Now, Let’s Get This Goddamn Plane Airborne

My traveling by plane happens about as often as seeing a kid from Weinland Park with his pants pulled up, but so I could maximize the time I spend with Susie in Florida this weekend, I will, in a little over an hour, be a passenger on AirTran, and at 2:32 p.m., I will be landing in the Sunshine State.  I’m taking advantage of Port Columbus’ free Wi-Fi to type this entry before boarding begins.

This will be my second time in Florida.  Until Susie began spending her summers (and eventually moved there permanently this past summer), the only places in Florida I had any desire to visit were Fort Jefferson (on the Dry Tortugas) and Key West, particularly Ernest Hemingway’s house and Sloppy Joe’s, the bar he made famous.  (It depresses me to see fraternity and sorority folk coming back from spring break wearing Sloppy Joe’s T-shirts displaying Hemingway’s face.)

There is, although remote, a Merritt Island connection to the title of this post.  Merritt Island is the home town of White House photographer Cecil Stoughton, who took this picture aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963, as Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office as the 36th President of the United States, two hours after John Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas.  As soon as LBJ ended the oath with, “So help me God,” he turned to his aide and issued his first Presidential order, which is the title of this post.  (I think everyone was glad that someone had shut off the Dictaphone recording the audio before he said this!)

Merritt Island native Cecil Stoughton took this picture of Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas, Texas.  A Dictaphone captured the audio.  (The microphone is visible in front of Judge Sarah Hughes.)

Merritt Island’s other famous resident was Zora Neal Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God.  (I have to admit I have never read that, or any of her works, although it seems that high school kids have it on their reading lists more often than when I was in school.)

I think that my neighbors and co-workers think Susie and I have joined the ranks of the jet-setters.  In February and June, respectively, Susie traveled to Costa Rica and Romania.  I have been to Washington this year (for the Forward on Climate Change march), and I was in St. Louis last weekend.  My most-traveled year, however, is undisputably 1983.  I was living in Boston, during the time I was typesetting The Harvard Crimson, and made several trips back to Ohio, and at least two to Washington, D.C.  My furthest trip that year was a Greyhound trip from Boston to Los Angeles.  I was going to the 1983 Continental Conference of Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) at de Benneville Pines, in the San Bernardino Mountains.  (It’s located at a dot on the map called Angelus Oaks.)  The trip was over 2900 miles.

I remember when Susie sounded most boastful of her journey.  This spring, she was walking barefoot in the hallway on the second floor of our place.  (All the floors are hardwood, since the previous tenants’ dog had ruined all the carpeting by doing his business all over them.)  I was getting ready for work when I heard Susie cry out in pain.  She had a splinter in the sole of her foot.  It did not look like something easily removable by tweezers, so I took her to an urgent care in Victorian Village.  We were the first ones in after they opened, which meant no wait.  As the nurse was taking down Susie’s information, one of the questions was, “Have you traveled out of the country in the last six months?”  Susie sounded very proud to say, “Costa Rica.”  Steph took her to the doctor before school started in Florida, and I’m sure the question arose again.  Now Susie can say, “Costa Rica and Romania.”  She may even include Poland and Finland, since that was where she changed planes en route.

Speaking of planes, my cell phone calendar (which has now become my appointment diary and address book) just beeped, so I will be heading to AirTran’s gate to await the boarding.

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