Recap: Sender comes home for a visit, and Bubby tells him that she found a job for him with the ice man, that he will start in a short while, as she doesn’t really like this job from Wright brothers. Sender feels guilty that he didn’t disclose to Bubby that he’ll be in Kitty Hawk, as he was afraid that she wouldn’t let him go.
The next day, I boarded a train to Dayton. Lugging my heavy suitcases, I met the brothers at the train station in Dayton and we headed to the train to Norfolk, Virginia. From there, they would find a boat ride for us to Kitty Hawk. I felt a twinge of guilt for not telling Bubby. I told myself that I’d explain it to her later. I gazed out the window as Ohio’s cornfields disappeared and we headed South. I learned and davened and wrote in my journal.
Wilbur Wright read a quote to me from a book that inspired him. “…The air supports the bird and that the evolution of the bird on the wing are quite as safe and infinitely more rapid and beautiful than the movements of either the quadruped on the land or the fish in the water.”
He looked up at me with his piercing blue eyes. “Wait till you see Kitty Hawk with all the gannets and buzzards. It’s the perfect testing place for our flying machine.”
It sounded amazing.
“The glider was shipped ahead,” Orville told me. “Mr. Tate, the safety station inspector there, made a nice shelter for us to store the glider in. And he put in a gas tank for us.”
Wilbur explained about the motor. “We realized that we need a motor for our glider, and Charlie Taylor was the one who helped us make it. It’s a four-cylinder motor with a four-inch bore and a four-inch stroke. It’s made out of cast aluminum, and all the work of drilling the cast iron for the cylinders and piston rings was done by Charlie Taylor.”
“Tell him about the propellers.”
They could talk forever about how they put together their flying machine. They worked on it so hard and did so much testing.
When we arrived, I looked around and there was sand as far as I could see. Sand dunes and sand hills bordered the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s a perfect landing field with no trees or bushes.” Orville pointed towards the distance.
“Does anyone live here?” I asked.
He pointed to a distant house. “Just a few families. It’s a great getaway,” Wilbur said.
We set up camp in a cabin. I helped hammer in the bars on the windows and unpack the gear. I had my own pots and pans and lots of food to store.
We put the camera in a high area and covered it with a heavy blanket. Wilbur would give me lessons tomorrow on how to take a photograph with the fancy new camera. Everything was so exciting.
The sun was setting ruby apricot amber ribbons that painted the whole sky. I took out my siddur and headed to a private spot to daven Minchah.
I thanked Hashem for this amazing opportunity and prayed that I’d be able to help the brothers with their work and to earn the bike for Ruchy. I also prayed that Bubby would forgive me for coming here without permission.
That night, I settled into a cot with a sleeping bag that kept out the cold. It was quiet except for the steady rhythm of the surf. Then a lovely sound broke the stillness. It was a bird singing.
“That’s a mockingbird,” Orville whispered. “That bird likes being near us. He’s always singing.
I fell asleep to its trills and chirps.
The next morning, as the sun rose, Orville pulled out his mandolin, and when he played the bird seemed to harmonize.
After davening and breakfast, Wilbur gave me my first photography lesson. Then he told me to bring the camera and follow him and Orville. We headed to the shelter where the glider was kept. The brothers worked on the glider most of the day, putting it together and making sure every part was adjusted perfectly. I learned a lot about the different parts of the plane.
“When will you fly it?” I asked.
“We need the right wind,” Orville explained.
I took a walk along the beach, dreaming about a story. I was imagining a character slipping into a flying machine. Bubby would say that I was wasting time again. She often scolded me that I was too much of a daydreamer. I tried not to do it, but sometimes story ideas just popped in my head and I found myself thinking about them.
The wind picked up. I zipped my jacket. The Wrights had told me that It was usually windy here, so I didn’t pay attention to it. I noticed the sky darkening. I kept walking and dreaming. In my story, I was helping build a flying machine and then I was going to go in and fly in it.
I could hear the roar of the engine in my mind.
Then I realized the surf was roaring. Suddenly the wind grew stronger. I was having trouble walking. Thunder exploded.
A flash of lightning slit the sky.
I glimpsed a figure in the distance. Was it Orville?
“Cyclone coming. Come back to the cabin!” I heard him scream over the wind.
My heart pounded.
Sheets of rain pelted me.
I tried to lift my feet. I was buffeted by the wind. It was battling me each step of the way.
The wind was stealing my breath. I couldn’t breathe. What if I couldn’t make it back to the shelter. What if the wind carried me out to sea? My heart was pounding.
How would I ever make it back to the cabin?
To be continued…
By Susie Garber