I've been searching for the name of this amazing series of books for ages, ever since I read them in Georgetown, S.C., and at last, through the magic of the intertubes, I have found them. The Linda Carlton series, published in the early 30's, is about a girl pilot who eventually acquires her own gyrocopter, thereby becoming the most bad-ass person ever in my 11-year-old eyes. John just scored me the first three on Abe books, but the last two of the series are apparently incredibly rare, which is making me gnash my teeth over the fact that I had the fourth one at one time. Then again, that was basically when my family was at its brokest, so maybe I just checked it out of the library. My mom was working on an assembly line for a while, during which time my step-dad contributed to life by taking me and Ben to the beach on Pawley's Island, drinking beer, and having us all sing the Rolling Stones song "Factory Girl" when we picked her up after work in our 1967 convertible Camaro, white with red leather interior. That car was the bomb. (But the song really pissed her off). Later she got some office-type job, and used to steal food, like packets of Lance crackers, from the break room for us to eat at home. Other than that we mainly just ate beans and rice, box macaroni and cheese, and chicken, first roast, then as salad, then as soup. Being poor sucks. The kids at school made fun of my shoes because they were from Payless rather than being branded tennis shoes. My mom believes that my firm determination to acquire and wear the best clothes and shoes ever (a determination to which my bursting closet bears witness) was born in this merciless crucible.