Flying Barn Pilots
Love is more Precious than Money!
William was 94 years old and lived in Upstate New York, with his son and daughter in law and their three children. The family took care of the farm and the old barn that William had inherited from his father John in 1991. William spent his life on the farm, after marrying his high school sweetheart Judy. They raised their two children, and then cared for his ageing parents. Judy passed away fifteen years ago. The family spent their life working the farm and used the old red barn as a gathering place for people that loved the classical planes of the 1920s. His father John, loved airplanes and shared that love with William and then William’s sons. They specialized in old relics, such as the Caustic JN-4, commonly known as the Jenny. Yearly shows were held at their old barn, utilizing the old barnstorming tricks, such as the loop-the-loops, pulling spins or barrel rolls. The red barn was home to a club called the Flying Barn Pirates that shared their love of airplanes and stories back in the day, when pilots flew wild, before flight plans, flying lessons or even radar.
Last night there was a turbulent storm that blew through the fields and caused damage to the barn. Early this morning, Will walked over to the barn and found that the tail end of his fathers’ airplane “Jenny” that hung on the front of the barn was mangled. Will got a ladder to check the damage of the decorative plane and found that the rudder had been cracked open. Inside the crack, he found a rusted tin box that had an elaborately detailed design of a Victorian mansion on the top. Will took the box back to the front porch, and he began reading the book enclosed and got lost in a world he had no idea existed.
Margaret Butler was the daughter of a very well to do construction tycoon. Her fathers’ latest project was located across the Niagara River in Canada, building a very large and beautiful Victorian summer house, in a town called Niagara on the Lake. Her fathers’ family purchased the land in 1904, establishing a fruit farm. The area was the first in Canada, to gain approval for an anti-slavery act, which limited servitude contracts, essentially providing freedom for future generations of slaves. This effectively abolished slavery in the area, as early as 1793. The Butler wealth allowed for paid servants and Margaret loved her nanny Betsie who was more mother to her than her biological mother.
The summer residence was built to enjoy the refreshing breezes that came off the river, with expansive windows, large, encompassing verandas and a widows’ walk for those late-night adventures when the humidity could be felt like a wet blanket carried on one’s self. James Butler was a capitalist that enjoyed the good life in their Upstate New York mansion on 150 acres of land. James worked hard creating new cities through vast construction projects. Of course, the Upstate Mansion was renowned for their elaborate parties of politicians and the elite. By far the largest cut glass crystal bowls to adorn any banquet tables held 12 gallons of punch and came with 40 glasses to each set, in the Butler mansion. They used up to 10 sets, in vast tents to entertain at some events.
Margaret was born in 1907, at the beautiful summer house in Canada, and it was always her most favored place. As Margaret got older, she and Betsie spent all her summers at the farm. Talk of temperance was rampant in the social circles in Canada around 1914. Much of the sympathy in favor of temperance, was a result of World War 1. Citizens found it hard to justify drinking when their children and husbands were fighting for their country. Prohibition started later in January of the 1920s in America and getting alcohol for the Butler’s elaborate parties was difficult, but James was very resourceful.
Smuggling of booze, was mainly done using boats and cars, but the unique location of their summer home made camouflaging the trafficking, more and more difficult. The Niagara River was a source of smuggling between Canada and the United States and it was increasingly monitored by the law, as they were keen to apprehend smugglers.
John Macdonell was a young man that gained his flight experience as a celebrated WW1 hero. He loved to fly more than anything. When he was in that open cockpit, and the wind whipped his face, he felt no fear! After the war, the adrenaline and love of flying was hard to replace in the civilian world. He spent many of his days barnstorming, and traveling the country to various locations to show off his hot-dogging experience in planes. It didn’t take long for him to establish a name for himself in the aviation field.
John lived in Upstate New York in Seneca County on a piece of property he inherited from his family. The landscape was beautiful that went on for miles surrounded by many large lakes. John had lost his father to the hardships of farming in a tractor accident. He worked at barnstorming to support his mother and the farm. He turned the old red barn into an airplane hangar, where he and many of his friends stored their planes. John had the foresight to know that airplanes would be the choice of travel in the future. He was strong and fit and had the bluest eyes that hypnotized the women that he met as he traveled barnstorming. Many of the local women tried to ensnare John to make an honest man of him, but John would have nothing to do with love.
James approached the renowned flying ace, John Macdonell, after one of his shows. “John, you do a fine job with your flying machines, any chance I could interest you in some business” John was very interested to be the focus of such a prominent man in Upstate New York “What’s on your mind Mr. Butler?” James asked to take a little walk in the field. “John, I was wondering if you could help me out with a little transportation problem, I’m having?” John’s ears perked with interest “I’m listening” The details were explained by Mr. Butler and John agreed.
John went through his flight checklist as he started his Curtiss JN-4, that was given the tag, Jenny by the US Air pilots. After landing at the farm in Canada, Mr. Butler said that he would send a house boy down with some food, while the farm hands loaded up the cases of alcohol, and promptly left. John went outside to use a trough of water to wash the dust off his face. He looked up to find the most gorgeous woman that he had ever seen. She gazed into his eyes with curiosity and John’s loins hardened. Margaret felt a very unique, electric sensation, but was confident in her worldliness as she approached the stranger “Excuse me are you the pilot that flew that most intriguing machine onto our land” John cleared his throat and said “I am” Margaret’s smiled spread across her face and filled her brown eyes with a devilish warmth “Could you show me the plane Mr…” “Macdonell, John Macdonell mam, and I would be happy to show you my Jenny” Margaret said “You have a name for the plane sir, how interesting” Macdonell replied “The only woman that will share my heart!” “Really?” said Margaret.
Margaret walked into the barn and walked around the airplane. The houseboy Jake, pushed a cart of food into the barn. Jake said “Mister, how’d you get those crates into that contraption?” John said “I had help, and there’s enough room for the crates and myself.” John moved towards the food. Jake said “Miss Margaret your father wants you up at the house.” Margaret stared at John and felt a deep sense of need. She had to get as far away as she could from this man, as he made her feel things she had never experienced before.
John became a frequent flyer to the Butler farm and Margaret found that she was anticipating John’s flights. To avoid suspicion, John often arrived after midnight to the farm. Margaret never understood her father’s attempt at subterfuge as the sound of the plane was unforgettable. It was something she listened for, even after the drone of the plane was long gone. That night with windows opened wide, she laid in bed loving the sound of the plane’s engine as it drew near. The moon was high, illuminating the night. Margaret wrapped a flowing diaphanous bed jacket over her nightwear and escape to the widows walk to meet John. The breeze of the wind took her bed jacket into the air as she ran into John’s arms. They embraced and the passion between the two of them was insatiable. Their bodies burned for each other. They both knew that their clandestine meetings were wrong, that Margaret would be destroyed if their actions were ever to be known. But, neither of them was able to control the passion that drew them together time and again.
John visits continued, but after the summer’s months, Margaret stopped going to the widow’s walk. This brought pain to John and he tried getting Jake to bring messages to Margaret but she wouldn’t respond. Feelings of unworthiness and loss filled John as he continued to make the flights to the Butlers farm, through the winter. Not once, did Margaret respond to his incessant notes proclaiming love.
Late spring of the following year, as John picked up his cargo, he was met by Betsie, in the dark hours of the night. Betsie ran to John and pushed into John’s arms a bundle swaddled in a beautiful white laced blanket. Betsie spoke with anguish, “This is your son, William! Margaret has hidden her pregnancy and must give William to you for his safety and yours!” John grabbed the bundle and said “What are you talking about?” Betsie said “Mr. Butler will shoot you down if he finds William, take the baby for the love of Margaret” Betsie was crying and scared and the whites of her eyes were hypnotic for John. “This can’t be, what am I supposed to do with a baby?” Betsie said “Miss Margaret said she wants you to take this child of love and raise it with love”. John’s trance was broken “I can’t do that Betsie I don’t know how to raise a child” Betsie said “This tin can is from Miss Margaret; take it and the baby and do this for everyone’s safety. Don’t come back!” Just then John heard the sound of loud voices at the house, and without thinking he took the baby and started the engine and headed down the long farm lane, that made due for a runway.
Margaret heard the sound of John’s engines for the last time, as tears streamed down her face, while arguing with her father. That sound made by small plane engines was a sound that brought pain to her ears for the rest of her life. Each time the roar of an engine flew overhead her thoughts were pulled back to a time on the widow walk; the pain of loss still sharp. She loss both the love of her life and her son.
Will closed the book and knew this was his fathers’ story and he was their son. Margaret Butler, gave him up to cover her sins of lust for his father. The pain was not his but his fathers. He knew only love from his father and believed his mother died in childbirth. He will burn the book, and end this story. The drone of a small Cessna faded in the sky. Love was more precious than all the Butler’s money!
About the author
I am Cindy, noting more and nothing less. Dichotomy describes me best. I love to create; and I love the sciences. I have a wild spirit that has calmed. I was born in Canada, but live in the USA and flit between. I am the Yin & the Yang.