Moving - California, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida

San Diego to Poway, California

Vernon was about to complete his training as pilot and mechanic by this time. He wanted to go into agricultural aviation – we called it crop-dusting. It would be necessary to leave San Diego. We gave up our little apartment on Kenyan Street. Sold our furniture, and bought a trailer. This was all in preparation for travelling to the Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi crop dusting area. We moved the trailer to Poway, California. That was a little community a short distance northeast of San Diego. I gave up my job with the Navy and enjoyed spending the time with baby daughter in that pretty little semi-mountain setting. Vernon spent a few more months on his training before we set sail for the next chapter in our lives.

Crop Dusting and Forest Fire Patrol
Kentucky, Georgia, Florida


Finally the day came. Vernon had completed his aviation education, so equipped with the necessary licenses (pilot, instructor, aircraft and engine) and a pickup truck to pull our home on wheels, we left California for Bowling Green, Kentucky. Margie was two years old. It was in the spring and the bluegrass, horse farm country was beautiful. Vernon began flying for various tobacco farmers in the area. That was considered very difficult flying for the crop dusting pilots because the fields were small, usually an acre or two. You can imagine the skill it took to maneuver the planes in and out of those small fields. Not only must the pilot be careful to avoid hitting the wires along side of the fields, but he must be sure not to get lost over unfamiliar territory. To do so was to risk being shot as a possible “revenuer”. A popular product of those Kentucky hills, in addition to tobacco, was moonshine. The men in charge of the “stills” didn’t welcome strangers whether on foot or vehicle – especially planes. They didn’t hesitate to express their displeasure with a blast of the family shotgun.
We celebrated Margie’s third birthday in Bowling Green. It was a pleasant summer, spent exploring the area.


As the summer came to an end, so did the tobacco spraying season. We moved to Tifton, Georgia and Vernon began work with the Georgia Forest Service flying a patrol plane. He went out every day, weather permitting, flying over the forests of Georgia watching for smoke. He was in constant communication with the ground based forest service, notifying them when suspicious smoke was spotted. When a fire was in progress, he helped coordinate and direct the ground fire fighters with their equipment.
The Tifton Airport had been used during World War II so was quite a large facility. Our trailer was parked just inside one of the large hangars. A reserve flying unit trained there. We enjoyed all the young pilots. Margie was four years old and the pet of these young pilots. They played with her and spoiled her. She literally wore the rubber off her tricycle wheels riding it all over those concrete runways and hangars.


When the fire season ended in Georgia we went south, to Quincy, Florida. Again, Vernon flew fire patrol, now with the Florida Forest Service. Most days were spent on routine patrol with no fires to break the monotony. So he found ways. Sometimes he would have fun flying low over the remote rivers and streams offering suggestions to the fishermen (of fisherwomen) sitting on the banks. This was done with a high-powered loud speaker on the plane that was loud enough to make his voice heard over bulldozers, etc. fighting forest fires. So you can imagine the reactions to this loud voice coming suddenly from the sky.
He loved to embarrass me by using this same loud speaker method. Sometimes when he came back to the airport in the late evening at the end of a days flying he would fly over the trailer telling me to set the table because he was on his way home for supper. The neighbors teased me about that.
One of my memories of that period was the first Christmas. The final pay check from Georgia Forest Service was slow reaching us, and the first check for Florida work wasn’t due yet. So those first few weeks were tight. We managed daily expenses but wondered how we would manage Santa Claus. Margie was four and a half at the time with complete faith that Santa Claus would come. There were lots of pecan trees around so Margie and I (mostly me) picked up pecans and sold them for enough money to buy some play dishes and a little set of pots and pans. Also a little nurse kit. During her nap times I was busy at the sewing machine making new garments for her dolls and a nurse uniform to go with the nurse kit. I cut up an old white sheet, made the nurse outfit painted with a red cross. We went to the woods for a small Christmas tree, decorated it with strings of popcorn, cranberries and ropes made from colored construction paper. It was a great Christmas and Margie was a happy little girl, secure in her belief in Santa.


Poway Baptist Church

Christmas, 1953