In And Around Hannibal: April 21, 2012

Rita Hooper

As many of my readers know, I am a transplant from Long Island. I have lived here far more years than on Long Island, however.

When I was a young child, LaGuardia Airport was a mere 30 minutes from my home. Planes were still new and a marvel to children.

One day, my dad came home from school (he taught Industrial Arts in New York City) and asked my mother to get us dressed — we were going to the airport. We weren’t flying anywhere or picking anyone up, we were just going to the airport.

I can remember my mother getting my sister ready. We wore our brown matching sailing dresses and matching hats! This was indeed a special occasion.

The airport was much smaller then. There was no security, Dad just parked and we walked into the airport and out to the flight line observation deck. We watched as they pushed movable stairs out to the planes so the passengers could get on and off. The stewardesses were all so pretty and looked really great in their suits and hats.

Most girls then wanted to grow up and be stewardesses; a change from secretary, nurse or teacher — the only careers open to women. The men passengers wore suits. And the few women we saw were dressed very nicely. Most travel was for business.

When I was in high school, some of the wealthier families in town would fly to Florida during Christmas break. Flying was new and exciting even in the 50s; expensive and not for the ordinary person much less family. There was always a little magic and a little mystery associated with the early days of planes.

Later I would hear about Charles Lindbergh – Lucky Lindbergh – the first person to fly around the world. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and the capture of the kidnapper – was he really the one who did it? All added to the mystery and excitement of the Lindbergh name.

If Lindbergh was mentioned the next name you’d hear would be that of Lady Lindbergh – not Mrs. Lindbergh but Amelia Earhart…the first women aviator (well almost – she was the 16th woman issued a pilot’s license) and the one who was lost on her flight around the world.

Amelia Earhart was born late in the 1890s. At a young age, she fell in love with airplanes and decided that she would pilot one someday. She tried her hand at various things, went to Columbia University, was an associate editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, and shared in the design of women’s clothes.

She was on the faculty of Purdue University as a female career consultant and technical advisor in the Department of Aeronautics. She did all of this to help finance her flying career.

In 1931, she set the altitude record of 18,415 feet. She was the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic and the first woman to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She was honored by presidents and even had a part in a ticker tape parade.

Unfortunately, she is most remembered for her last flight. She left June 1, 1937 on a trip that was to circumnavigate the world at the equator. June 29, having completed 22,000 miles with 7,000 miles to go, she and her co-pilot Noonan left New Guinea.

July 3 at 8:43 a.m., her last message was received. July 18, after a search by 66 aircraft and 9 ships and 4 million dollars having been spent, the official search for Earhart and her plane came to an end.

Without a plane or the ‘black box’ (I doubt they had one at the time) it has been impossible to determine what really happened. Just very recently, some new evidence has been brought to light and is being investigated.

I didn’t think about it much when I was a child or even as a teenager, but Amelia Earhart was one of those female pioneers working for the right of women to be able to do whatever it was they wanted. She knew women could excel in their chosen profession and should be considered equally with men.

This Monday evening, the Hannibal Historical Society has invited Ms. Earhart, portrayed by Eleanor Stearns of Geneva, to visit them as they meet at the Methodist Church at 7 p.m.

Mrs. Stearns will be dressed as the aviator who was lost on July 2,1937, while flying over the Pacific Ocean during an attempt to fly around the world at the equator with her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Mrs. Stearns has been to Atchison, Kan., where Amelia was born and was able to view letters, clothing and artifacts of Amelia and her family. This research has helped make her presentation come alive.

She will tell incidents in Amelia Earhart’s life that led her to become interested in flying; she will share Amelia’s rather unusual view of marriage and present her strong feelings about the role of women in society. For years, Fulton native Richard Gillespie, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery executive director and author of the book “Finding Amelia,” and his crew have been searching the Nikumaroro Island, a tiny coral atoll, for evidence of Earhart.

This is a presentation of the Hannibal Historical Society. This is an event you just might not want to miss. Bring your daughters with you!

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The Hannibal Library will be having a book and bake sale today at the library.

The Methodist Church in Hannibal will be holding a craft show today, April 21, with a bake sale and luncheon. Call Debbie at 591-8621 for more information.

The menu for the Senior Meals Program this week is Mambo pork chops Monday, mac and cheese Wednesday and cook’s choice Friday. The group meets in the Senior Center Wing of the Community Center (library) on Oswego Street in Hannibal.

The doors open at 10 a.m. for coffee and conversation and games. Monday, they will have a jewelry making session at 1 p.m. Call Rosemary at 564- 5471 to make your reservation.

The Jammers will hold forth at the American Legion Monday evening at 7 p.m. If you like country music this might be a way to fill your dance card for Monday. If you play an instrument, bring it with you and if the spirit moves you, join in.

The Hannibal Library will host a Goat Milk Soap Class April 25 at 6:30 p.m. Learn how to make basic organic and gardener’s blend soap from goat farmer/soap maker Barb Fuller. You’ll take home several bars. Spaces are limited; please sign up at the library. If you have taken other soap classes please bring your molds. Any questions call Linda at 564-6643.

There will be a program for girls and their mothers (grandmothers, aunts or guardian) May 1 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of DMK Middle School. Puberty speakers from OCO will make the presentation, which is designed to be both fun and educational. Information forms will be sent home.

There will be a Fairley Family Fun Night at Fairley School May 3 at 6 p.m. Sylvia and the Magic Trunk will be featured along with puppets and a ventriloquist.

The Hannibal community will hold a community-wide yard sale Saturday, May 5. If you are interested in having a sale on that day and would like the event listed on the community-wide master list, call 564-6410 before April 29 and leave your house number and street address.

The Hannibal Library will be asking the voters of the Hannibal school district to increase their funding by $10,000 at the school election May 15.

This increase would cost the property owner about 5 cents per thousand of assessed property value or $5 for a property assessed at $100,000.

It pays to advertise so please remember to get the news of what’s happening in your group or organization to me. My phone number is 706-3564 and my e-mail is You can snail-mail me at 210 Meadowbrook Circle, Fulton 13069.

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