My Magnificent Adventure


⚽ In 1893 Frank Sprague installed the first modern elevators in Manhattan’s Postal Telegraph Building in New York City (he later sold his company to Otis Elevator).  This one act started the rise of tall buildings in that city and seeded the spread nationwide.  It’s estimated that the world’s cities now hold more than half the world’s population, but less than 3% of its land.  I was 14 years old (1955) when I took my first elevator ride.  My Dad loaded Mom, Jerry (my brother), and me, into our family car (1952 Hudson) and drove for eleven hours on Route 460 from our home in southwest Virginia (Oakwood) to visit Mom’s sister (Aunt Letha) in the eastern part of the state (Suffolk).  The next day Dad and Uncle Aaron took Jerry and me into town, and we walked into a building with four floors.  Upon entering, we walked over and stepped into a small room with an open door.  Uncle Aaron pushed a button, and it closed.  I glanced up at him with a puzzled look on my face and he returned my glance with a smile.  Suddenly, the floor started moving upwards and my brother and I had absolutely no idea what was happening.   Jerry started crying and held onto Dad’s leg, but being 16 months older, I refused to do so.  Both men could see the look of shock on my face and were unable to contain their amusement, bursting into laughter.  Within a minute it stopped, the door opened, and we got out and walked into an office of some sort for Dad & Uncle Aaron to do some business.  As I sat there waiting for their conversation to end, I tried to understand what had just happened.  Never before had I seen a floor move upwards on its own. What made that happen?  Twenty minutes later we walked out of the office and into that small room again. The button was pushed as I watched intently, then the door closed, and the floor started moving downwards.  Wow, now I was really confused!  What decided which way the floor was going to move?  In a few seconds the floor stopped moving, the door opened, and we left the building headed for the car parked around back.

As we rode home, I couldn’t wait to tell Mom & Aunt Letha about the magic I had just witnessed!  I was sure they wouldn’t believe me. There were flying carpets in my comic books, but I always knew that was make believe.  I had never ridden on a flying carpet, but I had ridden on a flying floor. This was big!  When we arrived, Dad and Uncle Aaron stood around with big smiles as my brother and I described our magnificent adventure to Mom & Aunt Letha.  They played along with the men and acted as surprised as my brother and me. That night I went to bed wondering what else this wonderful world had to offer?  If floors could fly, when would cars be able to fly, or could we humans learn to fly?  I dropped off to sleep wondering how much magic was still left for me to discover and a feeling of warmth deep inside me made me sleep with a smile on my face the entire night.

“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner” …Collette

⚽ I live in a small town on the east coast of Virginia and our area has a lot of military men and women.  The coasts of the United States are dotted with more than three dozen naval bases, the largest being Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA, which is just 20 minutes away.  It was founded in 1917 and is not only the largest naval base in the USA but also the largest in the world.  It covers nearly 3,400 acres and is home to approximately 150,000 personnel.  As you can imagine, we have people in our area from all over our great country.  Our economy is highly dependent on the money they spend.  We also have our nation’s largest shipyard (Newport News Shipbuilding) with a workforce of about 25,000. Langley AFB, with over 9000 military & civilian personnel, sits next door to our small community and the roar of aircraft is always present.  A favorite saying locally is that the aircraft sounds are not noise but “The sound of freedom”.  Fort Eustis is our local Army base (5,000 military) and is also an integral part of our community.  Just in case you are wondering, I’m not  divulging sensitive information, it is all publicly available and is, of course, only estimates.  I served in the US Air Force in the early ‘60s and my experience was that most communities under appreciated the military in their area and especially did not want the military men dating the local single girls. I was married, but I knew a lot of single guys that tried to disguise their military roots by wearing civilian clothing when they went into town. 

Today, our attitude towards our military personnel has thankfully changed and everywhere I go I see them being thanked for their service.  I think that is wonderful because I recall my experience of feeling rejected by the local community wherever I was stationed.  The only time I felt appreciated was when I went back home, where there was always a slap on the back and a welcome home greeting. 

In our local area, servicemen & women not only protect our freedom but contribute mightily to our economy.  Truth be known, we do owe them a debt of gratitude.  Yes, we pay their salary & they have good benefits, but a lot just barely get by on a soldier’s pay.  When I went into the US Air Force in 1959 as a lowly Airman 3rd Class, I was paid $75/month, and when I opted to leave four years later, my pay was $225/month.  During the last two years of my service, I worked part-time, 7 days a week, to give my family of four a decent living.  I sincerely hope we are paying our military better now.      

⚽ Abraham Maslow (Theory of Human Motivation) created a pyramid of mankind’s basic needs: Physiological–food, water, sleep clothes, shelter, etc.; Safety–personal, emotional, financial, health; Social belonging–friendships, intimacy, family; Self-esteem–feel respected, stable, recognition; Self-actualization–accomplish everything that one can; and lastly, Transcendence–giving oneself to something beyond oneself (altruism or spirituality).   

I think old Abe is on to something, beginning with our basic needs (food, water, etc.) and then as we move thru life, entering the other stages of his pyramid.  I can look at his chart and see my life as I grew older and how it felt to be in those different areas he described.  I am now firmly in the “Transcendence” phase of life, whereas my goal is to give myself to something beyond self-interest.  I believe most of us will ultimately arrive at this place in life.  In Acts 20:35, Paul says to the Ephesians; “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”.

 However, during this time of tumult (COVID-19), it feels like a lot of us are sliding back into Maslow’s basic stage (Physiological) of food, water, shelter.  Grocery store shelves are barren as we grab everything in sight, fearing the worst, and attempting to insure we have what is necessary to survive.  I believe this fear of the unknown is a result of moving away from religion and relying only on oneself.  There were times in my adolescent life that my family was bereft of food, with little money to buy it.  But we had faith in a God, and we believed he would see we were taken care of.  Studies show that 60% of Americans believe in God, but only 23% of us go to church each week.  Our southern states (i.e. Alabama Mississippi) are “highly religious” 80% and our New England states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) have the lowest percentage of those “highly religious” adults (45%).  The median church nationwide has, on average, 75 attendants each Sunday.  Since only 23% of us go to church on a weekly basis, that is, in my opinion, the reason we fear for our future.  Working our way through this pandemic will be decidedly easier for those of us that believe in a Higher Power showing us how to handle this tragedy.  It is up to us “believers” to show how our faith stills our fears and gives us the confidence we need to handle hard times. 

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) said it well; “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

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