Kite country

STANDING ON the upstairs terraza today at roundabouts 5:30 in the afternoon, I see four kites flying high.

kiteThere are two more — fatalities — dangling in a distant tree on the far side of the railroad tracks. Another one — also deceased — hangs atop the pole where electricity enters the Hacienda.

It’s the same situation every year about this time, but it seems accelerated this year, the kite phenomenon. Do youngsters — or anybody for that matter — fly kites in the United States nowadays? Or does everyone have his face stuck in an iPod? Are kites sold in five-and-dimes? Do five-and-dimes exist? We have a Woolworths in the state capital, but they’ve vanished from the United States, I hear.

I’ve seen lots of kites — both aloft and downed — hereabouts, but not one was store-bought. They are made by kids who tie and glue sticks together, and then they connect a thin plastic sheet, often cut from trash bags. The tails are pieces of trash-bag strips tied together. You gotta have a tail.

I find all this interesting, and for a few years I collected and saved the deceased kites that fell onto the Hacienda or into the yard. But the collection got too large and unwieldy, so I trashed them. The kites of Mexican kids have a high mortality rate because of the string they use. Regular sewing thread, which breaks on a whim.

Last week we were having lunch in the dining room when I looked out the big window and saw a young boy straddling the wall that surrounds our property. He was nervously retrieving a kite that had crashed into the grass. He completed his mission without actually jumping into our yard.

It’s good to see kids with imagination, inventiveness and skill.

* * * *

(Note 1: I found the photo online. It appears to be a Mexican child, but the kite is bigger and a bit better made than those found in my area. It might even be store-bought. Click on it for a closer look.)

(Note 2: The Woolworths link takes you to a photo of the old New Orleans store. I remember it well, and I shopped there now and again in the 1970s.)

19 thoughts on “Kite country”

  1. I do see kids flying kites here in the U.S. Mostly in big parks though.

    When we lived in Puerto Vallarta we used to take our boy down to the beach to fly kites. It was loads of fun!

    All the Woolworth’s that I used to go to here have closed down. 😦

    Buenas noches, Felipe!
    Mike

    Like

  2. I haven’t seen a kid flying a kite in years.

    I don’t think we have a Woolworths or a Five & Dime left in Alabama. They’ve all been replaced by Walmart and Dollar General.

    I won a kite contest as a Cub Scout when I was seven or eight years old. My dad helped me make it — it was plastic over a thin wooden cross (sounds like the Mexican ones you describe) and my dad drew a portrait of Abe Lincoln on it — I have no idea why he chose Lincoln. I won for “largest kite” after I proved that she would indeed achieve flight.

    That’s a nice memory that I had forgotten.
    Thanks for reminding me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray: I’m here to serve. Glad I brought back a good memory.

      As for Woolworths, I Googled it, and there are none in the United States anymore. Walmart gobbled it up. Woolworths, however, marches on in other countries, and Mexico is one of them.

      Like

    1. Señor Mystic: Yes, there are quite a few Woolworths in Mexico. I haven’t set foot in the one in our nearby state capital, however, in so many years that I have lost count. I believe I was unimpressed the last couple of times.

      Like

  3. Funny thing about kites, we had one on our sailboat, then we bought both our kids each their own, we have given them as a wedding present, and the last one we let our grandchild pick out for his birthday when he was six, followed by a picnic at the beach. All our kites have been purchased at Granville Island Market. They can last a lifetime or at the very least the memory can. Cheers, Shelagh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelagh: The last time I flew a kite — one I bought in a store — was about 1997, and I was in my 50s. After it gained good altitude, I released the string, turned around and walked away. God knows where it landed. I was near the 610 Loop in Houston.

      Like

  4. I remember buying those paper thin kites in the ’50s. If I remember correctly, they cost about 25 cents. I was never good at flying kites, even though I was told to go fly them all the time.

    Like

    1. Tancho: You remember the 1950s?! And how do you remember the price of a kite back then? Amazing. The earliest thing I recall, money-wise, was my first newspaper salary in 1969. The editor who hired me said $110 a week, but when I got my first paycheck, it was $115. I did not complain.

      Like

  5. I stayed in a hotel up on Canal at Saratoga, and I walked past what I think used to be the Woolworth building at Canal and Rampart numerous times. It’s being remodeled, probably as an electronic store. It doesn’t look like much. I was in town for a week doing some recording sessions and I had to walk past the MacDonald’s every evening after dark. I used to get pretty uptight passing through that gauntlet.

    .

    Like

    1. Paul: The Woolworths was at Canal and Rampart, the southeast corner. I’d like to walk down Canal again. Haven’t been there since my wife and I drove through about 10 years ago. Probably was the last time I’ll ever see it.

      Like

  6. During my childhood in Maracaibo, Venezuela, the street kids would fly kites. At the end of the tail they would have a razorblade, used to cut the lines of other kids’ kites during flight. A very competitive street game. I would watch from behind the barb wire fence that surrounded our house, wishing I could be out there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter: While I am sure the kids got a kick out of attaching razors to their kite tails, the chances of their cutting the lines of other kids’ kites would be somewhere between zero and nada. But it sounds nifty.

      Like

  7. Kites are sold at our “5&10” store in rural Canada. Also at the Dollar Store. Imports. Not thin paper like they used to be, with thin and flimsy sticks to form the kite. We’d tie torn rags together to make a tail. The Mylar material used these days for the kites take a special skill to balance the tail part with the kite part and I’m not very good at it.

    Like

    1. Carole: I betcha those kites, like most everything else these days, are made in China. But the boys in my barrio don’t use no steenkin’ mylar. They use cut-up trash bags.

      Like

  8. People here in Boston still fly kites on the beach. I haven’t seen them elsewhere, but the beach is a good place for them, usually with a steady wind.

    As for Woolworths, years ago it stopped opening and running its namesake chain in favor of opening Foot Lockers, then closed all the Woolworth stores and renamed itself Foot Locker (after a brief spell of being called “Venator Corp”), a form in which it lives on. As for the Woolworths in Mexico, they are owned by some other company, perhaps Woolworths of Australia?

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are recovering from Halloween.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kim: As often is the case, you are a fount of useful info. I did not know of the Foot Locker connection, and I did not know that Woolworths here is a different company. But in today’s liquid world, none is a surprise.

      Like

      1. Actually, my curiosity was piqued by your post, and I went back and did a little research. As we know, the Mexican Woolworth format is very similar to what operated in the USA until it closed, which made me suspect a US origin. As it turns out, Foot Locker sold the Mexican stores in 1997 to Control Dinamico S.A., which is now now is a subsidiary of Grupo Comercial Control, S.A. de C.V.

        Like

Comments are closed.