Saturday, June 27, 2009

Skip Powell part nine


"Yet a single man, by now a battered, seasoned SA after some 14 months at ATY, I exercised my ALEA union rights. I became a Relief Station Agent, reporting to GO-Chaired Dave Padrta, The Assistant to Superintendent of Stations, Mr. Robert Baker. I left SM Sherman behind, I witnessed no tears, perhaps with less hair. We would meet again in Michigan. His June 14, 1969 memo to my next boss stated (to wit) 'a good agent in almost all aspects, except etc etc.'

But first, during those heady airline days, many station people and all Stewardess's (longest word in the dictionary typed only with left hand) were young-young boys and girls. Thus, hook-ups were not rare. Being a single man in ATY, with each passing flight, I 'interacted' with equally young, single Stewardess. those were nice, young ladies who served warm smiles, along with coffee, tea, bouillon and those 4-pack cigarettes, in later times doughnuts and rolls were added. Often across the open door to their favored SA's they would pass 'some' - in unused gift bags.

Time during three minute stops was brief, but often productive. One day, while guarding the airstair door, I looked up at a blond, blue eyed 'lassie' clad in blue. She later enticed me to marriage, even paid the $3 license fee. I freely admit it was influenced on her near by parents farm, where on Thanksgiving the table was loaded - what 'living, breathing' youngster would forsake those meats, taters and pies upon that table.

So, I departed ATY in 1960, taking with me lasting memories and a soon to be lifetime partner.

Many changes have taken place since departing ATY. Many can be considered progress, BUT some, well, consider these comparisons. (Per Consume Price Index-CPI). A 1960 dollar compared to $7 in 2007. The combination of money value and the ill conceived 'Airline Deregulation' is here illustrated:

CHI-DTT 1960 NC DC-3 2 stops, schedule time 2hrs. OW fare $17.90 (2007 CPI $125.30) 2008 AA Jet Nonstop, schedule time 1hr 25 mins. OW fare $250.00

CHI-DLH 1960 NC CV340 1 stop, schedule time 2hrs. 5 mins. OW fare $34.35 (2007 CPI $240.45) 2008 NW Jet 1 stop, schedule time 2hrs. 8mins. OW fare $932.00 (No nonstop service)

CHI-DHL after July 1960 was nonstop CV 340 Dinner Service. The future ain't what it usta be!!

Some 20+ years later, I visited ATY. There sat my ole cohort SA Verlyn Nordseth. Watertown Terminal changes had been made, but the table top 'worn spot' remained-there Verlyn was resting his heels. Verlyn was a good-ole-boy, like his WWII Aviator brother, NC Capt. Ordell Nordseth (RIP, Jan. 2009).

Capt. Nordseth, on a foggy December 1972 night, had just begun his DC-9 roll down a Chicago O'Hare runway. Suddenly, a Delta Convair 880 appeared directly to his front, an unauthorized crossing of his runway. His premature liftoff almost cleared the CV-880 - almost. His extended gear bounced off the CV-880 top, crashing back to the runway - beyond the CV-880 - fire broke out.

Passengers were evacuated. Capt. Nordseth crawled the aisle to insure all passengers were off, he was the last off his plane. While he thought all people were off, they weren't. Due to the black, oily smoke filling the cabin, several missed exits, ending up in the biff and cockpit. If the Captain of the A-320 landing on the Hudson River (February 2008) was a hero (and he was), for sure Captain Nordseth is equally so. I understand these fatalities, became the driving force behind aisle floor lights on current day aircraft.

I appreciate what a harrowing experience it is to be surrounded by black, boiling, oily, stinking smoke, which is what Captain Nordseth endured. Early on a sub-zero, windy ATY Sunday morning, a nearby equipment building was on fire. Thinking I could rescue something, I opened the door and stepped inside. It was my first time dealing with black, churning smoke - I let it burn."

2 comments:

Tracy said...

He was "Uncle Ord" to us around here, and he was indeed a great guy. =)

- Tracy Jones
Sioux Falls, SD
granddaughter of Verlyn Nordseth

Convair Kid said...

Thank you for writing in Tracy! Good to hear more about Verlyn and 'Ord.' :)