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  • Jerome Kocher

#19. Love Field - A Tribute

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

I’m sitting in the Dallas airport at Love Field, halfway between San Diego and Orlando. I have never been here before, but my memories have. I have two distinct images of Love Field, the darker one of John F. Kennedy and the brighter one of Victor F. Kocher, my father.

First, the dark. In a bizarre sense of deja vu, I am sitting opposite a television screen at Gate 12 showing a CNN tribute to JFK. Purely coincidental, because that is not what I meant when I started writing. My memory is the smiling face of Jack and Jackie arriving at Love Field in November of 1963. A few days later Jacqueline is leaving in a bloodstained suit accompanying the coffin of her husband back to Washington, D.C. When asked why she didn’t change clothing, she allegedly replied that she wanted to show them what they did to her husband. What she meant or implied with that statement, we will never know. But they were leaving Love Field for the last time.

What I do know is that as a seventh grader, the schools closed and everyone hid in their houses in stunned shock and disbelief, hoping there was not another shoe to drop. But it did. The alleged suspect was assassinated two days later in Dallas and taken to the same hospital. But JFK was still the focus as a nation watched a three year old John-John step forward to salute his father passing by on a flag draped catafalque with the riderless horses. The nation was leaderless.

But that was fifty-seven years ago. Let’s go back another thirty years earlier to the mid-thirties for a brighter image of hope and determination. A young man in his early 20’s was arriving at Love Field for the first time. Growing up on a farm in southern rural Illinois where most mailboxes had German names, he was the youngest boy of ten siblings and loved watching the barnstormers fly low over the fields. And his hero was not in the World Series, but in the skies - Charles Lindbergh. Ironically, he didn’t want to fly, but rather wanted to learn to be an aircraft mechanic, specifically radio communications. So he unashamedly asked his father for his share of a future inheritance and took a few hundred dollars to Love Field.

Supplemented by his work of sweeping out hangars, he achieved his trade school credential of aircraft radio communications before moving out to Los Angeles to find work and his future. His first application ended in failure as the interviewer told him they would call him back when they wanted to plough up the runways. One day, riding the bus home, he realized what the problem was. They were making fun of him because on his resume he had put down farming as previous work experience before his training at Love Field.

He applied somewhere else and this time put down his experience as manager of a light electrical plant. And he got the job! And yes, on the farm, as the youngest boy of ten siblings, his job was tending to the garden and . . . making sure the electric generator in the barn was working. It was a light, very light electrical plant that nonetheless supplied much needed energy to the farm. And the rest is history.

Before Love Field, my dad had certainly been out of state with family. But in Dallas he was on his own with his infectious smile, hard work and determination to reach the skies, just like Lindbergh, but in his own way.

Sitting today at the Love Field airport I walk the different gate waiting areas looking out the windows hoping to see an older hangar that might be eighty years old, that might have been swept out by my father. Instead, I find him here inside with me, helping to sweep away the cobwebs of memory.

And my gaze returns to the skies above Love Field and I give tribute to that young adventurous young man, my father.

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Feb 28, 2021

Nice tribute to your Dad!

As you've said in a previous post, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. I believe we spend too much time in the present and fail to reflect upon the lessons our ancestors have taught us. Without applying those constructive lessons, we are doomed to fail. Said another way, by philosopher Santayana, "Those who forget history are deemed to repeat it".

Sidenote: Lindbergh spent his last days on the island of Maui and is also buried there.

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