The Kite

“Oh pussy willow dear, don’t you ever, ever fear, the cold March winds are blowing…” So went a song we learned early on in elementary school, and the winds did blow in March and into April. Sometimes when the first days of spring would break, we would take to the great outdoors and bring along our recently assembled 99-cent kites. Typically they were of the diamond-shaped variety. However, I recall one year when Andy Hallahan, who had masterfully crafted dozens of “stick model” airplanes, brought out a magnificent box kite. A kite this size deserved the best we could pool as a neighborhood. I contributed a large wooden spooling device my father had purchased at a farm auction. The Lesure brothers, Larry and Jerry, had a seeming infinite quantity of string. Mike Hallahan provided a “rag’ for a tail which the instructions said was an optional device for the box kite. It was colorful and silky. I think he took it from his mother’s dresser.

With no running or other effort at all, the kite caught the brisk breeze and was airborne. We anchored ourselves at the Lesures’ back door and marveled at the strength of the pull on the spooling device. We leaned backward to counter the exhilarating powerful tug on the line. It took real effort to rein the thing in. If the gauge on the spool was correct the string had paid out 2,000 feet. It was also apparent that the string would soon be exhausted. A few of us jumped on our bikes and took off for Bill Kidd’s Store to pick up more string while others anchored the wooden bronco of a spool, taking turns since the tug would exhaust you after a few minutes.

The rescue string arrived and, due to a clever device in the spool, could be added at the end of the existing cord. At about 3,500 feet, the kite diminished from sight. The string appeared to be flying itself. Still more string was paid out. Mrs. Lesure provided sandwiches for lunch. It was a spectacle to behold. Even at the time we knew it would be a day to remember.

Eventually a weak spot along that very long line gave way. There was an audible pop and the anchor man fell back. The box kite and most of our string flew off towards the northeast where we calculated it must have flown well into Butler Township or maybe to Clarion. With our sense of adventure depleted and our string lost, we never tried to duplicate what certainly deserved to stand as an unchallenged record. I walked home with the nearly empty wooden spool in hand and a magical sense of great accomplishment in my chest.