Sunday, January 29, 2012

My First Airplane Ride

It was in the winter of 1954, when I was a student at Northeastern University. My wife, Lois, and daughters, three month old Sharon, and 15 month old Connie, and I shared a tiny apartment on Francis Street in Boston, when, in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, there developed a polio epidemic. The Salk vaccine had not yet been made available, and large numbers of children were coming down with this dreaded, paralysing disease

Lois and I decided to protect our girls by taking them to Towson, Maryland to stay with Lois’ parents until the epidemic had run its course. I drove them down in my 1940 Plymouth (which had an Edmunds hot head and was chopped and with dual exhausts), and then I drove right back alone. After a few weeks I decided to fly down for a weekend visit. I left Boston on an Eastern Airlines’ Silver Falcon (DC 3).

In those days there were machines in the lobby of an airport where you could buy trip insurance by feeding in quarters. I put in two quarters, looked at the two quarters I had left, and decided that was enough. After take-off, we had just been served dinner on trays that sat on your lap when the plane hit an air pocket that all the airlines say don’t exist. All our dinners ended up on the ceiling of the plane, and when we hit the bottom of the pocket it felt like we were hitting the ground. I thought that we were going to crash, and the next thought that came into my mind was,”Why didn't I put those other two quarters in the insurance machine?”.

Obviously we didn’t crash, and the rest of the trip and the trip back were routine. I don’t remember whether I went for my family or whether Lois’ parents brought them back to Boston, but in a few more weeks the epidemic seemed over, and they returned.


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At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

That's a great story Russ. It's funny that you should mention Francis Street in Boston because I was walking on Francis Street just this past Monday to keep a 5:00PM appointment with a Gastro doctor on the 8th floor of the Lowery Bldg. at 110 Francis street.
I took the train in from Mansfield. A lot has changed in Boston through the years. Most of my favorite music stores are out of business and long gone.
Today, if you want to get around in Boston you better learn about Charley Tickets, TAP Cards, and those new fangled fare machines in the T stations or you're going to be dead in the water.
I applied for my Senior Charley Card at Back Bay Station as soon as I got in there last Monday. I expect to be visiting Bean Town quite a bit this year.

Back in 1964-65, I was stationed at Fort Dix NJ and I used to fly Eastern Airlines almost every weekend from NY to Boston and we hit many of those air pockets. Man were those scary! I swear, that plane must have dropped about 500 feet.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

I don't know anything about Charley Tickets and TAP Cards, but I'm sure my two grandsons, who live there now, do. The whole area where I used to live (when Steve was born we moved one block to St. Albans Road) has been taken over by medical facilities.

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

The train fare system has changed since we've visited Boston. Everything is automated and done with machines that make change. These machines will even take old tokens and add value to the Charley Tickets. Here's their web site that explains the new train fare system.


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