Good Hope Sky Baby

Recently I stayed overnight at my sister’s house. After dinner she pulled a large plastic storage tub from the closet. It contained old photos, guest books, and various other memorabilia from our parents after their deaths more than 10 years ago. She wanted help deciding what to keep. We sorted most of the contents that evening. The next morning I looked at the rest and found two thick scrapbooks Mom had kept. The books had newspaper clippings from the 1960s to the late 1990s covering a wide range of topics. They were interesting and brought back many memories. This clipping from 1986 caught my attention.

Good Hope is a small town in west-central Illinois. My parents moved from their farm home to Good Hope about 1980 as Dad neared retirement from farming.

On 13 Aug 1986, Republic Airlines Flight 586 was headed from Phoenix to Detroit. Passenger Tammy Martin, 20, of Mt. Clemmens, MI was going home to join her husband Thomas. She was 7 months pregnant. During the flight, Tammy noticed her baby was about to arrive two months prematurely. A call went out on the plane for a doctor or nurse. An obstetrician-gynecologist, a nurse and a paramedic were on board. Tammy was taken to the back of the plane where she was placed on the floor to be more comfortable.

Cheers went up from the passengers when they heard cries of the baby. Her medical team ″used dental floss to tie the umbilical cord and cut it with a butter knife. She had excellent attention.″ The pilot informed the passengers and new mother that the baby was born while in the sky over Good Hope. “I was embarrassed” said Tammy.

Since it was premature and in an airplane cabin at reduced pressure, the baby suffered from respiratory distress. The flight was diverted to Chicago where the baby was taken to Resurrection Hospital. Husband Thomas drove all night from Detroit to be with them. This photo from the Cumberland News in Maryland indicated it was a nationwide story for a time.

Sky births are rare. But they do occur. This one was pinpointed over the town of Good Hope. The baby was given the name James Good Hope Sky Martin.

In searching for James in other more recent sources, one from nearby Western Illinois University noted James was to be Grand Marshall of the 28th Good Hope Sodbuster Days parade in 2002.

I also found an entry in the Gardner News in Kansas. It listed the marriage of James Good Hope Sky Martin to Angela Renae Besta in 2013. Apparently, James uses his full name for legal purposes.


AP story by Nicholas Geranios

UPI archive story.

Gardner News of northeast Kansas for notice of marriages and divorces.

The Cumberland News of Cumberland Maryland.

The Western Courier of Western Illinois University.


Hummingbirds At The Feeder

Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are marvelous tiny creatures. They arrive in the eastern half of the U.S. in the spring from over-wintering in Central America. We keep track of their progress toward eastern Iowa with Hummingbird Central. Users input the date of first sightings in the spring. Some hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of miles. Wings flap an average of 53/sec. They flap up to 3 million times during the long flight.

They will be departing our area by late September. We will miss them. Here are an adult male and an adult female borrowed from the All About Birds Macaulay Library.

Adult Male|©Ian Davies|All About Birds|Macaulay Lib

Adult Female|©Cathy Pondelicek|All About Birds|Macaulay Lib

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Barred Owl Visit

Any day with an owl visit feels like a lucky day.

Last evening as Jim and I ate dinner on our deck, the sun was dropping in the sky behind the trees. A squirrel broke the peace, screaming a few feet away from us. There are a number of neighborhood cats that roam, so we often hear a squirrel or bird sound the cat alarm. The squirrel was persistent and I looked into the trees to locate it. On a branch 15 feet away and above my head was a grey tail hanging down. That was no squirrel tail — it was an owl!

The tail I saw first, with its beautiful distinct bars.

The angle of the sun and the deck screening made photos tricky, but Jim was patient and got several. Click any photo to open the gallery and see more detail.

Soon the squirrel alerted the robins, who took up the chatter. They scolded and dive-bombed the owl a few times, brushing their claws through the owl’s feathers. The owl remained unperturbed, though at a point it turned its head to face down its harassers.

While Jim watched, the owl stretched a wing out, and then swept the wings up and back while spreading its tail. The setting sun and screening added a lot of sparkle to these photos.

As we fell asleep later, we heard the owl call, reassuring us that it was still in the yard.

Columbia River Gorge

by Jim and Melanie

During one of our days visiting Portland, OR, we drove east along the Columbia River. Over the eons, the river cut a gorge through the land as it coursed to the Pacific from central Oregon. The first scenic part of our drive was on the  Historic Columbia River Highway. We stopped at the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.

Looking east | Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

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Mount St. Helens | 38 Years Later

by Melanie and Jim

Geologists tell us Mt. St. Helens started its eruptive life over 37,000 years ago. It went through quiet periods between four major eruptive periods. The most recent in 1980, the modern eruptive period, was witnessed by residents nearby and by viewers the world over. Details of the eruption can be found at this link, in case you missed it. We traveled south on Interstate 5 toward Portland, OR, and took route 504 toward the visitor center at Johnston Ridge Observatory. To give a sense of scale, it is 5 miles from the Observatory (green marker in the upper right quadrant) to the crater at lower right. Click the picture to see details. 


Enlarge for more detail

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Staircase of the Olympic Mountains

In the late 1800s, Lieutenant Joseph P. O’Neil headed a group that explored possible routes across the Olympic mountains, in northwest Washington state. One route brought the men to the headwaters of Lake Cushman. The plan was to go upriver along the North Fork of the Skokomish River, cross the mountains, and travel downriver along the Quinault River to the Pacific Ocean. It proved very difficult. The terrain was steep and heavily forested. Pack mules had a difficult time walking in the steepest parts. A solution involved cutting small trees across the trail, filling the spaces between logs with mud and debris. The effect created a sort of staircase up the slopes that the mules could use. That area today has the name Staircase and has camping and trails into the surrounding region. We visited and enjoyed a day of hiking.

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Rain Forest | Pacific Coast

by Jim and Melanie

On our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, we ranged from Tacoma, WA at the north end to Portland, OR at the south. We shared a little about the C-17 cargo planes at McChord Air Force Base and about Portland Art Museum’s exhibit on burly antique cars. Between those two, we also enjoyed lower-tech experiences.

The Temperate Rain Forest

From Tacoma WA, we drove along I-5 to Olympia, where we headed west on highways 8 and 12 toward the Pacific coast. Route 101 then took us north. Before we turned west, a sign pointed to the Quinault Rain Forest trailhead nearby. The coastal plain geography meets the Olympic Mountains at that location. The gain in elevation of the moisture-laden air causes large amounts of rainfall in the region, between 10 and 15 feet a year, resulting in a temperate rain forest.

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