I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Malta resident Ivan Prall recalls Earhart talk
By Barry Schrader.................................November
Earharts appearance at Northern was sponsored by
the Town Girls organization. Advance publicity in the Daily Chronicle
discussed her whims and personal appearance. It stated she
hardly ever wears a hat and as a result her mop of tousled curly
blonde hair is famous. She seldom uses cosmetics and abstains
from smoking, tea and coffee. Her favorite drink is buttermilk.
In connection with the release of the movie Amelia,
there is a renewal of speculation as to what happened to the
famous aviatrix in July 1937, when her plane disappeared in the
mid-Pacific as she was attempting to be the first female pilot
to circle the globe.
Ivan Prall of Malta has a
fond memory of her, as he was lucky enough to attend Amelia Earharts
talk at Northern Illinois State Teachers College now NIU
on April 1, 1936, during a snow storm which kept many
away from the presentation.
Prall explained that
he and a fellow eighth-grader at the one-room Slade School on
South Malta Road were given the privilege by their teacher, Miss
Ruth Barr, who got them tickets (50 cents each) as a graduation
present, since there were only two in the Class of 1936. The
other student was June Capehart (later McNeely).
Amelia Earhart is shown in this famous photo with her
Lockheed Electra plane before her attempt to circle the globe.
(Lockheed Martin archives photo)
Earharts speaking tour, meant to raise money
for her next record-breaking expedition, was made by car and
not plane, since landing fields were not as numerous as her many
stops around the country. She commented that she thought flying
was safer than automobiles and claimed cars shouldnt be
driven over 40 or 45 mph. Later, in answer to a question, she
admitted to sometimes exceeding that speed, however.
talk focused on her solo Pacific flight from Honolulu to San
Francisco. She explained her Philosophy of Worry,
which was her belief that all worrying should be done at
least two months before the flight gets underway.
goal is not worth the danger involved, give up the expedition
before it is started, she was quoted as saying in the Northern
Describing her Pacific flight,
which was flown in a Wasp super-charged plane with nine cylinders
and 550 horsepower engine, Earhart said the aircraft also carried
520 gallons of fuel and emergency supplies, which added up to
a total weight of 8,000 pounds. She kept in touch by radio every
half hour so they could begin a search if she missed just one
After her talk, Earhart
met with a local acquaintance at her hotel. Earharts mother
and Mrs. E.I. Boies of Sycamore were neighbors in Atcheson, Kan.,
at one time. Mrs. Boies brought her son David and friends Mrs.
E.H. Wells and Miss Holly Mabel with her, according to an article
in the Sycamore True Republican.
After an overnight
stay in DeKalb, Earhart headed for her next speaking engagement
in Jacksonville, but along the way was involved in a single-car
accident when a partially inflated tire came loose from the rim,
and her car spun out of control on the highway. She escaped injury,
however, and after repairs were made at a garage in LaSalle,
she kept her next appointment.
Prall not only
attended the talk at the Altgeld Hall auditorium but got to ask
her a question at the conclusion. He wanted to know, when flying
in an open cockpit, did she ever get a bug in the eye. She answered
that, in fact, she did and, on one occasion, had to make an emergency
landing in a farm field to use an eye cup to clean her eye. She
added that it must have been a strange sight for the farmer who
came out to find out what a plane was doing in his field.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
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PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115