My father was a Far Eastern agent for the Standard Oil before World War II. We lived in Shanghai, Honolulu, Manila—we practically felt like immigrants when we returned to the U.S. on Dad’s periodic home leaves.
We traveled first class on ocean liners. From Honolulu to Los Angeles took five days. In mid-morning stewards served us tiffin as we lounged in deck chairs covered with our steamer blankets after promenades around the deck. My mother and father dined formally on multi-course meals, always with their turn at the Captain’s table until afterwards they danced the evening away under the stars.
My sister and I ran up and down the carpeted circular staircases, gawking at the frescoes on the ceiling. We swam in the pool and bet on wooden horses that “raced” across the deck to the roll of the dice. At dinner in the children’s dining room, we were supervised by matrons in white uniforms. The children’s’ tea party served as the grand finale—we drank hot chocolate and ate tiny pastel petit fours. Afterwards we took home beautifully scripted programs with the names of the other junior passengers.
Today, in airport lines, we check our suitcases before we move to lines for security checks, where x-rayed and patted down, we remove our shoes and watch TSA workers paw through our belongings. We roll our carry-ons to the gate. Then, jammed three-abreast in cramped seats, we arrive exhausted at our destinations preparing to face several days of jet lag.
Photo Credit: Queen Elizabeth, Courtesy Wiki Commons