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.