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83-year-old vet gets another turn in the cockpit
Ed Nivens of Gainesville sits in the co-pilot seat of the "Liberty Belle," a restored B-17 bomber, as it flies from Canton to Savannah last week. - photo by For The Times

Charlie Company's call of duty

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Ed Nivens spent a few years in the cockpit of a variety of military aircraft during his time in the U.S. Air Force from the late 1940s to 1959. He flew 17 different planes, from bombers to fighter jets.

Last week, Nivens, now 83, was invited to go along when a restored B-17 was being flown from the airport at Canton to Savannah. More exciting was the news that Ed was invited to take the right seat and serve as co-pilot for the flight.

According to his son, Ed never gave up his love for flying and continued as a private pilot in his post service years.

The B-17 is a heck of a plane. Known as the "Flying Fortress," it was primarily used in attacks on German industrial, civilian and military targets.

This plane, the "Liberty Belle," has been meticulously restored to factory condition and is a real showpiece.

Congratulations, Ed, on a safe and enjoyable flight. And keep those wings dusted off; you never know when you might be called into service.

The last fundraiser

I don’t know how many fundraising activities we participate in while our children work their way through elementary, middle and high school. I’ve sold oranges, candy and assorted other stuff along the way.

My little girl is not so little anymore. She has already been accepted to a couple of colleges, and in a few months she will graduate from high school.

On Saturday, we will participate in what may be our last school fundraiser.

The Johnson High School Key Club will be holding a waffle breakfast at the school cafeteria from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Last year, I was the batter maker. As much as I tried, I had batter all over me. I looked like Aunt Jemima’s husband after a kitchen fight.

If I say so myself, they were really good waffles, and I cordially invite you to come out and join us. Tickets are available at the door.

After this, I figure the next fundraising events will be for the grandchildren (and we hope we have a little time to prepare for that).

This is one move up that I can look forward to. Grandparents usually don’t have to get battered up or anything like that. You just dress up in your matching polo shirts and show up.

The Key Club is the high school version of the Kiwanis Club and the Johnson chapter is sponsored by the South Hall Kiwanis Club. Several of their members usually chip in a little moral support for the Key Club.

I thought about retirement and being a grandparent the other day. Based on my 401(k), the grandkids will be coming to visit me at work. My current estimate is that I’ll be able to afford to retire about two weeks after I die.

The whole notion of my retirement fund is more than I can bear. For Lent, I decided to give up opening my 401(k) statements.

Well, whether you’re working, retired or somewhere in between, you’ve got to eat. We’ll have plenty of waffles, syrup and all the trimmings, so come on as I batter up for the last time.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423, or e-mail