Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Planes, Trains, and...uh...Trucks

Gotcha, didn't I? Okay, maybe not.

The past month has been a transportation bonanza for the little guy. Just for the heck of it, when we were up in Portland for my sister-in-law's wedding, we took a day and thought we'd head for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, only to find it was closed. Thankfully, my father-in-law had a backup plan that had us schlepping all the way to McMinnville to the Evergreen Aviation Museum, the home of the H-4 Hercules, otherwise known as the Spruce Goose.I had no idea it had been moved over sea and land all the way up to Oregon from Long Beach. It took years to fully restore the sucker (which really should have been called the Birch Behemoth, since most of it is actually made of birch, though I think Howard Hughes would have hated that nickname, too) after many years of being on display near the Queen Mary and having various tourists tear off bits and pieces of her to take home as souvenirs. Now the H-4 shares space (dominates it, rather) with many, many different types of air and spacecraft, including a B-17, a Titan II missile, a replica of the lunar module, and, my personal fave, a Russian space capsule that looks like one of the Discovery pods in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What did the little guy like, you ask? He ran around and sat in every single old first class seat that was set up in the place (Evergreen Aviation refurbs planes for many airlines, and they have set up all the first class seats ripped out of those planes in front of the video screens showing important movies about the B-17, or the Blackbird, or the history of the H-4, etc., etc.), he headed over to the kids section and sat in their helicopter mock-ups for a few minutes, then he happily crashed planes on the flight simulators. The Spruce Goose was just another plane to him. I think he was more impressed by the beach balls that Hughes had had stuffed into the wings and the body of the plane so that it would still float and thus be more easily recovered if something went wrong in the flight tests. Oh, and he also went into hysterics when I didn't get anything from the gift shop for him. I am one cruel mother.

A week or so ago, I headed out to get the little guy from school and saw some signs for SteamFest on Magazine Street. Since I had some extra time, I detoured a little and followed the arrows on the signs. I then knew I had to bring the kid over to the park the next day to see what this organization had wrought. The Louisiana Steam Train Association was founded around the restoration of the SP 745 steam engine, and they had the thing all fired up and set up so that anyone could stand with the engineers and look into the flaming furnace. Yes, it was puffing smoke. Yes, we had to position ourselves occasionally so that the soot wouldn't get all over us and into our lungs. Was my son excited? Yes, but not by the engine, which, initially, he was freaked out by and came up the steps to visit the engineers only after I climbed up there and showed that I was okay and I was not getting fried by the furnace (hell, glass furnaces are much, much worse). It was all about the caboose and the model train set inside one of the train cars the 745 was pulling. Hey, it was a beautiful day. He had a great time. He even ate the pizza slice that I purchased for him at the food booth without taking the cheese off it. Thank goodness for small miracles.

So, miracle of miracles, my son doesn't want to be a nonconformist for Halloween this year (i.e., no costume whatsoever).

"What do you want to be for Halloween?" I asked him last week.

"A bus driver!" he said with absolute certainty.

Oooo-kay. Bus drivers don't look too much like Jackie Gleason anymore.

I waited a little too late to get the hat, which was all right, because little Mr. Certainty changed his mind. "I want to be a supplies truck driver!" he said.

No, people, don't look at the plane.
A little to the left...there you go!

Oh, joy.

I did get a costume from the movie
Cars - Tow Mater, the rusty tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. "What do you think?" I asked my son, who would see that it was, at least, a truck.

Moooooom, I wanna be a supppliiiiieees truck driiiiiiver!!!!!" he whined. "I don't wannnna be a rusty old truuuuuck!!!"

Thanks, kid. Thanks a bundle.

Yesterday, after school, I took Supplies Truck Driver to Office Depot to pick out a cardboard box. He danced to the checkout counter with the box around his body, singing "I'm gonna be a
truck driver! I'm gonna be a truck driver!!!" Mom worked her costume magic on the cardboard box, with the help of scissors, spray paint, Crayola Kids Paint, and blue painters' tape.

The kid walks into school this morning behind the wheel of one smart-looking truck, if I do say so myself, and his Deuce McAllister-clad teacher starts laughing. "Yesterday he was trying to tell us what he was going to be, and nobody could get it
at all!" I started laughing, too, thinking about a four-year-old trying to explain himself: "It's a supplies truck. You know. It brings supplies to the airplanes..." He had quite a crowd of classmates around him this morning, little Spider-Men and Wolverines and Power Rangers and princesses and cheerleaders wanting to check out his cardboard ride.

That big, big smile on his face was worth most of the aggravation.
Most of it. I can't return the Cars suit, so I think I'm gonna be Mater this year. I'm getting a tad rusty around the edges, anyhow.

Happy Halloween, everybody!


oyster said...

Ok, yeah, I'll admit it. You got me.

I was left out there like Steve Martin in the outer reaches of a rental car lot.

E said...

that is a sweet fucking costume. it makes me smile a lot.

LisaPal said...

Sounds like he was still a Halloween nonconformist. I like his style!

candice said...

I was heading down the bayou to either a wedding or a funeral a few years ago; can't remember which, now, actually, and saw it running on the tracks parallel to highway 90.

Cool train. My dad, of course, was all excited because he used to play on it in Audubon Park in the sixties.