An old photo of the Zeppelin that Goodyear flew out of Akron,
airship nose poking from massive hangar archway:
When this became the first poem in what became the book, Zeppelin, I thought that I would search out the “old photo”. I assumed I’d recognize it but found that image searches yielded many contenders. Here is one that seemed likely. It is of the USS Akron emerging from its hangar in suitably “antique tones”, the airship enigmatic enough to evoke “surrealism” though perhaps not “steampunk”, there are “tiny foreground figures”. In part because of my uncertainty about finding the photo, I began to wonder about the reference more broadly: had Goodyear ever flown a Zeppelin out of Akron? I was glad to find this post at the wonderful airships.net, which provided the substance of the note on the first poem that is included in the book. Not only had Goodyear and Zeppelin collaborated on Zeppelins built long ago in Akron and then abandoned: they began to work together again a few years ago and as soon as 2014, it might be a Goodyear Zeppelin flying over the Super Bowl in place of aging blimps!
But I thought to poke into this a bit further. I tracked down the original draft of this poem written on November 14th, 2004. A strange convergence: according to my journal, the previous day, Saturday, November 13th, was the day that I finished the manuscript of my first book, Crown and Ribs, in the form in which it was first submitted to potential publishers. That day, I had taken my daughter out for a stroller walk on the Danforth and stopped in at a now defunct used bookstore: “…browse ‘Books R Gold’, see Works in Progress, book of photographs of monuments under construction, including the Akron Zeppelin hangar.” This book written in 1994 by Alvin Rosenbaum can be seen in part online. The online preview doesn’t include any photos of Akron, but is highly recommended for the pictures included of the Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks under construction. The one clue I did find was in the index: Goodyear Audock – a misprint!
The Goodyear Air Dock in Akron turns out to have a long, rich history. It exists to this day and is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. There were even cute souvenirs made of it!
The Toronto Reference Library has a copy of Works in Progress, so I hope in the future to post the actual picture that inspired the poem nine years ago.
A closing aside: airship hangars are everywhere! My wife Roseanne‘s California years were spent close to the Tustin hangars. And in March, as I tweeted the results of online searches for Zeppelin poems and curiosities, I came across Trevor Monk’s site for his airship poems as well as his site devoted to his love for and efforts on behalf of the preservation of the Cardington Sheds.