My new e-friend, Susan from Fort Wayne, IN, continues to investigate Amelia Earhart's visit to Fort Wayne. Since her discovery of the 1935 letter written by my father to "Miss Earhart," I continue to be fascinated by the details of her speaking engagement in Fort Wayne and how my father must have experienced it.
I hope Susan will not mind my copying here the results of her latest research at the Fort Wayne Public Library. Susan edited these texts herself and has compiled a very interesting set of paragraphs that allows one to really visualize what this visit from the famous aviator was like. For me, it is especially intriguing because it allows me to visualize the evening when my father, no doubt with great excitement, hoped he would be able to obtain Amelia Earhart's autograph.
MARCH 20th, 1935
Published in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel and the Fort Wayne Journal AMELIA EARHART’S VISIT TO FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
From March 14th, 1935…
“…Arrangements for Miss Amelia Earhart’s visit to Fort Wayne on Wednesday were completed as a meeting of Pi Chapter of the Psi Iota Xi Sorority Monday evening…the world-famous aviatrix will speak at the Shrine Auditorium here Wednesday evening under the auspices of the sorority on the subject ‘Adventures in the Air’.
…Tickets may be obtained from members of the sorority today and Wednesday, and will also be on sale in downtown stores and in the offices of the three public high schools and of Central Catholic High School….the box office will be opened at 7 o’clock, and the doors to the auditorium will be opened at 7:45 o’clock. Because of the large number of persons desiring to attend Lenten services in the Lutheran and Catholic churches in the city on Wednesday evening, the lecture will not begin until 8:45 o’clock. A 10-piece orchestra under the direction of Gaston Bailhe will present an hour’s program of music preceding the talk. An amplifying system has been installed in the theatre.
…Miss Earhart will be the honored guest at a banquet to be given at the Town House preceding the lecture, at which 50 members of the sorority will be guests…”
From the Journal-Gazette, March 20, 1935—morning edition—
“ ‘The stratosphere is the new frontier in aviation”, Amelia Earhart, world-famous aviatrix, declared here today in an interview in which she talked modestly, intelligently and cleverly on subjects ranging from the Far North to hot dogs, and from books to rocket planes.
Miss Earhart will speak at the Shrine Auditorium tonight at 8:45 o’clock under the auspices of Pi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi Sorority on ‘Adventures in the Air’.
‘Yes, I’ve read all the books husband (George Palmer Putnam, of the famous publishing family in New York) has written, but I wouldn’t admit it to him,’ she said, laughing. ‘I’m fond of books, and he’s an aviation fan, and we have lots of plans for our future together.’
Miss Earhart, tall and lanky, even as Lindbergh, but trimly attired in a three-piece tailored brown suit, with dark brown and white polka-dot blouse, and brown strap slippers, ran her fingers through her slightly-tousled, short-cut hair as she answered—rapid-fire—the questions put to her.
‘Have I ever thought of interstellar and interplanetary flying?’ she repeated. ‘Well, I do know there is a group of persons now working on a rocket-type plane, and I feel sure that something will be accomplished in that direction, too.
Miss Earhart’s eyes sparkled when it was mentioned that her husband has proved an excellent expeditionist of no small importance, and has written numerous articles and books on his trips into Greenland and to Baffin Island.
‘He went in a whaleboat, and he charted an island that had not been known to be in existence before,’ she declared proudly. A soft smile emerged. ‘Do you know something we still hope to do together sometime? We have it down on our calendar for something very pleasant in the future. We would like to take an expedition North together and take a plane along.’
When something was mentioned about her attending a supper party at a downtown night club tonight after the lecture, she asked, ‘Would there be spotlights and all that sort of thing? Then, instead, let’s go to a hot dog stand or someplace where we can get a soda or hot chocolate. I’ll treat you all to hot dogs.’
Miss Earhart believes in woman’s rights. ‘I don’t believe in saying that women can’t do a certain thing or take up a certain line of work, until they have tried it,’ Miss Earhart said. ‘On the other hand, I wouldn’t say that women could do everything until experiments have been made and results studied. In another hundred years, I think we’ll know whether a woman is able to carry on the same pursuits as a man, for she will have tried and the results will have been studied.’
‘And, by the way, she called, as we left her room in the hotel. ‘Please refer to me as Amelia Earhart, not as Mrs. Putnam. I don’t believe even my husband ever introduced me as Mrs. Putnam.’
From the News-Sentinel, March 21st, 1935:
(headline) AIRPLANES SAFER THAN MOTORCARS, SAYS MISS EARHART
IN LECTURE HERE
…With the disarming simplicity which is great art, Miss Amelia Earhart, America’s first lady of the air, spoke at the Shrine Auditorium Wednesday night. Her talk, a detailed and fascinating description of her recent solo flight across the Pacific, was sponsored by Pi chapter of the Psi Iota Xi sorority.
First, Miss Earhart made friends with her audience. Then she took them with her on what is the most spectacular flight ever made by a woman. With her, they set clocks at zero, drank tomato juice from a tin can, watched the instrument board through the long night hours, and touched stars.
Gamin-like, Miss Earhart good-naturedly poked fun at over-anxious counselors, emotional radio announcers and picnic lunches. But she never poked fun at flying.
…the two-thirds of a transoceanic flight which is preparation, according to Miss Earhart, developed into a novel, often humorous narrative….during the talk, the speaker quieted some of the rumors which had arisen concerning her Pacific flights. She was never off course, she was never lost in the fog, and she did not say she was growing tired. These reports she attributed to bad reception of her broadcasts and an emotional radio announcer.
‘I did not make the flight because I was bored with my husband, as some news stories reported. I cannot feel that 18 hours alone over the Pacific would be a remedy in such a case but I give you the suggestion for what it is worth.’
‘I have been asked what I thought about, what my reactions were, as I made the take-off on my last flight,’ she continued. ‘No pilot sits and takes his pulse. He has too much work to do to bother much about his ‘insides’—mental or physical.’
Movingly the flyer described the beauty of the moonlit clouds, the stars seemingly hung outside the cockpit window, and the terrible brilliance of sunrise from a high altitude. ‘The lure of flying is the lure of beauty,’ she said.
In the give-and-take of an informal question –and-answer period following her talk, Miss Earhart delighted her hearers with her ready and witty answers. The large audience which attended the talk gave her a heartwarming ovation at the close.
From a pre-lecture interview at the Keenan Hotel:
‘Preparatory to going to a formal dinner preceding her talk at the Shrine Auditorium Wednesday night, she wore a formal gown of dark brown net, with a …flare below the knees and a long sheath-like skirt. Her dinner jacket was of matching brown taffeta, and with an…ascot of beige silk.
…Her graciousness included autograph seekers, photographers and two young men who wished to interview her for high school papers. She answered her telephone herself, made her own appointments. She replied to oft-asked questions patiently and fully and with a sense of humor.
She will…accept the invitation of the Mexican government to fly to Mexico, and will probably make the flight solo. She enjoys the present series of speaking engagements because, in spite of her reputation of going it alone, she likes people. She much prefers traveling by plane and would have flown her ship here had it not been kept in the east for installation of a compass.
She poses for photographs easily and well, and when complimented, replies that she comes from those parts where leaning seems easier than standing. Those parts, it seems, are Kansas.
Thank you, Susan, for sharing your work with me and the readers of this blog. I love it.