Grant Keltner

The Kite

 

“The Kite” By Grant Keltner

My grandfather died of brain cancer when I was ten. He loved me very much. I was born in 1958 and was the son that he never had. He spoiled me as a kid. Coming from a broken home at a young age, he made sure I was given most of the things that other kids had. He gave me bikes, trains, and a BB gun; he was very kind to me. I spent some memorable moments with him.

One of the most amazing moments that I had with him was when I was eight years old. It was 1966, a breezy March day. My grandpa used to take me along with him to visit places that he did business. He owned commercial buildings in Vancouver, Washington and a small farm located north of town. It was really fun meeting people that leased his buildings and tended to his land.

He had made most of his rounds that day, collecting rents and checking to see what condition his property was in. One of the last stops was at a local general store. He had to get tools for a project that he was working on. We walked into the store, found his supplies and started to head out the door. Just before we walked out the door, I noticed a big kite on the wall.  It was a heavy-duty kite, not made of paper or cloth. It was made of heavy plastic, lime green. It looked like it could handle almost any kind of wind. It was a great kite.

“Grandpa, can I have a kite?” I asked. He looked at me a minute, looked outside and he smiled.

“Okay Grant, I’ll buy you a kite,” said my grandpa. I was so excited. I never had a kite before, and had never tried to fly one. He pulled one of the kites off the shelf and handed it to the clerk. “We need string…we need lots of string,” he replied.

My grandfather and I went down one of the aisles and found close to 1500 feet of heavy duty string. He intended to make sure this kite touched the clouds.

We paid the clerk and went out to his truck and we drove home. First thing we did was run into his shop located in the garage. We put the kite together and even made a great tail that we attached to the end of the kite. It looked perfect. He pulled the string out and wound it around a wooden dowel. It took several minutes before he had the entire string in place. He attached the string to the back of the kite. Everything was ready to go.

My grandpa’s home was located on a corner lot. His side yard was big, big enough to run into the wind and launch the kite. He held onto the spool that contained the string. He handed me the kite and pointed toward the end of the yard. “Take the kite and run into the wind,” ordered my grandfather. ”Let go of the kite near the end of the yard. I’ll hold onto the spool!” I was so excited! I could hear my heart beat; it was great! The wind was perfect, the sky was clear, it was a great day to fly a kite.

I started to run as fast as I could with the kite. I ran into the wind. I could hear it making noise, rustling as I ran. I kept running until I reached the end of the yard, let go of the kite, and off it flew. It twirled in the air, took a dip or two and shot up like a rocket. The wind carried it straight up…twenty feet, thirty feet, forty feet, and one hundred feet. The string kept flying off the handle. It started to climb higher and higher in the sky.

I couldn’t believe how the kite handled. My grandpa was like a little kid, he was laughing so hard. The next door neighbor came running across the street to lend a hand. I ran around my grandfather screaming and laughing at the sight.

The string kept going out, carrying the kite towards the sky. Eventually the string stopped. We had reached the end of the string, 1500 feet. My grandfather couldn’t believe the kite had specked out. It was a tiny dot in the sky. You couldn’t even see it.

Cars began to stop in the street to watch. Neighbors stood on their lawns to watch the kite. It was wonderful.

My grandpa’s home was close to the flight paths that most small planes would take to land at Pearson Air field in Vancouver. A small plane appeared near the small speck in the sky. It started to circle around the kite! We looked at each other in amazement.

Shortly after the plane appeared, a police car pulled up. The officer got out of his car looked at my grandfather and asked, “What are you doing?”

“We’re flying a kite!” exclaimed my grandfather. Everybody laughed. The plane kept circling the kite. My grandma came running out of the house. She was beside herself.

“Pearson Air field is on the phone!” she screamed. “They want you to bring the kite down this minute! They’re worried that the kite could cause problems to the planes!”

The officer in charge received a call over the car radio. “Tell that gentleman that we need to have him take his kite down this instant!” Grandpa started to reel in the kite. It took close to forty-five minutes for it to make it down to the small crowd that had gathered. Everybody cheered; people laughed. My grandmother stood on the porch and smiled.

It was great. My grandpa had always gone out of his way to make me happy. The kite hung in the garage, over the work bench. It stayed there for years. I don’t think we ever flew it again, but it always reminded the family of the day we touched the clouds with our hands.

 

 

 

 

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