SILVER THREADS

VOLUME V

ISSUE No III

MARCH 2007

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~silver/south/newsletter.html

 

Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins

 


 

Hello to Everyone

 

Hooray, spring is just around the corner.  Hopefully, March will come in like a lion and leave like a lamb.  It is encouraging.

This month’s issue ends the Alice Thomas saga.  There’s a nice letter from Rex and I do wish to ask everyone to keep him in their prayers. And again, we have a great letter from John Silver Harris.  I’m still trying to get John to visit Dover and tour our Museum at the Air Base. We now have 25 “war wearies” with a 26th on the way.  They date from the 1930s through the 1990s.  The latest addition will be a 1946 military version of the Constellation, C121. (Lockheed 949)

Thanks to everyone for the articles to be included in this month’s issue.  If anyone else would care to submit notes, pictures, articles, I would most certainly welcome them.  Especially, copies of old photos of family members!

I would again like to ask everyone with a computer to print out a copy or two for our family members without computers.

Until next month,

Cousin John

 


 


 


 


 


 

 

how I Happened to Fly a War Bird

(For a Few Minutes, anyway)

 

with John Harris

 

 

It was the dream of lifetime come true.

As a lad growing up in North Carolina during World War II, I had watched those war birds thundering through the sky and fantasized about flying one.

But that never happened-until January 13 this year. At age 73, my boyhood dream finally became a reality. And for that I have my good neighbors, the Copases, to thank.

There was an ad in the newspaper touting a flight in a T-6 Texan, advanced trainer plane of World War II vintage as "The Perfect Holiday Gift." The ad further stated: "With dual controls, even non-pilots get to fly. No previous flying experience necessary."

Wouldn't that be fun, I thought. But it was just another flight of fantasy for me. I clipped a couple of the ads, pasted them up, with a heading: "What I wanted for Christmas -- and didn't get..."

Then I put them in with the handouts and mail outs of clippings and writings that I regular provide to friends and neighbors, and thought no more of it.  Until my doorbell rang one evening.

It was my good neighbor Jim Copas from across the street. Turns out that his wife Sherry had given him a gift flight several years back. And he had it on video.  So we played his video, watching his dipping, diving, and spinning through the sky from start to finish in his AT-6 flight.

Well, bless my soul if Jim didn't say that I was getting a flight gift from him and Sherry. I couldn't believe it. In fact, I was stunned. This was a big gift. The Copases are the world's finest neighbors, no doubt about it!

In a few days, Jim and Sherry were back at my door with a ticket for the flight. And they would accompany me to the Lantana airport for the Saturday afternoon flight.

The flights are provided by the History Flight Foundation, based in Marathon, in the Florida Keys, and flown from different airports across the country.

If watching the video of my neighbor Jim's aerobatic flight wasn't scary enough, then the paper you must sign before embarking will further give you the jitters. It's a legal document stating that you are aware that aerobatic flying is dangerous and that you could be seriously injured or killed, and that you release the Foundation from any legal claims. OK, now you're on your own.

The plane I flew in was a dark blue, low-wing, tail dragger with a yellow cowling. It was an SNJ-6, the Navy version of the AT (Advanced Trainer)-6, Texan, manufactured in the early 1940s by North American Aviation.

It is powered by a nine-cylinder rotary engine, packing 600 horsepower, that gulps fuel at a 75-gallon-per hour rate during the take-off climb, and 30 gallons per hour while cruising. Its top speed is 205 miles per hour.

The plane has a headset intercom system for communication between the pilot in the rear cockpit and the passenger in the front cockpit.

Before take-off, I got about a 10-minute ground schooling from a young flight assistant. Most of this was while I was getting into the plane, which isn't easy because it has no doors. You step onto a designated section of the wing (where it adjoins the fuselage) and then put your foot onto a little foothold on the side of the fuselage. Then holding onto designated bars under the canopy, you swing first one leg and then the other over the side of the fuselage and step onto the seat in the cockpit. Then you slide into the seat, of which a parachute comprises your seat cushion.

The flight assistant then showed me how to slide the canopy back and forward and lock it into different positions. He suggested leaving it open a notch in flight so that I'd get air in the cockpit.

Then comes the harnessing. Buckles around each leg, around your waist, and shoulder harness.. After landing you reverse this procedure, unbuckling all. But if you have to bail out, there's only one buckle that you flip because you're taking the parachute with you.

And speaking of bailing out, my flight assistant told me: "In case of emergency, the pilot will say, 'Bail out!' three times. You slide the canopy back, flip the release switch on your harness, climb over the side and dive."

He showed me the ripcord handle to pull after counting so many times (1001, 1002, 1003, etc.) And he said by the third count, the pilot would already be gone. But by the time I was airborne, I had forgotten how many times I was supposed to count. So I decided if my pilot bailed, then I would just ride that baby in and try belly it onto the nearest open spot on the ground.

But I did know how to retract the gear. Before takeoff, my flight assistant had pointed out a lever that I was to pull up and back after takeoff when instructed to do so by the pilot. "But don't do that now," he added, otherwise the plane would be sitting on its belly on the runway.

On that Saturday afternoon, I climbed into the cockpit of a 1945 vintage SNJ-6 Texan, the Navy trainer version of the North American AT-6, to head skyward. In the cockpit behind me was my pilot-instructor, John Makinson, an old Alaskan bush pilot. The plane has dual controls, so it can be flown from the front cockpit, where I was, or the back, where he was.

On startup, the big engine coughed a couple times, sputtered, belched a puff of smoke, and then thundered into action.

In a T-6, you're either pilot or co-pilot-no one else is aboard. In my role as co-pilot, I was assigned two jobs. After gaining altitude from take-off, I was to retract the landing gear. That's because, while there are dual controls for everything else, there's only one control for landing gear retraction, and that's in the front cockpit where I was. So when my pilot gave the word, I reached down and pulled the lever up and back as I had been instructed. Then I proudly announced to the pilot: "Gear up." I had performed my co-pilot duty flawlessly - a feat in which I took great pride.

My other co-pilot duty was to watch for other planes in the air. (A mid-air collision can really botch up an otherwise fine flight.) "From back here, I can see only about half as much as you can up there," my pilot told me. "So if you see any planes, let me know." I kept a wide watch in all directions. But all I spotted was a Piper Cub towing a banner along the coastline far below us.

We climbed out of the Lantana airport, headed east, made a sharp swing out over the ocean, and then the pilot told me to take the controls-a stick used for climbs, dives and tilts, and rudder pedals to swing the plane left or right.

For a few glorious minutes that will live eternally in my memory, I was actually flying this baby. I pulled back on the stick and the nose raised into a climb. Dipped it and we took a dive. Swung it left and right with the rudder pedals. And then using both controls, I did a climbing turn and a sweeping dive. Great fun!

It was amazing how readily this 5,000-pound aircraft, barreling through the sky at nearly 200 mph, responded to the slightest touch on those controls. I would have expected there to be wind resistance on the rudder and aileron control surfaces.

After playing pilot for a few minutes, I relinquished controls to my pilot-instructor, who then took us back into the traffic pattern to land at the airport. My time aloft had been less than a half-hour. But for me, memories of that flight will last a lifetime. And my grateful thanks to the Copases for making it happen.

 (For more, visit HistoryFlight.com on the Web or enter SNJ-6 on Google.com for more links.)

 

 


 

Witness to the Utah Mall Shooting

 

 

[ The following email was sent to Barbara Gregory from her cousin, Clarissa Wagstaff, in Salt Lake City, UT.  Clarissa and Wayne are kin to us through the Silver family.  They have been to Rock Hill twice to visit Ronnie and me and are dear friends.   Since this email I have heard from Clarissa again.  This was her 21-year old granddaughter she is telling us about.  The girl wasn't hurt through the ordeal but was really scared.  This was on national news so a lot of you probably heard about it.  Please remember Clarissa and her family while they try to comfort Taralyn. ]

 

This has been a suspenseful night for our family.  Our Indian granddaughter, Taralyn, is night manager at one of the Trolley Square shops that was right in front of the killings tonight.  Workers have been in the mall making improvements and when Tara heard loud noises, she thought it was an air hammer, then what she heard next sounded like an air compressor.  Then she recognized the gunshots, in rapid succession, and dived for cover under and behind the gift wrap counter.  As she peeked out from behind her cover, she saw the chaos, heard the screaming and more gunshots.  She said that instantly, it felt and looked like a war zone.  She dialed 911 repeatedly while on the floor and got no answer.  She then called her Mother in Farmington and told her what was happening.  Her mother, Sarah, told me that she could hear the shots, the screams and the terror in Tara's voice.  Tara told her Mother, "I love you Mom!"  Tara thought she was going to die.  Sarah then called me and related what was happening.

Tara could see that the manager at the Spaghetti Factory, right across the hall, was throwing things out of the way and got the front gate locked up.  Tara thought that she needed to do the same, to keep the gunman out of her shop.  She crept along the floor and reached up and locked the door.  She crawled back to her hiding place and called the owner of the shop.  Again, the owner could hear all the commotion through the phone.  She told Tara that she would come immediately, which she did.

Tara said that she could tell the police had arrived because the shots had quit and they were giving orders to everyone.  Someone came to her door and rattled it and Tara called out, I am here, I am okay.  The police were evacuating the mall and sent her running along the wall, then yelled to her to stay in a corner, then yelled at her to run towards the exit and when she got to the door, they told her to put her hands behind her head and walk outside.  Tara was scared to death.  She thought she was going to be shot.  She said that her security training paid off in that she hit the floor immediately and that when she could hear the cries of pain, she wanted to help give aid.

She said that an off-duty officer was eating dinner at the restaurant and when the gunman started firing, the police officer returned fire.  Tara said that without that officer, many more people would have been killed.  She told me that she is thankful for her blessings.  

Five victims dead, the gunman is dead and at least four others are in critical or serious condition at two different hospitals.  Crisis counseling is available to everyone that was in the vicinity or in the mall.  The police have taken the witnesses to the SL library to be interviewed and accounts recorded by the police.  The whole thing has been on TV nonstop this evening.  

How fragile life is!  How blessed we are. Tara is okay now but very rattled.  She is a level-headed girl, is in her Senior year at Weber State University and handled herself well in the interviews with the TV station. 

Our prayers go out to all the families of the victims in not only SLC but in Pennsylvania. 

Clarissa

 


 

OBITUARIES

 

Charles “Ed” McMahon

 

News-Herald
Morganton, NC
1 October 2006

Charles “Ed” McMahon, 84, loving husband, father and grandfather, died peacefully at his Denver home on Thursday, September 28, 2006, surrounded by his family, after a valiant battle with prostate cancer.

Mr. McMahon was born on February 9, 1922, to the late Marion Malcomb and Lillie Louise Silver McMahan of Morganton.  He was a veteran of WW II in the 2nd Armored Division of the U.S. Army that fought in France where he was wounded.  After the war he returned to Morganton where he was married to Cleta Mae Orders and they had two children.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife Cleta Orders McMahon; brothers, Esbon, Elzie and Horace McMahon; sisters, Ethel McMahan, Wavie Daugherty, Ruby Lingerfeld and Lucille Hensley.

Mr. McMahon was a member of the Denver Baptist Church and a retired trailer mechanic from Trailmoble in Charlotte.

Survivors include his two children, Linda Ritz Michael of Hickory and Joe McMahon of Denver; six grandchildren, Stephanie Ritz Michael of Hickory, Jenifer Ritz Cory of Henderson, Nevada, Jessie, Peyton and Brannon McMahon, all of Denver; one great-grandson, Spenser Cory of Henderson, Nevada.

The funeral service was held at Denver Baptist Church at 3 p.m. on Saturday.  Visitation was 1 and ˝ hours prior to the service.  Interment followed the service at Westport Baptist Church in Denver.

Memorials may be made to Lucia Baptist Church, 15434 Lucia Riverband Highway, Stanley, NC.

 

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Thomas Silver > Jacob William Silver > Lillie Louise Silver m. Marion Malcomb McMahan > Charles Edward McMahon.)

(Redmond McMahan > James Sr. McMahan > Archibald Sr. McMahan > John Yancey McMahan > Marion Malcomb McMahan > Charles Edward McMahon.)

 

[ This Obituary was sent by Carolyn Anne Hensley Denton, a niece of “Ed.”  Carolyn also sent a package of information that made me feel as though Christmas had arrived early.  Thank you Carolyn.  Cousin John ]

 


 

A Letter From Rex …

 

I am doing well after having an emergency tracheotomy in December. (See, no one believed I had breathing difficulties; every time I walked in the church at KONA the breathing difficulties multiplied.)  I have paralyzed vocal cords (probably from having breathing tubes shoved down my throat by a careless doctor during previous surgeries) which were not opening and closing when I breathed. I was getting my breath through an opening the size of a match head and the physicians do not see how I lasted for two years in such a condition, plus they are still puzzled how I could even talk. March 1, I go to the Medical College in Augusta, GA for exploratory surgery to see if the vocal cords can be reactivated so the trachea can be removed. Actually, I am a walking miracle. Apparently my physical body is the way it is because I descend from Aaron, Moses' brother, who was of the priestly line of the tribe of Levi. 

My Redmon DNA points in that direction. I am not Irish as I thought, but descend from the Melungeons through a "free man of color," William Readmond.  That free man of color was not African American because I have no African American DNA. He was known as a Portuguese Indian. A dark skinned man whose ancestors were 30% Jewish, 30% Berber Moor, 20% Native American and 20% Northern European. My older American ancestors arrived here before the English ever set foot on the continent. They came in the footsteps of DeSoto with Juan Pardo in the 1540s to the 1560s and first established a town of 200 inhabitants near where Beaufort, SC is located today. The town was known as Santa Elena. Pardo then established six forts along the Appalachian Frontier from where the cities of Pensacola, Florida; Augusta, Georgia; Clemson, SC; Copperstown, TN; Marion, NC; and Wilksboro, NC are located today. When the English explorers arrived in the mountains of NC in the 1600s they discovered a strange, dark skinned, bearded, Elizabethan English speaking race of people living very primitive as Christians. Yet, throughout history these people were greatly discriminated against and their lands were eventually seized after the Revolution by the Crown and they were treated no better than the Indians with whom they had intermarried. Some were even sent west with the Indians in 1838 as such was the case of my ancestor's brother, Samuel Readmond, who had married an Indian woman. William married a white woman after 1776 and thus began the ethnic cleansing of my line as the rest of my ancestors married white women. History does not record the dark skinned people living in the mountains prior to the English.  Santa Elena was eventually overrun by the English and the inhabitants too moved inland and intermarried with Native Americans.  Those early settlers were people who were escaping the Iberian Peninsula to escape the Catholic Spanish inquisitions and they were made up of Christian Berbers and Christians Jews along with some French Huguenots.  They had money because many were merchants on the Iberian Peninsula until the Spanish wanted their heads.

 So, now you know what I have been up to for the past six months. Also, I have taken on the project of chairing my fiftieth high school reunion to be held in the fall of 08. We were back then some 314 members strong. Now we are down to 255. I have taken on the project because no one else was willing to step forth.

Cousin Rex

 


 

John Silver
Genealogist & Editor
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Dover, DE 19901
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WebMaster
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