Friday, November 13, 2009

The Earhart Letter

In reference to Wednesday's post....

Susan, from Fort Wayne Indiana, has discovered that Amelia Earhart did visit Fort Wayne on March 20, 1935, the very day my father wrote to "Miss Earhart" asking for her autograph. If you want to see the original letter you can find it here.

My father was fascinated with aviation. I remember he had an old photograph, framed mind you, of the first plane he had ever flown in. And the tone of his voice when he would tell us that this was his first airplane ride made it very clear that this was an earthshaking event in his life. He absolutely loved to fly!!

When he was about to turn 50 he told our family that he wanted to do something new and adventurous. He was trying to decide if he should buy a motorcycle or take flying lessons. We told him to take flying lessons!!! (Although the motorcycle idea sounded fun too.) He did take the flying lessons. He earned his private pilot's license and was an excellent pilot. (Soon I will write about my first experience in a plane with my dad as the pilot.)

OK. Back to Amelia Earhart. Here is the text of my father's letter, dated March 20, 1935, and hand written.

Dear Miss Aerhart,

I hope you will sign the page of my autograph book that I am enclosing in this letter, for you did not the night I met you. I have red hair, glasses, a tan suit, and black shoes. I hope you will remember me with this

Yours truly,

Richard Bailhe

Did you notice he misspelled Earhart? Clearly he wrote this on his own.

Susan has told me that when Amelia Earhart visited Fort Wayne on March 20, 1935, my grandfather, who was a violinist and a conductor, gave a concert with a 10 piece orchestra. I'm wondering if it was because of my grandfather's involvement in the event that my father had hoped he could obtain Amelia Earhart's autograph. He does say in his letter that he met her. Maybe he asked for her autograph and she was too busy talking to people to notice? Can you see the little redhead, all dressed up in his tan suit and eyes sparkling with excitement, reaching up to her with his autograph book?

Maybe this little boy, already fascinating with airplanes, was utterly crushed that he had not gotten her autograph the one time in his life when he would have had the opportunity. Had he been looking forward to the day of her visit with eager anticipation, knowing he might be able to get her autograph? Did he even assume, as innocent children do, that he would get her autograph? Was the letter written in tears of disappointment? It was pretty direct and to the point. (Is there even a very mild and veiled tone of chastisement that she didn't sign it the night he asked? teehee)

Since he wrote the letter the day of her visit and he says he met her, he must have at least shaken her hand. My dad had flaming red hair. I bet she remembered that little red-headed boy. Maybe she even remembered the autograph request. Maybe she felt bad that with all the people, etc. she had not been able to stop and sign his book. She did save the letter. It was with her things donated to Purdue University and now in their archives. Or....she might have had lots of piles of papers and this letter just happened to be in the pile.

In any event, my family is left with the question of whether or not she sent back the autograph. If she did, do any of us have it? Is it in a book somewhere? Could such a treasured signature have been lost over the years? Sure. Anything can get lost. If we should find it, you will certainly hear about it.


Kalona said...

What a great story! I loved seeing your father's original letter. I can imagine the cute little redheaded boy, fascinated with flying, asking for the autograph. Very sweet!

Suzanne said...

The story only became more fun! It is still a MYSTERY! ;)