Thursday, November 23, 2006

AV - How to Eat a DC-3


Actually, this is more about doing your laundry but you put something like that in the Subject Line on a post to R.A.H., you get lottsa strange mail. But just to keep things honest I will tell you how to eat a Gooney Bird. But in a minute, okay?

When I go up to Fla-Bob or Muroc I always wear my Catalina hat. Cheap looking thing and it doesn't really mean you been there but most guys who have, do. Gets dirty, though. All hats do, you wear them enough.

EAA sent me a Life Member hat. Seriously! Life member for thirty years, you get a hat. Comes in a box an everything. White. Can't touch it without leaving a mark. But I wear it now & then. Part of my Fly-in Costume. Too bad the EAA don't have fly-in's no more. (I'm too embarrassed to go to something called an 'airventure.')

Wear your EAA Life Member Hat to a fly-in, somebody always asks where you got it. "Salvation Army store." Or that I found it at a garage sale. Sometimes they offer to buy it. I whip it off with a grin, "Sold! Five hundred dollars." Haven't had no takers yet. Prolly cause it was dirty. White ball cap, working around airplanes, it's bound to get kinda dirty. So I washed it, which is what this post is all about.

How to keep your Catalina Airport hat nice & clean. And your EAA Life Member Hat too, if you got one. Or that tatty green thing that I wore in Danang or that spiffy red jobbie from Johnston Atoll. (Been there. Did that. But they were outta T-shirts so I got the hat.)

Start with a bucket of water. Bucket has to be big enough to hold your hat, so that means guys with big heads need big buckets. I use a diaper pail. (Because it's there, of course!)

Go down to the grocery store and get yourself some washing soda. Nobody will know what you're talking about if you ask for soda ash or sodium carbonate, even if you tell them you knew Ronny when he was touting for 20 Mule Team, or the fact ‘Trona' is a mineral mined here in California as well as a place to avoid, unless you need some washing soda. Just keep asking. Speak slow. Smile. Tell them it's for a hat.

Yellow box. Arm & Hammer makes it. And if you know about cleaning aluminum, you already know about soda ash so I won't bother telling you its Na2CO3. But I'd better mention it for those other guys.

Cup your palm. No, smaller... about three tablespoonsful per gallon. Now add a dash of regular detergent; mebbe one tablespoonful. Throw it in the bucket. Don't forget the water.

Stir it up good. If you start with warm water washing soda will dissolve pretty quick. Make sure it's all dissolved before you stick in your hat. More than one? Then get a bigger bucket.

Okay, now you can stick in your hat. Poke it down with your hand, this stuff can't hurt you. Unless you're made out of wool. (It's not a wool hat, is it? It is? Then you better pull it out, run it down to the dry cleaners, have them do it.)

Now leave it alone. Oh, you can annoy it now & then, slosh it up & down, do whatever you think might help. But nothing really does. Soaking is what gets it clean; dissolves all that Geezer Pilot Sweat outta the fabric. Sodium carbonate is the secret of success when it comes to greasy geezer sweat.

Warm weather, say seventy or so, I give it about three days. Longer if its cold. Slosh it once or twice.

Got raccoons around your place? Skunks? ‘Possums? Grand kids? Then you gotta cover the bucket, put it somewhere they can't get to it. Otherwise, you'll see your favorite ball cap drug over by the fence, or up in the crotch of a pepper tree. (Life is hard in southern California.)

You got lotsa water? You're going to need at least five gallons to rinse it good. Gallon at a time, with lots of sloshing. No, you don't wring it out; it's a HAT not a diaper. Just slosh it. Take your time (but make sure your hands are clean). Keep sloshing and changing the water until it comes out clear. The water, not the hat.

Dump the water on your flowers. Or onto the compost pile. No phosphates in washing soda. (Which should give you the hint about metal prep.)

To dry your hat you need to block it; to let it sit atop something that will support its shape. I use an old Prince Albert can, painted so it can't rust. Doesn't have to be a perfect match to your head, just something to keep the paneled portion of the hat from collapsing. Now go do something else.

I slosh my hats when I think about it, block them up on a shelf on the shady side of the shop. Takes a couple of days for one to dry.

Clean hat. Now you can go fly. And eat a DC-3.

You know AVX? Prolly not. I've known guys oldern me, spend their whole life buzzing around southern California, never been out to AVX. Which I think is good, especially during the summer when they have the BBQ's up there at Buffalo Bob's (reservations required). It's kinda like those unofficial fly-in's we have now & then, down at Aqua Caliente or the USAAF Training Field, Cibola, California, which ain't on the maps, although AVX is.

DC-3's a hamburger, by the way. No, not the Buffalo Burger, just the plain old fashioned Santa Catalina airport hundred dollar hamburger but with some avocado thrown in. (Ask for extra onion. You'll be glad you did.)

Hint: If you've never been to Catalina, don't go there alone. Find someone who has been there, get them to ride the right seat. If you absolutely, positively gotta go there and never have, land long and stop short, if you can. Otherwise, stay home. Yes, there's a fee; no, there's no fuel or services.

-R.S.Hoover

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