by Budd Davisson

Personal Holidays Should Count

I don't know how the federal government goes about picking national holidays, but I think we normal folks should have a say in it. In fact, I think we should be allowed to pick a few Personal National Holidays of our own.

If my little company was large enough to use a job application form, for instance, I'd make sure it included a section labeled Personal National Holidays. The applicants could make up their own holidays which celebrate people or events important to them personally and I'd give them those days off. They'd be allowed to list three.

I'd do this for two reasons: First, I'm a firm believer that we should celebrate those events and people who mean something to us. For instance, December 9th is already a national holiday on my calendar. That's Curtis Pitts' birthday.

The second reason I'd ask for personal national holidays on a job application is that by looking at the holidays a person lists, I'll learn more about them than any resume is ever going to tell me.

For instance, someone who lists the founding of the KKK and Hitler's birthday among his favorite holidays, has told me so much about him/herself that I'd be likely to sic the dog on him. If I had a dog.

Let's say, however, the applicant lists the Founding of Coors Brewing, Hank Williams birthday and the introduction of the '56 Ford F-100 truck, I'd know where this person's heart lay. I'd also give them the nod over an applicant who lists Bill Gate's birthday, the invention of mutual funds and Georgio Armani's birthday.

When I first came up with this mythical job application, I thought I was being unfair by A) allowing only three holidays. Maybe I should be allowing the best three out of five. And B) by not giving the applicant a heads-up before applying for a job, they wouldn't have time to give their choices some thought. They'd have to fire from the hip. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that's how it should be done. The first things that come to mind are usually those closest to the heart.

The instant the personal holiday concept came to mind, for instance, the Curtis Pitts Holiday leapt upon my mental imaging screen. Right behind that came the introduction of the 12-fret, 000-28 Martin guitar. Yeah, I know: A little obscure but close to my heart.

When it came to the number three slot, however, my mental screen became a kaleidoscope of people and events. I couldn't nail it down.

Names tumbled through my mind like the Wright Brothers, Raymond Rice and Edgar Schmued (P-51), Steve Wittman, and Kelly Johnson (Lockheed). They all made aerial contributions beyond measure. Then there would be Walter Jamouneau (The "J" in J-3), C. G. Taylor and Don Luscombe. I'm also of the opinion we should celebrate the team that developed the Pontiac GTO: crude but definitely all-American. A Tri-power, '65 Goat was my first, and most exciting, new car.

Thinking about the Goat made me consider other forms of uniquely American art forms that mean something to me. Bessie Smith, B.B King and Stevie Ray Vaughn (blues) jumped in there first, followed by Stan Goetz (jazz) and old man Hillegas for his midget race cars.

As soon as those names hit me, a second wave of people who have given me eons of pleasure rolled over me. For instance, the products of John Browning, have been within an arm's length since I was a teenager. Most of my favorite Winchesters are the result of his prolific mechanical genius

It all gets so damned confusing. Every life is touched daily by so many ideas and individuals who have enriched it beyond measure, it's hard to keep the list short. Maybe we should have a holiday for the invention of the paper clip, for instance. Or maybe the staple.

Since my business is mostly aviation, maybe my mythical job application should have a slot that must be aeronautical while the rest can be random and free form. That way I can figure out where the applicant's aviation interests lay. For instance, if one wants a national holiday for the invention of the autopilot, while another feels it necessary to celebrate first flight of the Aeronca C-3, need I tell you who gets the job?

Or maybe I should make all three slots aeronautical and really gum up the works. I, for one, would be wrestling with that one for days. Certainly there should be a national holiday for the J-3 Cub. That's as much a given as the GTO, although many would probably substitute the Aeronca Champ on their list. Or maybe I'd have a personal holiday for Paul Clark, my old boss and flight instructor who had the most influence on my flying career. But what of Ron Epps who taught me to fly?

Like I said. Too confusing. Too many important people and events to celebrate. Still, I think we should each have those moments of celebration in our lives, no matter how brief. I celebrate Curtis Pitts each time I strap in and every time I say something to a student, I hear Paul Clark's words coming out of my mouth. Not a day goes by I don't think of John Browning as I shoulder an '86 Winchester in passing the rack and a hundred blues singers come to mind as my favorite old Martin is cradled on my knee. Every time I light up an acetylene torch I think of the Vogel brothers and their little blacksmith shop and Ernie Gann is constantly watching from the shadows as I make my stumbling efforts to carve words into mental sculptures that might meet his approval.

Maybe we don't need actual holidays. Maybe the list on my job application form should be there just to remind us that we need to silently thank those who have had a major impact on our lives. Maybe those brief moments are holiday enough.