April 30, 2023
By Arthur H. Gunther III
Would that there be equality for all, that every little kid would have a Friday afternoon dream spot, a haven where after school he/she/they could leave the present and get lost in a mixture of the past, future and fantasy.
Such chill time can not only bring confidence and self-worth, reminding one that if friends are lacking, you can be your best one; that any confusion of the moment passes; that like the afternoon snack every child ought to have as well, this quiet in this haven is nourishing.
When I was one of those children, in Spring Valley, N.Y., then of country not of suburb, there was a small airport variously named the Spring Valley Airpark, Bolkhe’s Airport, Spring Valley Airport, then Ramapo Valley Airport. It was off rural Smith Road maybe a mile from the North Main Street School.
On occasion, but only on a Friday after school, because that is the weekly start to the weekend “vacation,” I would take my sixth-grade self up the Homer Lee Avenue hill to the road by the Pascack Brook, also called Pascack, and wind my way to Smith Road and the airport.
Owners had put a bench off the field, somehow knowing that dreams are made when sitting in a country field watching Piper Cubs take off and land.
The warmth of the spring sun on that bench was as inviting as a comfortable couch at Grandma’s house, and with a week’s worth of school over and two days off, it was like sitting down to slowly devour a white-iced chocolate cupcake, a treat.
Somehow, the half hour spent staring at the endless sky and the planes taking off for journeys unknown and coming back from others recharged optimism that after the weekend “vacation” things would look up again.
Would that any child, even in poverty and war and a sufferer of greed find such a bench on a country airfield on a Friday afternoon after school.
The writer is a retired newspaperman. firstname.lastname@example.org