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On a Wing and a Prayer!

1950s-tail-of-commercial-aviation-airplane-on-tarmac-with-passengers-AAKN1J
This is how we boarded the airplane in the 50’s and 60’s.

As I climbed the stairs into the airplane I stopped and glanced down at John who was waving goodbye to us. Then I entered the dimly lit cabin. The feeling of being alone hit me; I’m flying for the first time on a commercial airline and traveling with my 14 month old baby girl. We were flying from the San Francisco airport to the Bradly airport in Connecticut.

The stewardess walked us to our assigned seats, she was very friendly.  Susie was sitting on my lap when the pilot announced that we were to fasten our seat belts for take off. Reality set in that I’m buckled in for my safety and it was only my arms that were around Susie would keep her safe.

Eventually I relaxed and enjoyed a lunch we were served. It wasn’t wonderful but it was handed to me fully cooked and I didn’t have to wash the dishes. Susie ate some of my food and a jar of baby food. The next experience was changing a wiggly baby out of a wet cloth diaper as we bounced around in the tiny bathroom. That was the time before disposal diapers! Who could even imagine such a thing. Don’t ask me what I did with the wet diapers, I have no recognition of that.  It was just something we dealt with.

After many hours in the air and one stop over at Chicago airport where we changed planes, the pilot’s deep voice came over the laud speaker “we are approaching  Bradley airport and will be on the ground in 10 minutes. ”  When the plane came to a stop I hurried down the stairs and stepped on to the hot pavement. Running over to greet me was Jenny, my childhood friend, who was holding her little baby in her arms. We hugged each other then walked to her car and catching up with our lives.

How times have changed. In the 50’s and 60’s our friends and family were allowed to meet the plane as it taxied closer to the airport. Now if you saw your friend Jack in the waiting room and you hollered “Hi Jack” you would be wrestled to the floor and thrown in to the interrogation room!

The babies were tried when we reach Jenny’s house and they needed a nap so we put them both in Lori’s crib. Later that day Jenny’s brother came to visit. The first thing he did was to look into the bedroom at Lori and Susie, who were standing side by side holding onto the crib. Dereck couldn’t tell which one was Lori, his niece, who he had seen since her birth. That is how much the girls looked alike! When we were in public people would remark “what adorable twins.” We had fun with that and dressed them alike. Now they don’t look anything alike.

The next day Jenny drove me to Vermont to visit  my father. He had rented a cabin on Lake Champlain for us to stay.  I had not been back to Vermont since I left five years ago.

The two weeks that I planned on staying in Vermont were going by fast. I spent a few days visiting my sister Ellen and her family. After making the rounds of other relatives and friends it was time to drive back to Connecticut.

The next day Jenny drove us to the airport to catch our early morning flight back to San Francisco. I was anxious to be back home, but I knew I’d miss Vermont, my friends, and my family. I was already planning my next trip back. Since John worked for United Airlines, family could fly on a free pass.

Once on the plane I enjoyed my second cup of coffee that day. Susie had fallen asleep in my arms. It would be a couple of hours before we landed at O’Hare Airport where we would change planes and then go onto San Francisco and home.

The weather prediction was calm and clear, no storms in sight. We could look forward to a smooth flight. I had a wonderful time on our trip and Susie seemed happy most of the time. Either I’m delusional on that fact or I blocked out any negative activity.

The transition from one plane to the other went smoothly. I was tried and glad this was our last trek before home. We were in the air about a hour when the pilot announced he had turned the plane around and was heading back to O’Hare airport.  I remember thinking it looked as if the plane had turned around.  The sun was in a different place.

He told us the stewardess would come around to each person and prepare them for a crash landing. She came around with a pillow case and said. “any thing that is on your person that could fly through the air goes in the pillow case.” That included eye glasses, false teeth, shoes etc. I had a pair of high heeled shoes and a hat on that went in the pillow case.

Now the bone chilling instructions came. The landing gear was malfunctioning and could not be released to let the wheels down to slow the plane as we came in for a landing. The sad news is the plane would have to land on its belly at a high speed. The stewardess talked us through what to do if the plane could not stop before running out of runway. If the plane tipped over, it would catch on fire.

The Shute would open up and we could slide down it. There was silence for a moment then the babies that were onboard begin to cry.  No one showed emotion.  It was eerie!

Then the stewardess instructed us to tighten our seat belts and bend so our head was between  our knees and hold on to our ankles. I was frightened for my baby. what was I to do?  The only option I could see was to wrap her in a blanket and hold her on the floor by my feet which I did.

The plane hit the runway with a load thud.  The pilot continuously applied the breaks and let them up.  The screeching of the breaks was deafening as the plane rocked back and forth. The seat belt would tighten as we were thrown forward and felt as if it would cut into you. Then the pilot would apply the breaks again, the plane would rock violently until he let up on the breaks. The plane went the length of the runway and finally came to a stop. I instantly picked Susie up and looked her over, she had bruises on her upper body where I held her so tight and on her legs from hitting the  seat in front of us.

The pilot did a great job of keeping the plane upright.

People got up from their seats and headed in single file to the exit. The stewardess stood in the door way with the open pillow case so every one could retrieve their belongings. I sat for a bit longer then slowly moved to the door and collected my shoes and hat. As I looked out the door of the plane the severity of our situation struck me. Lined up along the runway were firetrucks and many ambulances, also the runway had been foamed.

I was really on my own now no one, not even the stewardess, asked me if my baby was all right. I continued following the passengers as they were directed to another airline only to find out that I was not allowed on this flight because I was on a pass from United Airlines.

I went back to the lobby to look for a clerk that could  make some change.  I wanted to call my husband to let him know I wouldn’t be on that flight.  He wasn’t home so I called our next door neighbor Kenny. Susie was in the phone booth standing on the floor beside me. Once more I called the operator deposited my coins and to my relief Kenny answered the phone. I was holding up pretty well until I heard his voice then I started to cry.  “Our plane crashed. They wouldn’t let me on another airline. There isn’t any restaurants to buy food and I don’t have much money!” I cried out.

There were not many people in the terminal during that night. It was a little creepy. Susie slept some but mostly she wanted to run around. I didn’t sleep at all as I needed to keep an eye on her. There were two flights going to San Francisco during the night and I stood in line both times only to be turned away because the flight was full.

Back to the terminal to wait for the next flight out which turned out to be in the morning.  When it was announced that another flight was leaving for San Francisco I got in line, was almost up to the entrance of the plane, and once again was told the plane was full. I turned around to leave when an older couple stepped out of line and told me to take their place. In all my years I have never forgotten their kindness. It taught me to more mindful of other people who might need a helping hand.

Susie and I were literally dragging our way to the lobby when I spotted John. He  had waited all night at the airport to be sure he would be there when our flight came in. At the sight of John I was overcome with relief. He picked Susie up, then walked to our car and headed home. I didn’t need to be in control any longer! I could now have a good old fashion meltdown!

Until we meet again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A snippet of my life.

My oldest granddaughter Amy bought me a handsome leather bond journal  to write my memoirs in.  After a few months of writing I had a better idea and that was to to create a blog. That is how Patricia’s snippet of life started. Being a newbie on the computer still scares the heck out of me . I am fortunate to have a great friend that is computer savvy and is willing to help me.

The journey of  my blog starts with being born in Vermont during the great depression. I was blessed not remembering the hardest of times.  At four years old I remember hearing the air raid sirens, everyone had to turn their lights outs and pull down the shades. When I was in kindergarten the kids were instructed to hide under your desk when you heard the siren blast. I guess they must of built desks sturdier back than to with stand a bomb!

When I was 18 teen my Mother and I drove cross country to California. I celebrated my 18th birthday some where along route 66. The circle of my life after 15 teen years of living in California has landed me back in Vermont where I Am writing my memoirs in my blog post.

The blogging community is a new adventure for me. I am excited to meet other bloggers and to share blog post with them.

Until we meet again!

 

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A Trip to Los Angeles and Hollywood.

scan0122After that eventful camping trip which included a wonderful weekend at Lake Tahoe as well as an incident with town police, I finished the month of my schooling required to take the cosmetology exam for a California license. There were four students including myself who had just missed the exams in San Francisco by two weeks. Fortunately, the state board offered the exam in other cities.

The four of us decided to take the exam being offered in Los Angeles and Hollywood.  The exam took 12 hours to complete.  The first eight hours was for the physical part: hair cuts, facials, manicures, and the procedure used with perms.  The second day was the written exam which would take four hours. So far we had only practiced on each other at school and were anxious to style hair in a salon.

Jane volunteered to drive seeing she was the only one with a car. The remaining three of us would pay for the gas. All of us were living in San Jose and met for the trip at the school parking lot. The morning was warm and sunny.  We were in for a long ride, about eight hours to Los Angeles where the first part of the exam was being held. Part of the trip was pleasant as we drove along the coast looking out the window at a beautiful view of the ocean.

After four hours of riding we all needed a break to stretch our legs and use the restroom. Once in the restroom I laid my purse on the sink and went into a stall, on coming out of the stall I proceeded to the sink to wash my hands. I  looked over in disbelief at my open purse. Everything was there excepted my money – every last cent was stolen. Lesson learned; you are not in Vermont anymore Patricia!

As we approached Los Angeles the traffic became horrendous. Thinking back, I remember six lanes with cars passing us left and right at speeds faster then we ever experienced. The three of us were the lookout team to let Jane know when we were approaching our exit. We all yelled out at once there’s our exit and there goes our exit!  Jane had her blinker on to move over to the right lane and no way was anyone going to let her merge. People were honking their horn at us.

It was many miles to the next exit where we would turn around and head back to the freeway and hopefully find our exit again.  Everyone was exhausted when we entered the hotel and found our room. Nancy loaned me money until I got a job. I am forever grateful to her for that act of kindness.

The next morning was our practical exam in Los Angeles. We headed for bed before it was dark but no one could fall asleep so we talked for hours.

Early the next day our little group  headed out to find the building for our exam. The school provided volunteers for us to use as models. In the eight hours we gave a facial, manicure, demonstrated our knowledge in giving a permanent wave. Then came the shampoo, finger wave, pin curl and then the hair dryer. There were no blow dryers or curling irons in the fifties.

After eating dinner at the hotel restaurant we went back to our room to study for our written  exam in the morning.  Earlier when walking through the lobby I noticed a large poster advertising the Ink Spots would be performing at a local nightclub at 8:00 pm. After studying for a half hour we closed our textbooks and changed into evening  dress with high heels. Now out the door to the nightclub to listen to the Ink Spots sing the old fifties songs. It was the fifties so I guess they were not the “old fifties” songs.

It was a fun night out. The Ink Spots were the highlight of our trip. The elder of our little group was 19. Needless to say our beverage for the night wasn’t any stronger than a coke! To this day I still listen to the record with their top hits, what a precious memory.

The next day we easily found the exam room for our written exam in Hollywood. The exam took four hours to complete. We didn’t stay around to sightsee; there was too much traffic to contend with. Once in the car we headed to San Jose with only one quick break. That night I was back in my apartment. It was time for a little celebration with my roommates.

If I remember right it took three weeks to receive out licenses in the mail.  Much to our delight we all received our cosmetology license. The same day my license arrived I hit the sidewalks downtown and visited every beautiful solon I ran  across.

By the end of the day I was hired to work in a small quaint shop and I could start the very next day. There were three hair stylist including me plus the owner of the shop. We each had our own cubicle to work in. The patrons had privacy while having their hair done.

I was so thrilled with finding a job I ran all the way back to my apartment to tell my roommates. We were in agreement that this night called for a party and yes with something a little stronger than coke!

Until we meet again!

 

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Fond Memories Camping in Lake Tahoe

 

Pat 1955 3
Beverly, myself, and Sally enjoy the water at Lake Tahoe. Beverly and Sally were my schoolmates.

In 1955 I moved in with my two new roommates, Carole and Phyllis. The apartment was only a few blocks from San Jose State college where they both attended classes.  My campus  was further away, but that was okay, I liked the exercise from the walk. My mother decided to move to the YWCA downtown; which was close to the library where she worked. This move gave her freedom from housework and cooking, which she never liked. She was happy studying and having a career.

We visited every week and walked downtown while we looked at displays in the store windows. When my Mother needed her haircut or a permanent wave we would stay at my apartment  where I could work on her hair. As the custom of that time most women had permanents with weekly shampoos and styling. The ritual at bedtime was to pin curl their hair; wrap a long piece of toilet paper around the head, and then adorn it with a hairnet. The finishing touch was to slather their face with night cream and slide into bed. Oh, the good old days!  I solved my problem by cutting my hair in a short pixie style—with pinking shears!

I lived in Vermont up to a few weeks before my 18th. birthday. Then my mother and I headed for California. It was her idea to make a career change. I didn’t want to leave Vermont and my friends. It took a few months to adjust to the ways of people in California. Most people were friendly and I eventually made some friends that my roommates had introduced me to. It still took me months to get over my homesickness for Vermont.  I was more reserved than the young people there that I met and it took time to feel comfortable in my new environment.  Right then I decided not to reveal the fact that my mother and father had been ministers, that was a deterrent in making friends!  I figured it’s best to stop while I was ahead.

I soon adjusted to the many different cultures that were in California and quickly adapted to eating ethnic foods. To this day Mexican cuisine is my favorite. My friends from hairdressing school were of diverse nationalities: Polish, Mexican, Spanish, Chinese ,and African American. I enjoyed learning about their colorful cultures. I definitely had lived a sheltered life in Vermont!

My mother helped finance my apartment expenses until I completed my schooling.  I worked part time as a file clerk in a small office during that time. That was such a  boring job!

I was fortunate to be able to work for my tuition while attending school by working one day a week in the lab. My duties were mixing hair dyes and assemble supplies for permanents that the other students needed as well as keep the lab clean. The hours that I spent in the lab did not count toward completing my hours to graduate. It took longer to accumulate the hours I needed, so I was not able to take the State Board the same time as some of my friends.

A couple friends and I decided we needed one last fling before they went off to take the State Board and left me behind.  Beverly and Sally had completed the required hours to graduate and wanted to leave on a camping trip to Lake Tahoe.  Friday was the day I worked in the lab; so I had to ask the supervisor for permission to take that day off. She told me I absolutely could not have the day off.

What was I to do?  Sally owned  a car but did not have her driver’s license.  A few weeks before our camping trip I took the driver’s test to get my California license. Now I had my license but no car.  So you can see the predicament we were in!  So we headed out that sunny Friday afternoon for Lake Tahoe ignoring the refusal from the supervisor.

Sally’s car was old and at that time there were no seat belts or bucket seats  The three of us sat on this long seat in the front.  We had packed our little tent and belongings in the trunk of the car, then we were on our way. Unfortunately after many hours of driving we came to the conclusion that we were lost. I pulled over to the side of the road and Sally unfolded the map, the three of us stared at the map. It was of no help and we were more confused than ever.  By pure luck we finally reached this small town of Truckee just as the car ran out of gas. As we sat there alongside the road we realized it was going on 2 AM. It wasn’t long before a police car pulled up behind us. The officer moseyed over to my window and asked to see my driver’s license and registration. I gave him my license and Sally hunted around in the glove compartment for the registration. Now there was a problem, Sally was buying the car from her Uncle and the registration was still in his name. The officer questioned us,” Did you steal the car and are running away from home?”  I was the only one that had identification that proved that I was 18. Sally and Bev were 18 also, but had no paperwork to prove it.  By that time we were tired and frazzled  and probably looked about 12 years old.

The officer went back to his car to check out our story.  I guess he believed us because when he   approached our car again he seemed to be more friendly. He leaned his arm on my open window and told me he had called the only gas station in town. The station owner was willing to open the station so we could buy gas. The officer told me to put my car in neutral and he would give us a push with his car to the station down the road.  He told me not to stop for anything. That was a good plan until a dog ran in front of my car and I SLAMMED on the brakes. I heard the car door slam as the officer got out of his car. I sunk down in my seat and when I looked up  I saw his angry face. Through clenched teeth he told me he would give us one more push to the station and said, “then get your gas and get out of town.” He told me, “I didn’t want  to see you girls again. And on your way home PLEASE do me a favor. Don’t come through Truckee!”

As I pulled away from the curb I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw the officer standing with his hands on his hips and shaking head as we drove away.

It was daybreak when we arrived at the campground on Lake Tahoe. Our anxiety left us and my heart was calming down. After unpacking the car and laying out the tent we stood staring at the poles and other unidentified items. I looked at Sally and Beverly and asked them if they had ever  pitched a tent before.  By the looks on their face I guess the answer was NO.  I had camped many times as a child in Vermont with my parents but never helped to put up the tent.

We made a few fatal attempts at getting the tent in an upright position. We finally were able to pitch the tent and now only needed to hammer the stakes in the ground. We looked around at each other and quickly discovered no one had thought about bring a hammer. The man and his son that were camping in the next site to us came to our rescue with hammer in hand.

This was a water skiing vacation for them. That afternoon we were invited to come along with them for our try at water skiing. This was a new experience for us. As soon as we stood up; we were back down into the cold water. So much for water skiing!  We enjoyed the afternoon from the boat watching the two of them ski.

It was Sunday and time to end our camping trip; we packed up our sandy tent and headed back to San Jose.

I had to go back to school and face my supervisor. Monday morning I slowly walked in and came face to face with  her!  She told me to pack up my things and leave, she was kicking me out of school. It was upsetting as I was close to completing the hours I needed to graduate. I took a few days to think about my undoing and accepted the fact that it was my fault for not following her rules.

My next step was to visit the other hairdressing school in town. I told my story to the woman in charge. Fortunately she was sympatric to my desperate situation and said I could attend classes there to finish up my hours to graduate. In a few days my supervisor from my old school got in touch with me and asked me to come back to the school.  I swallowed my pride and accepted her offer. I was grateful to have another chance.

Until we meet again!