Airline travel these days is quite an adventure. You usually must arrive at the airport about two hours early. You confirm your tickets, check your bags, and go through a security check. After that, you proceed to the gate from which your plane is to depart and take a seat in the waiting area. When it is time to board the plane, you pass though a flexible tube to enter the aircraft. There, unless a first-class passenger, you are packed in with the other sardines.
How things have changed.
In April 1958 we took my mother to the Washington National Airport for flight to North Carolina. She had been visiting with my little family ( Ann, me, Sandy Jr, and Stuart) for a few weeks and was now taking a Piedmont Airways plane bound for Wilmington, NC to see my sister Florence and family. After picking up Mom’s ticket at the Piedmont counter, we headed for the airfield boarding area. In those days the passengers actually walked onto the field through a fence gate and climbed the movable steps that had been run up to the door of their plane.
We waited at the fence gate for a short while as the airplane taxied to its loading position. We said goodbye to Mom at the gate, and she walked onto the field and went up the steps and into the plane. As the plane prepared to take off, the steps were taken away, the door closed, and the pilot began to taxi toward the runway. Suddenly the aircraft stopped, the plane door opened, and the steps were brought back to the plane door. A stewardess came down the steps, ran to the fence, and retrieved Mom’s hat box that she had left hanging on a fence post. The stewardess then reentered the plane and the aircraft took off.
Based on your recent airport experiences, I suppose that incident is hard for you to imagine.