Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking Back...

Dear Reader,

This is not a travel blog, it is a blog dedicated to writing. I keep repeating this phrase to myself as I put pixel to paper. In the wake of a - less than pleasurable - travel experience, however, I felt like posting something on the subject. Rather than tossing around accusations and uncouth inferences I thought that I would roll about in the nostalgia patch until I got the stink of modernity off myself.

The Stratocruiser was a pre-jet age plane that provided trans-Atlantic and coast to coast service to air travellers between 1947 and 1963. It was big and graceless, with four droning piston-driven engines keeping it in the sky, but inside its polished aluminum skin existed a world that travellers might dream wistfully of today. I offer diagrams.

Oh for the days when an airplane offered private staterooms and a forward berth with an attached bedroom. Surely a luxury item beyond the pocketbook of a poor, struggling novelist but knowing the possibility existed means something. If you look at the "custom-designed cabin" you'll note - no more than two seats per row and they have space between them. One might not feel like a canned sardine in a cabin like that! One might feel human and be inclined to dress for travel instead of wearing pajamas and sweat pants. Then again, I imagine in days gone by a trip through security didn't have so many similarities to being abducted by aliens.

I'm intrigued by the lower deck "Hawaiian Lounge". A part of me wants to believe there were shows with guys in grass skirts twirling flaming batons. It wouldn't be wise but it would be thrilling. Then again it'd be thrilling to order a tiki drink at thirty thousand feet while sitting at a bar instead of having service consist of trying to juggle a laptop, napkin, and plastic cup on a tray-table with your knees shoved under your chin.

The British Speedbird included men's and women's dressing rooms, a hat and coat room, and a snack bar. Personally I'm intrigued by the spiral staircase. Somewhat less descriptive (or imaginative) cutaway here but still - look at the midships cabin. Notice two seats per row and space between? In the late forties and fifties people had elbows. When the seventies came they were surgically removed at birth to assist with neat stacking of passengers on increasingly crowded mass transit. By 2050 I'm told we won't have legs below the knees, that way there can be two floors of five seat rows on DC9's.

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