As a teenager in the late 1960‘s, AGMA loved to go to the airport.
Oh, I wasn’t flying anywhere. I just liked to walk around and hang out. And dream of all of the exciting places those airplanes could take me when I was older.
India, Egypt, Paris, Hong Kong – I wanted to travel to all of them.
Airports back then were infinitely different than airports today. Friendly, laid back, sexy and exotic all at once. With just a smidge of mystery to the teenage psyche.
Most people flying back then dressed up for the occasion. Think Mad Men. The men wore suits or sports jackets, and women wore dresses with stockings and heels. And sometimes gloves. And fur. I thought it was all very sophisticated.
Full disclosure: The adult AGAM doesn’t really miss the part with the dress, stockings, heels and gloves. And fur. Ugh.
Stewardesses (hey, it’s what they used to be called!) were young, pretty, always dressed in a crisp uniform and very attentive to their passengers.
Just like today right?
Those were the days when friends and family walked the passenger to the gate and kissed them goodbye as they boarded. And they’d be waiting at the gate with flowers to greet them as soon as they got off the plane when they came home.
Now we have to say our goodbyes at the security checkpoint an hour and a half before their flight takes off. Or we just slow down at the curb and have them jump out so we don’t have to try to jockey for “drop-off positioning”.
And our hello’s an hour after they land. If we’re lucky. It takes them at least that long to get from the gate to baggage claim to walking out of the extra top-secret security area. By the time you see them, they’re cranky from all the delays and the welcome flowers are wilted.
Or you text them that you’re in the cell phone lot taking a nap.
To clarify, my friends and I didn’t wander around just any old airport when we were teenagers. No… We wandered around the fabulous Greater Pittsburgh Airport!
No, really – it was totally cool! Inaugurated in 1952, it was the second largest airport in the U.S. at the time and a great source of pride to the people of PIttsburgh. It had one of the very first indoor shopping malls in the U.S. in it, numerous restaurants and a small hotel. It had beautiful mosaics in the hallways and on the floors, and a huge Alexander Caulder mobile hanging in the three story lobby.
And huge observation decks to watch planes take-off and land. That was my favorite part.
It was such an iconic landmark in the city that people were absolutely heartbroken when the building was torn down in 1999. A new airport complex had been in use since the early 90’s and by 1999, the old building wasn’t needed.
Heck, I hadn’t lived in Pittsburgh since 1971 and I was heartbroken.
Actually, the architects of the new terminal realized how important the old airport building was to PIttsburgers, so they designed the interior of the new one to mimic certain style elements from the old one. And it worked. To an old timer (like AGMA), walking through the new terminal feels eerily familiar with exposed concrete, steel, glass tiles/blocks, and curved lines. And the Caulder mobile hangs in the atrium of the new building. Kinda cool.
Now a days, nobody in their right mind would go out to the airport to hang out.
For a non-passenger, there’s really not much to do or many places to go. And no observation decks. And if they did just hang out, they’d probably get arrested.
AGMA realizes that it’s a different time with different rules. And air travel isn’t the novelty it used to be. It’s not just for business people or the wealthy anymore.
Clearly, considering the cattle car nature of the flying experience these days. Now seating Zone 1. Moo….
And a teenager can get onto the Internet and travel virtually anywhere their heart desires so no need to dream of places unknown. A few keystrokes brings instant gratification.
But I wouldn’t trade those day dreaming trips to the airport for anything. There was something magical about them and the adventure they promised a 16 year old AGMA.
And some 45 years later, that teenager is still inside of me seducing me with whispers of possibilities for the future.
She’s such a trollop.