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Balloon fete uplifting time for young & young at heart

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Balloon fete uplifting time  for young & young at heart

Katie Logemann, 102, gasps and then laughs at the flame that lifts a tethered hot air balloon off the ground Saturday morning at Ripon's Mistlin Park Color the Skies fund raising festival for the ...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED September 5, 2010 2:37 a.m.
RIPON — The opening day of the Color the Skies Over Ripon hot air balloon festival saw two special people climb into the baskets of separate balloons – one the 15-year-old poster boy for the event and the other an adventuresome 102-year-old grandmother.

While Katie Logemann has a colorful life’s story, she was quick to respond Saturday to the question of how many children she had in her family:  “Two so far!” she said laughing.
Included in her busy life, she also teaches water aerobics.

Corbin Maldonado was selected as the ambassador for the Central Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera and was invited to ride with his dad Joe and brother Caleb in the hospital balloon saying he was a little nervous about heights – until shortly after the lift off.

Corbin had agreed to call the Manteca Bulletin reporter on his cell phone after he was airborne for half an hour – and call he did, relating his excitement about the balloon ride.

“There’s no word for this, it’s unbelievable,” he said.  “I was the one who was the most nervous about this, but it’s really worth it.”  

Corbin flew with the lead pilot for the event, David Wakefield, of Sacramento lifting off in the “Cheers Over California” bright yellow balloon with the hospital logo on its basket.

Corbin said the pilot set the balloon down gently in a dirt field south of Salida.  Other family members, including his older sister Kaleigh, who works for an audio visual Danish design firm in San Francisco, also went up.

Keleigh said her flight was awesome and so quiet she could hear people talking down on the ground.  And then there were the dogs and cats who were visibly upset “going psycho” seeing the balloon, she said.  “We even heard the chickens too,” she added.

Kaleigh said their pilot was planning to land at a school grounds, but opted for a recently cut corn field as the better opportunity for a smooth landing.

102-year-old fresh from Alaskan adventure
The hot air balloon festival was just a new adventure for the 102-year-old grandmother who had been driven to the early morning event by her granddaughter Kathe Marker, of Modesto – a former travel agent who isn’t letting any grass grow under Grandma Logemann’s feet.

They had recently returned from Alaska where the centenarian said the natives were reluctant to let her go kayaking until they inspected the physical condition of her legs and immediately gave her a passing grade.  She said she was thrilled with the experience and can’t wait to do it again.

It wasn’t just kayaking for her in Alaska, there was also a chance to be part of a dog sled team that added more excitement to her life – another new adventure.  

Logemann and her late husband were both natives of Oldenburg, Germany and came to the U.S. in the mid-1920s, going into farming in the Midwest first and then eventually moving to Roberts Island in the Stockton Delta where they raised crops for years with the help of their 30  Filipino farmhands.

The man who was to be her husband had grown up with her in the same neighborhood in Germany – they had attended the same school – but they had no relationship with each other, she said.  There was a boyfriend in her life when he sailed to America and quickly found a farm job in Pender, Nebraska.

He had rented 160 acres in that town at $8 an acre and was about to launch a farm operation when a friend told him he had better go back home and find a wife – it would never happen after he involved himself in his farm production.

Katie said when he came back she had no interest in him and she was working as a maid while living a difficult life under the German Army rule.  She had been working in her job almost five years and was expecting a bonus of being given her own cow for staying on that long.

Her now American suitor and former classmate had only five weeks that he could stay in Germany and had to work fast before having to go back to America, she said.  

‘”I didn’t want him, but he liked me – I said I’m not going to America.”

But he didn’t take no for an answer.  The next thing she knew she was invited to a wedding – they both were – and when she arrived there was an empty seat next to him that had been saved for her.

Katie said she asked her older brother John what she should do – she was confused, she said.  “He wants me to go to America,” saying she was very puzzled at the time with his pleas.

She remembered that her brother urged that it was the best thing she could do.  Their parents had died – her dad was lost in the war – there was no future there, he stressed.

He had gone back to America and she remained in Germany waiting for immigration clearance to sail to the United States to join him.  That was 1928 when, she said, only 2,000 immigrants a year were allowed to enter the U.S.   Katie had to wait three years and he had already been farming in Nebraska for four years.

Before they let her come to the U.S. she was checked from head to toe for her medical fitness – even her dentures, she said.  What saw her papers approved was the answer to a math question – as to her level of education –  asking what was 5 times 3.

On their golden wedding anniversary they took their entire family for a visit to their homeland, she said.  What’s next in Katie’s world of adventure will only be determined by her granddaughter’s imagination.

Former Children’s Hospital patient helps with balloons
Near the Mistlin water tower in the center of the sports park, the RE/MAX balloon was tethered and the pilot and ground crew were offering rides for the firm’s Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon Executive RE/MAX offices with the ticket sales going back to the hospital for research.

The balloon pilot, Ronald Braddock, has the help of his 21-year-old daughter Aimee who assists with opening the balloon and helping people on board.  Aimee has a story of her own, a former patient at the Children’s Hospital having suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.  She is now attending American River College where she is majoring in biology and living on her own she said triumphantly.
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