Shuttle to Boston – No More Guaranteed Seat

My first commercial flight was a trip from La Guardia Airport, New York to Boston’s Logan Airport. It was sometime late in 1967 and I was flying to my interview at Emerson College.

There are few things I remember about that day. I remember (after it was over) thinking the interview was worthless. I remember riding the “T” from the airport into the city, transferring to an underground trolley for the final stop in Back Bay.

I also remember flying the Eastern Airlines Shuttle. If you don’t remember it, click here for one of their classic print ads.

Back then the airline business was very different. It was heavily regulated, guaranteeing airlines a profit and little real competition. It was also very special. You didn’t get on an airliner unless you were well dressed.

There was no security as we know it – no magnetometers or guards. Anyone could walk into the terminal. At Kennedy Airport there were even outdoor terraces where you could watch the planes as they came in and out. A coin operated radio was available to listen to the tower.

The Eastern Shuttle was something very different. If you walked up and paid your fare, you were guaranteed a seat. If the plane was full, they’d just roll out another one and put you on board.

That first flight&#185, I flew on a ‘student fare,’ which has half off. That also put me at the back of the line as far as boarding was concerned. As it turned out, the flight was full.

True to its word, Eastern brought out another plane. Though the one I missed was a jet, the ‘second section,’ as they called it, was a Lockheed Electra – a four engine turboprop.

This is a long time ago, nearly forty years, but I do have some vivid memories.

There were only 3 or 4 of us on this plane. I remember looking down as we flew over the Connecticut countryside thinking how slow we were going! I expected more. I stared out the window at those engines with their spinning propellers.

I remember very little about the interior of the plane, except there was a step about halfway down the cabin. It seemed strange at the time, and does today, that the cabin’s floor was not all at one level.

Oops – I almost forgot why I was writing this. It’s in Wednesday’s New York Times. The Shuttle, as I knew it, is no more.

Generations of East Coast travelers have been comforted by a reliable guarantee that dangled at the other end of a harried cab ride: there would always be enough seats on the hourly shuttles connecting New York to Boston and Washington, even if another plane had to be rolled out to accommodate them.

Since the 1960’s, that promise had been made by a series of airlines operating the Northeast shuttles, from Eastern to Trump to USAir to Pan Am to Delta. But now, like china coffee cups, it has become part of airline history.

Starting yesterday, Delta Air Lines, the last airline to offer the promise, is flying just one shuttle an hour from La Guardia Airport to Boston and Washington and vice versa, no matter how many people show up and no matter how urgent their need to get to the nation’s capital or its capital of capitalism. The era of the “extra section,” as Delta called the jetliners that would be rolled out to accommodate overflow crowds, has ended.

Of course Eastern Airlines is gone. USAir, which runs what was the Eastern Shuttle stopped this policy a while ago. Delta, which runs what was Pan Am’s route, doesn’t have much choice. They’re all bleeding money.

The days of dressing up to fly are long gone. And now, the era of walking up to the counter and knowing there would be a seat for you is also gone.

I think I paid $16 each way back in 1967. A walk up tomorrow for Delta Shuttle would be $488 round trip. I wonder how much longer that will last? How much longer will it be before Delta, USAir or United disappear?

&#185 – I had flown in a 2 seater from Flushing Airport before this much more sophisticated trip.

Google Tries To Catalog Everything

There’s an article in this morning’s New York Times about a new move by Google. Boiled to its essence, Google wants to convert everything at Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library to a digitally readable form and index all of it. That’s just the beginning.

I ‘read’ the Internet a lot. I am constantly learning from new sources, and I am careful about my sources. Often the most readily available source is not the best source, or sometimes it’s just plain wrong (the Internet does not have fact checking built in). The number of urban legends which are taken at face value on the net is astounding.

For researchers, knowledge freaks and high school students writing term papers this new addition will expand the available ‘good’ knowledge available from home. I’m sure there are copyright problems which will have to be sorted through, but this seems to be the logical extension of the library in the 21st century.

Mr. Wizard

Back when I was a kid, when television was fuzzy and in black and white, there was Don Herbert. He was as close to a TV action hero as nerds could get. Don Herbert was Mr. Wizard.

I mean, look at that picture to the left! Could there be anything that was more geek chic than whatever they were doing that produced the cloud of smoke (in those pre-smoke detector days)?

He crushed cans with barometric pressure, produced starch clocks and explained everything from electromagnetism on down. I’m sure if I were to watch those shows again today I’d notice the lack of production values and slow pace – TV has changed. Still, with Mr. Wizard, science was cool.

He was a grownup when I was a kid, over 40 years ago. Who knew if he was dead or alive? But, I just got an article from Cousin Michael which ran in yesterday’s New York Times. He’s alive and well and living in California – probably still crushing cans with atmospheric pressure. I do.

It’s An Addiction – I’m Not Alone

Katie Haffner had an interesting story about blogging in this moring’s New York Times. I always thought (and Helaine will confirm) I’d gone off the deep end with blogging, but this article makes it seem like I’m not so bad. There are others who have been bitten far worse.

Thanks God for small favors.

Continue reading “It’s An Addiction – I’m Not Alone”

Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!

The New York Times did a wonderful profile of a friend of mine, Jon Wolfert. Jon is to radio jingles as Janet Jackson is to wardrobe malfunction. What makes it even cooler is the gratuitous mention of our mutual friend, Peter Mokover.

Jon is responsible for some of my favorite jingles – including a few he did for me. I am responsible for sneaking him into the Kennedy Space Center to watch John Glenn’s launch.

I’ve attached the article to the link below.

Continue reading “Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!”

My Apology to Krispy Kreme

Floyd Norris, writing in today’s New York Times, had this startling revelation:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, the hot new stock offering of 2000 that stayed hot even as other new offerings plunged, has suddenly chilled. It blames the Atkins diet.

Don’t give Krispy Kreme my address. I’ve been low carbing it for 2.5 months now, and am down around 22 pounds. I’m pleased, even if Krispy Kreme isn’t.

Actually, Krispy Kreme has always been a bit of a disappointment to me. My reaction after eating my first Krispy Kreme donut, in Las Vegas a few years ago, was, “too small.”

I am a Dunkin’ Donuts guy. They are an Eastern chain of coffee/donut shops. Their coffee is my favorite – smooth and rich. Now that I’m not eating sugar, the smoothness of their coffee is even more important. Their bagels are… I’m not going to talk about it since one bagel has more grams of carbohydrates than I’ll ingest this week and next.

I have low carbed at least three or four times, always gaining back the weight. Every time I diet, I hope to have restraint down the road. I’m hoping for that now. If dieting only immunized you against weight gain in the future!

There must be a boatload of people doing Atkins or South Beach or any number of low carbohydrate diets to cause this kind of tumult at the donut shop. Certainly Subway is benefiting, with it’s Atkins wraps and salads. I hope the bakers all hang on until my diet is over

He who lives by the glazed pastry dies by the glazed pastry.

Talking (recycling) trash

Helaine and I took the trash to the curb a few minutes ago. The town doesn’t pick-up recyclables every week, and we don’t bring them to the curb every time we can, but the scene outside is not to be believed. There are three trash cans, a recycling bin full of bottles six grocery bags full of the New Haven Register and New York Times and assorted cardboard tied with string.

There is more outside our house than used to sit outside the apartment building I grew up in!

To me, what makes this ridiculous is what we recycle; glass and mostly paper. What do they think, this stuff grows on trees? Uhh… forget that.

Trees are an easily renewable resource and glass comes from sand. As far as I know, there’s no shortage of sand in the offing. Here is Connecticut at least, the percentage of forested land is higher now than it’s ever been. Aren’t there things to be recycled which would make more sense?

Proofreading is my lfie

From today’s New York Times:

August 25, 2003

Evite’s Day of Atonement

Evite, an operator of a free Web-based event planning and invitation service, and a unit of InterActiveCorp, sent the following e-mail message on Friday to recipients of its monthly newsletter:

Dear Evite Newsletter Subscriber,

Yesterday we mailed a newsletter to our subscribers with incorrect dates for three important holidays. Please accept our sincerest apologies for these errors and note the following corrections:

Labor Day, September 1st

Rosh Hashana, September 27th

Yom Kippur, October 6th

In addition, we also wish to apologize for having listed Yom Kippur as one of our “Reasons To Party.” We understand and respect that Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement, a day to be taken seriously to reflect and fast, and as such, one of the most important Jewish holidays in the year.

Again we deeply apologize for the error and thank you for allowing us to make this correction.

Very Best,

The Evite Team

Even the NY Times feels my pain

From the New York Times op-ed page (during a very rainy summer)

August 5, 2003

And the Forecast Is . . .


Wednesday in New York : Rain. Heavy at times. Followed by periods of precipitation.

Thursday : Lingering showers throughout the day. Chance of rain 800 percent.

Friday : Moist. Damp. Sodden.

Saturday : Rainish. Showery. Precipitacious.

Sunday : Light rain followed by heavy rain followed by pouring.

Monday : Unseasonably rainy in the morning. Uncharitably rainy in the afternoon. Unconscionably rainy in the evening.

Tuesday : Endless showers broken up by occasional flooding.

Wednesday : Remember “Waterworld”? Like that, only with more rain.

Thursday : Not sunny. The opposite of sunny. Just forget about sunny, O.K.?

Friday : Clearing just long enough for you to make weekend plans. Followed by obscene amounts of rain.

Saturday : Take a wild guess.

Sunday : Incessant, spirit-crushing rain. The kind of rain that makes it futile to get out of bed in the morning. The kind of rain that seems as if it will never end. And guess what? It never will. Ever. Do you understand?

Monday : Please go away.

Tuesday : Ample, brilliant sunshine throughout the day. Wait