Mother Audrey and son Billy Shay confer on just the right way to get their eagle kite airborne in the high winds over the holidays. (Sun Photo by TV Hagenah)
When a dozen or more people gather for the holidays, often the host or hostess of the get-together can be hard pressed on a number of different fronts.
Two of which are; what to give everyone so no one is left out and what to do on those down days when people seem to be sitting around the livingroom or den staring blankly at the television or out the windows.
For Frances Shay, the answer to both came with a single idea: Kites.
Shay, a long-time Tucumcari resident, said she knew that over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, her home would be the site of a large family gathering and was wondering what to do to keep everyone entertained when the idea hit her.
“It just seemed like the natural thing to do,” said Shay. “I mean, everybody loves to fly kites, don’t they?”
So Shay went to her computer, “got on line,” found a store in Boulder, Colo. that specialized in fun and entertaining types of kites and ordered 12 of the devices.
Shay said the company had every imaginable kite there was and she took a liberal sampling of their wares. She purchased simple kites, somewhat complex ones and very intricate ones. She bought kites that looked like mermaids, a flying eagle, a sailing ship, a target and even a replica of Orville and Wilber Wright’s first airplane.
“It commemorated their first flight,” said Frances’ son, Bill Shay jr.
On one of the the first warm day after Christmas, the entire family headed out to the open pasture land just southwest of their house east of Tucumcari and let their kites go skyward for the first time.
“We didn’t have as much success as we hoped,” said Frances. “At times there was just too much wind. Some of the delicate ones couldn’t handle the strong winds. But we were all out trying to get them up in the air.”
In fact, everyone in the extended family was out in the blustery weather, from a 12-year-old grandson to a 92-year-old great grandmother.
Each stood with kite in hand attempting with the help of running throwing and counterweighting to get the paper and balsa wood inventions into the air .
“It was wonderful.” said Eve Shay, daughter-in-law of Frances visiting from Oklahoma.
Frances’ husband Bill Shay senior commended his wife as to her choice of stocking stuffers for their 2003 Christmas.
“It’s a real nice way to spend Christmas,” said Bill senior.
Frances said that she felt she was very fortunate in finding the kite company that she did because they checked back with her to make sure everything arrived in Tucumcari in the correct number of pieces.
Frances said the company even attempted to help over the phone on the actual assembly of the kites and additionally gave flying instruction for the craft also.
“But you know something?” said Frances about the family’s flying successes . “The best flier in the lot was the cheapest. Isn’t that funny?”