Flying High


“Want to get yourself a glass of milk, Frankie?” Granny Bebe asked, smiling across the table. Frankie jumped up. He found a glass and pressed it against the stainless steel lever under the milk cooler. Milk poured into his glass.

Granny Bebe owned the restaurant, and she let Frankie help himself to whatever he wanted. Mama and his sister, Mary, had left Frankie with Granny Bebe to spend a few hours while they went shopping. He loved everything about the restaurant, especially the pretty colored lamps and all the people hurrying about. Frankie didn’t want to hurt Mama’s feelings, but as soon as he was big enough, he planned to come and live with Granny Bebe. This is where the action is, he thought as Granny Bebe introduced him to some customers.

Too soon Mama and Mary were back at the restaurant. Granny Bebe gave Frankie a big hug and told him to visit her again soon.

As they drove down the highway toward home, Frankie was already missing the restaurant. The only excitement in the part of the country where he lived was an airplane flying over now and then, headed for the airport ten miles away. Frankie loved airplanes almost as much as Granny Bebe’s restaurant.

The highway passed the airport and, as they neared it, Frankie saw cars parked all around the airstrip.

“Look, Mama!” Mary said. “This is the day that the planes are taking passengers for a ride.”

Mama turned the car off the road and pulled into a parking space. Sometimes Mama did unexpected things. “I’ve never been up in a plane,” she said. “Come on, kids, let’s go.”

Almost before Frankie knew what was happening, he was flying! Two pilots sat in the front seats, he and Mama sat behind them, and Mary and another passenger sat in the rear seats. The engines of the yellow plane made a thunderous noise. Frankie leaned as far forward as his seat belt permitted so that he could hear the pilots’ conversation.

“Where to, young fellow?” one of them asked him.

“Fly over Granny’s restaurant. You know—‘Bebe’s’!” Frankie had to shout to make himself heard.

“Roger,” said the pilot.

It took only a moment for the plane to circle toward Granny’s restaurant. The buildings in town looked like a model village, and the cars looked smaller than his pocket racers. The restaurant was in a crowded area, and Frankie had a hard time locating it among the other buildings. Finally he spotted the dome-shaped building with cars sticking out like little feet around it.

Mary tapped Mama on the shoulder. “Now ask him to fly over our house!”

Mama gave the pilot directions to their home in the foothills north of the highway.

As they flew along, Frankie pressed his nose against the small window of the plane, trying to identify places on the ground. He looked at the winding river and could see miles of it all at one time. He saw the tiny houses in their tiny yards and the cars crawling like ants along the highway. He leaned forward to listen to the pilots again.

“Look over there to your right,” the man flying the plane shouted. “See that house with the bright green roof on the side of the mountain? That house is my beacon. I always spot it before the airport.”

“Me, too,” said the copilot. “When I see that green roof, I know that I’m almost home.”

“Why,” Mama exclaimed, “that’s our house!”

Frankie could see that indeed it was their house that the pilots were talking about! The green roof shone like a jewel among the gray winter trees, and their very own yellow dirt road ran along the ridge next to the sloping fields of winter wheat. And the pond at the very edge of a cliff was the most beautiful of all. Frankie had helped Grandpa Townsend build it for a fish pond. He hadn’t realized before just how pretty it was.

“I wish everyone could see his home from the air,” Mama said. “Sometimes we are too close to things to properly appreciate them.”

“It sure looks different from up here!” Mary declared.

Now Frankie could see a silver-roofed house father down the little yellow road. An old truck was parked in front of it. “Look, Mary!” Frankie cried, pointing. “There’s Grandpa Townsend’s old orange pickup! I bet that he doesn’t know that we’re way up here!”

“No!” shouted Mary in agreement. “He’s probably waiting for you to help him feed the fish!”

Suddenly Frankie could hardly wait for the plane to land. He wanted to rush home and tell Grandpa Townsend about his flight and about how different the farm looked from the air.

Maybe I won’t move to Granny Bebe’s, after all, he thought. It’s pretty special living in a house that pilots use for a beacon. And pretty soon they’ll be talking about the boy on the yellow dirt road who waves to them when they fly over.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown