Friday, September 07, 2007

Love Field

Long before I'd ever heard of sojourners such as Jack Kerouac or Don Quixiote or Henry Thoreau, much less Bruce Chatwin and Bill Bryson and Peter Matthiessen, I heard the sound of turbo-props revving up at Love Field.

When I was just three, my family moved to Dallas, on Midway Road, just a few blocks from Lemmon Avenue and the eastern edge of the 3rd busiest airport in the United States. Playing outside, and even from inside, I could easily hear the engines of the planes taxiing, taking off and landing.

The "new" terminal, circa 1955, off Mockingbird Lane, was the center of action, but the old '30s era Love Field terminal on Lemmon Avenue was still being used by charters and companies. My family never went to see a drive-in movie, but we did used to go park near that old airline terminal to watch planes take off and land. And when the wrecking balls came to knock down the old terminal, we went to watch that, too.

I got the biggest thrill out of seeing my favorite passenger planes, curvaceous Lockheed Constellations, parked close to the fence. I never got to fly in one of those, but compared to the rather bland looking (and LOUD) 707s and DC-8s that dominated the 1960s, the Constellation sure was exotic looking, a kinetic blend of the feminine and the masculine wrapped up in an aluminum skin.

My father would pull off to watch planes, at the end of the runway near Bachman Lake or there beside the old terminal, and it was more special than going out to dinner or just about anywhere else. It was as if we lived in a port city to the globe. Because even inland, mid-continent, in the new jetsetting world of the airways, with Love Field almost in our backyard, we did.

The sound of those planes, props and jets, day and night, got into my sense of how big the world was -- and how busy. All that roar of going places, coming and going, even at night. Somehow, this figures into my mythology of wanderlust in modern times.

You could be on the road, and you could be in the air, and either way, it was the journey that mattered. It was all great to watch, but then there was some serious envy: the thing was to move.


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