Daughter recalls dad’s passion for planes
Published 9:30 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2014
When James William Hall’s sister died in 1952, the 12-year-old found refuge in what would become a lifelong passion: control line model airplanes.
Kathy Hines, his only child, said Frances May Hall was James’ only sibling.
“His parents went into something of a funk,” Hines said. “She died in October, and they didn’t celebrate Christmas that year or any year after.”
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A man by the name of Thomas James took young James Hall — a Suffolk native who died Oct. 23 at age 75 from cancer of the esophagus — under his wing.
James was an avid practitioner of control-line model planes, in which twin lines are used to control the aircraft, and a member of different clubs, Hines recalled.
Pretty soon, Hall was hooked.
“He could do figure-8’s and loops and fly inverted — stuff like that,” Hines said of her father.
It’s a type of model plane killed off by radio-controlled technology, but Hines says a Chesapeake club still practices the art.
During her girlhood, her dad worked for a gas company located off Holland Road behind present-day Roy and Ricky’s Catering, Hines said.
In a big field nearby, the model plane club Hall belonged to would meet every Sunday afternoon.
“Dads would fly, kids would run around and moms would chat,” Hines said.
During “combat competitions,” she said, two or three guys would attach crepe paper to the tails of their planes, and the winner was the first to cut a streamer.
“That was my father’s favorite part,” Hines said. “He was meticulous at putting them together and painting them, and he could do stunts, but his favorite part was combat.”
After Hall’s death from a “very short, aggressive illness,” Hines said, about 15 model airplanes were discovered in his garage. Getting older, she said, her father had given up flying them years ago.
Another collection Hall has left behind is about 1,000 movies, both VHS and DVDs. A lot of spaghetti westerns, Hines said, as well as classics like “The African Queen” and “Casablanca.”
“He knew who all the old cowboys were,” Hines said, adding that her father would research old actors online.
“He had a 10th-grade education, and he was really, really good at using the computer to find things.”
Hall’s graveside funeral service was held Monday at Holly Lawn Cemetery.
They don’t make them like him anymore, according to Hines:
“My father was always a person that could really focus on things,” she said. “He was meticulous.”