This article by Ray Spitzenberger appeared first in IMAGES for March 5, 2020, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.
The month of March slipped in so quietly that yesterday I thought it was still February! What happened to March as the “Windy Month”? That’s what we learned in elementary school, — “March winds and April showers.” And when we learned to make homemade kites in Boy Scouts, we were told March was the best month to fly them. March has just begun, so maybe the windy days will soon be here.
In the meantime, I googled NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to see if “global warming” has changed atmospheric conditions. According to NOAA, March is still the windiest month, with average wind speeds of 10.9 mph, and, surprising to me, April coming in a close second with average wind speeds of 10.5 mph (obviously there aren’t hurricanes in March or April). NOAA says the reason these are windy months is that the increasingly strong sunshine heating the earth’s surface causes increased atmospheric instability, as warm air rises above the cold air (warm air is lighter than cold air). Also, high pressure areas are in confrontation with low pressure areas. All of this apparently causes the kite-windy conditions to be prevalent in March and April/ I’m not a scientist, so don’t take my word for it.
However, I am a little confused, because, as I said, I was taught that March was the kite-flying month rather than April, yet National Kite Month is designated as April by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International. Of course, I haven’t flown kites since I was a kid growing up in Dime Box in the 1930’s and 40’s, when we thought we were supposed to fly them in March. No doubt it never occurred to us that you flew them when there was enough, but not too much, wind, whenever that was!
The kites we made out of old newspapers and post oak sticks from tree branches, and with cloth scraps from Mama’s quilt scrap box for tails never flew well. They were so heavy even a strong wind couldn’t give them enough lift to soar. No doubt our Scout Master had recommended balsa wood or bamboo sticks and tissue paper, but all we could find was post oak limbs and newspaper! And our mother brought us up on her “Make do, or do without” philosophy! Plastic had not been invented yet, so there were no large plastic bags available to use.
Today, Gayla Industries, Inc. makes their keel-guided, delta-wing kites (popular throughout the world) out of plastic. These are tail-less kites we would have loved as kids, but not sure we would have understood the delta-wind design. Gayla Industries, founded in 1961, with its main office in Houston, is a family-owned business that makes kites and latex balloons. Back in the early 1990’s, when I was writing my “Images” column for the old East Bernard Tribune, I took a tour of the Gayla plant here in East Bernard. Observing the kites being assembled was a fascinating experience for me, considering how many times as a kid I tried to create my own kites! In earlier days of newspaper writing, I used a typewriter, because I didn’t own a computer, and so the resulting column I wrote has not been saved, — such a shame because I can’t remember the details to share them with you here.
In those days of childhood, I did, on occasion, save a few nickels from money earned picking cotton, and spend them on a bought kite, which worked much better than our homemade ones. It seems that most of them had tails and were made of very thin paper, because the tails would come off and the paper would tear, sometimes in midair. Ranging in price from fifteen cents to a quarter, they had short lives, — this was long before the era of Gayla kites. Even though kites were being made by Gayla right here in East Bernard, I don’t remember my daughters being particularly interested in kite flying, though they might dispute this fact.
It’s funny how the years change us. As a kid in the good old days, I felt a passion for flying, whether Superman style or by airplane or by dirigible. Building model airplanes and flying kites and playing Superman were part of this passion, even to the extent of wanting to be a pilot and flying a P40 or something. Today I hate to fly, even on a large, comfortable jet. My passion for anything airborne has gone with the wind!
Ray Spitzenberger is a retired teacher and pastor, and author of a book, It Must Be the Noodles.