I never really got into baseball cards when I was a boy but I treasured my airplane cards. My favorite card had a picture of the sleek, F101 Voodoo. When we drove up to the Museum of the Air Force yesterday at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, I thought for a minute that the plane out front was my boyhood favorite. But on closer inspection it turned out to be the F104 Starfighter. These were the planes that flew out of George AFB in California when my father was stationed there in the 1960s.

They were also flown by the German Air Force at about the same time. The plane had some mechanical issues and quite a few of them crashed into the German countryside. This unfortunate state of affairs engendered a joke that a German friend told my father: QUESTION: How do you get an F104? ANSWER: You buy an acre of land in Germany!

But hey, how about the museum? I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum on the Capitol Mall in D.C. and this one is better. It’s got a lot more planes and no where near the crowds. There are three enormous hangars full of planes. You have no idea how big a B-52 is until you walk under one. Our advice is to arrive early because there’s a lot to see. We didn’t get there until 3 PM. They chased us out at 5 PM and we had to run through the hangars just to see half the planes.

From Dayton, we turned northeast to swing by Zanesvillle, Ohio. I delved briefly into genealogy some years back and I vaguely remember that Muskingum County (which contains Zanesville) was home to some of my ancestors. I thought it was the McLees family. Cousin Dona thinks it was the Shull family. Whichever it was, since we’re so close, we thought we’d check it out.

I didn’t bring my genealogy research with me so I didn’t have any specific information to check out. I figured we’d just drive through to get the feel of what those McLees or Shulls saw day to day.

We approached Zanesville on Highway 22 from the west. Western Muskingum County is characterized by tidy farms houses surrounded by large, carefully mowed lawns, dense fields of corn, and shiny tractors that look freshly waxed. The lay of the land looks like it was designed by a master landscaper: rolling hills, clear streams, clean ponds, thick woods.

From Zanesville we headed south on Highway 60. Southern Muskingumers seem to be a different breed from their western cousins – much less exacting about their homes and yards to be sure: peeling paint and gutters askew on the houses, abandoned and rusted vehicles half hidden in knee-high weeds, children’s toys scattered across the front lawn.

Since I didn’t have more specific information than “somewhere in Muskingum County” to go on, my ancestry could go either way: fastidious or hillbilly. I’m betting I’m a westerner; Mary’s thinking hillbilly.