Parachute Man

27 Aug

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill

 

When I was six years old (1944) WWII was still raging and most everyone in America was trying to do their part to support the war effort. Children’s toys were among the many things that were slanted toward the war and my parents bought me a small stuffed Parachute Man. My Parachute Man was decked out in a camouflaged battle outfit with a cloth parachute attached to his back. I could wrap the parachute and shroud lines around his body, and then when I threw him high in the air, the parachute would unwind and he would come floating down just like a real U.S. Army Paratrooper. Boy, did I have fun with that Parachute Man! I repeated the sequence over and over, day after day, trying to see how high I could throw him. As you can imagine, the higher I could throw him the longer it took him to float back down to me. I can’t remember how long this went on, but I had gotten pretty good at lofting my Parachute Man way up there.

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 Our house in Dallas, TX was on a corner lot, and the side street was usually fairly busy with traffic, going both ways, and I had been instructed to play on the other side of our yard. One day as I was playing with my Parachute Man, and having so much fun, I didn’t notice that the wind had shifted and was now blowing across our yard from the west. On one of the highest lofts I had ever thrown, when the parachute opened, the wind caught my Parachute Man and he drifted across our yard and out into the cross street, right in front of a car. I held my breath. Was he going to be run over and crushed? I ran to the edge of our yard to see what had happened to my Parachute Man. But, he wasn’t there! Where was he? I looked up and down the street, but he was nowhere in sight. Then I realized… he had gotten caught on the front of that car and I would never see him again. I was a sad little boy for a long time after that, but my parents didn’t buy me another Parachute Man; probably thinking it would end up the same way or worse, if I were to run out into the street after him.

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The next year, our family flew to our new home in Albuquerque, NM in a beautiful shiny American Air Lines DC-3, and I’ve been hooked on airplanes ever since. I had planned to be a fighter pilot when I grew up, but my astigmatism ended that dream. I even took flying lessons, and soloed a couple times, but ran out of money before I got my license.   Now that I’m retired, the # 1 item on my “Bucket List” is to attend as many Airshows and visit as many Aviation Museums as I can while I can still walk.

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Just last October I was at an airshow in Addison, TX to see “FIFI” the only flying B-29 in the world, and happened to run into Bob Bearden. Bob was a sergeant in the 507th Parachute Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, who parachuted into France on June 6, 1944 as part of the Normandy invasion during WWII. Bob was dressed in his jump gear and boots and he reminded me of my Parachute Man. It was my privilege to meet and talk with Bob and have my picture taken with him, in front of a C-47, painted with invasion stripes, just like the plane he and his fellow paratroopers jumped from on that infamous day so many years ago.

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         “Thank you Bob and all those many other Parachute Men for your service to our country.”

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Parachute Man”

  1. Louise Gibson August 27, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    A great story, Bill. You are so good at drawing a “word picture”.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. God Has Been Watching Over Me~Part 1 | Old Things R New - November 9, 2016

    […] a gust of wind caught him and he drifted into the path of a car on that street (See Bill’s blog “Parachute Man”). I had been told not to go into that street for any reason, but as a six year old little boy, it […]

    Like

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