Friday, July 9, 2010
A Hard Lesson Learned ...
As Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt made his way into town in search of a fierce and efficient "mouser," he came upon the OldBarbershop and decided to drop in for a quick trim ... as many of you know, barbershops are infamous for being places where folks gather to visit with friends, share life experiences and tall tales, or maybe discuss politics, religion, sports, news, weather, current affairs, idle gossip or just about anything interesting or imaginable ... it seems as though when one climbs into any barber's chair, one automatically feels a compulsion to "spill one's guts" concerning anything and everything on one's mind ... if police detectives were to replace all usual interrogation methods with a comfortable barber's chair, most criminal mysteries would be readily solved ... on this particular day Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter was already sitting in "the hot seat" as Virgil Hunnicutt ambled through the door ... Clarence could be overheard telling Barbershop Bob the barber to "take just a little off the sides please" ... Bob sharply replied "where else could I take some off, the sides are the only places you have any remaining hair?!" to which all present had a great laugh, including Clarence ... so Bob began clipping away at what little Clarence had to clip and their conversation at once resumed, the topic of discussion being Sheriff Clarence's use of a small airplane to locate moonshine stills in dangerously remote and inaccessible areas of the county ... mainly because Sheriff Clarence and his deputies were afraid to approach these locations on foot for fear of getting shot at, dog bit or caught up in some unpleasant booby-trap.
An all but deaf and well-nigh blind Virgil sat there listening intently as he pretended to peruse the local newspaper he had unknowingly clutched in an upside-down position in his hands, but immediately perked up at the mention of the airplane ... "who do you hire to fly you around Sheriff VanMeter, if I might be so bold as to enquire?" Virgil asked of the Sheriff ..."not at all Mister Hunnicutt sir, but I don't hire anybody, I fly myself and use my own airplane ... as a matter of fact, I am an extremely proficient and experienced aviator having accumulated well over 20,000 hours at the controls of an aircraft ... and I'm a certified flight instructor to boot!" replied the Sheriff ... "I wasn't aware of that ... I'm impressed ... what kind of airplane to you own?" added Virgil ... "a vintage WWI, two-seater biplane with a powerful engine, likely used as a trainer for fighter pilots way back when" answered Clarence proudly ... "do you by any chance have your pilot's license Mister Hunnicutt?" he added ... "oh no sir, I never had any use for a pilot's license ... as a matter of fact, I haven't been up in an airplane for quite a few years now" replied Virgil ... to which Clarence made this generous and kind offer "well why don't you meet me over at the airfield tomorrow afternoon and I'll take you up for a spin in my airplane?" ... Virgil was ecstatic blurting out "most definitely sir, I will assuredly see you there!"
The next afternoon Virgil enlisted the services of one Luther DooLittle to drive him over to the little airfield in Luther's Daddy's old Dodge pickup truck ... Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter had already removed the bright, red biplane from the hangar and was just finishing his preflight check when Luther pulled up with Virgil ... Clarence greeted the motley pair as he and Luther assisted Virgil from the truck and strapped him into the front seat of the fully restored yet clearly antiquated aircraft ... "now you ain't scared or nervous are you Mister Hunnicutt?" Clarence politely asked ... "no sir, not a bit ... I think I'll be alright" proclaimed Virgil with a bit of a chuckle ... Clarence climbed in and cranked up the powerful engine as the propeller spun with a loud roar ... he then taxied out to the end of the short airstrip, powered up and rolled down that runway rapidly picking up speed as the aged aircraft leaped into the air and began a steep climb skyward ... Clarence yelled "you still okay Mister Hunnicutt?" ... Virgil waved then assured Clarence that "all was well" ... so Clarence began explaining the controls and the purpose of all the gauges in the cockpit as they sailed effortlessly through the calm air.