greene countrie towne.jpg (14135 bytes)I 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 person: Click photo to enlarge.
  • I traveled during my summer vacations until retirement. Then I was able to travel year round.
  • I visited 128 countries & islands around the world.
  • I was the first to fly around the world by commercial airlines.
  • I traveled 1,000,000 miles by commercial airlines.
  • I circumnavigated the earth five different times.
  • I crossed the Atlantic Ocean 32 times & the Pacific 15 times.
  • I 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 Artic Ice.
  • I attended the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the 1948 Games in London, the 1952 Games in Helsinki and the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia.
  • I 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:
I have an uneasy feeling that I ought to be experiencing one of those "thrills which come once in a lifetime." Here I am flying or sailing or soaring or whatever the term may be above the clouds, over one of the world's 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 pitch. 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 please. 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 cigarette. 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 voyage. 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.