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Columnists small task equals big new idea

This semi-monthly column on Positive Aging is intended to offer ideas of how we can deal with challenges and changes that come with growing older.

Usually I use quotes from various experts and public reports or announcements. However, this column is different. Here’s a new approach to a problem of aging that jumped out at me as I prepared for a talk about my new book, “Dusty’s War.”

“Dusty’s War” is stories of aviation in World War I that my father, Dusty, and I shared based on his diaries. After several recent talks to people and groups I realized that few knew much about 1917 events and Air Service training back then. I needed to build some time lines into what happened and when. Of course that wisdom presented me with a challenge. As is typical for my age, memories fade. Dates for past event are fuzzy. How can I give talks about WWI when I can’t even recall more recent dates and times?

A typical solution was to make notes on a 3X5 card to use in my talks. Then I decided to make that list available. The result is my creation of a bookmark that lists not only WWI events but aviation and future events that followed. Here’s part of the list:

n Wright Brothers flight, 1903

n Dad’s Enlisting in the Air Service, 1917

n Second Aviation Pilots’ License, 1952

With only 14 years between the first air flight and my dad’s enlisting, it’s little wonder that planes crashed often and pilot training took weeks and included learning how to send and receive telegraphed messages. (Of course there were no telegraph lines to the planes.) After the 1918 armistice that ended the war, my dad kept in touch with his fellow aviators, was an insurance claims adjuster and an expert on civilian aviation. He was invited to witness the first plane to ground radio transmission. He was asked by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker to time his flight from Chicago to Miami. The plane’s speed averaged 335 miles per hour—a rarity in 1947.

Dad was a respected aviation authority, often hired by Lloyds of London and earned his second pilot’s license in 1952 when he was 58 years old.

My dad’s history tells me that all of us can be contributors to our communities and families long after retirement age — an age when many think that the only activity left is travel or a rest home. However, Dad began work on the “Dusty’s War” book at age 86. That tells me that I still have several years available to write these columns. I could include aviation stories that are not part of “Dusty’s War.” Perhaps I could even start another book.

Stop counting birthdays. The “Positive” part of “Aging” can mean more years of activity, new accomplishments and more enjoyment. Try it!

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego resident Ardis Stevenson, author of “Facing Age, Finding Answers” and “Dusty’s War.” She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.




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