The Banner Field

Like messages from an entrepreneurial God, banners unfurled across our sky each summer day at the Jersey shore, proclaiming unportentous facts like BLEEKERS BUFFET - ALL YOU CAN EAT 8.99 or SAFE & FAST - DRIVE THE A.C. EXPRESSWAY, though occasionally a more personal sign appeared; one afternoon I LOVE YOU SWEATHEART blazed in a plane’s wake, leaving us to wonder was this a new endearment or had God made a mistake?

During my final summer in South Jersey I worked for a banner company. Up close the letters weren’t a uniform color but torn and faded like the torn and faded dollar bills that pass through tourist hands all summer. We’d build the days’ orders in the hangar then drive out to a farmer’s field for pick up, which was forbidden at the airport; too dangerous. The industry averaged one crash a year. The pilots were joyous voices on the radio. Not much older than the boys on the ground, they were a higher caste, using their separate language after switching to a frequency we couldn’t catch.

But I was different—a girl—and after a few days the pilots started to notice and offer me plane rides home. From the air our field looked small as a driveway. Beyond the field I could see, in an uncombable tangle of oak and pine and sassafras, the letters ASH—all that remained of JOIN OUR LOBSTER JACUZZI BASH, which had floated into the treetops, remnants of last year's crash.


Dawn Corrigan lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida, and works for the Pensacola Housing Department. Her work has appeared in a number of online journals. During the summer of '89, she worked for Ace Aviation in Atlantic City, NJ.

Categories: Airplanes, Pilots, Death

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