Back in the 1950s, you could buy a kite for 29 cents; a colorful tail flowing from the rag bag and you were set to fly.
My mother was a den mother to eight or nine Cub Scouts and always looking for a fun project. She thought it would mean a lot for us to make our own kites and be proud of our construction skills and artistic ability.
One Wednesday in March, we gathered in our cellar for our weekly meeting.
Tables were piled with balsa sticks, newspapers, string, and colorful rags.
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Our pattern was a traditional Ben Franklin diamond-shaped kite. We worked for hours, cutting the newspaper, stringing the sticks and gluing the paper over the strings.
Most of the kites even looked like kites. We brushed shellac on the paper to make the kites waterproof and more durable.
Saturday, parents joined the Scouts in the big field behind the school. We ran, pulling the kites behind us. Some dads ran with the kites, and before too long all the kites were high in the sky. It was wonderful.
We lost a few kites; a string broke, a few crashed to the ground, a tree ate one - but we had a good time in spite of a few tears.
I have fond memories of flying kites with my wife, Lynn, and three kids - son Lee and daughters Kelly and Jennifer - at the beach or in the local schoolyard.
I still love to fly kites, and I almost hate to admit that I have six or eight in my office and garage. Most of my flying now is done when the grandkids come to visit or when we are all at the beach.
I don't have even one old paper kite. I have a multi-kite I bought in a kite museum in Tokyo, a rotating box kite, a few deltas and one that looks like a biplane.
Most are indestructible.
Another one is a "Night Hawk," with tiny red LED lights; it looks like a UFO in the night sky.
I have an expensive "trick" kite that pretty much refuses to do tricks for me. My grandson Jake has a kite shaped like a surfboard.
There's an active kite club in our area. WACKOS - www.wackos.org - meets informally on the first and third Saturday mornings at Frank Liske Park, 4001 Stough Road, Concord. The Wings Across Carolina Kiting and Okra Society is a chapter of the American Kitefliers Association. There are more than 40 active members.
My favorite flying field is in front of the Mooresville YMCA, but any empty field, schoolyard or empty parking lot will do.
With new technology, you usually don't even have to run with the kite.
Kites come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Kites are used for ultra-light flying, kite surfing, kite buggies, aerial photography, fishing; the list goes on and on. In 1999 kites were used to pull sleds to the North Pole.
Go to a kite festival. Bond Park's 16th Annual Kite Festival in Cary is a fun way to spend the afternoon flying your kite. The date is March 26.
April is National Kite Month. Show your kids or grandkids how much fun flying a simple kite can be.