Saturday, December 23, 2017

Chaplin Autograph Forty Five Years Later

Just came upon this while thumbing through some of my TWA memorabilia. In my memoir,
Up, Up and Astray, I've recounted having Charlie Chaplin and his entourage on my flight from Los Angeles to London after Mr. Chaplin was presented an honorary Academy Award. Although his movies were before my time, I was delighted to get his autograph for my mother. She adored Charlie Chaplin. The only paper I could find on board the plane was TWA stationery. I also kept the envelope with the postmark from Hounslow, UK dated April 13, 1972. While writing brings back memories, having something physical from the past almost brings it back to life. I'll never forget how excited mom was to get Chaplin's autograph.

Of all the Hollywood celebs I met while working
flights out of LAX, Mr. Chaplin was the only one
I asked for an autograph (for my mom, Ellen).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Writer's Outtake, Episode 2 - Lost Mom in Cabin D

From the movie "Airplane"
One of the strangest happenings on one of my flights occurred during a daytime trip from Boston to Los Angeles. Shortly after lunch service was completed, I was standing in first class chatting with a passenger when an anxious-looking flight attendant approached me. "Jim, there's a problem in D-cabin." As I followed her to the second-most rear cabin on the plane, she explained that an elderly lady is upset because she found another elderly lady sitting next to her son.

The lady was waiting for me at the front of D-cabin. She was trembling while pointing down several rows to an elderly lady in an aisle seat beside a man in his forties. "When I came back from the rest room I saw that lady sitting next to my son. She told me she was with her son, and she refused to move." When I escorted the complaining lady to the alleged 'false mother', something akin to an old Abbott and Costello routine ensued for the next several minutes.
The standing mother said, "She's sitting in my seat."
The seated mother replied defensively, "I'm in my own seat."
Futher declarations and pointing continued:
"She's sitting next to my son."
"He's my son."
"She's my mom."
And so on. I began to wonder if the woman standing beside me really had her son on the plane. As a last resort, I could make a 'missing mother' announcement. That could be embarrassing to the woman, especially if she, in fact, had no son on the plane.

Soon, a middle-aged man approached us from the rearmost E-cabin. "Mom, what are you doing up here? You must have passed your seat after going to the rest room." The tearful, relieved mother embraced her son for a moment before they walked back to their assigned seats. It was a touching scene, but I couldn't help but chuckle considering the two sons really didn't resemble each other. The flight continued on without further 'events.' So as you're traveling this holiday season make sure you keep an eye on the kids as well as mom!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Writer's Outtake Episode 1 - Death In Flight

Credit-Neil/Rob Melnychuk Getty Images
When DCS (Director Customer Service) John McGlade made his departure announcement on TW841 as the 747 taxied from the gate at Rome's Flumicino Airport terminal, he anticipated a routine flight to New York. John was pleased to announce the flight's anticipated on-time arrival at JFK. The flight was full, with close to 200 passengers having connections to make at JFK. But this was no routine flight. Having recently attended a TWA reunion in Tucson, I got to relive John's tale of what happened next.

Shortly after takeoff from Rome, a troubled flight attendant located John in the front of the the aircraft, asking him to immediately follow her to the rearmost cabin in economy. Simultaneously, another flight attendant was paging for a doctor or nurse to ring their call bell. By the time John rushed to the scene, several nearby doctors and nurses were attending to the passenger, a grandfather, flying back home to the U.S. with his 13-year-old granddaughter.

The man appeared to have died instantly, likely from a massive heart attack. As there were no empty seats available to relocate the deceased, John had the flight attendant place a blanket over the grandfather's head and recline his seat, until John discussed the situation with the captain.

The captain, told John he would return to Rome, as they were only about 30 minutes airborne. Obvious to the captain, nine more hours of a full flight with a corpse on board was unthinkable. John thought otherwise. He told the captain that the man's family will have enough grief as it is, without having to go through a myriad of paperwork and additional agony to bring back the body from Italy. He also remarked that more than half of the passengers would miss their connection flights at JFK. Also, if they returned to Rome, Italian authorities may keep the plane at the gate for some required investigation after removing the body. This could cause the crew to become illegal to fly, thus requiring cancellation of the flight.

"So, where do you expect to put the body?" asked the captain.
"On the floor, behind the coach-lounge bar." answered John. "The coach lounge is closed to economy passengers on international flights due to IATA (International Air Transport Assn.) rules."
"Okay." nodded the captain. "We'll continue on to New York. Do what you've gotta do."

Luckily, John was one of only two DCS's hired with a background in TWA's maintenance department. In no time at all, he proceeded to the rearmost lavatory and removed the door. It was used as a stretcher for John and some volunteers to transport the blanket-covered corpse to the coach-lounge.

For the remainder of the flight, one of the lady passengers, a nurse, sat beside the grieving and shaken granddaughter. Showing typical TWA employee compassion and proactivity, a ground hostess at JFK voluntarily accompanied the granddaughter to her final destination on her connecting flight.

I personally applaud John for his handling of a delicate and sad situation with creativity and dignity. He was an excellent example of what the DCS program was all about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seeing Cincinnati in a Different Light

This Loveland suburbanite seldom goes to Cincinnati's Downtown and Over-the-Rhine areas more than once a month. Practically everything I want, I can find closer in the 'burbs', including convenient free parking. Last weekend I experienced one exception though--Blink Cincinnati.

I've seen many transformations of the city in my years. Growing up in the 40's & 50's I remember going with my mom to Fountain Square on VJ-Day in August 1945 celebrating the end of WWII. As a young naive Cincinnati Police Cadet in 1959-60 I worked District 2, walking every inch from the Riverfront to Liberty Street. And by the late 60's (considering myself a sophisticated man-about-town) I worked in TWA's sales office on 4th & Walnut. But in all those years I had never seen my city transformed into a spectacular work of art.

In its first year of operation, Blink attracted more than a million visitors. That breaks a Cincinnati record for the most people for one event. Families and individuals of all ages came together to enjoy the many creative aspects of illumination, whether they be displayed upon buildings or in a parade.

Certainly, many of those who didn't attend, but heard the rave reviews, will make next year's even more popular. The following videos represent only a miniscule part of the event. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tribute to High Flying Hugh

Getty Images, Bettmann
With the passing of Hugh Hefner, the world has lost a cultural icon, the likes of which we will never see duplicated.

For airliner buffs, the above photo was shot in part of the first class lounge of a TWA Convair 880 (note the small holes at the end of the armrests for insertion of bayonet meal trays). The lounge was later replaced with three rows of first class seating. I understand Mr. Hefner was a frequent TWA flyer, especially between Los Angeles and Chicago, before receiving delivery of his own custom-made DC9 in 1969. His seat partner in the photo is Cynthia Maddox, Playboy's Assistant Cartoon Editor, who appeared on the Playboy cover five times.

Photo Credit-Just Plane History Blog

"Big Bunny" aka "Hare Force One"

In my years working out of LAX whenever I saw "Big Bunny" parked on the charter tarmac, I often fantasized what I'd experience if I were a priviliged guest on one of its flights. A unique feature of the DC9 was its retractable stairs, eliminating the need to have passenger steps brought to the plane. I read that Hef sold his plane in 1976 to a Venezuelan airline. Later, it was flown by Aeromexico on scheduled service. In 2004 it was finally retired. The parted-out jet's fuselage is now an educational tool, having been donated to the city of Cadereyta in Mexico. Hugh was larger than life and his legacy will not soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bon Voyage for Pittsburgh???

Should Non-flyers have Access into Secure Airport Areas?

Courtesy: On Call International Blog

What do you think? Should non-flyers--restricted from access since 9/11 terrorist attacks--now be permitted access to secure concourses and concessions? If so, should these non-flyers have to pay a fee to be cleared through TSA Security?

Aunt Mildred would certainly be delighted to have several nephews and nieces there to meet her as she emerges from the jetway. Certainly, the concessionaires would be pleased to serve the nephews and nieces some food, or sell them apparel, books, souvenirs, etc. as they wait for their aunt's arrival. Airport parking lots would see increased revenue from their short-term parking as well. Creative airport concessionaire could offer to validate a non-flyers short term parking ticket, allowing an hour or two of complimentary parking--if the non-flyer purchases a certain dollar minimum.

Pittsburgh's airport is trying such a procedure.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette-28 AUG 2017 Airmall Article

Pittsburgh's airport lost its hub status to Philadelphia when U.S. Air merged into American Airlines, just as Cincinnati's airport lost its to Detroit when Northwest merged into Delta. Both have become what is termed 'origin-destination' airports in airline parlance. No longer must they accommodate massive numbers of connection passengers, scurrying from one gate to another, during scheduled surge periods.

I personally think hub airports should forbid non-flyer access. It's just too darn crowded during the surge periods to have non-flyers slowing down connecting passengers. Not to mention if you think TSA lines are long now, just think how long they will be with non-flyers having to clear security.

As for the origin-destination airports, I think each airport should decide for themselves. Cultural aspects may come into play. For example, folks deplaning in Jackson, Mississippi may be more patient waiting for Aunt Mildred and her greeters to clear the gate area, than those, say, in White Plains New York. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Real Thing This Time

The Booksellers on Fountain Square
Although I'm now a published author, I must concede that words cannot describe how I feel, seeing my memoir displayed here at The Booksellers on Fountain Square (Joseph Beth Books and Roebling Books as well).

Now, I have a confession to make, about something that's not in my memoir. It's something I hadn't told my wife about till just now. It occured during my earlier life, when I was a student patrolman at the University of Cincinnati. Early one Sunday morning, when the library building was closed, I used my master key to admit myself and my friend Denny Cooper. We went to the card catalogue desk, removed two blank cards, then typed in bogus names of books that we "authored." Denny, who had worked in a library during high school, gave each book a logical, but phony, Dewey Decimal number.

I remember the title of my 'book' had something to do with cybernetics. Maybe this was my first subconscious indication that I wanted to be a real author someday. That was over 50yrs ago. I guess it's a good lesson, you're never too old to give up on your dreams!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Before There Was BAYWATCH...There Was BREECH

Breech Academy Summer 1970
Admittedly, I would never be mistaken for David Hasselhoff, but some of the TWA 'hostesses' could easily rival the Baywatch beauties. Plus, we all had extensive ditching training. Uh, sorry I meant to say extensive 'water landing' training. When I think of this airline euphemism, I can imagine my late idol, George Carlin shouting with gusto, "We no longer 'stand by' for 'ditching'!" Then in a softer, more effeminate voice he continues, "We're going to have to 'get ready' for a...'water landing.'" And if you're wondering, no, I don't usually wear a life jacket at hotel pools. Behind me is Breech Academy, TWA's training center for cabin crews.

Call it what you want, an aircraft evacuation in a body of water is, in my opinion the most difficult safety maneuver to execute. In the calm of Breech's pool, it took all I had to pull myself up into the 25-man life raft. I can imagine how difficult it is to enter the raft amidst ocean swells.

On the other hand, when on terra firma, taking a ride down the 747's evacuation slide from 18 feet above the ground is a piece of cake. The dual slides even allow you to bring a buddy along. A velcro surface at the bottom stops you from spilling out onto the runway, grass, sand (whatever). 

If you enjoy riding in the upper deck of the 747-400 series, the secondary evacution route is from a height of 35 feet, or about 50-some feet of slide. Now that's a real thrill! So ladies, while you may want to see Hasselhoff at the beach, I can guarantee you'd rather be sitting next to me on a plane if things get rough.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Shaving Down My Bucket List'

   Bucket List items shouldn't necessarily consist of such feats as climbing El Capitan at Yosemite or milking cobra's venom in Thailand. No. They can be less risky and more accessible, like enjoying evening cocktails at the 107 Sky Lounge in Las Vegas, or renting an exotic car for an afternoon drive while vacationing in Miami.

For the past two years, my wife, Stacey, and I have manned a water station for the Price Hill Pacer's Charity Run, in neighboring Cincinnati. It was located on West Eight Street, in front of Grote's Barber Shop. There I noticed a window sign promoting 'Hot Towel Shaves.' Childhood memories of waiting for my turn in the barber's chair while watching men get those shaves came back to mind.
Hot towel shaves have become a relic of the past. Today, men tend to look at shaving as a necessary evil. Get it done-fast! Fine, but that's not what hot towel shaves are about. They're about relaxing and disengaging from your typical world for thirty minutes. Don't even think about checking your smart phone, or even talking, while a licensed expert glides a straight-razor against your face and throat--unless an ambulance ride is on your bucket list. For me a hot towel shave is the guy's version of a lady's spa visit.
Terry Grote has been giving hot towel shaves for over 40yrs.
By the way, ladies, perhaps you should consider pampering your guy to a hot towel shave for his birthday. It's the least we deserve after all those years of spa gift certificates.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A 4th of July Surprise

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to 
Ohio State University where the local time.....

  Not what you'd expect to hear when you book a flight from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio.

   Today, July 4th, marks the 50th anniversary of the landing of a TWA Boeing 707 at Ohio State University's Don Scott Field--Instead of Port Columbus!
   It was approaching midnight as Captain Chittenden, commanding TW30 from Chicago O'Hare to (supposedly) Port Columbus, descended the four-engine jet below the overcast, then announced he had the runway in sight. Yes. The runway for the WRONG airport. Land the plane, he did, on OSU's short 4400-foot runway, with 1000 feet to spare
   The east-west runway at Don Scott has roughly the same heading as the one at Port Columbus located some 10 miles southeast.

CMH Citizens Journal Front Page July 5th, 1967
   After the passengers were bussed to Port Columbus, another 707 was ferried from Kansas City to Port Columbus overnight, in order to be flown on a scheduled flight to JFK in the early morning. The strayed 707 was flown from Don Scott to Port Columbus later that morning by TWA's Superintendent of Flying.
   A week after the 'Don Scott episode.' I and two other TWA sales reps from Cincinnati attended a regional sales meeting at our Pittsburgh office. When the sales reps from Columbus walked in, my colleague Phil Pateneaude yelled out, "Did you guys fly in from Port Columbus or Ohio State?" We all had a good laugh--including the Columbus reps.

   Actually, airliner landings at the wrong airport are not that uncommon. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

And The Overwhelming Winner Is...

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

When Air Travel was Golden

Part of an Ad, From TWA Movie Clips, Vintage Photos on Facebook
Recently, the writer of an opinion article in the New York Times claimed there was no such "Golden Age of Air Travel," Much of the article dealt with economic factors cited by the Airlines for America Industry Trade group. He mentioned how the cost of airfares decreased (adjusting for inlation) since the "Golden Age". There was no mention though of the stagnation and decline of disposable income over those years for tens of millions of Americans. He also cites how many itineraries took longer than today, due to slower planes and multiple stops. I must say that our 747's in the early seventies, flying from Los Angeles to London, arrived just as fast as those today.

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
Cross-country wide-body planes offered spacious coach lounges, offering passengers a place to stop by for a drink and some conversation. When was the last time you mingled around the bar in coach? Most flights over 90 minutes provided coach passengers with a hot meal, accompanied with real silverware.

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
Most of my soon-to-be-published memoir, Up, Up and Astray recalls my life during that exciting period. It was fun writing it, and it was a real blast living it!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Is Air Travel Coming to This?

Operation Solomon-Photo Courtesy Patrick Baz/AFB/Getty Images
As if American Airlines hasn't enough customer service headaches along with other legacy and low-cost carriers, it chose to add more salt to its passengers' wounds. AA is decreasing the seat pitch in "steerage" class to a miserly 29". On flights with 30" and 31" pitches, I still get my kneecaps bruised by the person in front reclining an inch or so.

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

First Class Mom

Mother's Day 1969
On this Mother's Day, as usual, I think back to my loving mother who passed away only two months before we could celebrate her 90th birthday. Although mom and I had our share of tumultuous times, some of which are mentioned in my upcoming book, we also had some great mother-son experiences. Here's a photo of mom and I in first class on TW900 from JFK to Lisbon in May of 1969. I was already in a very congenial mood after several drinks, with my Camel regulars at the ready.

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

A Day in the "Not So Glamorous" Life of an Extra

Photo Courtesy of Dayton Daily News
If you squint and look real close you may see a portion of my left arm. Not quite the mark I was hoping to make on the big screen. Let me start from the beginning. My wife thought it would be fun to go to an open casting call for an upcoming Robert Redford movie set in the seventies era. We dressed up and headed to Xavier University with about 1,000 of our closest friends. (There's a reason these are termed Cattle Calls). After about a two-hour wait we had our picture and measurements taken, then sent on our way. I had almost forgotten about the whole ordeal when I got a call asking if I was available for a shoot May 1st. I initially asked if this was a joke but they assured me the call was legitimate. I arrived at 7am in Dayton for hair and makeup.

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

Cuba - The Shortest Flight I Never Took

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

55 Chevy
Cuba is like stepping back in time. It's a beautiful landscape that has not been cluttered with billboards, skyscrapers, neon signs, fast food, and all the trappings of modern day living. The people are very friendly and anxious to learn all they can about Americans. My travel audiences love the photos of old cars, and the sneak peek into a world forbidden for so long. My presentations are to retirement communities, so I imagine most of them will only see Cuba through pictures. For the rest of us I hope many will get to see the island in person. My next Cuba presentation is May 10th 7:00pm at the Evergreen community on Galbraith Rd.
Maple Knoll Presentation

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Manuscript Completed!

(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

A Hollywood Birthday

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 were located at the end of a street populated by celebrities and others in the entertainment business. Our hostess showed us how to access one of the trails to the Sign, from only four homes down the street. It led us to the Brush Canyon Trail which is 6.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,050ft. The sign itself is at 1,578ft above sea level. Although the weather was overcast (hey, this is L.A. after all) we hiked to the area above the sign to take a few photos. Then we hiked the long way back, going south on Canyon Drive to Franklin Avenue, where we paused for some late lunch.  Early the following morning Stacey and I flew from Burbank, via Salt Lake City, back to Cincinnati. Spending less than 48hrs in Hollywood was a whirlwind trip, and I'm already wondering where to hike for my next birthday, Gibraltar???
We made it! Sign at the top of Mount Lee

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Making Memories into a Memoir

First Graduating DCS Class 1971
One of the challenges writing a memoir in your 70's is that sometimes your recall of specific events starts to fade. Fortunately for me I get to revisit those memories at the annual TWA DCS (Director of Customer Service) reunion. Our 2016 reunion was held in San Antonio.  It was a pleasure reminiscing with the guys and gals who shared our unique in-flight positions with the airline. As we strolled together along the Riverwalk, toured the Alamo, or dined together as a group, we recounted stories of our experiences during that "golden age of aviation".

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!