Monday, December 26, 2005

The Amazing Gift

This certificate was given to my father in 1956. I gave it to him again on Christmas Day, 2005, 49 years later. Here is the story of how it came about.

My father came to visit me in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma in August of 2005, in anticipation of his moving here permanently the next month.

He was pretty famous as an aviator over his career and so I thought it would be fun to 'google' him while he sat beside me at the computer. We did so and found all sorts of references to him and the airplane he flew in 1955, the XFY-1 Pogo, the first vertical take-off airplane.

Among the google references was an odd one from All the entry said was 'Has anyone ever heard of J.F. 'Skeets' Coleman?' That was all. There was a response to it from someone who said he had heard of my dad because of some airplane boat car he had invented in the 50's, which is true. Then there was another entry that said 'I am his niece, and he lives in California with his daughter.' We recognized the niece's name (my cousin) of course.

I wrote another response that said 'I am his son, and he is sitting right next to me as I right this in Oklahoma, where he will soon be moving. If I may enquire, why are you asking about him?'. The gentleman responded and said 'I love to go into antique stores around where I live in Leesburg, Virginia and I see many certificates and documents with names on them and I often wonder who is that person, do they know the document is here, how did it get here?, etc.'. I happen to see a document that had your father's name on it and thought I would ask around.'.

I got the man's personal email and started a correspondence. He remembered the certificate had and X on it, and his name but nothing else. He also wasn't quite sure what antique store he had seen it in. I asked him to see if he could find it again for me. He came back a few days later and sent this photo with the name of the store!

I immediately called the store and purchased the certificate. It was hanging downstairs in the basement, in a dark corner, under a staircase! How he ended up seeing it, who knows.

We of course were wondering how and why it ended up in that store in Virginia of all places. Then I remembered that back in the 50's we had moved to Hagarstown, Maryland in 1956, moving back to California in 1959. All we could figure is that somehow my mom and dad had left this certificate behind and it had found it's way to the antique store eventually. My family also lived in Virginia (but farther away from Leesburg than Hagarstown is) in the early 70s and so it could have been left at that time as well.

The piece arrived well packed and my father actually took the delivery while I was at work. He wasn't sure why I would get something from Leesburg though! I just told him it was some christmas present I had ordered online and the main store was there.

Had it wrapped and under the tree for Christmas and gave it to him at the end of all the presents. It was from 'Cyber Santa'. I told him the present came from Cyber Santa because without the internet we never would have found what he is about to get. I told him it was old but was one of a kind, only could be given to him and him alone. He is 87 now and I wasn't sure if he would even know it had been missing for so long! But when he opened it he was very moved and exclaimed, 'Where the hell has this been all these years'!


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