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Thomas Paine's close encounter with George Reeves . . .

In "Phoney Alibi," one of Professor Pepperwinkle's unusual inventions nearly sent poor Jimmy and Lois through the telephone wires to a frosty Alaska destination. At the time, it was pure fantasy, but I wonder if writer Peggy Chantler had any idea who much information would be carried over the telephone wires by the 1990s. In my travels on the back roads of the information superhighway I've encountered many fellow travelers who also remember that particular episode. Occasionally, I find someone for whom George Reeves is very special. Such is the case with Thomas Paine of Redmond, Washington. Tom is like so many of us in every way except one -- he was fortunate enough to have met Mr. George Reeves. This is his story.

The year was 1957. My dad was the station manager for West Coast Airlines in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. I was spending an entire Saturday with him, as I often did then. It was a small airport, with three or four commercial flights a day. In those days they used teletype to communicate from station to station. The strip of randomly arranged dots would print out, then my dad would run them through a machine which would print the message on the teletype machine. I recall him telling me that Superman was on the evening flight. This message had been passed on to him from someone up the line. It was a milk run. The plane would stop only to disembark and quickly load passengers and would then fly on to the next destination, Spokane, only a short distance away from where George Reeves was to make a public appearance.

Eventually the green-trimmed silver DC-3 landed and pulled up to the front of the small station. The evening darkness was splattered with the flashing lights of a plane pausing for a few minutes. The rear door opened out and canted toward the ground. The stairs were actually on the inside of the door. The door side propeller was feathered, but the far side continued its throaty, powerful roar. My dad said, "Go ahead, they won't be here long." Somewhat shyly, I exited the small station house toward the door and meekly climbed aboard. The DC-3, when on the ground, rested with the tail down and the nose up. As I boarded, my first recollection was the smell of an aircraft interior -- a kind of electrical sweetness, followed by a long stare up the aisle. There were only a handful of people on the aircraft. I scanned them all from the rear, and then, about three-fourths of the way up the right side, sitting in an aisle seat, I saw the back of the head and shoulders of a man I had seen many afternoons at the Daily Planet.

With heart pounding, I slowly advanced until I was about three seats to the rear of him. Meekly I uttered, "Superman?" He turned... and stood. There, before me, dressed in suit and tie, was Clark Kent. I no longer recall his exact words. I do remember, though, that they were few. He extended his hand and grasped mine firmly. I anticipated a steel grip, and was not disappointed. It was Superman. It was. I stood for a moment entranced. Not saying even one word, I turned and exited quickly.

Shortly after this occurrence, it was reported that George Reeves took his own life. Like so many others, I was saddened. Many years have passed. And with those years, memories of many events fade -- but no matter how many years I may eventually accumulate, I shall always remember the smell, the sound, the sight and feel of the time I met Mr. George Reeves.

 "Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"