Monday, February 20, 2012

HyFliers didn't cost $15

Well, I bought a kite today. I am hoping this bold action on my part will dissuade the seemingly endless rain from continuing to fall.

My last kite purchase before today's was probably in 1952 or 1953--certainly before I learned about girls and being cool in the late 1950's.

Kites of my Columbus, Georgia, childhood were made of tissue paper, string, and delicate wooden sticks. They were always... priced under $1 and a ball of cotton twine for lofting the kite would never have been more than another 50 cents.

By contrast, my parafoil kite purchased today is made of parachute nylon, has no sticks at all, and was a real bargain at $15! There were kites in that store for more than $100. I got off lightly.

But back to Columbus, Georgia, and 1953.

I bought many of my kites back then--always HyFlier quadrilaterals--(didn't think I knew such words, huh!) at F.W. Woolworth downtown, or at the Witt ten cents store (no, not five and dime!) on Wynnton Road across from Wynnton School.

Those kites of yesteryear had a high mortality rate in Middle Georgia. Firstly, there were trees everywhere and one's pride and joy--festooned with a tail from one of your mama's discarded bed sheets--often became snagged in the gnarly branches of an oak or sweetgum tree before achieving the ether or upon descending from it.

And then there were the problems of frequent rain, high humidity, and few windy days.

One could run up and down the drive all afternoon, but when the running stopped, that kite would settle gently back to the ground with the alternating motion of a falling leaf if there was no wind. March was kite month in Georgia because the likelihood of sustained wind and fair weather often came in late winter or early spring there.

Still and all, we did get kites up and had great fun, sending messages up the string and imagining the kite was in the stratosphere, at least.

Nothing in the world is as it was in 1953 for anyone, of course. Especially not for me in my role as a retired kite enthusiast living on a beach in the Pacific Northwest.

My $15 toy will encounter no trees of consequence anywhere close to the beach here. Nor will ever-present coastal humidity be a problem, since the kite in constructed of nylon.

And my kite will always encounter a breeze on the beach here at Long Beach, Washington. I’m counting on that breeze because I couldn’t run up and down anybody’s drive now to get a kite off the ground if my life depended on it!

I'll make a video of my first kite-flying session in more than 50 years some sunny afternoon soon--one when the rain has stopped and the temperature has risen above 50 degrees.

We might have to wait a while yet.

D. Grant Haynes