The Early Years of Amelia Earhart
By: Mary Zuleger
It was July 24, 1897 when Amelia Earhart was born. She was born in the town of Atchison, Kansas. Three years later her sister Grace Muriel was born, but everyone called her Muriel. They were raised in Kansas City but made many trips back to Atchison were their grandparents had lived.
Amelias family moved often, once to Iowa, and then back to Kansas and then to Chicago. In Chicago, Amelia graduated from high school in 1916 and enrolled in the Ogontz School in Rydal, PA. Her sister went to Toronto, Canada.
It was the Christmas of 1917 that Amelia went to visit her sister.
"Amelia, why dont you come spend Christmas with me."
Amelia was glad to see her sister but she was saddened at seeing all the wounded men in the hospitals. The United States had just entered World War I but Canada had been in the war since 1914.
"Muriel, I cant stand to see all these poor young soldiers in these hospitals. I just have to do something to help them!"
That is just what Amelia did. She decided to forget her studies and volunteer for the Red Cross. She helped out in a military hospital in Ontario and it was there that she had heard many stories from the men and their adventures in the other countries.
Amelia was fascinated most with the stories of the Royal Flying Corps, the pilots of the war.
"Sir, please tell me more of the Royal Flying Corps."
She always went to talk to Roger J. Anderson, she loved hearing of his adventures of flying and the excitement of the war, and he liked telling her as well.
" I remember the time when me and John went up for the first time. The thrill of it was more than words can explain. To know you are helping your country out and doing what you love is amazing. But, it isnt something you should think about doing, Miss Amelia! Flying is something I love, but it is dangerous, I have seen a lot of men shot down and killed or injured during this war. Its a miracle Im still here. Miss Amelia, I would be careful if I were you! A woman pilot is just ridiculous!"
Amelia always listened intently to Mr. Andersons words, but she was still intrigued with the thought of flying, even if Mr. Anderson didnt think it was a good idea for her.
Later that year she got sick herself with pneumonia, she spent the next year with her sister, who moved to Massachusetts. Muriel was studying at Smith College, and Amelia had no clear direction of where to go, and this bothered her.
"Muriel, Ive been here with you for almost a year now trying to beat this pneumonia. Ive had a lot of time to think, you know and I just dont know what I should do with my life. I enjoy poetry, and the banjo, hiking and mechanics, but what can I do with my life?"
"Amelia, I think you should go back to school, take some classes and see what happens. Maybe you could take some courses in medicine, after all you did work in the military hospital for quite sometime, and if I remember correctly you enjoyed that immensely!"
Amelia decided to take her sisters advice and she enrolled at Columbia University and took a course in medicine as well as French poetry.
A year later she thought it was time to go out to California to visit her parents. While there her father had introduced her to pilot Frank Hawks. Amelia remembered all the stories that her friend Mr. Anderson had told her about the Royal Flying Corps back in Ontario. She remembered being thrilled about all of his stories so she was very excited to meet this pilot.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Hawks. Im so honored to meet you!"
"Please, call me Frank. Your father tells me that you are interested in flying. Would you like to take a ride with me?"
"Oh, that would be wonderful! Thank you so much!"
It was this flight that changed Amelia Earharts life. She never went back to college. She knew just what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to fly!
This story was based on facts from the book, Lifetimes: Amelia Earhart. However, the story itself is of my own creation. It is for upper elementary grades.
Props: Pictures of Amelia Earhart, Red Cross nurses hat or other wear, pictures of war planes and other planes which Amelia Earhart flown.