SLICE OF LIFE/CHILDHOOD FLIGHT
November 15, 1965
Thanks for looking after Duke while we’re gone. Give him a hug and a bone for me and Kate. We miss you both already.
Our plane trip was weird. It was like the first day of school on a flying bus. Everyone all dressed up and acting polite. The plane was so big in real life. I tried to count how many people could ride in it, but everyone kept moving around and acting nervous.
Inside the plane, the chairs were in rows with a walkway down the middle. Each one had a table that folded down from the seat in front. Kate sat next to the window with Mom next to her and I sat next to the window with Dad. We sat in the row in front of Mom and Kate.
Once everyone was in, the Captain said, “Hi” and told us where we were going. The door closed and it felt like we were in a long skinny tube. Next, this pretty lady in a dark blue suit and hat gave us a lesson on what to do if there was trouble. Mom and Dad said Sis and I should look out the window and not to be scared. It was just something they always did, kind of like a fire drill. So Kate and I did what we were told and the plane rolled away from the building. The men on the ground acted like crossing guards and wore giant earmuffs because the plane was so loud. Instead of holding stop and go signs, they held bright red sticks and did all kinds of movements with them. It was almost like cheerleading.
The pretty lady checked everyone’s seat belts and made up put our tables up. She said we could put them back down once we were in the air. She and the lady from the back of the plane took their seats. Both women looked like models, and Dad said they were stewardesses and that their jobs were to take care of us. They would bring us food, pillows and blankets, and help us in any way they could.
We started moving really fast. It was so loud. We covered our ears until we lifted off the ground. We yawned and yawned until the plane stopped climbing. It was like when you go up to the mountains and your ears pop. Dad said it had to do with pressure. We watched the cars and buildings disappear and all we could see were blocks of color. It looked like grandma’s quilt. Once we were high enough we wanted to open the windows to catch some clouds in our empty bottles, but they were glued shut. It has something to do with pressure again. Then Kate asked when we would be able to see God’s cloud or some angels and Mom said we weren’t flying high enough for that. Too bad, that would really be neat.
Next, they served us dinner and everything was so fancy. It was almost like eating in a restaurant, except it was sort of like a cafeteria with the trays and all. The food was good and Kate and I fell asleep for a little while. When we woke up it was night and it was snowing. But it didn’t look like any snow we had ever seen. With the lights on the wings we could see the snow zoom past us like white lines on a black chalkboard. It didn’t fall down and you couldn’t see the flakes. It was the weirdest!
Kate and I needed to go to the bathroom and Mom said we could go together. Like you, I’m just six and a half and Kate’s only five and we never get to go to the bathroom by ourselves in public. We felt so grown up and sort of strolled up the aisle like the models that waited on us.
The bathroom was strange. It was small and it smelled yucky. The toilet and sink were both shiny metal and when you flushed the toilet it made a sucking noise. We wondered where the water and pee went. When we washed our hands the water came out slow and sort of moaned, but the soap smelled wonderful. I think that was to help cover the yucky smell. Sis found some white tubes wrapped in paper and we each took one as a souvenir. Mom’s face turned bright red when we came rushing back to our seats holding the tubes high in the air, like the men on the ground. A couple of people were laughing, we weren’t sure why and mother quickly put our sticks away and said she’d explain later. But every time we asked she just turned red all over again and starting talking about something else just like she does when people on TV are kissing.
Dad started fiddling with his watch and told Mom to adjust hers’ ahead an hour so we would be on the right time when we landed. I asked where the time went and Dad said not to worry, we would get it back when we went the other direction. Wow, I never knew planes were magical time machines too!
Soon, we had to fasten our seat belts because it was getting bumpy, the clouds must get sort of hard when it snows. Before we landed, we had to circle the airport two times and everyone leaned forward until the plane’s rumbling wheels slowed down. We drove up to the building with the men showing the way. The door opened and everyone started leaving as the captain and stewardesses said goodbye. When it was our turn, the captain told Kate and I that we had earned our wings and gave us each a pin that looked like the set of wings he was wearing. We said thank you and went inside to meet our aunt and uncle.
The plane ride was something else, but so far I don’t think much of Missouri. I can’t wait to ride the plane back home to Colorado to get back that hour we lost. I feel like I’m going to bed in the middle of the day out here. Well, only nine more days. See you soon. Thanks again for taking care of Duke. He’s such a good dog.
Author’s Note: I felt “Epistolary” or letterform was the perfect way to share the story of my first plane ride with my family in the sixties. I hope you have enjoyed a young girls view of the then, elegant airline industry. Original story date: August 22, 2011. The photos were created for this story.