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Pool: Odd Fellows, warplanes and spring again

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During my wife’s spring break we drove once again to southern Ohio to visit her 94-year-old mother. All of us having been vaccinated, visiting her assisted living facility had become possible.

As I have written before, I married into a good family, so the trip, while not a vacation jaunt, was not a burden. Nevertheless, I took my golf clubs, several books and a plan to go to a museum.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast near the center of Lebanon, Ohio. The town was founded in 1802 and has many historic buildings. We walked downtown and back a few times. What I particularly like about the town is that many of these old houses seem to be inhabited by long-term residents. They have not been gentrified, though some of the grandest near downtown have been converted into professional offices.

I’ve always had a thing about towers. I’ve made do with second-story windows, but if I ever came into a surprising amount of money I’d build a house with a tower. Thus one particular building in Lebanon caught my attention because of its tower.

Turns out, it was the former home of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. I quickly decided that this was the sort of group I should join, so I researched it, only to find that the nearest meeting place seemed to be in Corsicana. I would have happily become an Odd Fellow, but driving all that way is well, too odd even for me.

The day I had planned for golf turned out to be rainy, so I drove up to Dayton to visit the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force. I had been there once before, but I’d arrived too late in the afternoon to do more than walk briskly through the large hangers housing historical aircraft.

This time I took my time, especially at the start. There is a reconstructed Wright flyer using parts from the Wrights’ bicycle shop. I was particularly interested in the heavy bicycle chain that linked the motor to the propeller. I was also taken by an exhibit of aircraft engines from WWI, and I spent quite a while looking at aircraft from the ‘20s and ‘30s and watched the rapid evolution of aircraft design.

Then I got to the warplanes that I knew well as a kid, those of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. I had made models of some of them. My next-door neighbor on Maple Street, Mike Clemons, had a large model collection. Eventually he outgrew them and kindly gave them to me, though by that time I simply put them on shelves or hung them from my bedroom ceiling.

Once I would have been excited by all these aircraft, but I’ve reached a stage in life where machines meant to kill people just don’t light me up anymore. I appreciate the history behind them and the sacrifices of our service members in a dangerous world, but I’ve decided that our national security will not be impaired if I don’t give close attention to military technology.

By the time I got to the hall of missiles, I’d had enough. I made my way back.

The trip is long, and the highways in Tennessee and Arkansas are uninteresting. We stopped in Texarkana and the next morning drove to Longview for a lunch date with a friend.

The dogwood and redbud were flowering, and the pine trees brought back memories of growing up. East Texas is especially beautiful in the spring. My wife noticed it too. It was great to be back.

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— Frank Thomas Pool is a writer and a retired English teacher in Austin. He grew up on Maple Street in Longview and graduated from Longview High School. His column appears Tuesday. Contact him at frankt.pool@gmail.com.

Today's Bible verse

"For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses."

Matthew 6:14-15

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