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Today in My History

2000: Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Dean?
2001:  Slacker Routines
2002:  Big Brother is Listening
2003:  Good Friday
2004:  Debunking the Myth
2005:  Like Sands through the Hourglass

2006:  Screaming at the TV
2007: All's Fair in Love and Cards
2008:  The "Good" People
2009:  A Weird Meme
2010:  Save Me a Seat
2011:  Old Friends

Bitter Hack
Updated: 4/17

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 4/12
"Then Again"

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Santa Barbara, April 2012

Video of the Week

Santa Barbara, 4/2012

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Airy Persiflage

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19 April 2012

We have received the information about our flight to Prague this summer (then to Budapest and on up the rivers to Amsterdam).  We are booked on United Airlines with Char and Mike and are even seated with them (on our first Viking trip, they put us on separate planes!) .  Char suggested we pay the extra $130 and upgrade our seats to Economy-Plus.  If I recall correctly from our trip to France, when we also upgraded, it only means about 2" more leg room (maybe not even that much), but, trust me, it was worth every penny. When you are flying some 12 hours and don't have enough space in front of your belly to lower the tray table, those extra couple of inches make a huge difference.

Now that we are in the stage of trip anticipation where it is close enough to start thinking about checking web sites for our hotels, and the towns we will explore en route, I found myself thinking about my father, who died in 1987 without ever having been on an airplane and, with one exception, never traveled farther out of California than Nevada (and then only because my aunt and uncle lived there).

It's not that he never traveled, of course.  He traveled twice a week between San Francisco and Los Angeles, working the mail on the train. 

When he was a young man, he wanted to join the Navy and see the world, but his asthma rendered him 4F so he was not able to serve his country.

He got a job on a freighter going from San Francisco to Hawaii.   He worked in the galley and peeled thousands of potatoes during his trip.  He never talked much about the trip (other than about the potatoes) and I don't know if he got shore time in Honolulu or not.  One would assume that he did.

But when he returned to San Francisco, the city was in the throes of the 1934 Westcoast Longshore strike.  The ships were not able to dock (or if they were, nobody was allowed to get off the ship).  My grandmother, the legend goes, was a force to be reckoned with.  She marched into the offices of Harry Bridges and announced that her boy was on that ship and she demanded that he be allowed to leave the ship.

He was.  I can only imagine how furious my father was.  I'm sure that this was a big adventure for a 20 year old kid and to have Mommy come to rescue you had to be incredibly embarrassing, which is perhaps why he never spoke about it.

Throughout my childhood, our vacations were always within an hour or so drive from San Francisco.  We spent several summers at Boyes Hot Springs, near Sonoma.  A couple of years we went to another resort in the same area.  I don't actually remember a lot of vacations.  We would occasionally go out for a drive on a Sunday afternoon, always to "look at houses."  I was grown and gone from the flat where we lived before he finally agreed to move out of San Francisco, and then only to save his marriage.  (It ended up being the best thing he did and he often wondered why he waited so long.)

When I was in high school, I took 5th place in an essay contest sponsored by the Merchant Marines and I got a one way cruise from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  It was just an overnight trip and my mother and Karen came with me.   We went to Disneyland and then flew home.  It was my first airplane flight--and I think my mother's first flight as well, but my father didn't come with us.

When I graduated from high school, my mother, grandmother and I flew to Hawaii for a week vacation and took a ship home.  The trip was paid for by an inheritance I had received from my godmother, after her death. My father didn't join us.

I don't know why he never took a plane anywhere.  I think the older he got the more afraid he became of flying, but as a man very proud of his manliness, he would never admit that.

I grew up thinking that only rich people traveled to Europe and if it hadn't been for my father, we might never have gotten into international travel.  It was the small inheritance I got from him (which I did not want at all, because of the deteriorated relationship between us at the time of his death) that paid for the trip. After dividing half of the money among our kids, we used the other half of the money take our whole family to England.  The man who tried to find a way to keep me from inheriting his money, the man who never stepped on a plane and who never visited a foreign country paid for seven of us to fly to England and Ireland and have our best vacation ever.

Something ironic about that. But something that makes me smile when I think of him, at least.  (I smile partly because of the happy memories and partly because I think of him rolling over in his grave knowing that his entire life savings was "blown" on a 3 week vacation!)

But thanks to that trip, we discovered that we like "travel" and we have traveled to lots of places I never even dreamed of visiting. 

And once again, this year, we will board yet another airplane and I will probably think, as I almost always do, how sad it was that my father never flew even once.


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When you leave town for 3 days there is a lot of DVR catching up to do



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