Local author tells of plane crash and other survivals

For many years Pat Craig has wanted to write her story about her dad, Jerry Dever and his adventures as a float plane pilot in northern Ontario, Canada where he had a summer cottage. On the return of a fishing trip, they crashed into the lake.  Trapped and drowning, they were not only fearful of losing their lives, but also the life of their unborn son.  She tells of how her father, through his presence of mind, strength and determination, saved their lives.  The book tells of his many adventures and miraculous survivals. The title of the book is, “The Gowganda Pilot and me – our survivals.”

Some reviews: “A powerful manuscript and vivid detailing.”  “A good book for a spell binding movie.”  Senior editor of Xulon Press, Dr. Keefauver said, “A sensitive and well written legacy and tribute book.” A publisher reviewer, “There are magnificent transitions, ones that make a reader helpless to not keep turning the pages.”

The book also tells of memories during World War II: standing in line for gas rations; the black-outs; of an uncle who was a Seabee; her grandparents who had five stars in their window representing all their boys who were in the war effort; the parade down Main Street at the end of the war.

Before moving to the Denver area, Pat and her husband lived in Akron, Ohio and as an Image Consultant she taught The Professional Image at several Universities and conducted seminars for corporations.  As in interior decorator she had her own decorating business, P.C. Interiors for twenty years after being with Ethan Allan for five years.  She volunteered with the Friends of Children’s Hospital and was on the Women’s Auxiliary Board of the Summit County Children’s Services. In 2012 they moved to the Denver area to be with their son, Dave Craig, and his family.  Dave is in marketing and public relations for the Apex Recreational Centers in Arvada and his wife Angie, is a teacher at the Lincoln Academy.

Author and friend, Edna Ogle, encouraged Pat to attend the Creative Writing Classes at the Apex PRD Community Center and pursue finishing her book that she had started many years before.  Pat followed Edna’s suggestion wanting her story to be recorded and remembered.

After searching boxes and albums for old pictures, she found ones that tell a visual story:  the plane after plunging into the lake; after being brought out of the lake; a striking photo of her dad and plane which was used for the cover. There are pictures of the Goodyear Airdock where zeppelins were built.  The Airdock is next to where Goodyear Aircraft was during WWII where her dad was a foreman during the war.  The book tells of interesting history of the role Goodyear Aircraft played in the war and after.

A book signing is scheduled for October 13th 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the Arvada Standley Lake Library 8485 Kipling St. Books will be personally signed by Pat.  Books may also be purchased from her by going to wentwest2012@gmail.com or her website:
www.thegowgandapilot.com  Pat is a key-note speaker and her entertaining presentations are available by contacting her by email.

An excerpt from the book:

She was gone!  I could tell because the wind was whistling through the cracks around the cardboard thin door.  If she were inside then she would have stuffed rags into the door cracks to keep the howling snow outside.  She always stuffed rags!  I could feel the dark cold, trying to get inside our tiny four room house.  Where was she?
Thunk!  Thunk!  Thunk!  The steady, dulled sound outside seemed to be fighting against the screaming, angry wind.  The storm was steady, insistent and it frightened me.  With every new gust the doorcracks whistled, jerking me out of my slumber, reminding me that she was gone.  The dying firelight flickered valiantly as it peeked though the grate of our wood burning stove.  It reminded me I was safe, warm and cozy, but yet, I felt uneasy, guilty somehow.  Something was wrong.  It was like I was supposed to do something.  She was outside in a raging blizzard, chopping wood and I was secure under layers of blankets, just waiting and trying to be certain that she would return.
It would be several years before we had the luxury of a gas stove and chopping wood would become unnecessary.  But for now, in order to survive being devoured by the white monster storm, someone had to be big and brave and strong enough to get out there and chop.  At fours years old, it sure wasn’t me or my five year old brother or three year old sister.  Nope, it had to be her, she was the one who understood the danger of the situation and besides she was the only one big and brave and strong enough to swing that heavy old axe.
The door finally swung open allowing a slice of icy wind to enter.  A split second later, Mama, arms hugging the wood, kicked shut the door, dropped the life-saving wood and quickly, expertly, crammed the rags back into their cracks.  Whew!  She was back.  Reaching four foot, ten inches, she was more than twice my size.  Her ninety-eight pounds outweighed my two siblings and I combined.  She was the biggest person in our lives.  There she stood frosted with snow and ice.  Her usually jet-black hair and eyebrows, poking out from under her blue bandana were icy white.  The hard won load of freshly chopped wood would be enough to feed the hungry stove for a few hours.  Then she’d simply go and chop some more. There were three children and we would stay warm.
“Mama!?”  I whimpered, relieved to have her back again.  “Shhhh, go back to sleep and stay covered.  It’s going to get colder by morning.”  She sternly whispered as she stiffly, patiently nursed the fire back to health.  With the rags in the doorcracks, the firestove well-fed and Mama back, all my fears and childlike troubles vanished.  Even the cruel enemy storm would help lull me back to sleep.
Twenty five years later I questioned her about that first memory.  I was curious.  I had to know what it was like for her, what she felt and thought and how she kept going.  She had three small children to care for and no one to help her.  Not only was there no running water, there also wasn’t a faucet, a toilet, or even a telephone.  There wasn’t much of anything that many folks consider important when raising a family.
“Mom, what was it like being alone and always having to work so hard just to survive?”  I asked, hoping she would give substance to my vague memories.
“How could I ever be alone with three kids?  Besides I always had my Faith.”  She replied, matter of factly, with just a shade of humor.
“I mean weren’t you scared?  So far from everything and not even having a telephone?”  I needed to know.
“There were times I was worried there wouldn’t be food or that we’d run out of wood or other things.  I prayed alot and worked and always had God.”  Her simple answer carried just a hint of vulnerability.  “Sure it was hard,”  She continued, “and I had lonely times but I had three of you and I just couldn’t quit.  When it got too hard for me I just prayed more.  That’s how I made it.  Without God I don’t know what would have happened.”  She was easing into her most potent Mama role.  Her most common, always gently insistent role. Talking about how it really wasn’t her so much as Him.  She wasn’t gonna take credit.  She certainly never has and never will.  I love my Mama, so much!
She’s sixty-nine now, still busy as usual, although at a slower pace.  She gets her exercise in aerobics class, yard work and keeping her suburban home clean rather than chopping wood.  Volunteering at a senior citizen’s nursing home and caring for her twelve grandchildren she’s vital, growing and still seeking.
Someday she’ll really be gone.  What a sad day that’s gonna be with all the sadness and crying and that heavy, black funeral stuff.  That’s only normal, I suppose.  But there’s gotta be some joy, too!  I mean, we all know how to chop our own wood and we certainly have her legacy of dedication and Faith. Yeh, we’ll be alright.  It’s that darned, windy cold, sneaking in the house.  That’s what I wonder about.  I oughta ask her to help me stuff a few rags in my doorcracks before He calls her home.  It’s certainly gonna be a little colder when she’s gone.

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