Skip Navigation

My First Flight

By Steve Weaver

Steve Weaver (left) with his best buddy, Don Murphy, ca. 1946. Photographer unknown.

It began the fall that World War II ended. Life was beginning to return to normal as the veterans came home and picked up their lives. The mood was upbeat, and Americans were anxious to move on. The West Arden School, in Barbour County, was perched high on the side of a hill above the Tygart River. The school year started with a record enrollment and a first-grade class numbering about 12. I was part of this class along with my best buddy Murphy, who I had known as long as I could remember.

Fate had decreed that this class included Sue Proudfoot, the girl who was destined to be my first love and subsequently cause my first broken heart. In fact, I fell in love with her the first moment she came through the door of our one-room school. Her golden tresses, which her mother had doubtlessly curled that morning, framed a perfect face with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. I was done in.

Unfortunately, I was doomed to learn about love triangles before I learned addition and subtraction. Alas, my love had eyes only for Murphy, who hated girls and steadfastly ignored them. So there we were, with Sue staring moodily at Murphy, me staring longingly at Sue, and Murphy staring grumpily at me.

At recess, Sue would gravitate to wherever Murphy was playing, while I struggled valiantly to divert her attention from him. One day, though, after being rebuffed yet again by Murphy, she turned her attention to me in desperation. Perhaps she thought I could get her a date with him. But the reason didn’t matter because, for once, I had her attention and wasn’t going to waste it. Frantically, I groped around in my cluttered mind for something to say that would grab her attention. “I CAN FLY!” I heard myself blurt.

Where the heck did that come from, I thought? It worked, though. I definitely had Sue’s attention, albeit her very dubious attention.

“What do you mean you can fly?” she responded skeptically.

Well, I wasn’t sure because my synapses were firing so fast I couldn’t keep track of them. I heard myself answer that I had a cape at home with Superman flight capabilities and that I put it on every night and flew around the yard. I was astounded. Was this really me saying this stuff?

Her blue eyes bored into mine. “Prove it,” she said. “Bring it to school tomorrow and show me.”

I ran home and said, “Mom, I need a cape.”

I described how the cape that would need to look as much as possible like Superman’s. She asked if it was for a play at school. Crossing my fingers, I muttered, “Uh huh.”

I remember walking the quarter mile to school the next morning carrying Mom’s creation in a brown paper sack. It was a proper cape, sure enough, made of a turquoise material that was probably an old curtain. It fastened around my neck with a brown shoelace.

At school, I quickly stuffed the bag in my desk before anyone could ask me what was in it, but the rumor had already gone viral. All across the room, you could hear the students in grades one through eight hissing at one another, “Hey, Weaver’s gonna fly at recess.” Our teacher Miss Stewart restored order, but she’d apparently heard enough and knew what was scheduled to happen at 10:30. I remember a lingering, and somewhat amused, appraisal she gave me. In fact, I wasn’t sure she had even noticed me before.

You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.