Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lake Harriet

When confronted with open questions, as I am this morning, I usually head for Lake Harriet.

Let me explain.

I grew up three blocks south of Lake Harriet at 5101 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, in a house my father built in 1926.  The first 25 years of my life were spent anchored in this location. I earned my 'vagabond' chops in these years in other ways;  family travel as a youngster and then as a stewardess for Northwest Airlines.

Over this quarter-century living at 5101 Queen, a visit to Lake Harriet - either walking the lake (2.8 miles if you hug the shore, 3.0 miles if take the long way around the band shell) or just sitting on a bench - had a rejuvenating effect on me.  Problems were solved, decisions were made, plans were hatched.

Not surprisingly, nearly 50 years after leaving 5101 to get married, I still find myself returning to this magical lake for succor, stimulation and inspiration - whichever is most needed at the time.  In more recent years, story outlines have been conceived, columns written and ideas born under the spell of Lake Harriet.  Also, five troublesome pounds were shed by stepping up the frequency of lake walks prior to my 50th high school reunion - ahem - 6 years ago.

So today, you may ask, what 'open questions' was I considering?  How about these:

*  Will the US financial system be bailed out and duly chastened by congress by week's end? 

*  Will John McCain show up for the scheduled presidential debate Friday night?

 *  Will both NWA and Delta shareholders vote for the merger today?

*  Will the Twins sweep Chicago tonight? And if they do . . .

*  Will they be able to maintain their division lead over the weekend and garner a spot in the playoffs?

These questions, I hasten to add, are not necessarily in order of importance to me.

I received no answers during my Lake Harriet visit this morning.  I never implied the lake was clairvoyant.  I do, however, feel better and am looking forward to a productive day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Coffee, Tea or Who?

I cannot believe it. 

I was happily processing book requests at the library yesterday.  In the interests of productivity, each item receives only a cursory glance - most attention being paid to getting the item on the shelf as quickly as possible for the borrower to pick up. 

I froze . . .  my routine interrupted.  In my hand was a copy of "Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses" by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones with Donald Bain.  The cover had a 1960's look to it.  I checked inside for the year of publication.  It was originally published in 1967 and, amazingly, re-printed in 2003. 

Flipping through the pages, I discover drawings of bosomy, tiny-waisted, long legged, short skirted women introducing each chapter.  I was appalled.  

Then I remembered.  The Sixties!  Gone were the chaste navy blue calf-length skirts, modest white blouses and campaign hats we stewardesses wore in the Fifties.  In their place, the 1960's uniforms featured mini-skirts and perky little hats in magenta, lime, orange and yellow; often paired with color coordinated boots - "made for walking," I'm sure. 

Gone too, it appears, were the inhibitions that resided at the core of most of my colleagues in the dark ages. Oh, there was titillating gossip in our time, all right, and references to the 'mile high club,' but I suspect that ninety-nine percent of it was just talk.  Wishful thinking on the part of the pilots. Unfounded speculation on the part of the stews.

Paging through "Coffee, Tea or Me?" I wonder if it was the same in the 1960's.  Lots of show, but no go.  Is it easier to conclude that these mini-skirt clad babes were party girls than our more modestly dressed counterparts of the Fifties?   Who is to say? 

I guess 'appalled' is a bit strong.  I'll reserve judgement for another day.