When we were wee, we flew our kites from atop Coronado’s highest point, located only a block away from us between Third and Fourth on E Avenue, where once stood an old “queen bee” water tower, if memory serves. In my crumb-crunching days during the 1960s, most of the odd side of the 300 block of “E” was one big vacant lot.
Remember vacant lots? Those once-upon-a-time patches of yet-to-be-touched virgin properties? I think we’re fresh out. Yet in days of yore, our friendly neighborhood kite-flying spot was nothing but a stand of tallish straw-grass (tall to us, at least) growing from one end of the block to the other, covering perhaps a dozen contiguous lots of prime ‘Nado real estate, all just waiting to be snatched up and developed. It didn’t take long.
On opposite sides of the hill, there were two or three homes near Third (a ghost street prior to the bridge) and only a home or two near Fourth. The rest of the block belonged to us; ”us” being a ‘hoodful of nine-and-under yoots, dutifully toting old-fashioned paper kites, complete with handmade rag-tails.
Paper kites? What a barney barnacle I yam. Yikes!
Speaking of bygone daze, we’d purchase our flimsy, rudimentary, triangular kites at the local five-and-dime store, either Glynn’s or Lamb’s, or perhaps Cora-Mart (sigh).
Most of us were Navy brats, many of whose dads, like mine, were carrier pilots: aviators busy flying off of and back onto (details, details) flat tops afloat off of North Vietnam (“Yankee
Station”) or South Vietnam (“Dixie Station”), tooling about the Tonkin Gulf, accomplishing America’s mission du jour: our mission de guerre.
We knew our dads were in harm’s way, “feet dry” over ”Indian Country” (yes, yes, I know), flying their own “kites”, untethered. But we didn’t dwell on the danger. We were kids, proud of our dads. We just played our way through the uncertainty, patiently awaiting (patiently? perhaps not) the day our dads would return home, most of whom did, too many of whom did not.
Meanwhile, back at my favorite kite “hangar” (our kitchen table), I’d diligently “decorate» my paper kite, using Flair felt-tip pens to draw colorful combat ribbons (many rows) onto the “chest” of my kite: quite the serious ritual to a born-and-bred brat. My kite was on a mission! From God? Like Jake and Elwood? Why not! Far out!
I’d fly my little kite as high-up and as far-out (hmm) as my simple spool of string would allow. Of course, Mother Nature was large and in charge of the wind, so she held all the strings, so to speak. Once my spooled spool had reached the limit of its limited tethering, my sky-bound “aircraft” of a sort was now prepared to be pulled down from on-high: time to return to terra firma, to come back down to Earth, to home.
My war-weary, well-decorated kite’s heroic mission was nearly complete. As she approached the non-pitching (duh) “deck”, I thought of Dad, and of yours truly, each of us separately and
simultaneously looking forward to the day Dad too would finally return from his own heroic mission, coming home at long last, from so very, very far away. And he did. Mission accomplished!
I love you, Dad. Always.