Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MILESTONES. The Arts, and the Art of Driving(more on that, later)and The Art of Flying.
Collin Kelley has reached his 1,000th blog-post! Read more about fab poet and my eternal friend, Collin Kelley, at his blog:
As for me, I've made it to 202 posts, and plan to do a celebration, once I reach 500!
I started thinking about what kinds of "markers" we design for ourselves, and sometimes, the tasks we complete that we are most proud of, go unheralded by others. Take poetry. I did not understand how much of an apparent "subculture" I live in, until I'm reminded, via the Super Bowl, World Series, and March Madness , and I see that what I often think is a strange sub-set of humanity who live and breathe sports is NOT a "sub-set", but considered the "norm", or "the average person's pursuit".
And while physical fitness is certainly important, and sports can help with motivation, goal-setting, and team-work, it seems to me that the competitive, violent nature of all sports tends to trump these other, more worthwhile goals.
I still say that qualities like the ability to think critically, and the ability to feel and EXPRESS empathy, and kindness are what's sorely lacking in today's youth. And those qualities are nurtured through great parenting, and THE ARTS. Through the arts, children learn to value whatever their own back-story is(building self-esteem), and they find a way to express who they are, whether through music, story-telling, writing, dance, or theatre.
I have volunteered with several different groups over the years, bringing poetry to verse-starved young children; I've asked high school students what's important to them, and asked them to write about it. In every single case, the participants were surprised--because the magic of the arts is in the art of self-discovery. And I think the next magical, no, mystical thing, is the communion that inevitably occurs when one piece of self-discovery meets another!
So, what're some other Milestones?
Write me about one you've celebrated--even if the rest of the world has not noticed!
I've placed one woman's story for you, below!
Peace, kids.

What a ride: Woman, 82, inducted into Hall of Fame
By TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Writer
Betty Skelton Erde is 82 and lives in a retirement community, The Villages, Florida, where many are content to putter about in golf carts. Not Erde: She drives a blazing red Corvette to match her red hair and really means it when she says, "I like fast cars."
An auto racing pioneer, Erde (Uhr-Dee) once was the fastest woman on Earth, setting female speed records at Daytona Beach and Utah's Bonneville salt flats half a century ago. On Wednesday, she reaches a new milestone as only the fifth woman inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in suburban Detroit.
She also becomes the 174th person honored; Erde will attend the ceremony in which Champ Car driver Michael Andretti and five other racing legends also are being inducted.
Dozens of firsts are attached to her name: the auto industry's first female test driver, in 1954; the first woman to set a world land speed record in 1956 (145 mph at Daytona Beach); and then the world land speed record for women in 1965, hitting 315.72 mph at Bonneville.
Oh, but did she tell you she really started out as a female stunt pilot?
"To me, there's hardly any feeling in the world that can equal the feeling of an airplane when the wheels leave the ground," Erde said.
Born in 1926 in Pensacola, Erde was smitten by the aviation bug early.
Spellbound, she watched landings and takeoffs at the Naval Air Station, took lessons as a child and soloed at 12. "Unfortunately, it was kind of illegal, so I had to wait until I was 16 to tell anybody," she said, laughing.
As a teenager, Erde flew when she could. After graduating from high school in 1944, she worked a night job and rented planes by day.
One day, a man organizing a local airshow invited her to perform. She didn't know any aerobatics, but learned to roll and loop a plane in two weeks.
"You really learned what excitement was then," she said.
She mastered dozens of tricks. Her signature move: cutting a ribbon strung between two fishing poles with her propeller, while flying upside down 10 feet off the ground.
In 1948, she bought a rare Pitts Special — a lightweight, red-and-white biplane suited for aerobatics. But while Erde was soaring in popularity, she also was a rarity — a young, beautiful woman in a male-dominated world of death-defying stunts.
"She's one of the women who really pushed the boundaries," said Dorothy Cochrane, curator of general aviation at Washington's National Air and Space Museum.
By the 1950s, she was wowing audiences worldwide, though her aviation future was limited. Had Erde been a man, an entire world of opportunity would have opened.
"I wanted very much to fly in the Navy," she says. "But all they would do is laugh when I asked."
In 1953, the man who began the NASCAR circuit asked Erde to fly some auto racers from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. She and Bill France became fast friends.
In February 1954, at France's invitation, Erde went to Daytona. She climbed into a Dodge sedan, went 105.88 mph on the beach — that's when folks still raced on sand — and set a stock car record.
Erde had found her second love.
Automakers also discovered a great spokeswoman: Erde became a Chevrolet employee and set records with Corvettes, owning 10 in all.
In the 50s, she raced across the South American Andes, down Mexico's Baja Peninsula and set records at the Chrysler proving grounds in Michigan.
"I would venture to say there is no other woman in the world with all the attributes of this woman," France once remarked. "The most impressive of them all is her surprising and outstanding ever-present femininity, even when tackling a man's job."
In 1959, at 33, she was the first woman to undergo NASA's physical and psychological tests — the same that seven original male astronauts were put through. "I complained that NASA wasn't giving more thought to women pilots," she said.
But if Erde was aware of how different she was for a woman at the time — unmarried, without children — she didn't show it.
"I had to do what I wanted," she said.
At 39, Erde married a Hollywood producer named Donald Frankman. They retired in the 70s to Florida, where Erde kept a seaplane docked outside their lakefront home.
Frankman died in 2001, when Erde cut back on flying.
"I just felt I wasn't as safe as I used to be," she said.
In 2005, she was married to Dr. Allan Erde, a retired Navy surgeon. She also was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
Now living for a year in her retirement community, Erde still longs for the cockpit of a plane. But she gets her speed fix by watching Danica Patrick in the IndyCar Series and lives with the satisfaction that she helped open aviation and motorsports to young women.
Said Erde, "It's been quite a ride."
Have a great Wednesday kids. Peace.


DeadMule said...

Hi Lisa. Thanks for being a part of my good Wednesday. Glad you could leave a comment on my blog. I left a poem about Conyers in the comments.
Peace, indeed. Helen

KATE EVANS said...

EMPATHY is one key focus I have when teaching writing and literature. We have a chance to live inside the mind of the "other" in reading and writing.

Selma said...

This is just such an important post. To me the art of self-discovery is much more important than being able to kick a ball in a competition. Sadly, society doesn't really feel that way.

I will be celebrating a milestone on Saturday - a year of blogging. I am surprised I've stuck with it but it has turned out to be a blessing for me. Who would have thought it?

Lisa Allender said...

Hi Helen. I'm happy to hear from you! Headed to YOUR blog, right away!
Hello Kate--I love that Empathy is a value you incorporate. I think so many kids never learn it(and we thought it was only sociopaths who don't empathize well! It feels to me like about HALF of society no longer feels for each other).
Hey, Selma! Thank you for your always kind input! And CONGRATS on your upcoming milestone! I am constantly, oh-so-merrily surprised at how lovely the blogosphere really is! Please do know: Your words make a difference, Selma!