Models take wing in Easton shop Goldwater's planes grace apparel store

July 09, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

EASTON -- At age 84, conservative warhorse Barry M. Goldwater still has people looking up to him -- or at least up to his handiwork.

Since he retired from political life in 1987, the former senator from Arizona has spent hundreds of hours assembling model aircraft kits in his Scottsdale home.

Nearly all the plastic and wood replicas are hanging from the ceiling of Wings, a women's apparel and gift shop here where Mr. Goldwater's hobby provides an unusual attraction to potential customers.

Store co-owners Kathryn Stafford and Carlyle Brady said the display of 80 model jets, cargo planes, helicopters and multiple-winged aircraft particularly draws the attention of men. "The wives love it," said Ms. Brady, "because their husbands have something to look at while they shop."

Some men have shed tears as they associated one or more of the planes with their own military duty.

"Guys will come in here, look up at the models and spill their stories out," Mrs. Stafford said.

The display, which the shop owners have dubbed the Barry Goldwater Museum, lures visitors even if they have no intention of buying clothes at the store.

"I'm not surprised," Mr. Goldwater said in a telephone interview. "There's no greater nuts than people who fly airplanes."

Mr. Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, was World War II pilot who flew cargo over "The Hump" from India to China. He is a retired Air Force Reserve general.

Through mutual friends, the shop owners had known him since the early 1970s. He often came to Talbot County to stay with William and Betty Quinn.

Mrs. Stafford said Mr. Goldwater stopped in the store soon after it opened in 1989 and offered to send a model of a Fokker triplane he was working on.

"We said we'd take it and he started cranking them out," she said.

Mrs. Stafford said her son, Zeppy, came up with the name Wings for the North Harrison Street store. He thought it would go well in Easton, where the waterfowl motif is popular.

But because both shop owners had brothers who were military pilots, Mrs. Stafford said, they decided to use aviation as their marketing theme.

"We decided to do something with a different twist," Mrs. Stafford said. "We'd had enough of ducks and geese."

The aviation theme took off. Customers and friends occasionally stop by to add a photograph of a plane or pilot to the collection already on the shop walls. But it's the Goldwater models hanging from the ceiling that most people talk about.

"We've even had some people angry with us because we wouldn't sell them the models," Ms. Brady said.

Mr. Goldwater said he assembles the models for pleasure but gladly gives them to the Easton shop because he doesn't want them cluttering up his Arizona home.

He said he has piloted or been a passenger in most of the models. He said that when he was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he was allowed to fly in almost every kind of aircraft owned by the United States military.

He said the first plane he piloted was a Great Lakes trainer,

which reached a top speed of 80 mph. Many years later, he flew in an SR-71 reconnaissance plane at 2,250 mph.

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