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Ghosts of Christmas Past: Toward #8



The Centenarian 

Twins run in Howard’s family. His dad Warren had a fraternal twin Dwight who died young. And the boys had older twin sisters, Phyllis and Ella Rose, who were identical. I don’t create twins to perform experiments on them—shades of Dr Mengele—but as an only child myself, they interest me as a more intense version of the siblings I never had. Siblings on steroids of a sort.

Phyllis and Ella Rose entered the ever-expanding Tennant family tree in 2007 when the Larson sisters Merritt and Mallory wanted to play in the sandbox with the rest of us. Their dad is involved with the Fargo Air Museum, and the girls wondered about the history of aviation in Fennimore county and thereabouts. A deft flick of the pencil added the Tabor Twins to the left of Dwight and Warren, and the Larson girls entered a full-blown collaboration with Milt Yergens on the design of an early airport and an entire manufacturing enterprise, including some rather ungainly aircraft fabricated from corrugated grain bin components. Borne of the mind, if not the air.

Phyllis again joined the story line briefly on Election Eve 2008 when Howard couldn’t take the pressure of returns on MSNBC. He and his dog Digger walked over to Aunt Phyllis’s house to pick up some of her renowned green tomato chutney. And all of that morphed into a rumination on the architecture of Agincourt’s Episcopal church building, Saint Joseph-the-Carpenter. Incidentally, until that night I didn’t know Howard even had a dog. As it turned out, he’d had more than one, which began the town’s heritage of four-legged citizens.

Frayed as I am (and more so every day), a loose thread like the Daughters of Flight can’t be left to its own ends. I suddenly realized that Aunt Phyllis was ninety-six on Election Eve; that she can’t have lived forever, but also that she had lived so long. How had she lived? And like so many of the women in my life, she had lived an undeniable, powerful and purposeful life. We should all claim as much.

A hundred years to write! And perhaps as many new threads to weave. New people, new patterns. Cross purposes? Do you suppose the Larson sisters might be willing to shape this chapter? After all, what the hell do I know about aeroplanes?



  1. […] Ghosts of Christmas Past: Toward #8 […]

  2. […] #8 Phyllis Tabor, with Ella Rose, her twin, were pioneer aviatrices (is that the plural of aviatrix?) and also happen to have been Howard’s great-aunts. He had a special relationship with Aunt Phyllis, who shows up in other settings. Twins fascinate me; in fact, there are multiple sets of them in the Agincourt story. And in two of the three cases, death took one of them prematurely. What do you suppose the impact had been on the survivor? Perhaps Howard asked Aunt Phyllis before she died a couple years ago. […]

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