane.
Now you may ask why I had my heart set on a British Spitfire. Well, why not?
One cold winter Saturday morning, I got lucky.
Following my time honored ritual, I took in the cowboy picture show at the “old show” (The Imperial). To my surprise, a war movie was playing at the “new show” (Parr Theater) at the same time.
According to the billboard pictures out front, this movie was about the Battle of Britain.
It was no secret that German Luftwaffe was bombing London all the time. But thanks to a bunch of Spitfire fighter planes and some good pilots, England was holding its own against superior odds.
Big Ben and the London Bridge were being saved.
I had recently seen “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court” and this war movie was pretty much like it.
Let me explain.
This good old boy from Georgia was a barn-storming pilot and pretty much like all the rest of us, he was pretty good rifle shot to boot.
Seems this fella couldn’t get in the Army Air Corps because he was always in trouble with the law. Not to be outdone, he just up and takes a boat across the ocean to Liverpool where he meets some Royal Air Force pilots in a bar. They get to talking and bragging about things.
The Georgia boy starts shooting off his mouth about how he could fly, so these British aces ask him to prove it.
Well, sir, that old boy takes a Spitfire up and shoots down two German Stukas.
As soon as he landed, two English generals came running up and made him a RAF captain right on the spot.
They told him that he could have any plane he wanted and they would paint it whatever color he wanted.
Being from Georgia, he decided Peach Pink would be just perfect.
From then on, until the picture was over, these German pilots would high-tail it back across the English Channel whenever they got a glimpse of that pink Spitfire roaring out of the clouds.
As Bugs Bunny would say, “That’s all, folks.”
Now you can understand why I had the fever to build a Spitfire. I got so worked up that I clean forgot all about dinner and a bowl of banana pudding.
About dark, I was finished, except painting on the RAF insignia.
Next morning I finished that.
Grabbing my genuine leather jacket, aviator cap with goggles snapped on, I climbed into the cockpit and fired up that 12 cylinder Roll Royce engine.
Down the runway I went like a scalded dog.
In no time, I was circling the water tower at the police station, protecting the skies over Lancaster.
It must be working too, I thought, as I banked left toward the Bank of Lancaster. The Germans knew I was on the lookout for them and I had the sky to myself.
Yes, sir, my Spitfire – made from sturdy cardboard – was one dependable fighter plane and served Lancaster well.
That was until a John Wayne picture show about the “Flying Tigers” hit the silver screen.
After I got home that day, I took the Spitfire up one last time.
I pulled her off the tarmac and into my make-believe hangar in the yard and killed the engine.
When the plane flew again, it was as a P-51 Mustang, complete with tiger teeth. I was member of Capt. Jim Gordon’s volunteers, protecting Main Street from the Japanese, or at least until a new movie came out.
That P-51 was mothballed after Sgt. Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) rode across the Libyan Desert in a tank rescuing folks.
After seeing “Sahara,” my beloved fighter plane became a Sherman Tank.
Let me tell you a fella with a vivid imagination sure stays busy keeping up with the latest military marvels.