My earliest memory of an airport, which may actually be a composite of memories or created memory from hearing stories from other, occurred when we went to SFO to see Grandpa Oscar & Grandma Marion (unless I am making this up too) board a plane and fly away. My next memory of an airplane is flying to Japan, via Anchorage, Alaska. I know that I turned 8 years old while in Japan, so that this dates to the late 1960’s. What stands out in my mind was that going to the airport and flying was a formal affair. The family planned for this, and mother made sure that we were dressed appropriately and behaved ourselves.
My next series of memories of air travel was from the college years, when I took a few flights to and from Seattle, mid-year. This would put the date to around 1980. Travel was still a planned event, but the dress more casual. Songs from the decade before gave travel a melancholy tone: “I’m leaving on a jet plan…”, “Silver wings…”, “I spend too much time in taxi-cabs, please don’t ask me why…”. I recall this to be an moody era in my life, much better left to dusty corners of my woeful journals.
Linda and I agreed that airports became bus station by the early 1990’s, when we boarded a plane from Florida along with a woman who put her dry-good grocery shopping in the overhead compartment. Really, you can’t buy Cheero’s in the greater Washington, D. C. area? These days people seem to arrive at the airport as if they stepped out of their bedrooms, and are walking down the hall to the bathroom before getting dressed. Of course, with airports becoming medium security entry points, why get all dressed before arriving.
As much as we express a value on private property, we act like a society of nomadic travelers. Our cars and airplanes have replaced the wagons and tents the past. Maybe related to changes in traveling and merchandizing, or maybe related to post 9/11 security issues, airport terminals have become small, transient trading posts. In addition to the coffee shop, bar, and news stand, we now have all style of stall sized shops from national retail store: clothes, books, electronic devices, etc. I even noticed that the waiting area had a wide screen TV monitory every 50 feet or so broadcasting CCN Airport Headline News channel. I was amused that the photo which Linda took above captured the word “HERO” above my head. Great coincidence, huh!
So, I sit at Gate A2 at BWI awaiting our flight to Rhode Island. I brought a magazine to read, breakfast cereal and fruit to each, and had a cup of coffee from our friend’s home, where we stayed over night. I’m not contributing much to this economy.