Our Kites: memories from Robert Shackles

During the depression, kite flying was a popular, cheap, and fun thing
> to do. I have forgotten what a store bought kite cost, but no matter, we
> could not afford one. We would see whole racks of them in the stores in
> Sedalia, especially Pennys. Right across the road from Uncle Freds there
> was a large empty lot. I have no idea who owned it, but it was always
> kept mowed. This was a good place to fly kites, and several kids would
> come here to do just that. I guess the owner didn mind because we were
> always allowed to use it, and nobody ever stopped us from doing so. Like
> I say we couldn't afford to buy a kite so we decided to try and make our
> own. Since Freddy and I had more interest in kite flying than the other
> kids, we worked on the project. First we had to have some light sticks
> to make the cross frame. We found an old orange crate in the trash
> somewhere,  I don't remember where, but  By golly it was just what we
> needed, and I took off to Pennys to measure the lingth of the cross
> frame on the store bought kites. We cut and trimmed our frame to the
> exact specification. Next we notched the cross sticks to hold a string
> we would need to frame the kite and hold the paper. We cut a newspaper
> to glue onto the string and we would leave enough  for an overlap. We
> were really pleased because it looked like a kite, and all we needed now
> was glue. We decided that flour and water would work ok and it did. We
> got some old rags from Aunt Cora and made the tail. We were really happy
> with our kite and excited to see if it would fly. The good Lord must
> have known how bad we wanted to fly our creation, because I think the
> very next day the wind was just right. We got out early and one of us
> held  the kite while the other ran to get it airborne, and surprisingly,
> we didn't have much trouble getting it up. I think a spool of kite
> string was 250 or 500 ft. I don't remember ,but we had the kite all the
> way up. Then all the other kids wanted to come fly it..Soon there were
> neighbor  kids with their fancy store bought kites flying. There was one
> kite I remember that had Pop Eye on it and another with a picture of a
> lion. The lion kite belonged to a guy on the next block and he was
> flying from his yard. If you're good enough, you can pull your kite
> string and put your kite in a dive. This joker was doing that and he was
> diving on other kites ,knocking holes in them, and they would come
> fluttering down because the wind would tear them up. He got one kite
> before he got ours,and boy were we mad. Our frame didn't tear up, so we
> fixed it with another newspaper. We wanted to get this Lion kite really
> bad  so here is what we decited to do. We fashoned the nose stick so we
> could attach a razer blede to it, so when our kite dived on the lion it
> would be ripped apart. Our plan looked good and we couldn't wait to try
> it out. We soon got our chance,one day, when we were flying,to our
> delight here came the lion. I don't remember who was flying Freddy or Me
> but when our kite dived on the lion we missed the kite but the razor
> blade cut his string and there goes his kite to who knows where. We were
> ecstatic, and we laughed our fool heads off. The guy came out with
> another Micky Mouse kite that we wanted to get really bad, but he would
> take his kite in whenever we got ours airborne. When I checked that  lot
> a few years ago, it is now full of houses. As Norma and I drove by,where
> the lot was, I had some really pleasant memories that I shared with her.
> I could see Freddy out there,his hat flying off his head I don't know
> how many times, Flying that ugly newspaper kite,and us wanting badly to
> get that Micky Mouse.