FAA Report Patsy Cline plane crash last phone call

Patsy Cline’s Last Phone Call

A tribute to a legend and a visit to an artifact of the last hours of her existence, published at the exact minute of her passing + 55 years.

Patsy's Cline last phone call

Ms. Cline, backstage with butterflies and sweaty palms, Memorial Hall, Kansas City, 3 March 1963; her final show. Mildred Pierce photo

I’ve always had a queer fascination with youth and death.

Is it the great senselessness of this? That by rule, we’re all supposed to grow old and reminisce about our youth and what we should’ve done differently? Once you roll the celebrity aspect into it, you’ve got youth and death involving someone that in theory has more monumental life experiences in six months than the rest of us do in a lifetime. And perhaps that’s where obsession begins.

I find it quite strange that it took me as long as it did to find out how Patsy Cline died. And when.

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ sort of spoon-fed the story of Buddy Holly and The Day The Music Died to anyone whose parents had that radio in the basement, with the missing tuning knob, permanently set to the oldies station. My curiosity for that one took me first to the nightmarish autopsy reports of those three singers sudden, violent ends, and then to a much more healthy end, a 2009 pilgrimage to the exact spot of the wreck in a field in northwest Iowa.

I knew Patsy’s hits. They’d cycle through that same oldies station here and there. But I think they (perhaps purposefully) branded her as a minor ‘crossover’ star in the early rock era, not as one of the biggest stars in the history of an entire genre of music.

As you start to dig in a bit, one finds out things that teenage boys just melt for in the concept woman; a public classiness cloaked in just enough mystery to allow for a secret, just between the two of yas, offset by an offstage reputation of being able to keep up with the boys in the three categories we’re taught to hallow the most: cussin’, fightin’, ‘n drinkin’.

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There is a strip mall outside the glowing center of a certain desert town, and in it, you can see the mountains from the parking lot. Without the mountains, you could be in any other strip mall. About five years ago, a very worldly, vibrant former pro tennis player bought some restaurant space in this strip mall. I never knew his last name, something Spanish or French, but his first name was Cesar. This guy never won any of the big tennis championships, but he played with a lot of the big names, from what I heard. After he was too old to play, he took on cooking wholeheartedly and even had enough money to be trained by some legendary chef in Napoli. That’s when he brought his passion of cooking to the desert, and opened this little café, Cesar’s. It was a casual place, serving a range of pretty inexpensive bistro-style foods and pastries. Cesar created the menu for Cesar’s, applying to it all his lessons from the sunny kitchens of Napoli.

Back when I lived in the desert, this girl I knew worked there part-time, so I would come in on slow nights to hang out. This meant I was there every few days or so, because Cesar’s had slow nights often. Lea, the girl who worked there, would text me on these nights and I’d walk there from my apartment. If Cesar was there, she’d write “c at the end of her message, and I would put on a hat and a sweatshirt. If Cesar was there, I would have to order something, too, which wasn’t a bad thing, since he made good food. But even though it was good food, it was just better when he wasn’t there.

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