Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
The screen-writing class I mentioned in my last post is, as anticipated, stimulating sharper attention to scene-setting. No, I don’t expect to make a movie of First-Born Daughter, but I think I can use the screen-play format to produce a more vivid first draft/outline of my memoir. I realized, at the end of the second class, that Scene One has too much narrated back-story: I need to show Diana, her friend Miki, and her father John at the Officer’s Club at Travis Air Force base, where John treated the two girls to dinner before leaving on a military transport for his one year assignment in Wonju, Korea.
No, I realized the next morning, the O Club would be simply a restaurant–with portraits of men in uniform hanging on the walls. I need to show the two young women leaving John and his suitcases at the transport terminal.
What type of aircraft would he have flown in? I wondered.
My husband Gary, whose career was in the aviation industry, suggested that he probably flew on a contracted civilian plane. Jon, our retired Air Force friend who flew out of Travis a decade later, surmised that one of the two possibilities I’d found on Wikipedia might be right: a C-141 turbo-prop Strato-cruiser.
I realized that there’s a museum at Travis AFB — just after I sent my question to Jon. I telephoned. A major answered and promptly connected me with Terry Juran, Museum Director. Although only six years old when my recollected event took place in 1964, Mr. Juran was very conversant with operations at that time. “Since your father was a Colonel,” he said, “he would have flown on a chartered jet, most likely a Flying Tigers 707. ”
“There was no terminal.” Mr. Juran assured me, “you and your friend would have dropped your father off by a gate. He just walked across the ‘ramp’ and climbed the stairs to board his flight.”
“In fact”, he added, “I was looking at photos from the mid-60s yesterday. Here’s the one you want: a Flying Tigers 707 de-planing. I’ll send it to you.”
It’s the perfect illustration. Not only do I have the correct aircraft, I can now now visualize and describe the vast, flat, drab checker board of the airfield, too.