September 12, 2003

The First Contrails

My dad says he first saw a contrail in 1947. He was walking with friends down a street in St. Louis. That was forty-four years after the Wright Brothers' flight, twenty years after the Spirit of St. Louis touched down in Paris. My dad was eleven then. I asked him about it earlier this year and he recalled a streak of pure white and a low rumble. A tiny plane atop the expanding line. I imagine my father and his chums standing there, a bit slack-jawed. Crewcuts, white t-shirts and denim pants with the cuffs rolled up to show plenty of sock. Chins up. Squinting. They knew this must be a jet airplane -- they'd read about jets and had even seen images of them in magazines and on newsreels. They stood there until the plane was gone, until the clang of a streetcar out-decibled the fading jet, until the odd white line had slipped back into the ether. -- Contrails - Matt Rasmussen /Orion
Posted by Gerard Van der Leun at September 12, 2003 7:34 PM
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