Sometime in the mid-1960’s The Old Man decided it was time that The Kid got a taste of airplane travel.
The nearest airport was in Duluth. The Excuse was that The Old Man had to fly down to MSP to chauffeur A Big Cigar from Pittsburgh staying at a hotel in The Cities back up northward to see The Big Red Hole in the Ground so the rest of the Big Cigar’s in Steel Town could make a decision about whether or not The Pit was still a money-maker for The Steel Company’s paper-holders.
The Old Man probably figured he may as well double kill the bird and yanked me out of school to give me a First Airplane Ride – on The Company’s dime no doubt as well.
I remember it was springtime and the day was as bright and clear blue as one could ask for a trip off into The Yonder.
Not knowing what to expect I asked The Old Man’s counsel on what flying was like and he said “it feels like you want to get out and push but you can’t”.
The plane was a twin-engine prop job (some flavor of Convair I would presume); the flight wudda been through the now long-defunct North Central Airlines – the airplane’s tail sported the iconic “blue goose” logo.
The flight was about an hour in duration – roughly 150 miles as the goose flies – from The Zenith City to old Wold-Chamberlain field in Bloomington.
Installed in The Window Seat I watched the lakes and trees get smaller and smaller as the plane rose to cruising altitude.
After about a half hour of looking out the window I got antsy and got up to walk the aisle of the plane and see The Sights, such as they were.
On my way I saw a couple of people that looked oddly familiar – a man and a woman – but my Kid Brain could not quite put it together.
Puzzled, I returned to my seat and cogitated (as best a grade skrool kid can) on Just Who Those People Were, Anyway.
And then it hit me – I did recognize them -they were Famous People!
With apprehension I got up from my seat, walked back up the aisle and sheepishly caught The Man’s eye.
“Excuse me”, I said, “Have I seen you on The Ed Sullivan Show?”
The Guy cracked a small smile and replied “Why yes, I believe you have.”
That was it.
My First Brush With Fame.
My mind went blank and I could not for the life of me remember the couple’s names so I simply turned around and went back to my seat for the remaining minutes of the flight.
Only after landing and disembarking the aircraft did I figure out who The Mystery Couple were: Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.
The comedy team, Stiller and Meara, who were regulars for years on Ed Sully’s Sunday Night Really Big Shoe.
An there they were, catching the same flight as a skinny punk-assed kid from The Frozen Boondocks to The Big City.
Jerry Stiller died this week at the ripe old age of 92 – his memory of the decades past chance 10-second encounter with some awestruck passing kid probably not even available on the sub-atomic level.
But it is for me…