My mom and I love history, and there is one particular historical figure that I am enamored by, Amelia Earhart. Earhart’s story has always intrigued me because she was a women ahead of her time. She chased her dreams when all of the odds were against her. Earhart wrote, “All I wished to do in the world was to be a vagabond in the air”.
I just finished reading a short book entitled “Amelia Lost – The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart” by Candace Fleming. This was a well-written, well-researched, and interesting read. She alternated her chapters between the day that she vanished and her life leading up to her disappearance. I read the book in just a few short hours because I could not put it down.
At the beginning of the book, the author shares something very telling about Earhart’s story. As the author was researching Earhart’s life, she encountered stories and antidotes that turned out to be false. The author says, “But it was also enlightening, a reminder that it is often difficult to find the history in the hype, to separate truth from myth”. She goes on to say that “And as I learned, much of Amelia’s story is myth”. Why is that? Earhart said, “I must continue to be a heroine in the public eye…otherwise flying opportunities will stop rolling in”. She and her husband George Putnam mythologized her life. I learned that Earhart’s iconic curly hair was not natural, but she curled it every day. Earhart left quite a bit of myth and legend behind for others to sift through.
I want to share a paragraph quote from the book because it is intriguing depiction of who Earhart actually was:
“Amelia Earhart was so much more than a pilot. She was a savvy businesswoman (and cutthroat competitor when necessary); a popular lecturer; a fashion icon; the author of three books and countless magazine articles; a contributing editor at Cosmopolitan magazine and a correspondent for the New York Herald-Tribune; and a women’s career consultant at Purdue University. But most important, she symbolized the new opportunities awaiting women in the twentieth century. Remarked Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘She helped the cause of women by giving them a feeling that there was nothing they could not do'”.
This was such an excellent way to start this book in my opinion.
I learned quite a bit in the pages of these books. I enjoyed seeing the old photos from various parts of her story. The day she vanished is definitely another aspect of her life that intrigues me, as well as the rest of the world. The author mentioned that Earhart made a grave error when she didn’t take flight radio training seriously before her flight around the world and perhaps lacked some key equipment in her airplane as well. Perhaps that could have saved her life, but we will never know. It is so tragic that she believed to have perished when she was so close to completing this flight. We may never know what happened to her and her navigator Noonan, but her legacy will live on.
Earhart never had a funeral or real occasion acknowledging her death since she had not been found. After time had passed, her husband had to declare her legally dead despite not being found. Only a small paragraph on the back pages of newspapers were dedicated to her death.
Earhart’s husband carried on her legacy. The biography he wrote about his wife, including childhood stories, “became the basis of all future biographers’ work”. He didn’t want her legacy overshadowed by her mysterious disappearance and all the rumors that followed.
What was Earhart’s legacy? “Wrote biographer Mary S. Lovell, “[It] is the legend of an ordinary girl growing into an extraordinary woman who dared to attempt seemingly unattainable goals in a man’s world.”
Earhart was fearless, daring, bold, courageous, determined and an inspiration.
Earhart left a letter behind in case she didn’t survive her around the world flight, which said,
“Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
Earhart’s friend, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I am sure Amelia’s last words were ‘I have no regrets'”.
If it isn’t obvious from my other blog posts, I love the theater and specifically love musicals. Earhart is an inspiration for me. I was discouraged to pursue a career in theater because it wouldn’t pay the bills and it was just a silly hobby, but I did it anyway. I am SO HAPPY I did. I enjoyed about 17 wonderful years working in the theater before my chronic illness abruptly took me in another direction. I have no regrets. Even being stuck at home on disability, I can have a smile on my face because I lived out one of my most treasured dreams.
A dear friend, teacher, mentor and director of mine wrote a musical on Amelia Earhart’s life. I stage managed one production of it when I was in high school and even sneaked onstage to sing. During the run of that production, I received the first stage management/technician plaque for our high school theater department for four years of dedication. Usually this award is given out to actors. I even faced my stage fright – crazy I know. Then, this same production was performed at my community college a few years later – I lived in a small town. I was asked to stage manage this production as well, but I turned it down because I was pressured to stop messing around in theater and focus on my classes for a more suitable career. Well, I ended up attending almost every performance, and they eventually stopped charging me for a ticket. I found myself so emotional and in tears during each performance.
Earhart and her fearlessness will continue to inspire me. I don’t know what’s next in life for me, but its bound to be a great adventure.
“You are never too old to dream a new dream, to set another goal.” -C.S. Lewis
-The Dramatic Ginger
All credit goes to author Candace Fleming for facts provided in my blog.