Friday, August 15, 2014

Lauren Bacall

It was in Greensboro, North Carolina of all places---back in the 727 days.  The year was 2000.  We had just finished the first leg of a three day rotation.  As I stepped into the gate area a small funny looking dog caught my attention.  It was about half the size of a Chihuahua and had giant butterfly shaped ears.  It was on a leash and was standing beside an older woman with very attractive legs.  She was holding a small soft-sided animal case, and was waiting to speak with the gate agent.  I remember thinking:  That must be a Papillon . . . and her legs remind me of Lauren Bacall . . . That's because it is Lauren Bacall!

Back on the airplane, prior to boarding, I asked the flight attendants if they liked old movies.  A few heads nodded yes.  The lead flight attendant asked:  "Why?"  I said: "Lauren Bacall is on our flight this afternoon."  Someone said:  " How old is she now?'  I said:  "I'm not sure; maybe mid-seventies.  She looks great!  I wish I could say the same for her dog."  The grumpy flight attendant (there was one on every 727) sighed.  "She has a dog?"  "Yes, a Papillon---little guy with big ears.  She has a cage that will fit under the seat."  Another sigh from grumpy.  "Well, she better not try to let it out---I won't stand for it!"  Then she walked to the back of the airplane.  I remember thinking:  I guess she's not a movie buff . . . doesn't like dogs either . . .  probably has a house full of cats.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Design Inspiration

My bride has been fussing about wanting to upgrade the interior at Casa La Cottom for quite some time.  The house is now fifty years old, and to be honest, could use some work---especially the bathrooms.  The kitchen got a partial face lift three years ago.  We skipped the full blown renovation because we could not decide exactly what we wanted---and funds were limited with the last (of three) kids still in college.  Fresh paint and new counter tops will hold us for a while.

Thankfully, the exterior is in pretty good shape.  It was painted four years ago, and a new roof was installed last summer.  A new HVAC system was installed the summer before last, so mechanically we're in great shape---it is about time for a new water heater though. This summer's project, new windows, got delayed last summer when our oldest daughter announced she was getting married May 17, 2014.  We're now shooting for new windows in the fall---barring any new marriage proposals.

The interior paint job dates back to the year 2000, and is starting to show it's age.  Cats and dogs and moving three children off to college, and back, and then out again, has been exceptionally hard on baseboards and door moldings---and a visible reason why my bride is pushing for the redo.  We will probably wait until after the windows are installed to repaint the interior.  We'll tackle the bathrooms next, and then the final rendition of the kitchen---barring any new marriage proposals.

Until then we are collecting ideas, photographs, magazine articles, paint charts, etc., anything we can find to help us find our way.  To make the job easier we have divided the workload.  My bride is in charge of kitchen and bathroom design.  I am in charge of the family room.  We both agree that my office, the Clipper Morning Star Room---named for the Robert Taylor print of a Pan Am Boeing 377 Stratocruiser that hangs above my desk, and home to most of my flying memorabilia---does not need updating.  But enough about my office.  Below are some of the design ideas that we have collected.

Nancy's Kitchen
My bride is thinking New Old School Late 50's Retro for the kitchen.  Appliances are state of the art, but with vintage exteriors.  She found her inspiration on the Internet.  I'm a vintage airplane guy, so in my opinion, this looks great!


I'm thinking Old School Hangar for the family room.  My inspiration comes from Gardy Wilson's Cessna 180 hangar down the way from Jellystone Air Park.  I wonder if Gardy is willing to part with Curley the Concrete Indian.  Everything is for sale, right?  It would look fantastic standing beside the fireplace.  Speaking of which . . .

. . . the DC-6 will look great above the fireplace!

Gardy Wilson, Proprietor.

My thanks to all the folks at the Gardy Wilson Design Center!

Clipper Morning Star, by Robert Taylor

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bookstore Adventure

Last weeks flying adventure was a bit out of the ordinary.  Day One consisted of an Orlando, Florida turn-around out of New York's LaGuardia Airport, and then one leg to Detroit, Michigan.  Day Two was Detroit to Atlanta, Georgia, and then on to Tampa, Florida.  Day Three was simply back to LaGuardia---by way of Detroit.  On the surface it seems like a fairly ordinary trip, so what's the big deal?  Normally, flying in and out of Florida in July . . . it is usually one giant thunderstorm deviation.  The same can be said for the entire east coast, actually.  Not last week---at least not on Friday and Saturday. And we only had to use the weather radar once on Sunday; a slight deviation around a dissipating thunderstorm in eastern Kentucky.  I can't remember the last time I saw three days of dry air in late July!

The layover in Tampa was also somewhat out of the ordinary.  In thirty-one years of corporate and airline operations I have never had a layover in downtown Tampa.  Not earthshaking news, but it is unusual, considering the fact that Tampa is a regular layover destination at Big D---just as it was at Eastern and Pan Am.  I've had plenty of airport layovers though.  Airline old timers will surely remember the old Westshore Plaza Hotel.

Hotel map of downtown Tampa.

Saturday afternoon I donned my walkabout outfit and set out to explore downtown Tampa. Two and a half blocks from the hotel I stumbled upon the Old Tampa Book Company.  The sign on the window announced: Used, Rare, & Out of Print Books.  Now I'm sucker for used bookstores.  I've been known to spend half a day, or more, at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.  Powell's is probably the gold standard when it comes to used bookstores, and their aviation section is massive.  The Old Tampa Book Company is nowhere near as large as Powell's, but the storefront looked inviting, so I stepped inside. I'm glad I did.  Their aviation section is quite impressive.  I saw aeronautical textbooks with charts and graphs---stuff I suspect Brother Baker understands---and coffee table style books with small words and big pictures---for the average line pilot . . . and everything in between.

For me the adventure of a used bookstore is the hunt for unknown treasures.  More often than not, sections are loosely organized.  Richard Bach might be parked next to some Russian aerospace engineer.  The only way to really know what's available is to look at every book in the section.  Now my eyesight is not what it used to be.  My distance vision is still 20/20, but like many folks of a certain age, I have to use reading glasses for the up close jobs.  When I started my walkabout Saturday afternoon I had no idea I would be searching through stacks of books in a room full of shadows---or that bifocal sunglasses are not suited for such an endeavor!

As I worked my way through the stacks I caught a glimpse of a biplane on the spine of a book.  From the sweep of the upper wing I thought:  That's a Great Lakes!  A closer inspection confirmed my suspicion.  A Great Lakes Biplane with a blue and cream vintage style paint job.  Sticks & Wires & Cloth, by Anne Hopkins---I was pretty sure I had found my treasure.  The first sentence on the front end flap reads:  "Sticks & Wires & Cloth is about escaping into the skies of a bygone era with a 1929-design biplane."  That was enough for me---I bought the book!