Let’s play 20 Questions – about Lyle Clapper!

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Since surprising me on my 50th birthday, Marie has successfully made me feel like a king every five years – without fail. On my 65th she had everyone at the gathering play a game. Here it is . . . along with my answers:

Celebrity Status

1. Lyle emceed an auction which raised over $150,000 for AIDS Research and Chicago’s Howard Brown Home for AIDS patients. Which singer – who also starred in a popular TV series of the 70’s – was once his co-host? Florence Henderson – and she was as sweet in person as when playing Mrs. Brady.

2. After a stimulating cocktail party conversation, Lyle and an Oscar winner became pen pals. Who is this actor who made his film debut in “The Graduate”? Richard Dreyfuss – although his role in “The Graduate” was uncredited. He expressed interest in doing something fun in aviation. I suggested he learn to fly a helicopter.

3. During a banquet dinner, Lyle spent two hours in a good-natured joust with this famous/infamous celebrity. Topics ranged from who owned a computer first to who climbed a higher mountain to who had the older SCUBA license. Name this competitive maven. Martha Stewart – a woman who surpassed me in almost any arena. But this particular evening she was unlucky – especially when she proudly proclaimed that she had flown an airplane solo.

4. Which tall, dark, and handsome star of movies and television (now deceased) does Lyle call his kissing cousin (actually his great aunt’s nephew)? Roy Fitzgerald, aka Rock Hudson

Musical Moments

5. What part does Lyle sing in the church choir? Tenor, but every time the notes went above the top line I had to admit that I wasn’t a “real tenor.”

6. What instrument did Lyle play in his high school trio, The Bucketeers? The gut-bucket – a metal washtub fitted with a broomstick and a rope to loosely resembled a bass. Rob Hanck and Willie Mims (aka. Jim Wolford) played the “lead” ukeleles.

Up, Up and Away!

7. At what age did Lyle learn to fly? Twenty. In the course “Aviation 101-Private Pilot” at the University of Illinois.

8. Name one model of plane Lyle owned. Any of the following: Piper Arrow, Beechcraft Baron, Mooney Super 21, Beechcraft TurboBaron, Beechcraft Duke, Beechcraft Baron (the same one I sold ten years earlier), Diamond Falcon, Diamond Star.

9. Lyle once formed an aviation business. For the company name, he incorporated the name of the street on which he lived with the service his business offered. What was the name of the company? FlyByKnight, LLC.

Two by Two

10. Lyle attended two universities. Name them. Cornell University and University of Illinois

11. Lyle has lived in two states other than Illinois. Name them. Texas and Pennsylvania. I had to think about this – I didn’t remember where I lived when I was two years old.

12. Lyle had the lead in two musicals. Name them. “Bells are Ringing” and “The Desert Song.” Actually in “Bells” Marie was the lead and I “costarred.”

HINT: In the movie version of Lyle’s first lead role, Dean Martin played the same part. In the second, his role was played on screen first by John Boles (1929), then by Dennis Morgan (1942), and most recently by Gordon MacRae (1953).

His Kind of Town

13. Today’s Park Ridge kids attend Lincoln Middle School at 200 South Lincoln Avenue. What was that building when Lyle was growing up? Just plain old Lincoln School – grades K-8. The other two schools, Roosevelt and Field, were only K-6. Their students went to Lincoln for junior high.

14. Lyle has lived in five Park Ridge houses. Put the streets listed below in the correct order, numbering the house on his birth certificate as #1 and the house you are in tonight as #5.

         North Knight 3

         Ashland 1

         South Knight 4

         Prospect 5

         Norman 2

15. Lyle was in the top ____% when he took the National Merit Scholarship his senior year at Maine Township High School. 10%? Although I don’t really remember, it was enough to get a nice award.

16. Including Lyle’s children, how many generations of his family have lived in Park Ridge? Five

Peak Moments in Time

17. Just before he turned 60, Lyle went on an Outward Bound excursion with a group of publishers. Name the mountain he climbed. Kilimanjaro, the “roof of Africa”

18. Lyle’s family bought its first computer in 1956. Lyle was so fascinated that he read the manual cover to cover. The computer salesmen began to phone “that kid in Park Ridge” when they ran into a question they couldn’t answer. Ultimately, the computer company hired Lyle when he graduated from college. Name that company. Univac, although they actually hired me five years later.

19. On 9/13/2001, while the skies remained closed to almost the entire country, Lyle flew the longest Lifeline Pilots mission on record in order to assist a national organization in great need. Name the organization which greeted him with cheers when he landed in California. The American Red Cross

20. Lyle spent months preparing something for his marriage to Marie. What was it? Her wedding dress. Thanks, Marie, for allowing me this honor and wearing it with pride. I love you still.

Published by GrandpaLyle

I can no longer sit quietly by and not share with the world the blessings that have befallen me in nearly eighty years on this earth. Enjoy.

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