It’ll Do – Hot Air Baloon

23 Nov

It’ll Do

Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989


Anyone knows that hot air will rise; Thad Holtzer decided he would build a hot air balloon.We thought that it was a good idea, but his wife, Berenice didn’t. Thad is a determined person. He worked a farm for his dad, east of Cherryville. It wasn’t exactly the best land and it sure didn’t have all the best equipment. He was supporting his folks as well as his two kids.

He was a serious sort. Outside of stopping in for an occasional beer and going to church Wednesday nights and Sundays, he never got much recreation. We at the bar agreed that flying in a hot air balloon certainly came under the heading of recreation!

“Thad, buddy, you don’t know jack-shit about running one of those things, do you?” said J.C. as he lined out what could have been a balloon in a beer puddle on the bar”.

Nope, but it can’t be too hard to learn. I mean, what do you have to know about floating around?” He put Berenice to work sewing it. It turned out to be a patch-work quilt balloon.

Thad came into the It’ll Do on a Thursday afternoon. He said the necessaries to everyone and smiled over his dark beer.

“I figure to go up in my hot air balloon tomorrow, and I’d like for all of you to be there. You’ve always been good to me. I want you all to come to see me off”.

Mavis said that if Montgolfier could do it, she would bet that Thad could, Alice Mae cried.

In the back room J.C. was giving three-to-one that it wouldn’t get off the ground. We all agreed to meet at the farm the next morning, when it was cool and the balloon would have a better chance.

He shouldn’t have tried to take his dog, Jethro, up with him though—if he hadn’t, there might not have been any problem.

Jethro was just about as good a farm dog as a person would want—he was more-or-less yellow in color and big enough that you didn’t have to worry about him. We didn’t think he’d be any good up in the air, though. That may not be fair: as far as any of us knew he had never been further up in the air than when he jumped up to catch a fly or moth. In any case, it was Thad’s responsibility—it was his hot air balloon.

When the sun came up Thad had already laid out his hot air balloon on the ground and had connected up the burner for it, his welding outfit. There were only two problems: it’s not easy to fill up a gunny sack with hot air, and it’s not easy to get a big dog, like Jethro, into it. But it got done.

So a little before noon they took off together. They went right up and drifted off to the East. Lake Fenian is over that way. Not since Vera and I had sank in the submarine has any of our crowd been out to the lake. There they went, and I want to tell you that there has never been a prettier sight in Cherryville.

Jethro was barking and Thad was standing there in the basket as proud as if he’d just had twins. Jethro, of course, didn’t know very much about flying—and he took a mind to jump out. This could have been serious, but they were directly over Lake Fenian.

We all saw Jethro go—he sailed out of the hot air balloon like he was going home and he landed in the lake, and there’s one thing about Jethro—he can swim.

When Jethro left, the balloon must have jumped up a good thousand feet. That left Thad floating around up there all alone. The last Berenice heard, he was somewhere over Nebraska.

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