Read an Excerpt
Liberty Letters: The Personal Correspondence of Catherine Clark and Meredith Lyons Copyright © 2004 by Nancy Oliver LeSourd
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Requests for information should be addressed to: Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Zonderkidz is a trademark of Zondervan.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data LeSourd, Nancy. The personal correspondence of Catherine Clark and Meredith Lyons : Pearl Harbor, 1941 / Nancy LeSourd. p. cm.-(Liberty letters) Summary: Letters between two young girls, one in Washington, D.C., and eager to become a newspaper reporter, the other in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, determined to take flying lessons, chronicle not only events in the year leading up to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, but also the pain of having their fathers in the war. ISBN 0-310-70353-0 (hardcover) 1. World War, 1939-1945. [1. World War, 1939-1945 - Fiction. 2. Reporters and reporting - Fiction. 3. Airplanes - Piloting - Fiction. 4. Christian life - Fiction. 5. Letters Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.L56268Pc 2004 [Fic]--dc22 2004012663
Liberty Letters is a trademark of Nancy OliverLeSourd.
Editor: Amy DeVries Cover design: Michelle Lenger Interior design: Tracey Moran Photo layout design: Merit Alderink and Susan Ambs
Printed in the United States of America
04 05 06 07 /.DC/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
IN HONOR OF JIM DOWNING
Gunners Mate, USS West Virginia Pearl Harbor Veteran Twenty-Four Years in the U.S. Navy Thirty Years on Staff with the Navigators Ephesians 3:20
IN MEMORY OF LEN LESOURD
Pilot, U.S. Army Air Corps, 43-G Author, Sky-Bent Editor, Author, Publisher, Father-in-Law and Friend Proverbs 3:5 and 6
Somewhere Over the Pacific Ocean
October 25, 1940
Mother always says my big mouth gets me into trouble. But today it got me into the cockpit of a Clipper Ship!
Granddaddy insisted we take the Pan Am Clipper for the last part of our trip from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor. When Mother said it was too expensive, he said we'll use military vehicles for the rest of our lives. He wanted us to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But that's just it. If this is the only time I'm on a flying airship, I've got to truly experience it. That's where an eight year-old brother who can't sit still comes in handy. I told Mother I'd watch Gordon while he went to explore. Mother leaned back, closed her eyes, and murmured, "Uh huh," which I took to mean yes.
Gordo has no clue how lucky we are to fly on a Clipper Ship. This flying ship can land on water, has places for us to sleep, and makes it possible to cross oceans in days instead of weeks. Gordo wanted to find out if a celebrity was in the deluxe cabin, but I was tired of the passenger deck. We'd already spent a lot of time here. I tugged at my dress which had wrinkled dreadfully. I'd have to change for dinner, for sure. We've eaten all our meals in the elegant dining room with its starched white tablecloths, gleaming china and crystal, and sterling silverware. Mother insisted we dress to match. I think it's stupid to wear my white gloves to dinner, just to take them off, and try not to get any food on them.
As we walked along the passenger deck, we kept bumping into stewards wanting to fulfill my every need. "Juice, Miss Lyons?" "Another blanket, Miss Lyons?" "Care for tea, Miss Lyons?" Very annoying. What I wanted to see was the cockpit, but I didn't dare ask the steward for that. After poking around the deluxe cabin and finding no sign of a Hollywood star, Gordo was finally willing to go upstairs to the crew deck.
A small sign said "Personnel Only," but I pretended I didn't see it. While the stewards were busy, we crept up the staircase. Gordo was drawn to chocolate chip cookie smells coming from the kitchen (they call it a galley), but I pulled him on down the hall. We inched past a room where a crew member sorted mail into three different mailbags Gordo's size. The door next to the mail room flung open. We hid in its shadow as a uniformed man with papers folded under his arm marched down the hall. The sign on the door said "Navigation." "He's headed to the cockpit," I whispered. "Let's follow him."
"Are you crazy?" Gordo said. "They're gonna kick us out of here."
"Thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean? I don't think so. But if you're scared, go back downstairs to Mother."
Gordo shook his head, but stayed behind me as I walked toward the cockpit. We slipped by the mail room and the kitchen. The cook sang at the top of his lungs while he banged pots and pans. Gordo started giggling. I elbowed him hard for we were right outside the cockpit door. I heard voices inside that door. "What ya gonna do now?" whispered Gordo.
The door handle turned, and I held my breath. A uniformed man stepped out of the cockpit. "Well, well, what do we have here?"
Gordo shrank back behind me. I put out my gloved hand. "Hello, sir, I'm Meredith Lyons."
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Lyons, and you too, young Master Lyons, I assume?" Gordo nodded. "Hmm . . . A bit off course, are you? The stairs to the passenger deck are right over there."
Gordo started toward the stairs, and I yanked him back. "Sir, I wondered if we could see the cockpit? We've never been on an airship before."
"Not really allowed, young lady, but I'll check with the captain." He disappeared back into the cockpit. A few minutes later, he cracked the door and said, "Sorry, but you'll have to return to the passenger deck."
I stepped forward and put my foot right inside the door so that the officer couldn't shut it. He looked annoyed, but I was determined to get inside. "Sir, you see, my whole life I've wanted to see inside a cockpit. I keep a scrapbook of all these articles about flying and planes and Amelia Earhart and everything. Sir, did you know, not too long ago, she took a photograph of a Clipper flying to California while she was flying her plane to Honolulu! Isn't that something! This might even be the exact same plane Amelia Earhart took a picture of! Everyone's been so nice down below, but it's what you important men do up here that really interests me. Please, sir. Won't you ask one more time?"
Gordo looked like he was going to die and begged me to leave before the man came back. I told him, "No way."
It seemed like an hour, but finally the officer opened the door, and said, "After you, Miss Lyons." I pushed by Gordo to get inside before the officer changed his mind.
The captain checked the dials and instruments in front of him. The other pilot scribbled something in a large brown logbook. Numbers, I think. The navigator scooted over and let Gordo sit next to him. The copilot stood up, and pointing to his seat, said, "Miss Lyons?"
As I slipped into the seat, I stared at the vast expanse of sky before me. The stars lit up the inky darkness surrounding the plane. After a few minutes, the copilot asked me what I thought. I blinked hard. The stars were still there. Without taking my eyes off the window, I whispered, "Thank you."
Back downstairs in our seats, Gordo went on and on about what he'd seen in the cockpit. Mother was furious at me. "Young lady, your father and I try to teach you what's right and proper, but you constantly amaze me. How dare you bother those pilots while they're doing their job? You know better. And to get Gordon caught up in your scheme too. Won't you ever learn?" I stared out the window and tried to block it all out. This wasn't a good time to bring up my wanting to learn to fly again. I heard Mother's voice in my head. "Absolutely not. It's simply not an option." We'd been through this a million times before over the last few years. No, not even today on my birthday would this be a good topic of conversation.
I apologized to Mother for bothering the pilots, being a bad example for Gordo, embarrassing her, and not conducting myself as the daughter of a Naval officer. I said all the right things, but inside I was glad I'd done it. I'll never forget turning sixteen. Somehow, some way, before I turn seventeen, I'll find a way to fly.
Maybe this new assignment to Pearl Harbor will be the start of something new. After all, they call Hawaii "paradise," and what would be more heavenly than taking off into the skies, circling the clouds, and landing again - all by myself.