Monday, July 2, 2012

Remembering Amelia Earhart

Lost and Found

A Poem by Nan Socolow

Rumors that Noonan
and I were buried
on Saipan or Tinian
That we were
spying for America
before Pearl Harbor
beheaded at
by the Japanese
False rumors
urban legends
Noonan and I
just glided
from the sky
Out of fuel
we dropped
from the clouds
Past Howland
onto a Phoenix isle
in Kiribati
known then as
Gardner Island
My Lockheed
landed hard
On the atoll's
sharp shallow
I was 39
that day
2 July 1937
And I did so radio Itasca!
radioed Itasca
over and over!
They searched
every dot and cranny
for Noonan and me
Except for Gardner
the obvious spot
350 miles from Howland
The day we fell
2 July 1937
I was 39
Five eight tall
fair and freckled
Small shoe
size 6
Cat's Paw heel
The Press
called me
"Lady Lindy"
But they never
got the story
Noonan and I died
needles in a haystack
And the story hung
by a thread
the thread just a leaf
in the island underbrush
by a hermit crab
revealing the
Cat's Paw heel
of my shoe
I would have been lost
gone with the wind
My poor bones
were sent to Fiji
(and "misplaced" there)
Sic transit
Sic transitted
my Lockheed
10 Electra
My DNA awaits
on Nikumaroro
Bits of the
undercarriage and
My heel
and smashed jar of Dr. Berry's
Freckle Ointment too
I went
the way of all flesh
on 24 July 1937
My 40th birthday
no cake or candles
or balloons
But isn't it swell?
Isn't it neat?
This news
That the seekers
will find me this July!
Or maybe next year?
+ + + +
Nan Socolow
British West Indies
Ed. Note: Nan, a frequent contributor to the New York Times readers' comments feature, says she has always been fascinated by the exploits of Amelia Earhart, who "disappeared" 75 years ago today during a round-the-world flight.
Just in time for the anniversary, a jar of the freckle cream that Earhart was fond of using, and other artifacts were discovered recently on a remote South Pacific atoll near the crash site. Experts have also been able to prove that there were several radio transmissions from the immediate area in the days after the plane went down. 

That she and Noonan not only survived the crash, but survived for a substantial period of time, is now morphing from speculation to proven fact. But the absence of any human remains only adds to the continuing mystery of their ultimate fate. An expedition using high tech equipment is being launched this week in an attempt to locate the wreckage of her plane off the coast of Nikumaroro. You can read more details here, here and here.

Amelia Earhart would have reached the ripe old age of 115 later this month. 


  1. Amelia Earhart disappeared before I was born, but I remember my mother talking about her as well as reading a children's biography about Amelia Earhart to me. Mother always delighted in telling me about the adventure she had going up once in a small plane in the early forties. My dad was too afraid to join her, which added to her delight. Looking back, I believe she was a bit envious of Earhart’s adventurous life. Mother would have enjoyed this ongoing saga.

    This is a fascinating story about Earhart and Noonan surviving. I have always loved an adventure. Their story reminds me, as one who has traveled on the Amazon River, of the following two books:

    Candice Millard’s “The River of Doubt – Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” the most punishing physical challenge he ever undertook, exploring an uncharted tributary of the Amazon in one of the most treacherous jungles of the world after losing the 1912 election. It is a fascinating portrait of Roosevelt’s character.

    Also, David Grann’s “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon,” the story of legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett.

    For all, a quote of the day:

    "No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." - Amelia Earhart

  2. This tale also triggered a story from my family history, one that I was able to share with my mother before she died.

    My mother’s grandmother emigrated from Ireland in 1862. Her younger sister, who remained in Ireland, had a grandson, who was a pilot in the RAF during WW2. He was shot down by a German fighter, while flying a reconnaissance mission, in the second month of the war (10/16/39) and was one of the earliest POW’s (POW#24). He was just 21 years old and married less than a month. He was one of the fifty escaped POW’s murdered by the Gestapo on Hitler’s orders after escaping through tunnel “Harry” from Stalag Luft III. This was immortalized in the movie “The Great Escape” (Steve McQueen, James Garner, et al.)

    Amelia Earhart, age 39, died 2 July 1937

    Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) Michael James Casey, age 26, died 24 March 1944

    “We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.” - Marcel Proust

  3. Karen Garcia may have found two new talents - first, Ms. Socolow's staccato-morse code poetry is a delicious find; second, Garcia's future as a literary agent.

    Seriously, having read Nan's material for years now, I have to say poetry may be her beat. Mesdames: more, please.