The Baggage of Youth

In 1932, when I was eleven years old, she did it on her own. She duplicated Lindbergh’s feat by flying the Atlantic alone—a first for a woman. She set a string of other records, too, including the woman’s cross-country speed record, before she set out to realize her most challenging dream. In May 1937, she took off from Oakland, California, on a daring attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world.

Four weeks later, when she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared somewhere in the South Pacific, my mother andI were dumfounded. We could scarcely believe the news.

An unprecedented search by U.S. Navy planes and ships failed to discover any “trace of Amelia Earhart or Fred Noonan or their twin-engine Lockheed Electra.

Over the years, many intriguing theories have surfaced around the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. The most probable story’. In a severe squall, they lost their way and crashed.

Still, her tragic disappearance remains a mystery.


After several practice runs around the neighborhood, I really learned to drive during a weekend outing at the ocean with my mother and my Aunt Phoebe. The inaugural took place on a remote, ten-mile stretch of hard-packed beach, north of Allwaco, Washington, near the turbulent mouth of the Columbia River.

When I first slipped behind the wheel, slammed the stick shift into gear and let go of the clutch … whoa … my head snapped back and the Hudson-Terraplane jerked and bucked like a wild, roundup bronco.

By the end of the day, however, I had developed a good enough feel for shifting the stick. And the next day, we went all-out. My mother and I took turns behind the wheel, roaring up and down miles of flat, empty beach, just for the hell of it.

Back in the city, I refined my driving techniques during more practice runs at dawn on empty streets around the neighborhood. Sometimes I drove Aunt Phoebe’s old Dodge. Other times, I drove with my mother in her yellow Hudson-Terraplane.


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