Discovering Daddy

Oct 2, 2018

Jo Maeder shares the work of her father in her latest book. The man who raised her came to life in a new way through his love letters and writings for an aviation trade magazine.
Credit courtesy of Jo Maeder

When writer Jo Maeder’s parents split up, she vividly remembers her dad announcing: I’m retiring and moving to Miami. Who is coming with me? She was eager to pick up her life and start anew and spent her late high school and early college years under her father’s supervision. But despite the time they spent together, Maeder feels like she did not really get to know her father until after he passed away.


The truth about his life was buried in a metal, green filing cabinet. As she went through it, Maeder discovered that while George Weitz spent his career in aviation, he was also a strong writer with a good sense of humor and a romantic streak. Maeder has since assembled his work into the new book “Zerk ‘Em and Pull the Push Rods: A Wry Squint at Aviation in the Mid-20th Century” (Vivant Press/2018). It provides a glimpse into Weitz’s life, love and passion for aviation. Maeder joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the father she never really knew and her newfound passion for family preservation and encouraging people to share their stories with their loved ones. Maeder will be doing a book signing and reading Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Central Library and Saturday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.

 

Interview Highlights

On her relationship with her father:

He always treated me like an adult. That’s why we got along, but he was pretty much a stranger to me growing up. He’d leave very early in the morning in his business suit and briefcase and go into Washington, D.C. … And come back late at night. And we were all in our separate worlds. Our family was not very close.

On how her dad’s column helped educate the new wave of pilots:

He started at the CAA which later became the FAA as an inspector. He had been an airplane mechanic and had his own hanger out on Long Island. He knew how to speak the language of the mechanics who were basically seen as grease monkeys and not given much respect. After WWII there was this explosion of licensed pilots that created all kinds of havoc for the FAA/CAA. So my dad started writing this column … As this folksy, cracker-barrel type character called “the inspector.”  

On what writing this book taught her:

I learned a lot about him and a lot about myself and what I get from him. But I learned he’s even more amazing than I realized. But he did have his flaws, and I think one of them was holding things in.

On the importance of preserving family history:

I wish I had asked them both a lot more things … And this is national family history month … And I’m really encouraging people — I do this year round  — but especially now, to go through those old boxes and documents and photos. The best thing you can do is get a photo album and get an elderly person and say: Who are these people? And write it down on Post-it notes or something like that. And really cherish those memories.