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Remembering Charles Lindbergh Alice Gollan, Brighton MA
My connection to Charles Lindbergh began with the movie "THe Spirit of St. Louis". I was in 9th grade when I saw it the first time. Lindbergh became my hero and I must have seen the movie 18 times in all. It captured my imagination profoundly. Among the activities that became part of this interest were: I joined the Ground Observor Corps; I took flying lessons; I subscribed to Flying magazine just for the poetry of Gill Robb Wilson (collected in a wonderful book called The Airman's World); I read those poems about flying (particularly To Find Myself) at high school poetry reading contests and won; I started the Aviation Club at my high school; I read the book by Donald Keyhoe about the tour Lindbergh made in 1927 and wrote to the varioius Chambers of Commerce for information about those visits; I learned with disappointment in 1958 that I as a woman could not attend the Air Force Academy; every May 20-21 for a number of years I counted the hours in my head; I listened to the soundtrack of the movie "The Spirit of St. Louis" so many times that I can still sing the main theme on demand; I noted the irony that Jimmy Stewart was born on May 20; I read about Donald Keyhoe's next project, The National Investigating Committee on Aerial Phenomena and became a member..... These interests faded after I went to college...I separated his politics from his flight frankly. Then a number of years later the interest surfaced again. My father, Dr. Frank Gollan, was a cardiac researcher whose research focused on the development of the heart lung machine. He wrote a book about his research which opens with a quote from Lindbergh about this field. At the VA in Miami, FL, one of my father's colleagues was Dr. Ted Melanen who had been (I believe) an assistant at Dr. Carrel's lab in NYC. Toward the end of his life Lindbergh visited places and people in a sort of life review, and one of those was Dr. Ted Melanin. The day before Lindbergh's visit my father told me of the plan and the appropriate security. I knew well that Lindbergh hated publicity and had only a dog-eared copy of The Spirit of St. Louis on my shelf. Nonetheless, I asked if it would be possible to receive an autograph...The book with the autograph is a prized possession. I have often wondered what was the power of Lindbergh in my life particularly as a teenaged girl in the late 50s? My household was a deeply unhappy one and I believe his heroism inspired me. My interest in Lindbergh, aviation, etc. gave me so much during that time. Finally, I believe that Lindbergh became or more accurately revealed his spiritual life as he grew older. Certainly the passage in his memoirs about the "spirits" who flew for him on the way to Paris is thought-provoking. I have always been deeply moved by one of his last statements: about in death going back to the stars from where we come. My mother loved the entire adventure of space travel and in her 70s went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. She was most proud of the picture of her in her jump suit from that week at camp. Additionally, some of her ashes will be sent to outer space, so she will soon be a space traveler as she always wanted. I ended her eulogy at her funeral in January with the words of Charles Lindbergh. (Autobiography of Values, p. 402) "After my death the molecules of my being will return to the earth and the sky. They came from the stars. I am of the stars."
Here's another one I just remembered-One of the last scenes of the movie, The Spirit of St. Louiss, is the vast crowd at Le Bourget screaming Lindbergh, Lindbergh. As it turns out, my family is nervous about flying. Whenever we greet a travelling family member at the airport, we always wave our arms and say excitedly "Lindbergh Lindbergh" in a very fake French accent to honor the fact that one of us actually left the ground and returned safely! In my family to this day we continue to honor Charles Lindbergh and his inspiration.
Thank you so much for this website.