Lucky Lindy:Carbons Creek Ghost Town Time Story
I’m generally considered to be a fairly levelheaded woman. My broadcasting career depends on having respect of the Chicago audience who trust me to give them level headed facts and sometimes a viewpoint. Odd that telling the truth could make me lose that respect and trust. Even if it has nothing to do with my news assignments. On the other side, I can’t ignore the fact that I have visited a ghost town, I mean where I’ve met people who have died before I was born.
I know it’s weird but there have been times when I just stumble into this old mining town-you know, with old fading buildings, windblown streets and, oddly, stuff still on the shelves in the stores. It’s sort of creepy, but fascinating too. My great grandma Sarah calls it the ghost town. Believe it or not I actually met her there and she looked like she could be in her mid-thirties. Excuse me for rambling but she is an awesome woman to live up to.
After the Civil War her uncle was publishing a weekly newspaper in the town of Carbons Creek. He came back from the war and wrote about the corruption in the county. He died in a fire which burned down the newspaper. Sarah investigated because the authorities wouldn’t. She exposed the corruption in the county and proved that her uncle was murdered. Then she decided to continue the paper on her own.
Anyhow, the truly ghostly thing about the town is it doesn’t seem to stay in one place. Sarah thinks it is near her town of Carbons Creek but she told met nobody, except her husband John has ever seen it. At least any who would admit it. She told me that sometimes it is where she expects it to be and sometimes not. For me the place has a hypnotic pull. There’s this old print shop there which stopped putting out a newspaper sometime during the American civil war. Sarah admitted to me that she confronted a ghost the first time she was there and it scared the hell out of her. Like Sarah, I think it’s frustrating to know such interesting things and not be able to tell the story. If you do, you get pegged as a nut case.
Last week was one of those times. I was getting ready to go to a rodeo at a town not too far from Chicago. I live in a suburb of the city, but I try to get outstate to cover events. Folks are always complaining that we ignore everything outside the metro area. To some extent they are right, but I try once in a while. I’ll admit it also gives me an excuse to splurge on some western boots I liked. So my first stop was at my favorite Western Outfitters store. When I got there I couldn’t pass up a silk blouse and some tight bleached jeans that showed off the top of the boots I was buying. If this outfit didn’t stop some of those cowboys in their tracks, I’d ask for my money back.
Back in the ghost town
Just for the fun of it, I had my long, blond hair done with bangs in front and braids over my shoulders. Now I’m dressed to knock ‘em dead, but instead of the rodeo town, my GPS led me into that damn ghost town.
I drove around the town which isn’t all that big. You won’t believe what I saw. Hell, you won’t believe I was where I was. Right behind the old saloon and the stable was one of those old fashioned bi-planes from the 1920’s or so. I parked my Jeep and went to look for the pilot.
Inside the livery I found a handsome young man engrossed in searching for something in the livery. He was only mildly startled when I greeted him with a “Hello.” He glanced over my outfit with what I hoped was appreciation, because I certainly appreciated his appearance. He was young, about my own age, and Scandinavian. He looked good in spite of the old fashioned flying togs.
“The engine in my plane stalled out and I had to land. I saw buildings here, but the town looks deserted.”
“It is deserted,” I said. “Have you got enough gas?”
“Tank’s down some, but should be enough.”
“How about water in the gas?”
“I suppose there could be. Humidity can cause mischief.”
I found a can of gas-anti freeze in the Jeep. It helps in winter by keeping down the moisture so it doesn’t freeze. “If you got water in the lines this might help. Pour it in the tank and let it sit awhile.”
“Is that your automobile?” He was staring at the Jeep like it was a spaceship. I guess it would appear that way to someone of the 1920’s.
Yes, it’s called a Jeep. It’s a 2009 model. You and I belong to very different times. But I have the advantage of knowing some history and this town doesn’t belong to your time or mine. By the way, my name is Gale, and I bet you’re Charles Lindberg. Don’t look so surprised. In my day you are famous. I’ve seen your picture in books.”
He looked confused. I realized that I threw too much at him. Information overload, I guess.
I’ve learned from Sarah to keep some food in the car for emergencies. It’s mostly junk food to be truthful. I took some chips peanuts and candy bars out and split them up. He ate eagerly. “I was hungry,” he said. “I’m afraid I forget to eat when I have a problem to solve. How come a pretty girl like you knows about plane engines?”
“I’ll take that as a compliment and I like your looks too. Why don’t we see if that saloon has any beer that hasn’t gone bad.” Oddly, this town that looks like it was deserted decades ago seems to have useable things on the shelves. We did find a couple of bottled beers and shared a table.
“What is this town, anyhow?” He asked me as if I lived here.
“I don’t know. It appears like a deserted old west mining town but it never seems to be in the same place. I find myself here when I have no intention of being here. Same with you and others. They just seem to end up here.”
A look of concentration took over his expression. “I have heard of places where planes have disappeared, sometimes never found again. Even squadrons, I’ve heard.”
“Yes, I said. I’ve read theories of places like one called the Bermuda Triangle. Supposedly ships and places with whole crews have disappeared in those areas.”
We talked awhile about planes, strange disappearances and the change in society between our different times. I told him that society had changed a great deal since his day.” By and large, women don’t think they need to play dumb to get along. Women do most things men do. Some even work on cars, and drive trucks. Even in your lifetime women will be flying airplanes.”
“I don’t mean to offend,” he said. “I do think you are beautiful intelligent too.”
“Oh, I know that. You don’t offend me. Women still like compliments. But times will change far more than you can imagine. Believe it or not, you may be an agent of change.”
He seemed surprised. “Heck, I’m just a farm boy. I went to college for a time but what I really want to do is fly.”
“Believe me. That you will do. By the way, can I have the can back?” He looked surprised but I just said, “I don’t want you to change things any more that I am sure you will. Did you know that there is a dance named after you?” I took his hand and demonstrated a few steps. “It’s called the Lindy. By the way, don’t tell anybody about it, they won’t believe you.” I was beginning to feel like a fortune teller. It was a bit scary. This young man had years of accomplishment and fame ahead of him, he would also have many tragedies. Hoping I hadn’t said too much already, I decided I had better hold back.
“Let’s see if we can get your plane running, shall we?” We finished eating and went out to his plane. I picked up the can from the gas line anti-freeze and put it in the Jeep. I told him to get in the cockpit and I would try spinning the prop. “Good luck, Lindy!”
He climbed up, swung into the cockpit and gave me a half wave. I figured that meant O.K. I moved the Jeep closer so I could stand on the hood and reach the prop. I had to practically hang on the prop to get my weight to pull it down. I put everything I had into it. If Lindy didn’t get out of this ghost town, aviation might be set back fifty years or so.
The prop moved 90 degrees and then nothing. I tried again and the engine sputtered a few times. The third try was better. It sputtered. Lindy apparently adjusted the choke and the engine kicked in. Lindy will never know that I was bluffing about a lady knowing about engines, this lady at least. I’d about reached the limit of my knowledge.
I moved the Jeep and pulled out the chocks, which were a couple of bricks that he found lying around. He taxied around until he was facing an unobstructed path where he might pick up enough speed to get some lift.
I waved. He smiled and gave me a salute like gesture. I’ll remember that image. He was kind of sexy and I think he liked me. An affair was tempting but life is complicated enough and he was really old enough to be my grandfather. As I watched the plane take to the air, I got in the Jeep, shut off the GPS and went to find the rodeo. I still wanted to wow some cowboys.
Copyright 2013 Don Hoglund