June 20th…“WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA, DID A NEW ADVENTURE START OUT FUN, BUT END UP AS A DISASTER?
The Cessna flew low over our farm as my four year old legs catapulted me out of our home’s back screen door and to the center of our yard to get a better peek at this amazing “bird” called an airplane.
Of course, at the tender age of four years old…everything around me, in those early days, was amazing as I drank in each new adventure that life offered to me there on our farm in southern Minnesota. With rapt attention to the sky, I noticed that that magical craft in the up above was making a sharp, descending banking turn and was now easing itself down for a landing on our long alfalfa field. My little boy body shot like a streak of lightning in that general direction as I climbed to the top rail of our barnyard fence and stretched my neck as long as I could to see the plane’s front tires connect with the ground. The large aircraft tires, bouncing against the rough soil, caused the Cessna’s struts to quiver with joy as Mother Earth welcomed this metallic angel back to gravity and home. With the tiny rear wheel of the aircraft following suit of its big brothers up front, that sky horse then taxied down the field a ways. Next, I heard that powerful single engine rev up the propeller one more time to be able to spin the aircraft around to park it a bit closer to our cowyard.
As the propeller of the Cessna rotated to silence, out of the cockpit door came our dad’s brother, Uncle Doren Noorlun. From my munchkin perspective, I thought Uncle Doren was a bit on the wild side. He seemed to thrive on adventure and appeared to enjoy some mayhem along the way. Turns out, the incident in today’s story turned out to be no exception as Doren, with a wink, invited Dad, my brother Lowell, and myself to go with him for a ride up into the sky in that single-engine Cessna of his.
As we four aerial adventurers approached his sky-worthy machine, Uncle Doren popped open the pilot’s door for brother Lowell and I to climb into the cramped back seat of this metal bird. Having climbed into the cockpit themselves, Dad and our uncle buckled up their seatbelts, too, for what would be my very first ride in an airplane. That long, wooden, two-blade propeller slowly chugged round and round until that aircraft’s engine popped to life. Then, the propeller went from a seeable spin to a large, powerful blur as Doren revved up his engine to move us across the alfalfa field. The churning of that engine and propeller blade spinning caused a cacophony of sound and vibration inside the aircraft that both transfixed my four year old mind with wonder yet also fright, at the same time. The metal creature that surrounded us began to move as Uncle Doren increased the speed of the engine and that propeller generated an airflow that pushed us along. Looking out my side window, during the taxi, I was mesmerized by the lurching, up and down movement of the long span of metal wings as we moved to the end of the alfalfa field for what was known as a “take off”.
Small talk, between our uncle and Dad dwindled as Doren spun the craft around to face that Cessna into the wind. Like a cowboy cracking a whip, Uncle Doren quickly gave the engine a full throttle of power as we began our “race” into the air. With our ground speed increasing, it was, all of a sudden, as if a magician called out, “Ala kaZAM!!!”, and the airplane slowly lifted into the Summer Minnesota sky. My saucer-sized eyes witnessed the ground below us getting smaller and smaller as we climbed to meet the clouds. Up till now, in my tiny life, I had only seen birds do this type of thing and here I was actually in the clouds alongside them. So far…….I really LIKED this thing called flying!!!
In light of this story, I mention here that potty training was now far behind me, and at a whole four years of age, I had been a “big boy” for quite some time. No more diapers for me, ya? I’m just like the grownups, ya?……..NOT!!! I’ll tell you why! Uncle Doren, a seasoned veteran of World War II, decided he was going to have some fun with his “captive audience” inside that plane. He began putting his aircraft through some aerial acrobatics. I handled most of the maneuvers fairly well until he put that Cessna into a steep nosedive towards the earth below us. I was terrorized seeing that ground coming up fast in our vision. Doren then gave a hard yank on the yoke (steering wheel) of that “bird” and we abruptly shot back up into the sky!! Well, my itty bitty bladder just couldn’t handle the G-force shock of that experience and I emptied my boy bladder right there!! 😦 Beginning to cry, I tapped my uncle’s shoulder, from my place in the back seat, and said, “Unca Dowen, I wet my pants!!!” Well, there was to be no sympathy from THAT pilot, cause he, my dad and brother just howled with laughter thinking this was a good funny moment……..at my expense! For them, maybe it WAS funny, but for me? I was mortified that I had embarrassed myself in such a way 😦 After all, it was MY britches that were soaking wet and now I was suffering the embarrassment of being thought of as a baby once again.
After my uncle brought the plane safely once again to earth, the side door was popped open to allow this Wee Willie Wet Drawers to slither out of the aircraft and waddle away with my urine soaked clothing. Crying all the way up to our farm house, my mother heard me and met me at the door wondering what had happened. Through my tears, I had shared with her (including hand movements) of how my uncle’s plane had swooped towards earth and I had lost control of my bladder. Sometimes fun was NO FUN for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.