Remembering Harriet Peoples 

Published 11:57 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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I wish I had known Harriet Peoples for herself, not just as friend Alan Peoples’ wife. She was a bonafide hippie, but a well-educated one. I encourage you to read Harriet’s obituary, for she was an accomplished woman, actively making a difference in everything she undertook.

I once saw them at breakfast in a local restaurant, and I must say that Harriet was more beautiful than the picture provided by McFarland’s. Of course she spoke well, as befits one with a master’s in English from Winthrop University. I wish I had arranged more meetings with Alan and Harriet! 

I often took Alan with me when I went to local schools to “Celebrate Liberty” for the now-defunct Columbus Lions Club. Alan brought several of his hats to one of our meetings to show the schoolkids his versatility. 

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Alan personally welcomed me to Tryon when we were stopped at the top of our street where Morris stands. He jumped out of his car, spread his arms wide, and said “Welcome to Tryon!” Now, you just cannot beat a welcome to town by the Mayor himself!

Fran records several airplane and airport programs for me. These include “Air Disasters,” “Ice Airport Alaska,” and another big airport in Africa. My son is amused when he is here because I yell at the TV: when I see a botched landing approach I advise the pilots in a loud commanding voice to “Go Around!” Of course they continue to a fiery crash twixt houses and trees, usually with no survivors. 

I get to see lots of Boeing 747s land in Alaska (I helped design that one, y’know). There are lots of lightplanes flying up there, too, as there are few roads—the little towns get all their supplies flown in by bush pilots. There are many women pilots in Alaska, who competently fly their little birds everywhere. The men seem to accept their female pilots; they appear relaxed as they sit in the right seat.

The workhorse airplane in Alaska is the renowned DeHavilland Beaver. The pilots have not only wheels to land on, but skis and floats as needed. The Beaver is a big, sturdy bird, with a big radial engine that makes it very capable—very fast, big payload, long range. This is the airplane I wanted to fly as a young dreamer of becoming an Alaska bush pilot.

When we lived in Texas, I had a Luscombe 8A with a rag wing. It was so much fun to fly that I had it up every Sunday afternoon, usually giving someone their first ride in an airplane. Sometimes, I would take off at dusk and watch the city lights come on gradually.  The predominant neon sign color was red!

Night cross-county was really neat . . . Towns were small pools of light on a black velvet background, connected by headlights on the cars. To stay legal, I gladly made the required night landings.

I encouraged my lady friends to wear long pants, as mounting a Luscombe in a skirt reveals a lot more than a lady should! Some of them wanted to experience some G’s; one even wanted to try a spin! The women who flew with me were a courageous bunch, more adventuresome than the males!

A colleague at work wanted to try everything, so I obliged him. We then took the agreed on ride in his 14-foot day sailboat. He hooked me on sailing, so I bought a Sunfish. Daughter Sharon was not impressed with having to tack when sailing into the wind, but son Thomas took to it solidly. He liked to do battle with his friends—not happy until somebody got rammed and capsized!  

Garland would like to hear from you at 828-859-7041 or garlandgoodwi,