Fly the friendly Skies…

 

My husband and I are preparing to take a trip to Florida with five of our thirteen grandchildren. We are driving because the kids aged 8, 11, 11, 12 and 14 want to actually see all of the states, not just fly over them.  When we planned this trip last year it was going to be a surprise for my parents who live in Florida.  Originally the plan was to bring all five of our kids, their spouses and all of the grandkids.

The logistics were a nightmare but we pressed on with the plans.

When I was a seven-year-old, first grader at Saint Christopher’s in Northeast Philadelphia, my father worked for Eastern Airlines. He was the VIP Representative which basically meant he had drinks all day with people the airline deemed important enough to smooze.

 

Airport

My father was so proud of me for getting straight A’s on my report card.  The next day he put me in his MG and took me to a children’s clothing store. With the help of a young saleswoman, we picked out a sleeveless pink and white seersucker dress. The woman suggested a white hat with a pink bow, pink ruffled socks, white patent leather shoes and a small white pocketbook to match. When Dad added a bathing suit I was confused.

 

Pink and white seesucker dress

I was even more confused when I left the store wearing my new bathing suit underneath of the new dress.  An hour later I was sitting in a first class window seat being served a Shirley Temple with extra cherries.

Eastern_Airlines_Boeing_727

Seated next to me, sipping on a Chivas Regal, Dad explained he was taking me to Ft. Lauderdale for the day, as a reward for my perfect report card. We spent the afternoon on the beach, had dinner at a fancy outdoor restaurant where I chased geckos and begged Dad to catch two of them and let me take them home.  He laughed and said they could not live in Philadelphia because of our cold winters.

gecko

Shortly after take- off on the return flight, the flight attendant took me into the cockpit. The pilots let me ‘fly’ the plane. The Captain gave me a set of gold plated wings (not the plastic ones) and told me to go back to my seat because he had a surprise for me. The surprise was a spectacular light show provided by the Gemini VI Rocket that was launched from the Kennedy Space Center.

Rocket launch Gemini 4

After seeing the rocket, the flight attendant handed me a little pillow and a soft blanket. I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I was back in Philadelphia in my father’s arms. I was so cold and in a lot of pain. I was as red as a lobster. It was painful to have my dad hold me so I walked.  My brand new patent leather shoes pinched my sunburned feet tighter with each step.

I remember feeling sad that night because whenever our family went on vacation we had to get dressed up and fly everywhere. It always meant there would be a lot of walking and a lot of hurrying up to wait.  I thought about how lucky my friend’s were because all they had to do was get into their cars and  get out at the Jersey Shore. I would sit on my front porch and watch our neighbors load up their station wagon with toys, bags of food, clothes and smiling kids.

My husband and I have been spending family weeks on the beach in New Jersey with our kids and grandkids for the last eight-years.

This year I wanted the kids to experience another view of the Atlantic Ocean and I felt a strong need for them to connect with my father, on his turf.

My father got sick in December. I flew down to be with him and my Mother. He passed away in January. On the flight home there was a man sitting next to me drinking Chivas Regal.

chivas-regal-18

Our family reunion trip fell all to pieces but the seven, possibly eight of us that are headed down I-95 South in a few weeks are excited. I will be feeling like an excited seven-year-old kid as we load the monster SUV with food, clothes and children.

PathfinderMy face will be wearing a big smile but I know every time I look up at the sky and see an airplane, I will miss my Dad.

Dad and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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