If I could “do over” 25 seconds of my life or erase them from my memory, those 25 seconds would vaporize last winter’s discovery of several issues of the German World War II propaganda magazine MISSING from AeroKnow Museum’s Magazine Room.
The revelation his me like a sledge hammer delivered with maximum malice and power to my solar plexus. The dismay over someone entering the unlocked door and leaving with the priceless magazines sent to me by a long-forgotten correspondent in Belgium was worse than any woe I have experienced since setting up the museum out here in 2010. It was my fault. I hadn’t paid attention to locking the doors upstairs. During my hours and hours away from the airport who had seen the magazines and where I had put them after showing them to the visitor, could have walked upstairs un-noticed by anyone in the lobby, placed them inside an overcoat and exited in less than five minutes. The worst part about the disappearance was that I KNEW I had to KNOW the THIEF. I had my suspicions, my “suspects,” and I informed the airport security people — Tim Franke and his terrific team — about the loss. It’s been months since the incident happened, but the disappearance has never been a distant memory.
I am exceedingly relieved today to report that I now know the name of the person who made those Der Adlers disappear. His name is Job Conger.
Yesterday, June 28, I was giving my friend had AKM supporter John Holland a complete tour of the upstairs rooms. Earlier in the visit he had brought some books, including a 1954 US Air Force Flight Surgeon’s Manual and seen other parts of the museum, including the Books and Miscellaneous Files Room, pictured below — the same room which, for several years, had been headquarters of of the fabulous Springfield Air Rendezvous air show. He’s holding an issue of Springfield Skyways a newsletter I wrote and produced more than 10 years ago.
Our last stop on that tour was the Magazine Room. One of the niftiest parts of that assemblage was a modest collection of LIFE magazines, big extra-large magazines that could be used to cover and hide a boxed pizza, should such a need ever arise, unlikely though it would be. As I separated some of the LIFES, showing John the covers (F-80 pilot in 1946, Yuri Gagarin with Nikita Kruschev, Winston Churchill) I discovered the missing Der Adler magazines! Last winter, in a flash of ill-considered “wisdom” I had placed them under the slightly larger magazines to protect them from excessive exposure to light and to keep them away from the eyes of more casual visitors. My action of probably 25 seconds of consideration and action was totally, almost instantly, forgotten. Hence my dismay that came after.
John graciously posed for a picture holding one of the issues. I did not tell him how downright elated I was to have discovered those publications because I would have revealed a museum director (me) to be more bleeping excited than the occasion warranted.
So the Der Adlers are officially back where they need to be, behind a locked door. I will be arranging to photograph every page of each of them so I can share content with visitors and supporters more securely in the future.
I never accused by name, any of those who had seen the them of stealing them. So no apologies seem appropriate here. I appreciate the sympathies and support shared with me when the agony of their apparent theft was deeply felt.
I’ll be more careful — and cognizant of what the heck I’m doing — in the future, that’s for sure.
Thanks for reading this post.