See the Wind and Catch it

0
184

Based on the true story that Ila Clements Davey (Godby) told me and I imagined it
by Alan Goya

There was a lot for a kid to do in Boulder City in the spring of 1935, a few months before the official dedication of Hoover Dam by President Roosevelt. These were kids of hardworking no-nonsense people who were building the biggest public works project since the Pyramids.

The secret to doing the fun stuff kids like to do is to look like what you’re doing is somehow productive and have some fun doing it. Like walking to school.

Yes, kids once had to walk to school. There were a few cars, but their use didn’t usually include driving kids around. Everybody walked and explored the ground and found rocks to pick up and inspect and throw at things in the desert.

Box kite, water tank and Haboob, Boulder City Nevada 1935And in the spring there were the strong winds coming from the south to mess with your hair and dust your eyeglasses, The Haboob. Its exact linguistic origins come from the Sahara, but at some time in history a similar wind inspired an American Southwest version. The kids would soon find out how long and steady the Haboob could be.

The Kelly boys, Dan and his little brother, looked scraggly and poor but they were smart, liked do interesting things and were very curious. On a windy Sunday spring day to be a kid was to fly a kite. And the kite of choice was the box kite; which at first impression seems ill suited due to its lack of obvious aerodynamic qualities. They were tricky to get up in the air, but Dan Kelly and little brother Kelly knew how to see the wind.

The secret of launching a box kite is seeing the wind. If you can see the wind you know where to point the kite and push it into the sky. Now Danny heard the leaves, saw the wind, and launched the kite. Ila squealed in delight as her older brother Tom frowned at his failure at launching his.

But he tried again and soon enough, all along Utah Street the kites were launched and the sky was alive in the eyes of the children.

―advertisement―

The Kelly boys, Dan and his little brother, looked scraggly and poor but they were smart, liked to do interesting things and were very curious. On a windy Sunday spring day to be a kid was to fly a kite. And the kite of choice was the box kite; which at first impression seems ill suited due to its lack of obvious aerodynamic qualities. They were tricky to get up in the air, but Dan Kelly and little brother Kelly knew how to see the wind.

The secret of launching a box kite is seeing the wind; if you can see the wind you know where to point the kite and push it into the sky. Now Danny heard the leaves, saw the wind, and launched the kite. Ila squealed in delight as her older brother Tom frowned at his failure at launching his.

But he tried again and soon enough, all along Utah Street the kites were launched and the sky was alive in the eyes of the children.

Dan’s little brother loved the kite; he got to hold the kite-string during launch. When Danny said the word and launched the up and told little brother to run. Little brother felt the magic tug of the kite and held fast and turned around and felt the kite fly. Dan quickly grabbed the string and after a slight protest Little Brother watched as Danny let out his string.

The kite caught the wind, flew higher and higher, farther and farther until it was a small spot in the sky, and Danny gave the string back to his little brother.

When you’re a kid you have super powers. One of the most powerful is astroimaginary projection, which all children process in vast quantities until their parents train it out of them. Some bad parents ignore this time-wasting habit and produce abnormal kids like Albert Einstein. Little Brother was using his powers mightily and through the string he sailed high above the house and up the hill toward a cloud behind The Great Water Tank.

The Great Water Tank of Boulder City was a massive thing, said to hold two million gallons of Colorado River Water and was the first permanent structure in the town. It was also the highest point of the town and gave a great view of the Eldorado Valley, and of the future Lake Mead.

The power of astroimaginary projection was strong in Dan and he longed to fly further and maybe he was talking out loud or maybe Ila was a mind reader or maybe she just got tired of holding on to her brother’s string, but she handed Dan the string and said “You can use ours”.

Dan attached the string and to everyone’s delight the kite flew higher and farther than all the others. The other kids began pulling down their kites and adding their strings to the flight, until with the very last piece of string, given by Grandma Pickett, the kite flew right above the great water tank.

They all took turns flying the kite, feeling the magic and the power of all that string flying in the wind. The sun was beginning to set and no one even knew if it were possible to bring the kite down; so they tied it to a clothesline post and left it there for the night.

The next morning, to everyone’s astonishment and excitement, they found the kite was still flying straight and true, up and up through the town over the top of the hill above The Great Water Tank. On the way home from school all the kids stopped and each took a turn flying The Kite. And they did it again the next day, and the next — for a month the Kite flew above the town and everyday the children could feel the power of astromagination.

One morning the kite was gone from the sky. The Haboob was over and the kite had come to earth during the windless night. The string lay across the town and the children followed it, collecting it all the way to the top of the hill where they found the kite beside The Great Water Tank.

But they were not sad. Danny Kelly’s Little Brother summed it up best when they found the kite, “That was amazing!”

Three months later, at 2 pm Eastern Standard Time on September 30 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said basically the same thing at the dedication of the great Dam.

―advertisement―