“Convincing the Parents”


On the ride home, they talked about what their parents might say. Ben was sure his dad wouldn’t mind. “My dad met Grandpa Jimmy last Saturday. Yeah, yeah, I know, the night half the town was searching for me, including the sheriff. He told me a few days later that he met Jimmy and liked him.”

Tali wasn’t so confident. “I’ll have to ask my mom. When my dad’s in a bad mood, which is most of the time, he says no to everything. I might need some help convincing her.”

“No problem,” said Ben, “I’ll help ya.”

“My parents know I love aviation.” said Willy. “They would be stoked if I didn’t spend so much time sitting in front of the computer with my flight simulator. I’ll tell them the hangar would be a great place to fly my drone; won’t crash into any car windshields there. Mom replaced hers once already. But she’ll want to know who Grandpa Jimmy is, for sure.”

“Here is what we’re going to do,” said Kate. “I’ll copy one of the parent permission slips from school. Then I’ll change it to say that our parents are giving permission to meet as a club in Grandpa Jimmy’s hangar. It will also say that Grandpa Jimmy has given us permission to use his hangar as our clubhouse. And, that we agree to clean it up in return for using it. We’ll ask Jimmy to sign first, then take it to our parents. Good idea, huh?”

“Yeah,” said Jold. “My parents will love that. Dad will for sure sign it if I promise to do something he wants, like improve my grades. That probably won’t happen. So…I know, I’ll promise to clean my room. Mom hates finding my dirty socks and underwear behind the dresser or under the bed. Yeah, it’ll work. And I’ll help you convince your mom, Tali, no sweat.” 

The gang met the the following Saturday morning in the tree house, 9:00 am sharp. That’s 9:20 in Joldwin time. Kate brought five permission slips, each one in an envelope with the club members name, typed and centered. “These look official, really awesome Kate,” said Ben. “Meeting’s over, let’s head for the hangar.”

Bandit had to run, even Jold was keeping up on this ride. When they reached the hangar, the doors were open, and Jimmy was sitting at his workbench drinking coffee. Ben led the way. Willy and Jold followed him right into the hangar and up to the bench. Tali and Kate parked their bikes outside and walked in, seemed like the polite thing to do.

“Any of you want coffee?” he asked.

“Na, nope, not me.” “I would,” said Tali. She was the only coffee drinker. Sometimes her mom couldn’t sleep, worried a lot about their future. So Tali would stay up with her and talk into the early morning hours. That’s where she developed her taste for coffee.

Ben pulled out the envelopes. They were tucked under his belt in the small of his back. Best place to carry things when you’re riding fast. He handed one to Jimmy. “You said we needed our parents’ permission. There’s a permission slip inside each of these envelopes. If you’ll sign, we’ll get our parents to sign too, will that work?”

Grandpa Jimmy opened the envelope, pulled out the slip and laid it on the bench under the light. He reached for a pair of wire rim glasses in his upper pocket. Then he rested them on the end of his nose so when he looked up he could see over the top of the rim. He studied the paper for a long, long, long time and then laid it back down on the bench. He reached for an old can stuffed with pencils, turned it around a couple of times looking for the orange rectangular one. That’s the kind a carpenter might use to mark wood for a saw cut. He pulled his pocketknife from one of the many zippered pockets in his flight suit. Then whittled the wood down a bit to sharpen the pencil lead; all the while looking over the rim of his glasses at the anxious gang.

“Well, give me the rest, might as well sign ‘em all at once.”

The gang looked at each other, afraid to speak. He was really signing his name. When he was done, Tali stepped forward and gave him a bear hug. “Thank you,” she said. “Would it be okay if I call you Grandpa Jimmy? I’ve never met my grandpa.”

“Of course you can, Tali. All of ya can if ya want.”

“Cool, thanks Grandpa Jimmy,” said Ben.

After they all said thank you, Jimmy stood to his feet. “You’re welcome, now ya better get scootin’ and get them things signed. If your parents want, they can come by and look around, wouldn’t mind that at all. Hope to see ya next Saturday.”

The following Saturday morning the gang met in the treehouse for what they hoped was the last time. For the most part, they had their parents figured right. Ben’s dad signed, no problem. He said he might stop by on Saturday to see the hangar. Kate said her dad knew she made wise decisions and that it was okay with him if she didn’t neglect her work at the store. Jold rolled his eyes. That was two.

Jold said his plan almost worked perfectly. He promised to clean his room every Sunday night. His dad said he would sign, but his room had to be cleaned on Wednesday and Sunday. Jold agreed to the terms. That made three. Willy’s mom said she would think about it. Said she and his dad wanted to meet Jimmy. They promised to go by the hangar this Saturday and make the decision then. Tali was right too, her mom was very protective and uncomfortable with the whole thing. Tali would need some help. 

Fortunately, Tali’s dad had already left for work. So the gang scampered down the tree and went next door. Tali invited them all into the kitchen where they surrounded her mom who was having a late breakfast.

Ben spoke for everyone. “Mrs. Harrison, we were hoping you would let Tali be a part of our club at Grandpa Jimmy’s hangar. He said he would open the hangar for us every Saturday if we would help him clean it up. And yeah, there’s an old airplane that he lets us climb around in, it’s awesome.  It’s way better than my tree house. Kate and Jold and me have our permission slips signed; show her.”

They all reached for their permission slips. “That’s okay, I believe you,” said Mrs. Harrison.

“Willy’s parents haven’t signed his yet but they’re coming by the hangar later today. And I promise Mrs. Harrison; I’ll watch out for Tali.”

She smiled, “how can I possibly refuse that, but I’m holding you to your word Ben, you take care of Tali.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“So, somebody bring me a pen so you can get out of here and I can finish my breakfast in peace.”

“Thanks Mom.”

“I think we need to give our club a name,” said Ben as they rode toward the hangar.”

“Let’s call it what it is,” said Willy. “Let’s call it the Hangar 1 Club. All in favor?”

“Sounds good to me, I like it, that’ll work, yeah.” Just like that, it was settled.

Jimmy was tinkering around the old plane when they arrived. He had aired up the flat tires and was thinking about hanging the missing engine back on the right wing. It wouldn’t run, but it would make that Beech 18 look like it could. He thought the kids might like that, and they could help.

Ben had a grin on his face when he handed Grandpa Jimmy his signed permission slip. Kate, Tali and Jold handed theirs over too.

“My parents will be coming by in a little while,” Willy explained. “They wanted to talk with you before giving me permission.”

“Well, I’m lookin’ forward to meetin’ them.”

Ben spoke up, “While we’re waiting for Will’s parents, I have a couple of things to ask you,” said Ben.

“What’s that?”

“We were talking, since your hangar has Hangar 1 painted above the doors, we were wanting to name our club the Hangar 1 Club. Would that be okay with you?”

“That’d be okay, what’s the other question.”

“Could we use your airplane for our top-secret club meetings? It would kind of be like our office, where we make plans. I promise, we’d be really careful and take good care of it.”

Jimmy laughed. “There’s not much you could do to hurt Shirley Ann. Yep, that’s right, I call her Shirley Ann.” He knelt down on one knee and waved the gang in close; like a huddle when the quarterback calls the players together to hear the next play. He took his time and locked eyes with each of them in turn. Then he whispered, “I gotta warn ya, she’s flown thousands of missions, hauled everything from guns to medicine and transported royalty, presidents, kings and beggars around the world. Sometimes, if you get in, close the door and be real quiet, she might just tell ya story. She’s kind of magical ya know.” Then he smiled and winked.

About that time, Willy’s mom and dad walked in. After meeting Jimmy and talking with him in private for what seemed like hours to Willy, they shook hands and walked toward the car. Willy ran to join them.

“See ya later William, your mom and I need to get back to the store,” said Mr. Morris. Then he smiled and reached into his pocket. “Oh yeah, you might be needing this.”

“Thanks Dad.” He grabbed the slip and sprinted across the hangar to Grandpa Jimmy. “Here’s mine.”

Kate was already planning. She walked through the hangar making a mental list of what needed to be done and who she thought should do it. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s how she liked to keep her room; shouldn’t be any different here.

Ben went to work. His dad had taught him that leaders lead by example. The concrete floor looked like it hadn’t been swept for years. He spotted a push broom and started stirring up some dust. 

Jold and Bandit were in the old plane checking out the cabin seats. He discovered that if you pull the squeaky lever on the right side hard enough, the seat would lean back a bit. Each time he pulled, it dropped down another notch until it was laying almost flat. Great place for a nap. Getting it back up wasn’t so easy. 

Tali was at the back of the hangar staring at the pictures hanging above the workbench. She was lost in her own world of imaginations; the old pictures taking her back in time. She often thought how great it would have been to live in the olden days. She once told Ben that she thought people were nicer to each other back then. Maybe that’s why she loved the name Grandpa Jimmy had given his plane, Shirley Ann. It  made her think of a book she had read several times, Anne of Green Gables.

Little did she know then, that Grandpa Jimmy’s broken-down airplane and those faded pictures were about to change their lives.     



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