Sunday, June 18, 2017
Many thanks to those who partook in our poll. I appreciate your many thoughtful comments. This was my favorite design. I'm glad so many others agree. We've been working on the cover designs with a couple in Long Beach, CA. They have fond memories of TWA, and I feel they captured that period in commercial air travel when flying was still glamorous.
By the end of the month we anticipate having our Advanced Reader Copies (ARC's) printed. Stacey has already arranged for me to attend book events in the Greater Cincinnati area. I'm really getting excited now!
Friday, June 9, 2017
|Part of an Ad, From TWA Movie Clips, Vintage Photos on Facebook|
The Golden Age of Air Travel--as I define being during my time with TWA (1964-1974)--was not an economic era, but a cultural era. In this sense, it was the most flourishing period in the history of commercial air. Folks excitedly anticipated dressing up and getting on a plane. Smoking wasn't a big issue then as it is today in planes, restaurants, etc. Ample seat comfort and legroom was standard in coach, unlike today (see my earlier blog post). The transition from prop to jet was much more remarkable than the addition of WI FI and visual entertainment systems in today's cramped jets. Back then, folks on board didn't expect to be constantly entertained or occupied. They read, slept, knitted, and wrote letters--in cursive!
|L-1011 Coach Lounge|
Did one pay more then-adjusted for inflation? If so, so what. You definitely got more than you get on today's flights. Cheaper transportation in cramped seats was always available with Greyhound and Trailways.
Computer systems have vastly improved (?) since the Golden Age. Today, if you're flying on the lowest coach fare, the computers will mandate your seat assignment at the airport, possibly separating you from your family members or travel companions. It's all about the airlines' bottom line--not your comfort. And during a prolonged computer outage--something increasingly common these days--an airline suffers complete paralysis. So does its passengers! For one thing, there are no standard hand-written tickets capable of admitting passengers on board (as we had in the past).
|Standard TWA Ticket|
Friday, May 26, 2017
|Operation Solomon-Photo Courtesy Patrick Baz/AFB/Getty Images|
Normally I won't recline my seat in coach if my flight is two hours or less. After boarding a longer flight, I'll usually recline my seat first, just to make sure the person behind me didn't clip on a "knee defender." To assume the crash position with today's seat pitches one only has room to bend one's head and pray.
Not to be outdone, United Airlines announced (in a whisper) starting in May, it will increase some of its triple-7's present 9-across economy seat config to 10-across.
This will be troubling for those up front in their lay-down beds. How can they sleep, over the moaning and screaming of those wedged-in behind, fighting for armrest space?
Oh, For Those "Good Ole Days"
Wanna weep? Check out the snippet below, probably from an edition of TWA's Skyliner employee magazine in the late 1960s (courtesy Airlineguys Tweet)
What has been your experience in flying coach/economy? Have you had unpleasant experiences with fellow passengers? Do you see safety concerns in your perceived ability to get to the evacuation slides in time? Feel free to post your observations or suggestions.
If you enjoy reminiscing about these airline tales of yore, please share this blog with your friends.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
|Mother's Day 1969|
After arriving in Lisbon, I rented a car which was just a tad larger than today's Smart Car. I remember driving up a narrow street in an old section of town waving at the pedestrians who were flailing their arms at us. Mom remarked, "boy these Portuguese folks sure are friendly!" When we reached the intersection at the top, I realized that I had ignored the international road sign indicating One Way-Do Not Enter. We had a great laugh after that...
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
|Photo Courtesy of Dayton Daily News|
I expected to be a bank patron, which sounded pretty exciting since the movie involved a bank robbery. But things soon changed and I would now be part of a street scene in an old Ford Maverick. (I guess they didn't want me upstaging Mr. Redford.) My new task was to drive around the block of the bank passing Redford in an oncoming Blue Olds Cutlass. His car was equipped with a mounted camera on the passenger side, (but they forgot to put a camera on mine). We did this about 10 times with a lot of waiting around in between. About midday we broke for lunch which you are served after the crew has eaten, but I managed to jump right in with the regulars. I spent the rest of the afternoon back in the car waiting for my cues. I was beginning to feel like it was a remake of "Driving Miss Daisy". After about a 12 hour day we were dismissed signed our paperwork and left. After taxes I will clear under $100 dollars, not even enough to keep the lights on. But what the heck it was a fun ride! Now I'll just wait and see if my scenes make it thru editing. If we all get 15 minutes of fame I think I still have about 14 minutes and 59 seconds left on my tab. #theoldmanandthegun
Monday, April 10, 2017
|Harbor in Havana|
It's no surprise one of my most requested travel presentations this year is my trip to Cuba. I've flown several million miles, but never once flown the short 90 miles from Key West to Havana. The travel ban had already been in force when I started with TWA in 1964. Fortunately, the travel restrictions were lifted, so my wife and I took a week-long cruise from Miami to three ports in Cuba last October. Cruising is not my favorite way to travel, but given the complexity of traveling in Cuba this was a great way to see the island without all the hassles.
It was a pleasure for me to disembark the cruise liner, Adonis, at the Havana harbor this past October. Back in 1961, while in Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, our DIs told us we may be "disembarking" navy landing crafts for an invasion of a Cuban beach. This, of course, was during the time of heightened tension between the U.S. and Castro's Cuba. Some 50 years later I feel very fortunate to visit Cuba as a tourist and not an active Marine.
|Santiago de Cuba|
|Maple Knoll Presentation|
Saturday, March 18, 2017
|(First Draft, that is)|
Just turned the first draft of my memoir over to my editor, all 652 pages, double-spaced. Next comes the rewrite while Stacey is getting quotes for cover design and printing.
For me, and I expect, for many serious writers, the art and craft required in good writing can produce bittersweet emotions. I felt guilt while walking my dog, working out at the gym, or cleaning the bathroom, while aware that I was really doing so to postpone my difficulty in outlining the next part of my narrative or describing a specific setting. Akin to that is the frustration involved in remembering clearly a past occurrence and the characters involved, yet describing it in words which will provide the reader with the same experience I had. A good example of this was narrating an event which occurred in Dayton in 1971. I was set up to be the honored guest at a party attended by several hundred people, while posing as a Russian diplomat from the Soviet Union's Los Angeles consulate. This episode involved several locales and my interaction with a British con man, a deadheading TWA flight engineer and many minor characters.
Another vexing experience I occasionally encountered was the painful act of deleting a part which--after rereading--either doesn't seem to move the book along properly, or isn't likely to interest the reader that much. Often, these "deletes" may consist of more than a thousand words and several hours of writing. I must confess though, that some hoarding instinct has prompted me to move my deletes to a separate file for possible reconsideration.
But there's also the positive feelings I've experienced; like thinking of a smooth transition in a part that I'm writing as I'm doing something so routine as cutting the grass or driving to the store. The satisfaction of completing one's intended writing project, no matter how brief or lengthy--as long as it's done well--is pleasing to any writer.
I started this book in earnest two years ago, at age 75, and am already contemplating writing another. Hopefully, I'll be an inspiration to some of you in your fifties and beyond to begin your writing venture.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Most folks who are asked what they want to do for their birthday, respond with a request for dinner at a nice restaurant, ask for a certain gift, or may just want a party. I decided what I wanted to do on my birthday when I read the recent amusing story of how some pranksters changed the famous Hollywood Sign to read "HOLLYWEED". No, I didn't want to deface the famous landmark, but yes, I wanted to hike the trail to its top. Having lived for four years in San Pedro, a ninety-minute drive to Hollywood, I was too busy partying in in the South Bay area to even think of hiking the Sign.
On Monday, the day prior to my birthday, Stacey and I were listed to take a 9:40am Delta non-stop from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. That happened to be the morning the entire Ohio Valley was shrouded in fog. Our intended plane was to arrive that morning as a redeye from Las Vegas. Because of the fog, it diverted to Detroit. Then it had a creeping mechanical delay, and eventually cancelled. We departed CVG 6 hours and 20 minutes behind schedule, arriving at LAX during a dark, rainy rush hour.
Okay. Enough about the negatives. The good news is that our AIRBNB studio apartment in the Hollywood Hills had a fantastic view overlooking Hollywood and downton L.A.
|View from our AIRBNB|
|We made it! Sign at the top of Mount Lee|
Sunday, January 22, 2017
|First Graduating DCS Class 1971|
While listening to the narratives of my former colleagues, I recall some of my own similar experiences long forgotten, that gives me more intersting content for my memoir. There's a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in that group that just can't be found on Google or Wikipedia.
The above photo was the first DCS class to graduate (1971). I'm top row, third from the left (that's when I had a decent head of hair). In the photos below Stacey and I stand under the 2016 reunion banner; and our group photo of former wide-body and narrow-body aircraft DCSs. I think we've faired pretty well considering the many miles we have on us!
Friday, December 23, 2016
|Photo Courtesy of New York State's official Website|
|Photos Courtesy of Curbed New York|
Fond memories come to mind as I browsed through photos of the abandonded center.
Back in November of 1967 I attended a two-week TWA sales rep training program in a JFK airport area hotel. One of my classmates, Mark, and I decided not to spend our weekend break at our respective homes in Los Angeles and Cincinnati. Instead, on Friday after class we left the hotel for TWA's terminal, vowing to take the next domestic flight out no matter where it went (excepting our hometowns). Yes we were willing to spend the weekend in Cleveland or Pittsburgh if the next departure was to one of those destinations.
As we rushed from the hotel courtesy car into the TWA terminal the mounting suspense was almost unbearable. Approaching the front information desk, we looked up at the large Solari board
Most passengers and visitors that toured the center were unaware that there was a special private VIP lounge behind the ticket counter which stocked complimentary booze and snacks. Jackie Onassis was the last VIP I remember seeing there.
I'll also never forget the long delays at JFK during an air traffic controller slowdown. We were 69 in line for takeoff, but fortunately I was sitting in first class as our Boeing 707 crept along the taxiways for two hours and forty minutes prior to takeoff. During that time, we had drinks and dinner while taking in a movie. In 1970 it was from JFK that I worked my first flight-to Los Angeles--as a DCS. That was the start of an exciting four years working aboard TWA's domestic and international wide-body jets. I can't wait until the day when I can walk those halls at the JFK flight center again, but this time it will be as a guest not an employee.