Local Writers

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.

Mike Kraus Artwork featured at Art Cats Gallery, Muskegon

Art Cats Gallery is proud to feature the artwork of Mike Kraus. His pieces explore nature and our interaction with it. Using traditional paint on canvas, his work captures the vibrancy and solitude of our natural surroundings. “My focus is to extract the emotions of each scene and transform it on canvas by emphasizing the details that make the vision unique.” say Kraus. Visit Art Cats Gallery Tuesday – Saturday between 11am – 5pm.

About Mike Kraus
Mike Kraus was born on the industrial shoreline of Muskegon, Michigan. After earning his Fine Arts Degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he attended Grand Valley State University for his graduate degree. From there, he gained varied experiences from the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Art Institute of Chicago, Hauenstein Center For Presidential Studies, Lollypop Farm Humane Society, and the Children’s Memorial Foundation. And every place he worked, he had his sketchbook with him and found ways to be actively creative. In 2014, Kraus became a full-time artist by establishing Mike Kraus Art. Since then, he has sold hundreds of paintings that are displayed in nearly every state and dozens of countries. Currently, Kraus lives in Rochester, New York with his beautiful wife and goofy dog.

Art Cats Gallery
1845 Lakeshore Dr
Muskegon, Michigan
(231) 755-7606

A Christmas Story

By Bob DeHare

Weeks ago my wife Debby and close friend, Naska embarked on one of many Saturday morning outings. First, a bagel and coffee at their favorite shop, then it’s off to do what good friends do best.

This morning the Eagles were having a fund raiser, selling donated items. The girls checked out all the unwanted treasures (Naska for some reason only known to her has to touch each and every item). They were soon drawn to the book section.

That afternoon after returning home, Debby showed me her new read. A most unusual titled book, with its dust cover in excellent condition for a book printed in 1996. Obviously the book had never been read or maybe even opened. The name of the book, “Who Were the Celts?” — Everything you ever wanted to know about the Celts, one thousand BC to the present, by Kevin Duffy. Chain armor, horseshoes, iron plough shares were just a few invented by Celts. The White House was designed and built by a man of Celtic descent. Their influence in art, literature, music, science, technology, warfare, and politics are written.

The year was 1996 an uncle had sent this book to a favorite niece, as a birthday present. The book never read, found its place in a corner bookcase. There it stayed for 16 years to one day be donated to a fund raiser. That afternoon Debby showed me her new book. My reaction was “REALLY…” Later that evening while sipping a cup of hot chocolate Debby loudly announced, “look what I found in my new book.” We both stared at a $1000.00 savings bond in pristine condition belonging to someone named Amanda, maturing in 2006.

It took some doing but with God’s help Debby located Amanda, now married, husband and two small children living in Ishpeming, Michigan. A small town in the Upper Peninsula.

Amanda returned our call and after answering several questions like what is the 7th number of your social security number, we knew we had the right Amanda. Amanda now 25 moved to the Upper Peninsula seven years ago because of a job offer for her husband. After only 5 years that job went south. So for the last two years, her family of four has been getting by on odd jobs.

Amanda’s savings bond was quickly sent with a promise of a Christmas card. I love a Christmas story.