formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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November 8, 2016 A Sculpted Life

The Liberty Gazette
November 8, 2016
Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

: Raising four boys in Huntsville, Texas in the 1920’s and 30’s while running the only appliance-record store in town must have been both amusing and challenging for Cecil and Marie Adickes: Bob, Bill, David, and Fred - creator of Mattel’s Hot Wheels - each would make their mark.

By age 16 Bob had traded a horse for an Indian (the motorcycle), which he then traded for flying lessons in a Piper Cub at Huntsville Municipal Airport. Bill and David followed, but while David liked flying it was less a passion in him than he witnessed in his older brothers. His aviation path would unfold differently.

When the enlistment obligation came calling Bob chose the Navy, Bill the Marines, David the Army Air Corps, and Fred the Army. Since WWII had ended there wasn’t much for a Naval Aviator to do, and upon hearing that marriage was the ticket to an honorable discharge, Mrs. Adickes drove Bob’s sweetheart from Huntsville to Pensacola so the couple could to claim that ticket.

About that time the airlines were looking for pilots, some to “fly the line,” some to fulfill government contracts flying military brass. Bill went to United Airlines, and Bob signed up with TWA to transport high level officials.

Along came David, finishing boot camp and ready for assignment when the orders came down from General Hap Arnold to start him out typing discharge papers - brother Bob always did make good use of his time with his passengers, and taking care of his little brother was important to him.

Eventually David left the typewriter and boarded a Douglas C-54 Skymaster as crew photographer. At this impressionable age he began to see the world.

Flights to Paris invited the entrepreneur in him to gather up cigarette cartons for a dollar in the U.S. and sell them to Parisians at a 10-times profit. On the return he found French perfume commanded a high price here in the States. Other hot commodities, such as hosiery, made their way to his duffel bag as he traveled and learned the art of business.

But falling in love with Paris and its art scene, he also learned the business of art.

Well known for his sculptures - Sam Houston in Huntsville, the Presidents along I-10 in Houston, the Beatles, the “We Love Houston” piece, the cello downtown at Lyric Center, and soon a new Sam Houston on horseback in Baytown - its his paintings that led me to visit with him at his home in Houston.

He’s purchased his old high school and although he’s making it a museum for his art, what spurred him to buy it was to preserve a beloved piece of his past.

“That gymnasium is where we learned to Jitterbug,” he grins with sparkly eyes. “And that was a good time. When we put up walls and lights for hanging the paintings, I plugged the cord into the same outlet where the record player had been plugged in, playing our music when we learned to dance.”

“Liberty,” he repeated thoughtfully. “That’s a long drive for you to come to Houston. But, at least you’re on a nickel.”

It took me a second.

“You know? And you’re in the Declaration of Independence. It doesn’t say ‘life, Huntsville, and the pursuit of happiness.’ And Patrick Henry never said, ‘Give me Huntsville or give me death!’”

Indeed, David, Liberty has that over Huntsville, but you won’t often hear me say, “I’m glad you chose not to pursue flying.”

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