"People think farmers live at the end of a muddy lane and when they get through work they sit on the front porch rocking, not knowing or caring anything about the rest of the world. That's not the way it is. You should see the appointment calendars of the fellows around here. People are booked up solid with all sorts of things—volunteer firemen, school board, planning and zoning commissions, picnics, charitable and, I suppose you would call them, cultural meetings. People go off to water ski in the summer, ski in the mountains in the winters. Running into Kansas City for a Royals or Chiefs game is commonplace. They go to California, New York, even Europe on vacations. Farming is hard work at times, but I'd say you have lots of freedom and more chance to enjoy city attractions than city people do to enjoy country life."
GRAIN VALLEY, MO.
The airport is used for sports and aerobatic flyers, glider pilots and antique-plane enthusiasts. Toni Ciarlelli is 23 years old but could easily pass for a junior high school student. The youthful appearance is a professional problem for Ciarlelli, a corporation pilot and stunt flyer who also teaches her friends to fly. "She is a fine pilot," says the airport manager, "but people are leery about taking lessons from somebody who looks like a 13-year-old."
On this Sunday morning Toni has a student, Judy Lindquist, whose husband is a dentist so, she says, "he can have the time and the money to fly. He was a P-47 pilot in World War II and our whole life revolves around flying." The Lindquists have two planes and Judy is awaiting delivery of a third, a custom-made biplane, a Rose Parrakeet, which she wants to use for aerobatics. To do so she needs instruction in the operation of a tail dragger and Toni Ciarlelli has one—a 1940 Piper J-3.
Toni also uses the Piper, which can carry one passenger and about 20 pounds of baggage (at 80 mph), for stunts at air shows and county fairs. Toni dresses like a 12-year-old for her act and the old Piper is touted as a radio-controlled plane. The radio supposedly fails while the helpless little girl is aloft. Toni shrieks, hangs on the wings, swoops around for a time, then finally bounces to a landing. She has been getting $200 an appearance. A local policeman once tried to arrest her after a practice, thinking a drunk had been piloting the plane.
"I've been flying since I was 16," she says. "I got my license as soon as I was tall enough to reach the controls—sitting on a pillow, of course. I'm sort of in college now, taking some aeronautical courses. I just want to make enough money for gas and hangar rental. I want to stay up in the air. That is what makes me happy."
Twenty-five years ago there was little major league competition west of St. Louis but now there are Kansas City teams in every conceivable major league sport. On a hot, steamy afternoon, the Chiefs are scrimmaging at William Jewell College. Rookies usually can be distinguished from the vets. They rip and snort until they become faint and weak from the heat. Veterans are more agile when it comes to finding shade and defending their positions around the Gatorade stand. A rookie running back has twice juked brilliantly around a languid and much older linebacker. On the third try the defender casually stretches out a massive arm and slams the rookie to the baked ground. The linebacker walks slowly to the Gatorade stand and gets a few low-energy pats from other veterans.
Dressing up in football armor, pushing and shoving about the field in July would seem an uncomfortable way to spend Saturday afternoon. But Cleophus Miller, running back and second-year man, is fairly cool about the hot weather. "I worked summers on construction jobs in Little Rock," he says. "Temperature about the same there as here. Hot is hot and you couldn't say one is better or worse than the other, but here you work two or three hours a day and in construction it is eight or 10 hours. When you work construction nobody is bringing around all those cold drinks. There's a lot worse things you could be doing."