Plane Rides at Bates Farm  
Thursday, August 30, 2001

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30 TELEGRAM & GAZETTE 2001
So I've Heard Column


A recent column about Gilbert Gion's long gone golf course near Dudley's Airport Road led to recollections of gliders and early aviation in the same area.
John Ruda and the late Teddy F. Walkowicz were life-long buddies. Mr. Ruda's family ran a dairy farm on Airport Road and Mr. Walkowicz lived in Webster. "Teddy (built) a glider and I used to get him airborne," Mr. Ruda said during a recent chance meeting. "I'd pull him behind one of the dairy trucks, get him up over the hill (to Airport Road) and he'd go quite a ways."
Both aviation-minded, they were teen-agers at the time. Mr. Ruda became a pilot during World War II and Mr. Walkowicz helped develop the U.S. Army Air Forces's glider corps. He took silent flights behind enemy lines, according to Mr. Ruda. Mr. Walkowicz subsequently served on the USAF Scientific Advisory Board, and was a Special Assistant on Disarmament for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He served on the Laurence S. Rockefeller staff many years and was a director of nine different corporations.
The genesis to Mr. Walkowicz's WW 2 glider contributions may have been formed on the stretch to Dudley's Airport Road, where Mr. Ruda still lives. Development, with homes, utility poles and wires, would probably make a glider run impossible there today.
Then, Victoria Krysinski of New Boston Road, Dudley, took up the aviation theme, mentioning the Bates Farm, directly across from the late Mr. Gion's golf course, and still largely in place.
Mrs. Krysinski, 86, harkens to the early days of aviation, when the air mail service was developed, first through the U.S. Army and then the Post Office Department. A light beacon was installed on the Bates farm at some point, and its fields became an emergency landing site.
There were a few emergency landings, according to 1920s reports, but the Bates field became a mecca for barnstormers--owners of small airplanes--who went around the country providing short passenger rides for a fee. Tours over the area were popular.
This is the background to Mrs. Krysinski's recollections. She lived on Dudley's Warsaw Avenue as a child. "I remember going the Bates field with my cousin on Sunday afternoons after purchasing candy at the Hylka store on lower George Street," she said. "We would walk to the air field and watch the planes take off and land." Candy money was all she could count on. A ride was out of the question.
Her father, John Wojnowski, used to buy standing hay off the Alton farm, she remembered. "All the cutting was done by hand with a scythe," Mrs. Krysinski said. She'd accompany her father and pick blueberries.
Alton's farm was to both sides of Route 197, behind what is now Tri-State Dodge-Toyota, Gentex Optics and Joshua Place, housing for elderly citizens. They're barely visable today, but cuts from the failed Grand Trunk Railroad were in place when the late Mr. Wojnowski bought hay off the Alton property.
"Alton's extended to the Grand Trunk so my father drove through there with a horse and hay wagon," said Mrs. Krysinski. The railroad bed carried close to her family's Warsaw Avenue home. The air mail service and the barnstomers gave the road out to the Webster-Dudley Golf Course and Nichols College its name--Airport Road.
-oOo-
Though an activist for veterans causes through the years he lived in Webster, Ronald Borski was content with service in the ranks. "They had all the leadership they required," he once said.
The opposite is true in parts of Colorado, Mr. Borski discovered some years ago after moving to Carbondale in that state. He stepped into a void, organized activities and was largely responsible for naming a span in Carbondale the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
"It honors all of the veterans of all wars," Mr. Borski said on a visit last week. Dedication ceremonies are scheduled for Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Mr. Borski has invi
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