The Little Plane That Couldn’t Fly

By Mike Simcik

In November 1954, the Korean war had come to an end, and Thanksgiving had already passed as well. I was ten years old at the time and everyone in my family knew I was crazy about building the new jet model airplanes.

It was the in-between times during the holidays that my family headed for Chicago to visit my Aunt Montiree and Uncle Eddy. One of my favorite places in the windy city was Marshal Fields with its decorated windows and the giant oval candy counter on the ground floor.

Monti, as everyone called my aunt, liked to put on a big dinner for all the in-laws and hand out Christmas presents that evening. My cousin Diane, who was three years older than I, came with her mother from Detroit. After dinner, Diane and I went out for a walk and talked about what was happening where we lived. When we returned to the house Monti began handing out the gifts.

I was given a slender gift-wrapped package and I could tell by the shape, size, and weight what it was. It had to be an airplane. I was sure that box couldn’t be anything else. I excitedly removed the paper and there it was – a modern wooden fighter jet, just begging me to assemble it.

At the back of the house was a study room with a table and some newspaper nearby to protect the table surface while working. I laid out all the parts, I read over the model plans, and then I was ready to assemble the parts. Dad walked into the room and saw me sitting in the chair with a very disappointed look on my face. He was surprised that the plane wasn’t already finished and flying out the window.

I glanced up at him with a sorrowful expression and said, “no glue!” Dad, Mother, Uncle Eddy and Aunt Monti searched the house for any kind of glue. But no. Nothing. Not even paper glue was found. After a half hour of searching, sudden realization sank in: it was Sunday night and every store in the whole world was closed. Imagine my plight having to wait until the following morning to glue the plane together in my room at home.

Later, as a parent, I forget the batteries for my kids and grand-kids because I am too busy being an adult. So here is my suggestion. If one doesn’t want to sadden some child over the holidays have these items on hand in reserve: scotch tape, duct tape, several types of glue, rubber bands, all battery sizes, paper clips, scissors, screw-drivers, pliers, reading glasses for fine print, sealing wax and kite string. I mean, what do grownups think about when they buy stuff and read, “some assembly required” or “batteries not included?” Ask yourself, “would Santa forget the glue and batteries?”

During today’s holidays, I recommend having your smart-phone charged and be prepared for that little kid coming up to Grandpa asking how to do something you never even heard of. Just Google the answer. But, sometimes that little kid is smarter than we are! Keeping up with modern times and being well stocked with remedies for presents lacking something, is better than not having glue for that little wooden airplane that could not leave the runway on schedule.

After all that’s said and done, I miss being ten years old, standing in front of Marshall Fields windows at Christmas time, holding my dad’s hand.