[I have been having so much fun posting excerpts from from my father's journals that I decided to give it its own category: Glimpses of the Past. This is the first one posted in that new category; eventually I'll try to go back and include previous posts.]
In 1964, my father and his co-workers flew from Albany, New York to Washington, DC for a meeting with The Customer. (It wasn't till decades later that I learned that the customer was actually the CIA, but that's another story.) Their return flight was somewhat eventful, as he recalled in his journal. (Emphasis, and comments in brackets, mine.)
When we got to the National Airlines counter we found the plane would be 15 minutes late (we found out later that the plane had been delayed in Jacksonville, Florida by President Johnson's plane either coming or going) so we had plenty of time. Then there was an announcement of further delay—the plane had made in emergency landing in Richmond because a passenger had had a heart attack. We had an hour and 50 minutes between planes at Idlewild [former name of JFK airport], so there was no panic over these delays, but there was a growing concern. Our plane finally arrived and we left Washington about an hour and 15 minutes late. We stopped at Baltimore and then the pilot appeared to make very good time between Baltimore and New York, making the trip in about 30 minutes. We deplaned and waited a while for the bus which would take us to the Mohawk Airlines terminal, but we arrived at the Mohawk ticket counter about 9:40 for our 10 p.m. flight, so we really didn't have any trouble.
Being delayed by the president and then by a passenger's heart attack are unusual enough, but what really struck me is the part I highlighted in bold. Arriving at the ticket counter 20 minutes before departure and having that be of no concern at all? Now that's impressive. Progress over time is not always in the positive direction.
I sang this song in sixth grade, in an elementary school chorus where we we were taught three-part harmony and music theory as well. It was pretty remarkable. I had actually forgotten about America, Our Heritage until I found the program for our May 1964 concert in my dad's journal for that year. But as soon as I saw the title, words and music came flooding back. It must have made an impression on me, because I sure can't say that's true of all the songs we sang.
I find this song particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving. It moves me to gratitude that this was truly the America I grew up in, and that, dark as the days may sometimes seem, this American Dream is worth working for, praying for, fighting for, and above all hoping for.
America, Our Heritage
Words and music by Helen Steele
High towering mountains, fields gold with grain,
Rich, fertile farmlands, flocks on the plain,
Homes blessed with peace, with love, without fears;
This is the heritage we've kept through the years.
Wide rolling prairies, lakes deep and broad,
Canyons majestic, fashioned by God,
Life lived in peace, contented and free:
This is the heritage forever to be.
Stout hearts and true hold fast what is ours
God give us courage through darkest hours.
God give us strength and guide with thy hand
America, our heritage, our homeland.
The Girl Scout version skips a verse, but you'll get the idea.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!