Enjoying time with friends

Even though I can’t do what I did years ago, I still am able to have some interesting experiences. One of my friends picks me up, and when the weather is good, we go down to Gustavus to the Food and Agricultural Committee breakfasts.

I enjoy these breakfast meetings. The group is always friendly, and it is interesting to visit with many of them whom I know.

Members of the Gustavus Federated Church do an excellent job of serving an all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast.

They are efficient, friendly and helpful. Meetings are held nine months of the year, with a break during June, July and August. After breakfast is served, there are introductions, an interesting speaker and then time for visiting. Chairman Ed Agler is in charge of the meetings.

After the speaker finished at the March meeting, a lady whom I didn’t know came up to me and asked if the name Bertha Warren Phillis was familiar to me. I had to stop and think a minute, and then it came to me who she was. She was my first-grade teacher from many, many years ago. I knew her as “Miss Warren” and have vague but fond memories of her.

The lady who was talking to me about her was her daughter. That was a pleasant surprise, and we had a nice visit. It was enjoyable to go back a lot of years and think about some of my grade school experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t get this lady’s name and I hope to see her at another meeting to visit some more.

I like to read, and one of the interesting magazines I get is Smithsonian’s Air and Space publication. In the March issue, I started reading an article about Pan American Airways Boeing 707 jet airplane. I quickly became more interested when I saw the name Loren Hopkins was in the early part of the article.

It was Oct. 26, 1958, and Loren, his mother, father and two sisters were on an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris on the inaugural flight of this 707. Loren’s mother had won the trip when she entered a contest printed on the back of a cereal box.

Loren is now a farmer in Kinsman and probably has a lot of memories of this trip.

Passengers, as they were boarding the plane for the trip, were serenaded by a U.S. Army band and walked on red carpet with lights on both sides. Several celebrities were on board the plane. All the passengers enjoyed many luxuries, including hot meals served on china and set on linen tablecloths and wine served in stemware glasses.

I’m not sure that Loren, at 7 years old, appreciated all these things but probably most of the passengers did.

As the flight went along, Loren apparently thought the plane wasn’t moving very fast. A stewardess heard him ask his mother why the plane was moving so slowly. She reported this to the captain, who came out and took Loren into the cockpit.

While he was there, the captain presented him with a set of wings and found a captain’s cap that fit him. My guess is that was the highlight of the trip for Loren. The experience is something that would not be allowed today.

Loren is not only a farmer today but he also works for Deerfield Farms in charge of their Kinsman branch. They are a grain handling operation and a branch of their Portage County operation.

As a public service, they also send out notices of the FAC breakfasts to a mailing list of interested people. Loren occasionally comes to the breakfasts and maybe we can find out more about his 707 flight experience some time.

Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Contact him at 149woodside@twc.com.