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Smith: World War II vet, 96, takes to the skies again

IT WAS 1942 when Ted Greer of Santa Rosa last strapped himself into the open-air cockpit of a Stearman biplane and roared into the sky.

Seventy-four years melted away like warming clouds Friday as the long-retired Air Force lieutenant colonel beamed from the front seat of a bright yellow Stearman at the Petaluma Municipal Airport.

Once aloft, pilot and biplane owner Bryan Turner of Occidental let the 96-year-old Greer take the controls.

“It was a lot of fun,” the amiable World War II vet and career officer said afterward. “A nice ride, but very bumpy. I was mostly waiting for the next bump, which was very often!”

The flight was an old-time's-sake gift to Greer from Turner and some friends. Greer was 21 when the former U.S. Army Air Corps taught to him fly in a Stearman. Impressed by his skills, his superiors made him a flight instructor.

For most of the war, Greer taught fighter pilots in the AT-6 advanced trainer and the P-40 fighter and ground-attack plane.

Widowed just three months back by the death of Rae, his wife of 69 years, Greer said he always loved to fly and to this day he prays that the quality of the instruction he gave to future WWII combat pilots helped them stay alive.

“I'm hoping,” he said. “I'm hoping.”

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Mike Thompson will fill a mug and find a place to drink it at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Railroad Square's A'Roma Roasters Coffee & Tea.

The Congressman invites anyone who's interested to come between then and about 10:30, say hello and talk freely. He'll be pleased to discuss the services available to constituents at his local offices.

It seems likely that people may want, too, to talk about the violence and racial hostility that has the nation in anguish. The hour at A'Roma will no doubt be over quickly.

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TOO HOT!: I heard from one of the Summer Repertory Theatre patrons who left SRJC's Newman Auditorium before the conclusion of “The Little Dog Laughed,” the potent comedy and love story that features a flash of unclad intimacy.

This one playgoer didn't split early because of the content, but because the hall was just too warm.

“Had AC been turned on,” he wrote in an email, “more people probably would have stayed.”

PUCK 'ER UP: It's quite literally one of the coolest, free, annual events in Sonoma County and it's happening right now, and continuing through Saturday.

It is Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament, one of late “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz's gifts to the planet.

From about 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., we can bundle up, pop into the Schulz family's arena near Coddingtown Mall and watch seriously good hockey played by almost 1,000 athletes aged 40 to 95.

Sparky Schulz was out on the ice with the best of them until shortly before his death in 2000. What a tribute to him that the play goes on.

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THE USUAL APPEAL wouldn't do for the guy seen holding a cardboard sign near an entrance to Coddingtown.

“Need money for a DNA test,” pleaded the curbside mendicant's hand-scrawled placard. “Girlfriend could be sister.”

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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