ATCHISON — It has been nearly three-quarters of a century since Amelia Earhart set foot in her hometown.
Talk of Earhart — who vanished on a flight around the world in 1937 — is everywhere in this town of 11,000 as "Amelia," a movie about her life starring Hilary Swank, opens today.
At Earhart's birthplace and childhood home, across the street from the Missouri River, the doorbell rings often. Visitors from around the world step across the threshold and into Earhart's world.
Sigrid Browning and Gail Highland drove from Lee's Summit, Mo. to visit the home earlier this week. They also plan to see the movie in part, Browning said, because Earhart remains enigmatic.
"There is the faint sound of her voice and she's gone," Browning said. "That's the last heard from her."
Highland said Earhart simply impressed her.
"At that time — in our country — that was quite a bold movement for her to take on airplanes that probably weren't meant to fly that distance," she said. "She was brave."
Caretaker Lou Foudray is positive that the pioneering aviatrix still would feel at home among keepsakes from her grandparents and from her own childhood: a bathing suit she wore at age 4, a leather pilot's helmet with the letters AE etched on the inside, and countless photos of her in historic moments.
The house was built in 1862 by Earhart's grandfather, Judge Alfred G. Otis.
Although her parents lived in Kansas City, Earhart and her sister, Muriel, spent much of their childhood in the house.
It is where she slid down banisters and learned to read. She played with imaginary friends, sledded on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River and explored nearby limestone caves.
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