06/27/05 — OPINION: Good memories

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OPINION: Good memories

By Gene Price
Published in News on June 27, 2005 1:45 PM

Increasingly, over the years, I have become a recluse. Good, long-suffering wife Gloria suggests that I am perhaps a "gregarious recluse."

Once I get in a group, I enjoy myself -- even for moments at receptions after funerals.

Recently, a fellow senior citizen told me how much he enjoyed columns our girls at the News-Argus write for the Sunday edition: "But I sure miss Georgia Tanner's column."

So do we all. And I probably miss her more than anyone except those in the immediate family.

One of my most memorable experiences comes to mind.

Several years ago, Hal (senior), Georgia, Circulation Director Jim Roe and I were flying to Tennessee and Kentucky to look at practices and equipment other newspapers had in place.

Jim was a WWII bomber pilot and, on this trip, I was his relatively novice co-pilot. But he was letting me "build time" as we flew the twin-engine plane over the mountains toward Nashville, Tenn., after "topping the tanks" at Asheville.

It was not a good night for flying. And shortly after crossing the mountains, the aircraft began shuddering, the gauges bouncing, and the altimeter indicating we were going down.

I could tell from the pedal controls that we had real problems with the left engine.

I promptly turned the controls over to Jim Roe -- Lt. Col. Jim Roe, WWII many-missions combat pilot!

In his back seats, Hal Tanner, characteristically, said absolutely nothing. His philosophy always had been to leave to his department heads matters about which they were more familiar than he was.

I have the impression that he also might have been understandably petrified!

But then Georgia leaned forward, tapped me on the shoulder and calmly suggested:

"Boys, don't you think we should put this thing on the ground?"

I assured her that was exactly what we had in mind. (Just as soon as we could find a place to put it -- at night, in weather, and with insufficient power to maintain altitude.)

I can still see her chuckling in the backseat, reassuring our publisher, "See, Hal. It's OK."

After some rather stressful minutes, we were able to make an emergency landing at Sewart AFB.

Later I fashioned a little medal we hung on a ribbon around Georgia's neck. And we presented her a citation for the "OCD: The Order of Calm Descent."

Even at Georgia's funeral, the memory evoked a smile.