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ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: The plane truth

‘Old School’ column: The plane truth

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My childhood family and I were not world travelers. We did visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls once, and take a trip to Tijuana while visiting my sister in California. So I guess we were international travelers of a sort.

But none of us ever took a commercial airline flight. We were train people, or car people, depending on the distance.

In 1952, my dad drove us to Buffalo, N.Y., to receive a posthumous award for my Marine Corps brother, who died in the Korean War. Along the way, we stayed in tourist homes, the pre-cursors of today’s Airbnbs.


Our family train trip carried us to California to meet our new family member, Mikey. I remember being a regular at the club car and having a grand old time. My poor mother, after two days and three nights sleeping in our seats, had ankles the size of grapefruits.

My first commercial flight happened when my husband and I flew to visit my Florida in-laws from our California home. Imagine my unhappy surprise when I discovered I grew green as a cucumber during air travel, barf bag at the ready.

We flew Braniff Airlines, a ham-fisted group if ever there was one. We had foolishly packed a bottle of Chinese oyster sauce in our luggage, a recent culinary discovery. It took multiple washings to get the brown stains out of our underwear, and the suitcase never recovered.

Later, my baby and I flew alone to visit my sister, changing planes at O’Hare. My husband and I booked my flight with a one-hour layover, a long one to novices like us.

As my child and I exited the first flight, I put her in her cute little umbrella stroller and sashayed to my next gate. I began to notice that the gate numbers and letters weren’t decreasing much, so I began to walk a bit faster – a stride instead of a stroll.

A glance at my watch caused me to pick up the pace again. I was still a half hour away with many numbers and letters to go. Finally, 15 minutes from my destination, I began running as I pushed that blessedly flimsy stroller. Jackie Joyner-Kersee would have been proud.

I arrived at the gate, sweaty and shaking, with a child who’d had a blast. I seriously considered ordering a drink, even if it was only noon.
This Old Schooler had a lot to learn about air travel.

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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