When I was a kid growing up here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (when the population was 1/3 of what it is today), Summer was my absolute favorite season. No school. Playing every day with my friends (most of whom I still see regularly) from when we woke up until when we had to be home. Swimming in the public pool. It was every schoolkid’s dream! And there are other special, very sensory Summer memories I’ve cherished since then. Minor, wonderful things like standing on the concrete of our street as a rainshower moved over on a hot day, and watching the falling raindrops make a psychedelic array of big gray blobs on the white concrete only to quickly disappear as they evaporated. Chasing fireflies in the yard, trying to catch them in mason jars (and yes, we used to have fireflies here, as well as horned frogs). The screech of the cicadas—which we called locusts—so loud during the day that you had to shout at your friends to be heard. Staying up all one night by my friend Trina’s pool (with her parents) watching a total eclipse of the moon unfold above us. And of course, going for picnic lunches with Mom and other families at Bachman Lake to watch airplanes…including those oddly-colored ones of that new airline, Southwest.
The absolute most special thing about summer for me was vacation. Back in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, there was no Southwest Airlines, and vacation travel was by and large by car—and we did more than our share of road trips down to Galveston, South Padre, and Ruidoso. But my ultimate favorite memories were of the rare occasions that my Mom and Dad would take us on airplanes, which I still remember like they were yesterday. Flights like Dallas-Love Field to Little Rock on an American Airlines 707. Little Rock to Memphis on a Trans-Texas DC-3. Houston-Hobby to Dallas-Love Field on a Braniff Lockheed Electra. And my first flight by myself when I was a ‘tween, after Disney World opened, when during a family driving vacation to the Magic Kingdom I had to get home before the rest of the family. The itinerary: Orlando-Atlanta on a Delta L-1011 connecting (at the OLD Atlanta Airport!) to an Atlanta-DFW flight on a DC-8-61. Have I told you lately that I’ve always been an airline geek?
Even as a very young summer traveller, I could talk to anybody. I actually invited the entire American Airlines crew from the Dallas-Little Rock American Airlines flight to come swimming with my Dad and I in Little Rock, which I was ribbed about until Dad passed! As I met people during my travels, I learned that, particularly in the summer, people travel for every reason possible. Other times of the year it’s heavy on business, or during the holidays it’s heavy on family travel, and during Spring Break it’s heavy on…well, Spring Breakers. But during the summer, the reasons why someone climbs onto an airplane run the absolute gamut. Happy reasons, sad reasons, inspiring reasons, and “huh???” reasons. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be bringing you stories that showcase interesting reasons why the person sitting next to you may be traveling.
Until my next story shows up ... I’d love for you to tell me about your favorite Summer travel story. Please post a comment on what your most memorable summer trip has been. And in the meantime—stay cool, and stay tuned!