2012.01.11 We're going down together

Written by David Green.


I CAN’T help it. It happens every time I  travel by air. I walk into the boarding area and I look around at the faces. I say to myself, “So these are the people that I might die with.”

It’s crazy, I know. Airplane crashes are relatively rare. It’s safer to fly than drive, they say. And I’m not at all afraid of flying.  In fact, I love it. The feeling of power at takeoff. Waiting for the bump at landing, followed by the thrust of the engines. Best of all is staring out the window at the geography.

I don’t fly often, but with kids living far away and with a wife who attends an occasional conference, I’m generally up in the air every year or two for a mini-vacation. This last long weekend I was able to spend time with all three kids when I attended the marriage of a daughter of my sister, Diane.

This means I was in the boarding area  looking at the faces.

In Detroit I noticed a young brother and sister sitting side-by-side reading magazines. So young to die in a plane crash. There were two babies waiting to board, too. What a shame.

I look at the faces and wonder if I would want to be near that person when the plane starts to dip.

I wonder what it’s like. Do the passengers know this is it? Maybe it’s just some nasty turbulence that will be shaken off. That reminds me of a line from a John Berryman poem: “His thought made pockets and the plane buckt.”

It reminds me of a Laurie Anderson song where the pilot (the captain) speaks to the passengers and says: “Good evening. This is your Captain. We are about to attempt a crash landing. We are going down. We are all going down, together.”

Rather gruesome talk.

The wedding I attended was in Savannah and I’ll ask the silly and naïve question, “Why doesn’t everyone live in Savannah?”

There may be some very good reasons not to live in Savannah, but I didn’t discover any of them. What a beautiful place. I was told that Gen. Sherman burned all the cities he encountered on his march through Georgia, but Savannah was too beautiful to destroy so he let it go.

How could a city have so many public squares? Every two blocks there’s another shaded park with a statue or a fountain. That’s every two blocks east and west. There’s another set of squares every three blocks north and south. Just amazing.

And when you walk down to the river, you’re looking at large buildings that were constructed as early as the 1730s.

I looked out the fourth-floor window of the hotel Sunday morning and the entire horizon was moving. An enormous container ship was heading out to sea, visible above the river front buildings.

There’s another side of Savannah. I learned the city has the distinction of being “the most haunted” in America. Our ghost walk tour guide—a man who explores paranormal experiences—took us to building after building where odd things occurred.

You start off in a darkened square with Spanish moss hanging from the live oak trees, then take off on foot to hear the tales.

The huge murderous mirror with a doppelganger behind it. The death of the twins at the Kehoe House and the odd things that have happened ever since.

The store clerk that kept seeing something out of the corner of her eye. The person who always saw a crying woman outside her apartment building.

It ended in the basement of a bar, just outside a room where slaves were chained to a wall and often died in the heat. Bizarre things have happened in that room over the decades.

It was soon time to fly home and we were back in the boarding area. Some seats were available in first class and passengers were invited to upgrade for 50 bucks. Did she say there would be “complimentary sex and drinks”?

I spy an MSU band member returning to Michigan (alto sax section). There’s an older gentleman pecking away at the keyboard of his iPad. There’s another baby.

But we landed safely. I never had to experience the terror on the faces of the young lovers who sat in front of us.

Now there’s only the terror of trying to instantly create a newspaper. 

“This is your editor speaking. We are all going down, together.”

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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