Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Book for the New Year!

Anne, Shapco pressman John and printer's representative Howard look over the interior black and white pages of Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, Recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies, on Tuesday, December 23, 2008.  John is running these pages 16-up on a huge press.

Joan Lee, editor and book designer, "Fish," Shapco pressman, and Anne look over a proof of the cover as it is being  run.  

It was exciting to watch "my baby" being born in this pristine eat-off-the-floor, climate-controlled print shop filled with huge, gazillion-dollar presses and smiling, welcoming employees.  Next will be cutting and folding and then the book will be sent to a bindery for the finishing touches. 

Bottom line:  Fujiyama Trays will be shipped next week!  Stay tuned for details on how to obtain your copy.

May January 1, 2009 bring the dawning of a peaceful and harmonious year and growing appreciation for the fond memories many of us share of the bygone magical days of twentieth-century passenger flight.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Delta North, Blackberry ticketing and Lunds Won't Grind Ham Anymore!

Sorry.  I didn't mean to vent.  But this is catastrophic.  I just know my mother is spinning in her grave at the news.

I was planning to devote todays post to giving kudos to the MAC (Metropolitan Airports Commission) for working out a deal with Delta whereby they will keep 10,000 jobs and a regional operations center known as "Delta North" here on the frozen tundra.  Would rather it was called "Northwest North," but lets don't quibble over naming rights.  We kept jobs in Minnesota.  Good work, MAC!
Don't know if kudos are in order for the introduction of "paper-free boarding passes" as I don't own a Blackberry or any other "mobile device."  I thought I was way ahead of the game given that I do own a MacBook Pro, I have a website and I blog fairly frequently.  Thats what happens every time I think I am ahead of the tech game.  I get blindsided by the advance of ever more sophisticated technological devices and what they can do. I'm sure my friend Suzi is delighted. She and her "hand held device" can do anything.  Now, she will be able to board a Northwest or Delta flight with her boarding pass, as well as her entire life, on her mobile device.  Hers, by the way, is also bi-lingual.  I have heard Jose' with my own ears.
Now to the meat of this post, in more ways than one.  I stopped in at Lunds to order the meat for my mother's ham loaf, a family tradition at Christmas - - - and when I approached the friendly butcher to ask for three pounds of ground, smoked ham and two pounds of ground fresh pork, he responded, "We don't grind ham."  I said, "Pardon me?"  He said, "We don't grind ham."  I said, "Yes you do."  He said, "No we don't."  I said, "But my family has been having Lunds grind our ham loafs since time immemorial - and even before that!"  He said, "Not any more.  They won't let us grind ham."  I said, "Who is 'they'?"  He said, "The corporate office."  "Aha!" I said.  I had expected him to said the State Inspections Department or some such heavy-handed authority.  But no.  It was "the corporate office."  (If this diatribe is unsettling to you - after all I am taking the erstwhile venerable institutions Lunds and Byerlys to task here - you might prefer going to a news web site to try to figure out if Minnesota will have two US Senators by Inauguration Day.)
As I was saying, "Aha! the corporate office."  I'll bet this is the same corporate office that banished pecan rolls from their bakeries.  The same corporate office that has allowed the bakery to continue making Kringler coffee cakes, but has bumped up the price from $4.99 to $5.99.  $5.99 to $6.99.  Then they put them in a box, for heavens sake, and bumped them up to $7.99, the current price.  $7.99 for a coffee cake!  In a box!  I was perfectly happy with it on a cardboard and shrink-wrapped. Butterfluff rolls also disappeared but then they reappeared some months later.  Probably in answer to complaints.  Sadly, they forgot how to make them in the interim and they haven't been the same since.
I get misty-eyed when I remember the home economist that was a presence at every Lunds store, every day.  She wore a white uniform with a handkerchief in her pocket and a name tag.  She would walk the aisles looking for poor befuddled shoppers and help them figure out what to cook and how to cook it!  She became our friend or, more accurately, family member.  I wonder what happened to her?  
Remember the machine that squeezed the oranges for fresh orange juice before your very eyes? Rows of glass bottles filled with 'orange gold' nestled in a bed of crushed ice next to the orange squeezer.
I have remained fairly stoic and quietly endured most of these changes.  But the butcher not being allowed to grind the ham for Mother's ham loaf?  That is the last straw.  Up until now, every time I'd get down on Lunds or Byerlys because some favorite item or service disappeared I would forgive them and keep coming around. I would forgive them because I would remind myself that they always cheerfully ground smoked ham and fresh pork for Mother's ham loaf.  Always.  Until now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Color me Delta

Sad week on the prairie.  The first NWA airplane has been painted in Delta colors.

It took twelve days and 146 gallons of paint to transform this Boeing 747-400, which will fly to Asia next week. Another milestone in the ongoing saga of THE BIGGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD. 
Photos courtesy of Rich Siakel.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"When we are up there, I am going to try to see God!"

John Roth sends along a delightful account of his first airplane ride - on a Boeing Stratocruiser, no less!

I was four years old in 1954, living on 73rd and Russell in West Richfield, an area known to many Minneapolis residents as "the sticks."  To the North lay the downtown area with its department stores and streetcar tracks, and the awesome and majestic Foshay Tower.  To the West lay the great unknown and undeveloped Edina:  largely sand and gravel pits around what would become France Avenue, and rolling hills of green grass and trees.  Southdale was still on the drawing board.  Just to the South was the Kramer farm, where as boys we would slip under a wooden fence and pick a few forbidden fruits off of the green apple trees that lined the gravel road called Penn Avenue.  Cows grazed in fields that would become Southtown Center.  The bells of St. Richards tolled out their random three-toned melody every morning as I awoke, and I waited for the occasional moment when all three bells would sound simultaneously.
But it was the mysterious East that held the greatest fascination for me.  It was out of the Eastern sky that a roaring sound would frequently announce the arrival overhead of three dark-colored and ominous airplanes flying in a formation which my neighbor friend called a "maneuver."  These planes flew LOW to the ground, and my father still recalls a time when he was sure they were about to crash.  They did their routine, and returned dutifully to wherever it was that they went.  I believe these planes still make their runs, and are called C-160s.  They belong to the Reserve.  Eventually, of course, I knew that they made their home at Wold-Chamberlain Field, because our family took an occasional jaunt Eastward on 66th Street to the airport for a close-up look at the planes and runways from the "Observation Deck."  A tiny bag of popcorn from a quaint lobby machine was the usual refreshment.
Another part of our trips to the airport was a stop at the Airloha Drive-In, with its Stratoburgers, exotic Hawaiian look, and incredible "Mike-to-Mike" ordering system.  That was living!
Imagine my surprise when Dad announced that we were going to fly.  His father was ailing in Detroit, and we would board the Stratocruiser to go for a visit.  I would become part of this world of wonder that the airport represented!  I had no dog named Toto following behind, but I surely felt as Dorothy must have when arriving at Oz.  We boarded the majestic airliner, and were escorted by smartly clad stewardesses to facing seats!  We were handed little paper Dentyne-sized packages of what I believe was an orange-flavored gum to chew.  (My Mother explained something to me about air pressure and the equalizing action of the chewing).  The very idea of going up into the air caused me to exclaim to my parents, "When we are up there, I am going to try to see God!"  They handed me an air sickness bag, and likely instructed me in its use.
We took off.  And suddenly, we stopped in mid-air!  Or so I thought.  When the inertia of the takeoff settled, I THOUGHT we had stopped.  My parents chuckled lovingly at my statement, but every part of this experience was new and mysterious to me.  I was making a quantum leap from that quiet, dusty little corner of the world called Richfield, into a new reality.  And the Stratocruiser was my ship.  God did not appear to that little boy in the facing seat, chewing gum and looking out the window, but the little boy came back to Richfield a little wiser, and eager to share what he HAD seen with anyone who would listen.
So it is 2008.  The Foshay has been dwarfed by a new Minneapolis skyline.  Edina is developed, to say the least.  The bells of St. Richards have long been retired.  The International Headquarters of Best Buy Corporation occupy much of the land along Penn Avenue in Richfield.  The airport has grown astronomically from its humble origins, as have the planes.  My oldest son works for Northwest Airlines.  I have personally flown around the world, and still love the experience.  Even with the changes, I still get that thrill I first experienced when boarding the Stratocruiser.  Maybe I'm still hoping to see God "when I'm up there!"