Monday, May 21, 2007

Old timers

A few years back, I was in the wilds of Pennsylvania having a bite to eat and a beer and ended up chatting with an older gentleman at the bar. During the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he'd been a P-51 fighter pilot during World War 2. Right away, my bullshit meter went on alert, but a few of the things he said led me to believe that he was the real thing. One anecdote in particular rang true.

He spoke of a squadron commander he once had who'd inspect the planes when they returned from ground attack missions. If you didn't have mud on the windscreen, you weren't pressing hard enough and got the shittiest mission assignments as punishment. That story, along with a few other amusing stories, convinced me he was the real thing. I bought his beers the remainder of the night, which was a cheap deal for me.

Tonight I was at a pub here in Britain (Reading). I was chatting with a gentleman who I thought was maybe 10-15 years older than I, but who turned out to be a bit older. He said he was a young lad during the London blitz. Again, the bullshit detector went off, but he told a story that convinced me he was telling the truth.

When the "Jerrys" would attack, he and his brother would try to identify what kind of plane it was by the sound. He described that at his age (about 5 at the time) it was all so exciting, but when the Battle of Britain finally ended, he recalled how "boring" life was.

I guess boredom isn't so bad, after all.


Anonymous said...

Hope you enjoyed the visit Eric, my father is almost 80yrs old now and tells tales of sitting on the shed roof watching the dog fights.
He had a milk round at the age of 15 with a horse and cart, how times have changed and not necessarily for the better eh!

Eric said...

It was a fun visit...heading back home tomorrow.

My Dad's also pushing 80...but I think the closest he's come to a horse is betting on them.

To be sure, sadly, not everything changes for the better.