Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Perspective, Guns, Flying and America

So, I was 26 and was making my first big move, from Pittsburgh, PA to Phoenix, AZ.  It was February, 1979 and it was 40 below with the wind chill.   It was 80 degrees in Phoenix when I got there 4.5 hours later.
I had sold all of my meager belongings, except for a couple items and was going all in on a new start in Phoenix.  I was renting an apartment with a couple friends and was hauling about 1200 in cash, and my Dan Wesson 357 magnum in its case on the flight with me.

I had everything in a small carry on hard shell luggage bag.  My folks were with me at the airport, they drove me, and were seeing me off.  Security was nothing in 1979 like it is now.

So, I get to the gate, and this is where they are scanning stuff on the belt scanner thing.  The person acting as security is one of the stewardesses on the flight I would be on.    The best I remember it.  I was thinking about a lot of things and the details at this stage are a little fuzzy.  I do remember the stewardess and some sort of security process because she asked me if I had anything in my carry on bag that I should tell them about.   I said Yes, I have a gun.  She gets an excited look on her face and asks if I will follow her with my bag to this smallish room just off the gate boarding area that had a glass window into the boarding area.  The rest of this I remember quite well, because now I had to focus on something.





Post haste a Pennsylvania State Trooper comes into the room.  This was security at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport apparently in 1979.  More than 1 trooper for the airport of course.



So, it's me,  the 'security' stewardess who would also be on the flight, and a Pennsylvania State Trooper. 

The trooper asked me if I'll open the bag - a small suitcase - which I do, revealing a wooden case with the Dan Wesson 357 kit inside.  The kit, unlike the best match picture I could find below, had only two barrels, a 6 inch and a 3 inch (the two barrels in the middle) but with the same two grips pictured.  A real Dirty Harry pistol.



It looked kind of like something a hit man would carry I guess, though I hadn't thought that at the time.   I was kind of self-absorbed and not really thinking in terms of how others might take me..

At this point the stewardess is visibly beside herself. She got one of those "Oh no you don't" looks on her face and pirouetted away, then tuning back with hands on hips asking if he's going to let me on with this thing and such. He had the last word apparently.

He asks me if it's loaded, I say "No, but there are a box of 50 bullets also" pointing to them under some socks.  hahahaa   He takes it out and checks that it is not loaded, holds it up and says Nice Gun!. I say "Thanks!"  He asks "Hows it shoot?"  I replied that I could hit a 5 gallon can at 100 yds with it.  He smiles and says "Nice."  The stewardess has this look of disbelief on her face.
He wants to know what I'm doing with it on the plane, and I say I'm moving one way to Phoenix and just want to take it with me and didn't trust sending it UPS.    He asks "Do you mind if we store this luggage up front by the cockpit?"    I say Not at all, long as it gets there is all I'm interested in.

He puts the gun back, closes up the luggage and hands it to the stewardess and says go ahead and put this in the storage by the cockpit.  It was the Last thing she wanted to do, but again, he apparently had the last word. What a hoot.

It is a very empty airplane, maybe 30% full and there is actually no one sitting in front of where I'm sitting.  Maybe the stewardesses arranged for this while I was looking around at plane stuff not paying much attention to the boarding process.

So, we take off, and another stewardess, a very good looking one, comes back into economy where I'm at and sits on the armrest of the seat in front of my seat and talked to me the entire flight.  It was my first flight, and I was a young hick from Pittsburgh and figured they did this kind of stuff all the time. 
In hindsight, this was obviously the Stewardess' security plan. Keep a close eye on me !


What a hoot. Contrast that to today or even 20 years ago. Wow are we in such a different country.

17 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is one of the best posts EVER, ANYWHERE!
    It's such an example of how NUTS we've become. I guess it's Tea Party types who caused our inability to trust anyone anymore right? (smile) Ya, it's islamic terrorists, but I can't say THAT, of course (growl)......God, I wish we could go back to those days when people mostly trusted each other (nothing happened in those days..or at least not much!) Didn't even have to take our shoes off. sigh.
    GREAT POST..I'm linking to it now!:-)

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    1. Z, Thank you so much!

      Yes, it is Such a different country, and what is worse - anyone born after say 1980 won't have the slightest clue that it is.

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  3. But there is so much money in the terrorism industry

    Glenn Greenwald goes out with a great final column before he moves to The Guardian.
    Remember follow the money and keep the suckers frightened.

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    1. you think I"m reading a salon article, you're out of your mind. And the guardian? those two sites are only for people with shit for brains.

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  4. haha Love the way this turned out. Good story Kid.

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    1. Thanks Lisa! It sure wasn't a story I thought would ever be worth telling at the time....

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  5. So Ducky, our gov't created terrorism because there's so much money in it that it's breaking our country, right? I get it! ??

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  6. I think we are lucky to have lived long enough to remember a simpler time like that. Our kids will never have the opportunity to feel safe from terrorism.

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    1. TCL, yes, we were and our kids will not know the liberties that were so taken for granted. Man-O-man.

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  7. GREAT POST -brings back memories of the joy of flying -
    thank you--
    Now- I never look forward to flying anywhere---

    What do you think-KID- is it time to own our own jets---I think so!
    Carol-CS

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    1. Carol-CS, Thank YOU and Yes, flying Was a good to great experience at one time. It's a cattle drive now. Even in 1st Class.

      It IS time to own our own jets. I read 5 years or so ago that the FAA was working on upgrading the air traffic control capability to accommodate an explosion in the number of smaller executive type jets in the air, which would take over a lot of the current commercial traffic. The thinking is what terrorist is going to want to go to the trouble to blow up 12 people, and 2, as a traveler, you can board your plane a lot closer to home and arrive closer to your final destination. Makes all kind of sense, but I haven't seen anything else on it and don't expect to either.

      All I read are where the commercial airline makers are building them bigger. A380, etc. Who wants to be on a plane with 500 people? Good God !

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  8. Bore me later duhkkky there's a lot of money in abortion too.


    Kid, do you still live in Phoenix...I live there too.

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    1. Elmers Bro. No, I'm in Cincinnati for 10 years now but we'll be back there ASAP.. I love the lifestyle there not to mention the Mexican food.

      Started in Glendale, ended up in Tempe just S. of McClintock off of Rural Rd. We bought our last house there for 140, sold it 5 years later for 170, (in 2000), then I read in 2004 it was going for 365k ! Man, my timing sucks.

      How do you like it. I love traveling AZ.

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  9. This is a good story most younger people might find unbelievable.

    I miss back when.

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    1. Admiral, Thanks and I'll bet they would. In fact,there are a lot of my stories that are unbelievable these days and I've stopped telling a most of them.

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