Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Girl on the Winding Staircase

Sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery, doesn't it?

The identity of this particular girl was a mystery until yesterday, when Laraine Tracy phoned to tell me she was the girl pictured on page 58 of my new book Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels - Recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies. 
I met Laraine on Saturday, March 21, at the Bloomington Art Center Writer's Festival and Book Fair.  She introduced herself as a former stewardess for Northwest Airlines from 1948 until 1952 when she worked on the Boeing Stratocruiser.  She bought a book and said she, too, had stories to share about those olden, golden days. We exchanged phone numbers.  
Then last evening, after she had read the book, she called to tell me she was the stewardess climbing up the circular staircase from the Stratocruiser's lower level Fujiyama cocktail lounge, in the photo on page 58.  Not only that, she said she helped write the recruiting brochure pictured on page 15.  Plus she had more stories.
We are meeting for lunch this Friday to swap stories.  I will bring paper and pencil. Probably a recorder.  This should be good!
Today Laraine lives in Bloomington Minnesota and volunteers at the Bloomington Center for the Arts.  She serves on the BAC Literary Council. She has published a collection of essays, On The Other Hand ..., in which her reflections "On Airplanes" delights and entertains.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicago's Midway Airport

Nancy Rogers working on a DC-4

Southwest Airways is up and running from MSP to Chicago as of this weekend.  The price is right.  And their destination airport is more convenient than O'Hare for most travelers as it is closer to downtown.  Midway Airport.
Ah, this brings back memories of flying a 'twice-a-day' schedule, MSP to MDW, on a DC-4 in the 1950's. Non-stop flight time eastbound was 1:55, ramp to ramp.  Westbound: 2:05.  It took us a little longer, then.  Although when one factors in current security, baggage and traffic issues with today's shorter flight times, it is probably a wash.
I remember landings at Midway in pea soup visibility - often the case with the "lake effect" weather in Chicago - and guessing where the DeKalb corncob water tower might be if I could see it. It was tall enough that it would definitely interfere with our flight path if we were off the mark. Thankfully, in my case, we never were.  
Does anybody know if that water tower is still there? I might have to fly into Midway again just to find out.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Time MARCHes On!

Lady Skywriter enjoying president Bruce Kitt's welcoming remarks at the NWA Histoy Center February 7, 2009
Yikes - it is March already!  Sorry for the dearth of posts in February.  Happily, it was mostly due to book activity.  Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, Recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies, enjoyed a flurry of interest, beginning with the book launch party at the NWA History Centre on February 7.  Guests freshened up with warm, scented oshibori towels before snacking on recreations of Fujiyama Trays.  Intriguing snippets of "hangar talk" were heard as one walked between tables occupied by the flight and ground crews of yesterday.  Hands imitating wings could be observed slicing through imaginary skies.  Friendships and acquaintances were renewed and new "airplane nuts" introduced.  Folks came from as far away as Seattle, Tucson and Detroit for the occasion.  Thankfully Minnesota winter weather cooperated as many drove a couple of hours to attend.
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Lady Skywriter will participate in the Bloomington Center for the Arts 6th Annual Writer's Festival and Book Fair:
March 21, 2009
Bloomington Art Center
1800 West Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington
10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Check out their website for more information
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You knew it had to come up someday . . . .
The Irish no-frills carrier, Ryan Air, is considering coin-operated lavatories on its aircraft.
To "coin" a phrase, "leave the bathrooms alone!"