suppose most people in Greenfield today don't remember
F.R. Harris. Mr. Harris, the first Superintendent
Emeritus of Greenfield Schools, died at the age of 85
on April 1, 1965. He had long retired from education
when I was a student here but I do remember seeing him
on the streets of downtown Greenfield, in the barber
shop, and for a brief time, I delivered the Greenfield
Times to his home. I have read his two books about the
history of our community and knew of his reputation as
a world traveler. Until recently, however, I was not
aware of the extent of his travels. As part of the Historical
Society's recent Ghost Walk, a gentleman
from the Columbus area, Mel Haines, portrayed
Harris and presented a synopsis of his life and
accomplishments. Harris never married and spent as
much of his time traveling as was possible. Here are
some of the impressive statistics Mr. Haines assembled
concerning Professor Harris and presented in the first
photo to enlarge.
traveled during my summer vacations until
retirement. Then I was able to travel year round.
visited 128 countries & islands around the
was the first to fly around the world by
traveled 1,000,000 miles by commercial airlines.
circumnavigated the earth five different times.
crossed the Atlantic Ocean 32 times & the
Pacific 15 times.
flew over the North Pole in 1958 at the same time
the USS Nautilus, the first atomic powered
submarine, was crossing the North Pole under the
attended the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the
1948 Games in London, the 1952 Games in Helsinki
and the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia.
made a round trip to Germany in 1936 on the
dirigible, Hindenburg, before it exploded and was
destroyed at Lakehurst, NJ, in 1937. I would like to share the words I wrote on the Hindenburg, Somewhere
Over the Atlantic, July 15, 1936:
have an uneasy feeling that I ought to be experiencing
one of those "thrills which come once in a
Here I am flying or sailing or soaring or
whatever the term may be above the clouds, over one of
greatest oceans on a graceful, streamlined tube with
dorsal fins and tapering tail at the rate of 82 mph.
At the end of 4.5 days we will be tethered to
the mooring mast at Frankfurt, Germany, having
traveled 4,400 miles
through the air without a stop!
I ought to be pinching myself every minute to
see if I am really awake. And yet I am, apparently
experiencing no particular thrill.
A trip across the Atlantic in a great airliner
that would stagger the imagination of a Jules Verne
seems perfectly normal and natural and matter of fact.
People talk about the weather, write letters,
play games, play the piano, dance and yawn just as
though they had been doing these things in just this
way all their lives. Perhaps we are just a trifle too
comfortable to experience any thrills.
There is no jar, no vibration, no roll, no
There are no traffic jams, no blockades to
impede our progress.
We move about freely in beautiful surroundings,
perfectly appointed rooms decorated in modernistic
fashion in soft greens, grays, silver and browns
adorned with a profusion of flowers.
Attentive stewards serve three meals and three
snacks a day.
People have only one thing to complain about.
They can't smoke anywhere and everywhere they
Every passenger, as he came on board the
Hindenburg, had to deposit his matches in a
wastebasket. But if one must smoke, a special
compartment is provided, specially constructed and
apart from the rest of the ship.
When the passenger enters this room, the door
locks automatically behind him.
When he leaves a steward who stands guard at
the door like a dragon carefully scrutinizing him to
see that he is not carrying out with him a lighted
This steward seems to be the only person on
board the Hindenburg who is scared.
Perhaps he has a wife and kiddies back in
Germany and he knows that a spark wafted upward into
those hydrogen gas bags, hanging like bunches of gray
grapes from the top of the ship, would quickly end the
A flash, a puff and a great mass of twisted
spars would go hurtling down into Davy Jones' Locker.
Perhaps we are just too benumbed by the experience to
feel any thrill.
Perhaps after all we are just slumbering and
will wake up presently to find that all this is just
"the stuff that dreams are made of."
I wish that I could describe to you the
Hindenburg, the impression of immensity that it leaves
upon the passenger.
Imagine a 62-story skyscraper floating on its
side through space.
I wish that I could give you some adequate idea
of the vast power stored up in its motors.
Imagine, if you can, 3,300 horses prancing down
the street, the procession three abreast extending
more than three miles! I wish that I could convey to
you the impression of vast immensities that the
interior of the ship creates, as you look up into the
intricate, web-like framework of spars and girders and
wires drawn taut.
Imagine all the tents of the "greatest
show on earth" stretched over a framework of
silver filigree! If your imagination is not equal to
such flights, just wait until I return home.
I will try to lay in a stock of new adjectives;
the old ones are totally inadequate to describe this
marvelous creation of man's ingenuity and skills.