Feeling the time pressure here, so you you get a quick post today. I no longer remember how I happened upon this video, but the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fans among you (including Heather, pictured below) and/or jazz fans might enjoy it even more than I did.
My father was an engineer with the General Electric Company. He worked in several places, including Erie, Pennsylvania and Lynn, Massachusetts, and maybe some others I don't know because that was before I was born. Later in life he worked at Valley Forge and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. But for most of my childhood he was at company headquarters in Schenectady, New York. He had a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, and a master's in physics, and I almost never knew what he did in his job. The genealogist in me regrets that I was so incurious, but he couldn't have told me anyway, as much of his work was classified. Once, many years later, when were visiting the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (where in retirement he worked as a docent), he pointed to a photo in an exhibit on military airplanes and casually said, "That was one of my projects."
Dad didn't spend a lot of time on the road, but he did have "business trips" that took him around the country. Again, I never knew what for—nor, as a child, was I aware of much besides the souvenirs he'd bring back with him. It's hard to believe that he used to fly in prop planes, though I do remember him expressing his regret that the Schenectady Airport consigned itself to being a backwater of the Albany Airport when it chose not to make the runways long enough to accommodate jets.
By 1960, however, he was enjoying jet travel between here and California. And I mean enjoying. General Electric was not the kind of company to send engineers First Class, or even Business Class if they had had it back then. But in those golden days of flying, Coach was a little different. Here's what he wrote in his diary about one particular trip.
September 25, 1960
This morning I caught Eastern Airlines' 8:40 a.m. flight along with Renato Bobone from Albany to New York City and thence by Trans World Airlines' Boeing 707 jet to Los Angeles and a week in that city. The flight, as is often the case in a jet, was rather uneventful. We left New York at 11 a.m. with overcast weather and it was not long after we were on our way that dinner began. It was interesting to note than TWA left a copy of Newsweek and Life on the table between each pair of seats for passengers’ reading. A good idea.
Dinner started off with the usual two drinks. Then a crabmeat cocktail with two glasses of white wine followed by dinner with two glasses of red wine or champagne.
Dinner was roast beef that I had trouble identifying. I think it was roast tenderloin. Anyway it was very good. For dessert I ignored the calorific foods and had a bunch of grapes. And coffee.
Not too long after this repast, we began flying over the mountains and I sat in the lounge to get some pictures. I may have some fair ones. The flight took us over the southern edge of the Grand Canyon, but haze may have prevented my pictures from being their best. The desert was very interesting to watch. It looks desolate, yet must contain much life. I would like to be able to see it first hand and leisurely sometime.
We landed in Los Angeles about 12:20 Pacific Standard Time and we checked into the Hyatt House. We rested a bit and then Renato and I took advantage of the Hyatt House swimming pool and the sunny day. I also spent some time staring at the TV at the San Francisco - New York professional football game. The Giants won 21-19.
(I confess my near-total ignorance of professional sports when I reveal that I laughed when I read that last line, since I assumed a San Francisco vs. New York game meant that somehow the Giants were playing the Giants.)
That really was the golden age of coach-class flying, with jet-speed travel, lots of room, and sumptious meals. Not to mention at least six free drinks. Plus, if his times were correct, I make the flight time from New York to Los Angeles at four and a half hours, at least an hour quicker than is standard today.
And yet it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. Here's what he wrote about the return flight.
I got on the plane about 10:00 and by after 10:30 the plane had not left. Someone reported they were waiting for someone on a connecting flight, but the hostess said she didn't believe that was the real reason. Eventually the agent came aboard and announced over the public address system, "All passengers please deplane immediately. We have a bomb scare." We all left right away with no excitement or panic. We were locked in the waiting room while they removed the baggage and searched the plane. They served jus coffee and pastry while we waited.
Eventually we were all interviewed by the FBI—the interview consisting of questions as to name, address, reason for trip, were we involved in a court action, had we reeived threats, might someone be playing a practical joke un us? Then we identified our luggage, stood by while it was searched, and thence back to the plane. We took off three hourse late. The flight back was really uneventful, although as usual I got only about 2 hours' sleep.
We came to New York to find rather couldy skies and a moderate delay before we could land. Since I had an 11 a.m. flight out of La Guardia [having landed at Idlewild], I was not anxious to see much in the way of delays. We finally got off the plane at 10:15 but I did not get my bag until 10:30. The cab driver said it was a 20 minute trip to La Guardia and he made it in 20 minutes. I dashed to the Eastern Airlines counter and thence to the gate to find them just about to pull the stairs away from the plane. I got aboard—but I was the last one to make it.
Even during COVID-tide our church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis with the annual Blessing of the Animals. We attended virtually, as it was again held in the sanctuary instead of outside, and last year all that fur and dander was Not Good. It was fun to see the pets from a distance, however.
Even more fun was what you'll hear if you go to this YouTube video of the service, which should be set to begin at 21:38. (Sorry I can't embed it here.) Soon you will hear what the priest spoke at the point of the service where he usually tells the congregation, "You may be seated."
This was also the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, but I know Father Trey well enough to be certain he was not speaking to them.
It is possible I was born in the wrong place and time. Imagine a society where people go to a health spa for this:
The patients eat and drink cocoa and chocolate all the time while they rest, admire the scenery, gossip, and grow fatter every day.
Here's the story, from Ohio's New Castle News, February 5, 1907.
I think America owes ISIS an apology. We were so self-righteous over their destruction of ancient monuments—sometimes more upset by that than by their destruction of people. Now we are doing it ourselves. If the history isn't as old as in the Middle East, it's the same abominable impulse.
That's as heavy as this post is going to get. On the lighter side, here is a word for our modern iconoclasts from Psalm 105, at least as interpreted by Sunday's church bulletin.
No doubt the Swiss National Day activities are somewhat muted this year, but when you are a venerable 729 years old, it's certainly reason to celebrate.
In honor of my favorite country-in-law, here are some Sporcle quizzes for your education and amusement.
Name the Swiss cantons by date (but you can enter them in any order)
The Alto Wore Tweed (Liturgical Mysteries #1) by Mark Schweizer (St. James Music Press, 2002)
This book is just for fun. If there is something of redeeming social value about it, I didn't notice, but I laughed longer and harder than I have over a book in a long time. Our choir director introduced me to the series—we get some of our anthems from St. James Press—and it was also recommended by other choir members.
The protagonist is an Episcopal church music director who is also a detective and a writer of "hard-boiled" detective fiction. I'm not a fan of that school of detective stories, but I know enough about it to get some of the jokes. And as a member of an Episcopal church choir, I can tell you that the author hits just close enough to the truth to be really funny. What someone without this background would think, I don't know.
I was warned that I'd have to not mind the "religious irreverence," but it's not irreverent toward God, and a bit of irreverence toward choir and church foibles is probably not a bad thing. Some of the situations and humor are "adult" (though I hate to use that term) but not graphic. I have a very low tolerance for such things and still enjoyed the book a lot, so I doubt anyone else would have a problem; I mention it merely as a grandchild warning to parents. More to the point, I don't think any of our grandchildren have enough experience as yet to appreciate the satire.
In January of 2015 I began a walking tour. Not a literal tour, though the walking was real enough. I've been keeping track of the steps I take each day, and used that information to take a virtual walk from home here in Central Florida to our family in New Hampshire. That took most of a year to accomplish: I "arrived" on December 16. 2015.
From there I took on a bigger challenge: letting my steps take me on to our family in Switzerland. I picked up the pace and reached that goal in a mere year and a half, on June 30, 2017.
Finally, I turned around and made the long journey home. That was a tough one, but nearly three years later, on May 31, 2020, my weary feet crossed the threshold. Home at last! (And now I find I must remain here for an indeterminate time!)
I began keeping track of my walking in mid-July 2014. Since then I have walked over 10,000 miles, a figure I find totally astonishing, even if most of them were accomplished walking around and around our backyard pool.
The world may be facing some very serious difficulties right now, but the world has always faced serious difficulties.
One of the best ways to combat the depression and ennervation that come during such times is with laughter. Not course, mocking laughter, but the kind of bright, wholesome, joyful comedy that lifts the spirit.
Here's one I found yesterday. It depends for most of its comedy on familiarity with the old television show, Monk, so I know several of my readers might not find it as funny as we did. But I hope you enjoy it anyway. (The fun part starts at about 1:29.)
I thought these had disappeared decades ago, yet look what showed up when I cleaned out our closet! (Click to enlarge.)
I shouldn't have to tell anyone how old they are.
My idea is to take the flags off the poles and wash them gently, then frame them to hang on the wall. I'd have done it already but shopping for frames online is not yielding any joy right now. Normally I go to JoAnn's and spend a lot of time pawing through their frames to find something that looks right and is in good shape, a practice that is currently frowned upon. I'd consider taking a chance at buying them online, but I can't find the right sizes in stock. So I wait.
But I'm so happy to have found these flags that I had to share them.
I haven't actually put this sign on our front door—yet. At the best of times I don't like solicitors coming to our house, and this is not the best of times for strangers to come breathe on us and touch our doorknobs. Not to mention the risk to themselves, going door to door. Yet still they come.