The Liberty Gazette
October 14, 2014Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: There was good conversation over lunch with a friend last week at a little eatery in Pasadena, California as we shared stories about our Moms, both of whom recently moved to heaven, which is what brought Linda and I back to California.
"Email, Facebook, and other social media are all wonderful tools for communicating with friends and relatives and even making new acquaintances," says my friend John Brinkmann, "but we’re missing the human contact, the sitting face to face and sharing similar interests. I want to see excitement and life in the eyes of those I’m talking with."
John’s magazine, American Bungalow, a rather prominent publication that shares the love of craft homes, in which many of the Greatest Generation were raised, is appreciated by people with taste. John, to be sure, pours his heart into it. He is my former mountain climbing partner with whom I shared many days and nights on wind-driven and snowy slopes and peaks. This is catching up time with an old friend.
John bursts with energy as he regales with tales of a German pilot, "Hans," who he met thanks to their mutual affection for MG motorcars, especially the pre-war models, of which there were not many made. Someday there will be a book about one of those pre-war MGs with a fascinating history, whenever John gets around to putting it all down on paper.
Hans is now in his 90’s and still very full of life. He was an instructor pilot for the Luftwaffe during WWII and flew about everything the Germans had. Toward the end of the war they had him flying the Messerschmitt ME-262 because it was the only thing the Germans had that could catch the British Mosquito, a twin-engine ground attack bomber. At the end of the war seven ME-262s were under his command based in a little town in the northern part of Germany.
John chuckles, "I’ve been to that town. I told him I once paid two Marks a night for a little cot in the attic of an inn there because the innkeeper was the only person I knew who spoke English. Then Hans says to me, ‘Back then I had a cot in the attic of a farmhouse in that same town.’"
Even though the ME-262 was a "wunderwaffe," John says Hans still prefers the ME-109E. According to Hans, "you don’t fly the 109E, you wear it like a tailored suit of clothes."
Linda: John just happened into the magazine business when he had to move his graphic arts business to another location, and happened to move into an old house – an American Bungalow. What began as a newsletter has become a treasure. 84 quarterly issues have been published so far.
We reminisced the days when the American culture had unity and kids were raised differently than they are today, when babysitters were human, not electronic.
However, today the Germans and Japanese are not our enemies, and there is no animosity between those who savagely fought each other in the skies. They had their duty and somehow, being locked in that conflict where lives hang in the balance, there was a kinship like no other born. And that’s a positive change.