Recap: Uncle Adam comes and agrees to try to convince Sender’s bubby to let him go with him to Dayton, to ask the Wright brothers for a job.

We were seated at the dining room table, and Ruchy was serving a plate of peas and carrots. “Everything is delicious, Mrs. Kaplan,” proclaimed Uncle Adam.

Bubby smiled. “Sender, go get some more firewood. The fire’s going down and it’s getting chilly in here.” The fire was crackling away and I didn’t think we needed more, but I dutifully headed outside, wishing I could stay and finish my chicken and rice.

When I came back in, Uncle Adam was in the middle of one of his Alaska stories. Ruchy sat riveted to her seat. “Did you see the bear?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah. It had the characteristic hump. It was this big.” He measured a big, wide size with his arms. “And it was growling.”

Ruchy’s eyes grew wide. “Weren’t you scared?”


“What happened?”

Baruch Hashem, just at that moment, there was this tremendous crash of thunder and then rain poured down in sheets. The bear lumbered away, and I raced back to the cabin.”

Uncle Adam told a few more stories and then he always ended with how he’d gone panning for gold and ended up with enough to pay for his wedding and more.

“Ruchy, give your uncle a break from telling stories. Go bring in the pie. Sender, you bring the tea pot.”

It was during dessert that Uncle Adam brought up my plan.

“I don’t know,” Bubby said. “I don’t know if your mother would want you going off to Dayton. There’s no Jewish community there like Cincinnati.”

“I would just stay long enough to earn the bike.”

“And those brothers. I think they’re crazy. They claim they can fly. That’s crazy. We weren’t given wings for a reason. I don’t like their ideas.”

“Mrs. Kaplan, they have a wonderful bike. It could really help your granddaughter and I’ll go with him to make sure they’re trustworthy, and I’ll help Sender work out the details with Shabbos and kashrus.”

Bubby toyed with a piece of blueberry on her plate. “ Well, as long as you go with him.”

I sat by the window, taking in all the sights. We’d passed through the city and now the train snaked through farmland. “Do you think they’ll hire me?” I asked.

Adam looked up from his sefer. “Why not? You’re a good, hard worker. Daven for them to like you.”

As the sun rose high in the sky, the train screeched to a halt, belching smoke. “Here’s our stop.” Adam grabbed his suitcase.

I was wearing my best knickers and vest, as well as a new cap. We passed a clothing shop and a milliner. Then, in the middle of the block, I spotted the bike shop. There was a line of bikes and a big sign that said Van Cleve bikes sold here.

I felt a flutter in my stomach. I asked Hashem to help me, and I followed Adam to the shop. When we stepped inside, a bell tinkled on the door.

A man wearing a work apron looked up at us from the bike tire he was pumping.

“Hi, how can I help you?” He put the pump down and came over to us.

“Well, I’m here on business with the Wrights, and this is my nephew Sender Kaplan. He’s interested in asking them something.”

The man wiped the bicycle grease from his hands onto his apron and extended his hand to shake Adam’s. “Charlie Taylor, nice to meet you. I’ll go get Wilbur.”

A few minutes later, a tall man wearing a starched white shirt with a black tie and a work apron appeared. Then another man also wearing a starched white shirt and black tie and work apron with a jaunty cap on his head sauntered in. They both extended their hands to Adam.

The taller one was Wilbur and the shorter one Orville.

“This is my nephew, Sender Kaplan.” Uncle Adam gave me a gentle puh forward. It took me a few minutes to remember to extend my hand. I couldn’t believe I was meeting these brothers in person.

“Is it true you’re building a flying machine?” I blurted.

Wilbur nodded. “Yep, we are.”

I knew I was supposed to ask for a job now, but I found it hard to get out the words. I’m sometimes shy with new people.

Uncle Adam tapped me on the shoulder. “Sender, tell them why you’re here,” he said.

“I would like to. Could I work for you?”

“You look like an honest young man,” Wilbur said. Then he turned to his brother, and they whispered a few minutes together.

“Can you learn how to work mechanical things?”

I was good at mechanical things, but I wouldn’t know how to build a flyer.

I nodded.

Wilbur bent down and pulled out a camera. “This is the latest camera. It’s a Gundlach Korona V. It uses glass plates and a pneumatic shutter. There’s a rubber bulb you squeeze to take the photos.”

Orville smiled at me. “Basically, we need someone to shoot photos of our flights in Kitty Hawk.”

I felt my heart pounding. This would be wonderful. I had a feeling these two men would understand someone who was a daydreamer. I wanted to ask them if they both dreamed of flying when they were my age, but I was too shy to ask now. Maybe later when I got to know them better.

“Where’s Kitty Hawk?” Uncle Adam asked.

“North Carolina. It’s a perfect spot for our trial flights. Sand for miles and good winds.”

Uncle Adam turned to me. “Do you want to go there with them?”

I nodded. “Yes!”

Uncle Adam explained about my needing to bring my own food and pots and pans and not working on Shabbos.

They said they understood, and they were religious themselves and didn’t work on Sundays.

They were going for a few weeks. We worked out the details and then Uncle Adam met with them about his business while I walked around looking at the bikes.

Charlie Taylor was friendly and offered to explain how the bikes worked and the different features of each one.

We made a plan for me to come back to Dayton the following Monday, packed for a three-week trip to Kitty Hawk.

It was all too perfect to be true. It was only as we boarded the train back to Cincinnati that I suddenly realized a problem. What if Bubby didn’t approve? North Carolina was a lot farther away than Dayton.

 To be continued…

By Susie Garber