My family consisted of seven children of whom I was the youngest. Dad was always interested in aviation. We often parked near the end of the runway off of 36th street to watch the planes land. Back then, they were all propeller jobs, mainly the DC’s threes and fours. When they approached the runway from the west they would come into final approach at about 500 feet up. The Douglas planes had Pratt and Whitney engines that were very noisy. To us, it was rare excitement.
The newest type planes were the large four motored seaplanes that landed south of Miami at Dinner Key. To watch these great sea birds fly in and touch down on the waters was a thrill beyond words. A new pro-to-type (DOX-experimental aircraft) high wing sea plane was to touch down on a Sunday afternoon. It was the first to house six powerful engines, three on each side of the wing. From this model, came the PBM, a submarine hunter used in the Second World War. My older brother Jim was a bow gunner on one of the first to be commissioned.
Dad wanted all the family to witness the historic landing of this gigantic sea monster. On that Sunday in 1933, Dad loaded the family in the Plymouth and we soon found ourselves amid the crowd that were all waiting to view the spectacle. It was smooth and sweet as it swept across the sheltered Bay of Dinner as it touched gracefully in the bay. When it turned to taxi, a hush hit the crowd as they saw the size of this sea monster. Swimmers were ready as the aircraft was secured to docks that extended into the waters. With diving masks in place, they would swim out and secure the large wheels to the underside of the wings. Then the plane would be pulled by cable up a wide concrete ramp onto dry land. There the spectators could examine it more closely.
In the meantime, the crowd pushed ever closer to the ramp. Our family was on the front line. There was a green moss that flourished on the edge of the concrete and by it’s very nature it was extremely slippery. My older brother Tom touched the toe of his foot on the moss and quickly withdrew. “That’s dangerous stuff”, he thought. Jim, more daring, did more than just ‘toe’ the moss. He put his foot squarely on it and ‘ker-splash’ he went into the bay feet first. My sister Marie heard Jim’s cry and stepped forward to help. ‘Splooosh’, she went flying upside down into the bay. The water wasn’t deep where the two had made their entry but the green slime was so slippery on the bottom, they couldn’t regain their balance. Dad, hearing the commotion, pushed through the crowd and not knowing what caused the other two to slide into the water, hit the green and ‘ker-splaaat’, he did a belly flopper and came up spewing water like Old Faithful. Mother was headed for the same fate when she was graciously restrained by a couple of men. The crowd had shifted positions and instead of viewing the plane being extracted from the bay, they formed a circus type audience around the three floundering in the bay.
A human daisy ‘chain of arms and hands’ were able to extract the family from the water, one by one. When all three were brought to land the crowd gave a cheer and there we stood, half-wet and half-dry, but once again on solid ground. Embarrassed, we moved as reluctant celebrities through the crowd and toward the car. All at once Dad turned to us and said, “Let’s all turn around and give them a bow”. So we did to the cheers of the crowd.
Dad always had a scripture or two that would help us understand the events of the day. He quoted from the apostle Paul, “Therefore let him who thinks he is standing, take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12). Look at the context. Paul is clearly speaking about the Jews and their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The miracle of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, the provisions that God had given the nation of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness, and their selection as His chosen people. They thought they had a strong footing with God. But with many of them (most of them) God was not well pleased. Some were given to idolatry, some to murmuring and complaining, some to a complete lack of faith, and some were charged with sexual immorality. Millions left the slavery of Egypt, but only two of them lived to see the promise land, Joshua and Caleb. Read I Corinthians 10:1-12.
Paul said, “Now these things became our example that we should not lust after evil things as they lusted”. Just remember, “no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:6,11,13).
The green slime in life may appear in different forms. So watch out be careful and God bless.