Kite-making now lacks goosebumps

It was March 1944. Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to get what you want – especially when you’re a kid. Take having a kite, for instance. Why should an 8-year-old spend a hard-earned quarter to have a store-bought kite when he can make one on his own?

Frank Fabrizio, a Warren city councilman and friend of the family, ran a little market on Highland Avenue, right across from First Street School. I mentioned to him one day that I wanted to build a kite all on my own rather than spend money buying one. He had a kind suggestion. He offered me two spools of cotton string and some butcher paper that he used to wrap the meat (when it was available) that he sold. Great! Here was a start.

Since I lived near the 88 acres that I have mentioned before in this column, I strolled out along the bridle paths to the beautiful grove of trees that stood in the southeast corner of the acreage. There I found some tree branches that would work in making the needed cross for the frame of the kite. I cut down two of the branches to the desired lengths, and notched their ends for the butcher string to form the diamond shape, then took the butcher paper and cut it out to size. With a little of my LePage’s paper glue, I had a pretty good-looking kite.

Outside, I ran with it – and ran with it. It wouldn’t fly. Even when the wind picked up, it wouldn’t fly. Maybe it was too heavy. I went inside. There I spotted a dry cleaner’s brown paper clothing bag that covered a dry-cleaned suit from Karl Konald’s Dry Cleaners. Cleaners didn’t cover the dry cleaning with light plastic as they do now. Karl was another Warren councilman and good friend of the family, and his dry-cleaning place was right at the end of Summit Street before it turns south and becomes Ohio Avenue.

I tore off the butcher paper and substituted the dry cleaner bag paper. Voila! I had lift off! It flew, but it was out of control. A bigger kid told me to tie some strips of rags to the bottom for a tail. OK, that made it controllable.

One day, I had especially good luck in getting my kite aloft, and paid out the whole spool of string. I stuck the stick that I had the spool on into the soft ground and ran into the house to get the second spool. I paid it out until I came to the end of it. Now the kite was so far away that it must have been over North Road from where I stood in the stand pipe yard on Genesee.

Now, to try some messages I found some of my mom’s recipe cards and a hole punch. Since the kite was so far away and so high, I thought it must be getting close to heaven. I wrote a few notes like “Hi, God,” on the cards, punched a hole, slit the cards, put the card on the string, taped the slit closed and sent my messages up the string. Even at the tender age of eight, I was cynical enough to think that nobody would be up there to read the messages.

After what seemed like hours, I began to reel my kite back in. Know what? All of those messages I had sent up were gone! I got goose bumps thinking about how those messages may have disappeared.

Recently, I built another kite just like before. Only I had to use store-bought dowels for the frame and brown Kraft paper instead of dry cleaner bags.

I drove down to Perkins Circle to give my kite a try. I sat in the car and looked around. There were some big kids playing a little softball.

Maybe it was because late April didn’t have enough wind, or just maybe, at 80, I couldn’t run fast enough (read walk) to get a successful launch. On the other hand, perhaps both the kite and its operator weighed a little too much.

Then I thought that those kids would have a field day watching this old man’s efforts. Besides, I hadn’t made any messages to send up on the kite string.

I left the kite in the trunk and drove back home. There would be no goosebumps today.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com