Davises go all the way

apparently my last post inspired my sister to send me this paper that she wrote for a family history class. to prove that i was also part of this adventure, i decided to add the photos.

Davises Go All the Way

-written by Sarah Davis Bollschweiler

Snow. The Myrtle Beach Marathon was officially cancelled. Would-be runners sulked around the Sheraton Hotel lobby in yoga pants and Chaco sandals, their tanned faces creased with disappointment---some even with rage. 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” one pony-tailed woman ranted. “I drove all the way from North Carolina for this?!” 

(jojo was THIS excited about the cancelation)
“That must have been an inconvenience,” my brother smirked. “I had quite a time getting here too. You see, I set out from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, two days ago, flew to Raleigh (my original flight here being cancelled with all this crazy weather), slept all night on the floor of the airport, hopped in a rental car and drove ten hours to Pennsylvania to get my sister who was snowed in, sawed up the thirty-foot fallen tree blocking her driveway, and drove all day to get her here in time for her first marathon. We’re a little disappointed too.” 

As absurd as his ordeal sounded when he recounted it, Aaron relished the opportunity to share it with someone---even this stranger (now looking quite bewildered) ---because if there’s one trait he values above all, it is persistence, an attribute thoroughly saturating the Davis gene pool. In our family, when you do something you go all the way. 

Maybe the original source of our thoroughly thorough behavior is my mom: how a woman with ten children could have the most immaculate kitchen cupboards in town (not a stray grain of sugar to be found) still mystifies me. We knew that when she asked us to clean the bathroom, she meant CLEAN the bathroom; so while all the other kids in the world (if they even had to clean a bathroom at all) haphazardly squirted 409 here and there and gave the counters a quick swipe, we were supposed to bring our bathroom up to hospital sanitation standards. Of course, Mom’s perfectionism had its perks too, especially when it came to cooking. We knew that while other moms might call tossing a frozen chicken pot pie in the oven “making dinner,” our mother would always make something delicious from scratch. No gluey instant potatoes or crumbly cake mixes at our house... no way.

(Joseph Dyer was not involved in the B17 incident,
he is part of another article)

My dad’s stick-to-it-iveness exceeded even my   mother’s, his life driven by an obsession that began in his youth. As a boy he dreamed of airplanes, read all he could find about them, and even almost succeeded in stealing a four-engine B-17 in his rebellious teenage years in a failed attempt at running away (a secret kept from my mom for decades). Nothing---not even my grandfather’s attempt to reform him after the B- 17 episode---could keep my dad from his dream. In adulthood he acquired an airplane in a more legitimate (although still unconventional) fashion: he designed built his own from scratch. His Starship Alpha, a boomerang-shaped single-seater, was modeled after Jack Northrop’s flying wings of the 1940’s. (I suppose Dad decided that since he was doing something crazy like building his own airplane, he may as well build one with some style.) Most of my early childhood memories of Dad involve his airplane: hearing him talk about it, driving to the airport to see him work on the airplane in his hangar, watching him fly it, and bragging to my friends that my dad had made the cover of Popular Mechanics (as if they—or even I, for that matter---really knew what that meant).

As Davis kids, we learned by example what it meant to see something through to the end, whether it was something as simple as baking a cake or as complex as building an airplane, and though all ten of us kids have a bit of persistence built into us, Aaron seems to have been given a double portion. I remember, for example, watching him at age twelve or so spend months building a two-story playhouse for us kids, doing almost all the planning and work by himself. So when Aaron promised my sister Jenny he would be there for her first marathon, he meant he would be there beside her for the whole 26.2 miles, no matter what.

On that snowy morning in Myrtle Beach, while most other runners slept off the beer they had sorrowfully drunk the night before, Aaron readied himself for the race. For him, hardship made the event all the more important, and since he’d come this far, by golly, no “official cancellation” could stop him. Instead of filling out the standard “medical information” required on the back of his race bib, he scribbled with a sharpie in large capital letters: “Shoot a flaming arrow through my heart and float me on a barge out to sea.” Then he pinned the number to his breast, ingested his final energy gel, and knocked on the door of my sister’s room. He was ready to escort Jenny though the streets of Myrtle Beach, whether anyone else showed up or not.

With Aaron by her side, Jenny covered her first ever 26.2. He cheered her on, told her the kind of stupid jokes only brothers can tell, waved at drivers who honked in camaraderie, ran ahead to build snowmen and throw snowballs. The rest of us (no Davis event is sparsely attended) followed in my minivan, stopping occasionally to hand out Gatorade and snacks. My husband and I even ran the second half of the race along with Jenny. But Aaron was there every step of the way, and four and a half hours after the official Davis family marathon began he escorted his little sister across the finish line because he is Davis, and Davises go all the way.