Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dad Diaries: #5

Dad took my sister Joan and I to Ireland when I was 27 and Joan was 12, in May of 1980. Who knows what prompted him to set up this 'quality' time with Joan and I, but my mother very wisely declined to go.

Daddy worked for United Air Lines from 1965 - 1995. The entire family benefitted tremendously by his employment; not just monetarily, but the trips - Oh the TRIPS! We flew as non-revenue, space available passengers. Back in the 1970's and 80's travel was quite nice. They had not started squeezing the passengers like cattle into smaller and smaller spaces. There was food! You won't believe this, but there was room enough between your legs and the seat in front of you for someone to walk to their seat! I know! We frequently flew first class, and I'm telling you; it was really something back in the 1970's. For one thing, you dressed nicely to fly. Everyone was in business attire. You were served juice before take-off. A huge roast would be wheeled out and carved right in front of your nose. Seems incredible now, doesn't it?!

For the Ireland trip in 1980, the first leg of the journey was uneventful. We landed in New York to catch the connecting flight to Shannon, Ireland. Daddy came back from the ticketing agent sporting a Cheshire Cat grin. "I've gotten us great seats, girls!" he exclaimed, taking his seat in the waiting area. I looked up from my book and said "Great! Maybe I can sleep!" We get on the airplane, and sure enough, our seats are great. First row of bulkhead coach seats, first 3 seats in the center row of 5 seats. The plane continues to fill up. Amazing amounts of people are sliding through the doors! We think we have really scored - nobody takes the other 2 sets in our middle row!

Just then, a family with 7 kids blows into the plane. Their seats are all over the place, and the dad immediately grabs the 2 bulkhead seats for himself and one of the oldest sons. The mom trails behind, struggling with young children. Their youngest son, around 4 or 5 probably, starts screaming and crying, wanting to sit with his father. The child is beside himself crying, so I offer up my seat - the other available seat is 3 rows back, and on an aisle. The little boy gets into my seat before I'm even all the way out, and the father and mother are so grateful. My sister immediately says "Oh NO! Daddy will give us HIS seat because we are sitting together!" My dad sighs, gets up and goes to sit back in cockroach alley. For 8 hours. Joan and I are happy as larks in our plenty-of-legroom seats. I sleep, as does she - with the little guy slumped on her shoulder.

We deplane in Shannon, and take a taxi to a hotel. We're spending one day there, waiting for my Aunt Rita and Uncle Billy to arrive. From there, we'll go to their summer house on the ocean on the South. We open the hotel door and take stock of the room. Rather seedy, but we are just going to sleep and then get on our way the next day. Joan and I try out a bed each. Dad plops his suitcase down on the one closest to the door. I sit on the bed I've chosen, and the thing about tips over! Turns out one leg is shorter than the others. I yelp "We have to change rooms, this bed is busted!" and dear old daddy sighs and says "Look for a phone book. I'm taking that bed." I find a phone book, hand it to him and it raises the bed about half of what it needs. He crawls in and says "No sneaking out into the bars while I'm asleep."

Joan and I looked at each other. Hey - we had not even thought about going out! Of course, the minute he's snoring, our feet hit the floor. We went into the hotel lobby and I try to order me a beer and Joan a coke. The barkeep wags a finger and says "Only WHOOOOORES come into a bar without a man. I saw you girls check in with your Da. If you want something from this bar, you go get your da!" and that was that. So we went back up and went to bed. The next morning, Daddy said "Well, did you get a beer?" And I said "No! They don't serve women beer here unless they have a man with them." Dad said "Kiddo, we're in a different country now. That's your first lesson. But if you want a black and tan, I'll take you later. And he did. It was 'meh'. Haven't had one since.

Writing this, I can remember the smells of Ireland. I think of a place there, and I smell it. The sea is commanding when you live in the desert.

This will take a few entries. We spent a long time there, and it was so special. Of course, I did not know that until years later.

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