Tag Archives: Boy Scouts

My Airport Antics

I was reading a friend’s blog the other day (tidalscribe.com) and she was regaling her readers with her airport experiences. It made me think of the times I’ve had, well, issues in an airport. My biggest and most traumatic experience was when my father’s plane crashed in 1978. He survived.

Then I guess the one that stands out most was the time I thought I was going to be arrested for transporting drugs. It was August 1978, I was a Boy Scout at the time (they would go coed at a certain age) and we were travelling to Alberta for a National Moot. Think Jamboree. Groups were travelling from all over Canada and I think a few from the States and we are going to meet in Pincher Creek, Alberta for three days. My group thought we would go a little early and camp in the Rocky Mountains and then make our way down to Pincher Creek.

It was a great idea. We had to travel in uniform for insurance purposes so think of seven or eight 17-year-olds in Boy Scout uniforms descending on an airport. We stood out. For years my mother had been supplying us with hot chocolate that she would make herself because it was great when you’re camping. You only had to add water. This was over 40 years ago and I don’t believe they made hot chocolate that you could just make with water.  To make things easier, she put the powder in plastic baggies. There were probably about 20 double bags and then she put them in a flight bag.  None of us thought of the optics. As we were going through Customs it suddenly became very apparent why the Customs agents were taking an inordinate amount of time investigating that flight bag. I moved back in line a few paces. I wasn’t carrying the flight back.  It all worked out when somebody stuck their finger in the bag and tasted the hot chocolate.  They realized it was not cocaine and we were allowed to board the plane. I never did that again.

Then there is the time, many years later, I was travelling to Washington DC for a wedding with my mother. My father had declined the invitation. It was for people we didn’t know but their relatives were cousins that my mother had not seen in 60 years. They were coming from Belfast, Northern Ireland and I was anxious to meet them as well.

When my father’s plane had crashed, it was in a DC9.  I called the Airport to inquire as to what kind of plane we would be using and I was informed it was a 727. When my father dropped my mother and I at the airport and we collected our tickets, my father’s face looked odd. I didn’t question him at the time. We got on the plane and got comfortable and I reached out to read the little brochure in the seat pocket. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the plane I was sitting in was a DC9, the kind my father had crashed in.

We made it to Washington in one piece but I was a wreck. First place I went was the bar! We had a lovely three days and I met some incredible people. It was on the flight back that things got even funnier. We were not sitting in a DC9, we were in the promised 727. When we were packing for the weekend, I had asked my mother to pick up a book for me to read on the plane. Obviously, I was in no shape to read the book on the first flight but now I was relaxed and I reached for the promised book. It was called No Highway by Nevil Shute about a plane with a fatal flaw that’s going to crash and nobody knows about it. Thank you mother.

Oh, and the funny look on my father’s face? He had noticed my seat number, it was the same seat he was sitting in when his plane crashed. Who says life is boring?

Ah, Airline antics . . . .



I remember… I think

Memory is a funny thing.  We can have a memory of an event that we swear is exactly how it happened.  And yet other people remember it differently.  Memory is a wonderful way to edit the events of the past.  And yet we hold to our memories as being truths.  Why?

Our memories validate our journey.  I have a wonderful memory of a pivotal event in my life.  I was about 16 or 17 years old.  I was on a training weekend with my Boy Scout troop. (At a certain age boy scout troops can go coed) We were preparing to go on a weeklong canoe trip and we needed to check out some of the younger members.  I was in one of four canoes on the water about a half a mile from shore.  I was the most experienced canoeist.  Eight young women in four canoes.  On the water sometimes storms come up in seconds.  That is exactly what happened.  A canoe is a wonderful mode of transportation but it is not the safest.  In choppy water it can be quite tippy.  There was no way for the canoes to make it back to shore before the storm hit so I made a decision to ride it out.  I’m sure your first thought is: was she absolutely nuts?  But you see I had a plan.  What impresses me about this is that I was still so very young and yet what I did was the absolute smartest thing to do.  How I knew that, I don’t know.

Here is what we did.  I had all four canoes get close to each other side-by-side.  Then I had the young women sit on the bottom of the canoes and swing their legs over the gunwales.  Essentially we were tying the canoes together using our legs.  Myself and one other young woman sat normally in the outside canoes and steered what was essentially a raft.  I also saw to it that we sang, loudly.    The others really thought I was nuts.  But I also knew that sound carries over water.  Our singing alerted the people on the shore that we were okay.  The storm only lasted about 10 or 15 minutes but it felt like an hour.  When the storm had passed we unlinked the canoes and paddled to shore.  We were all heroes.  It could have gone so terribly wrong, but it didn’t.

The thing that gets me about this memory is that I have no idea who was out there on the lake with me.  I remember some of the people on the shore but I have absolutely no memory of the faces or names of the young women in those canoes.  I’d have thought I would have remembered them.

Why this memory is so important to me is because I think it’s probably the first time I ever took charge of a situation and I did it with such confidence.  I was not a confident person.  I questioned everything I did.  I just assumed I was doing something wrong.  There is a part of me that wonders about the other people that were there that day.  How do they remember what happened?  I wish I could contact the young women in the other canoes to see how they remember it.

So for now this memory will remain mine.  I share it because it makes me look good!  And we all need a little stroking every now and then.  If I have bored you, I apologize.  If you enjoyed my little walk down memory lane, then I am glad.  We should all hold on to our fondest memories.  If we don’t write them down then eventually they will change over time.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.