10/04/07 — Just around a fair corner, a bit of history

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Just around a fair corner, a bit of history

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 4, 2007 2:11 PM

An 8-year-old boy spent most of his Wednesday afternoon staring down at the concrete floors inside one of the Wayne County Fairgrounds' exhibit buildings.

Lucas Hoffman looked up shortly after his mother, Liza, passed the Christmas trees on display.

"I could smell them," he said. "Hey Mom, we should get a big tree like that."

She smiled and kept walking.

After all, if a mom has to wait for her son while he rides the roller coasters and plays the games, he should have to endure the "boring" stuff, she said.

Lucas's eyes turned to the floor again.

But just as they rounded a corner, something caught his eye.

It was a replica airplane, one you might not expect to see among the contest entries scattered throughout the building.

"Whoa," the child said. "Who brought that?"

If you take the time to catch everything the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair has to offer, the spitting image of a Büecker Bü 133 Jungmeister might just catch your eye, too.

A veteran with stories to spare walked hand-in-hand with his 11-year-old granddaughter, Carol Blevins, down the same path that led that little boy to the World War II-era German aircraft.

"Would you look at that?" Earl Shephard said, pointing to the red stripes and the words painted white along the wing.

"This is what Bevo Howard flew?" he asked under his breath. "You don't say."

The grandfather remembers the day a pilot lost his life at a North Carolina air show.

It was Bevo Howard, the name written on that replica.

He was flying a real Jungmeister the day he died -- the moment he struck a tree over Greenville.

"What it that Pop Pop?" his granddaughter asked, looking up into a pair of "shocked" eyes.

"It's an airplane baby," he responded. "Just an old plane that brings back a lot of memories."

He admits it is a bit ironic that a smaller version of the plane that killed Howard was on display less than an hour from where he perished -- during the month in which he crashed.

But it made coming to the fair a bit more special, he said -- just as it did for that bored little boy.

Some came to stare and relive memories.

Others were just plain fascinated by the craftsmanship.

But for a local veteran and one particular little boy, it made this year's fair experience one they will likely hold onto for years to come.

"That's a treat," Shephard said. "You might see me back to take it all in again."