Visions of Air Ships

Everyone's grandmother claims to have seen the Hindenburg on its final voyage. They tell of sitting on the roof over the front porch, or on the cement steps by the lamppost or in the open field adjacent to St. Ann's parochial school. They tell you they were sipping iced tea or lemonade or cocoa and fanning themselves in the heat or borrowing their father's jacket because of the chill in the air, as they watched the huge air ship pass on its way to Lakehurst. The pictures are in the history books. When the class gets to that page, you raise you hand and the teacher calls on you. You tell the class that your grandmother saw the blimp pass overhead on its final voyage and the other kids say that their grandmother's did, too. It makes you wonder, and conclude that

1) Everybody's grandmother lived on the same block back in 1937.
2) The other children are lying because they are jealous.
3) Your grandmother has lied to you.

Mom pulls into the fresh, new gas station by the highway. There are streamers of brightly colored triangles snapping in the crisp breeze. Everything is clean and neatly stacked and a local radio station's van is broadcasting from the parking lot while someone wearing a bear costume hands out bumper stickers. There is a series of ropes leading up into the sky, where they are attached to a large football shaped balloon. You are informed that it is a blimp. It is small, smaller than you think it should be. Perhaps it is farther away than it seems, making it appear small. The Hindenburg must have been larger, it looked bigger in the picture in the history book. A bullying wind jostles the blimp over the gas station. This blimp doesn't seem important enough to get its picture in a history book or to turn everybody's grandmother into a liar.

Thomas O'Connell lives in New Hampshire with his wife and daughters. His stories and poems appear in Cranky, Prose Ax, and other journals.