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AIR MAIL 
TRAIL MEMORIAL

A string of lights marking airmail emergency landing fields across the old transcontinental route ---  this is Alice Marks' dream of a memorial for the Air Mail Service.

The lights, which would flash on at 6:30 p.m. and remain on until 7:30 p.m., would commemorate the hour when the nation's night mail took off into the gathering dusk.

Alice is the daughter of Paul V. Eakle who was emergency field caretaker at McGirr Waterman field north of Chicago. Alice remembers when she was a little girl going out to the field with her dad to light the beacons. To make the air mail trail memorial a reality, Alice must first present a proposal to the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency.

The document will feature her plan to install the lighted memorial at five Illinois emergency airmail field sites. In her efforts to be accurate, Alice researched each field through the National Archives, establishing documentation and verifying locations. Alice would like to see some of the original beacons used to mark the memorial sites, but fears that most of them have been lost or cut up and junked.

"It would be nice to have revolving beacons," she says, "but other lights will do fine."

After Illinois accepts her proposal, Alice hopes other states will follow suit. "A string of lights across the transcontinental, it's a living memorial, right in the spirit of the Air Mail," she says.

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copyright 1999 Nancy Allison Wright, President Air Mail Pioneers


 
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