Remembering John, Jack and Nancy

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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We lost a faithful member of the Western North Carolina Air Museum when John Gritta died recently. John owned a biplane and a motorcycle which he kept at the Museum, and a Pontiac Firebird which he kept at his home. He always brought his wife Peg and their dog Scout to the Museum meetings.

John’s quiet, thoughtful manner belied his derring-do as pilot of a vintage airplane, rider of a motorcycle and driver of a hot car. I always enjoyed visiting with John at the Museum or in his home. We have all missed John of late . . .

Jack Jolley almost made it to being a centurion. Jack was an inspector of the roads and runways constructed by his company. As such he was at Patrick Henry Field at Newport New when I had an airplane based there. I did not know Jack then, but met him at Hardees later. Jack usually had a funny story for us when he joined us at our table when we moved to McDonald’s when we found Hardees closed one day.

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Nancv and Ed Britton moved into White Oak about two years ago. I saw Ed in the gym a couple of times before he died. Nancy sat with us at our table in the dining room until she moved to assisted living. She liked it there because there were people outside her door all the time.

Their son Chuck ran the Mountain View BBQ for a while; now he is building houses. I always enjoyed visiting with all of them. Don’t get to see Chuck anymore; do not have his email.

I participated in a panel discussion of the Senior Vinings at Holy Cross. There were well over 200 people in attendance! A panelist cannot say much, but I did get to mention Mr. Vining’s ingenious method of retrieving a pencil and a pair of scissors from the big pile of exchange newspapers all around his typewriter.

Getting out a new newspaper every day is really a production process; Mr. Vining creatively placed everything at point of use, ready to be added to the mix.

My grandfather, T. A. Rippy, took me in to meet Mr. Vining when I was ten years old. Mr. Vining picked up a composing stick and put a few pieces of large type into it, then handed it to me to complete the word. When I had no problem with the letters being upside down and backward, Mr. Vining allowed me to come in on Saturdays and set up display ads for the paper.

He also had me do everyday housekeeping chores, like emptying the wastebaskets and sweeping the floor. After a few weeks, he began to PAY me a dollar or so! 

Elbert H. Arledge, Printer, shared space in the back of the building. The big paper cutter and most of the type was Elbert’s. His wife Zella would bring their infant son in and set him on the desk. He was called “Hub;” I would give him some furniture (small blocks of wood used to space out from the type to the chase (iron frame)) to play with.

By the time I was 13, Elbert had been drafted into the Army and was sent to Europe. I was setting up jobs and making everything ready for the press run. I would run off a proof copy and take it to Mr. Vining. He would check it over and then tell me to “roll ‘em.” As a young teen I wanted to see how fast I could feed the press. When the building began to shake, Mr. Vining would come in, slow the press down, and wag a finger at me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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