And then there is my dear friend Linda. We have known each other since we were five years old…when our fathers were stationed at Larson Air Force Base, close to Moses Lake, Washington. Larson AFB was a Tactical Air Command base under the 18th Air Force during the Korean War. The year was 1953.
Our parents were the closest of friends, we lived at Larson AFB for several years. Then Linda’s father was assigned to Wiesbaden Air Force Base, Germany and my father was assigned to Prestwick Air Force Base, Scotland & Chateauroux Air Force Base, France. We visited each other frequently. Her family lived in Wiesbaden when Elvis Presley was stationed in Germany. Elvis met his future wife there, the step daughter of Air Force officer. Extraordinary times!
We always kept in touch and both families ended up in Washington DC in the latter part of the sixties. When Linda and I graduated from college in 1969, our families sponsored our 6 week “Europe on $5 a Day” graduation trip. Oh what a trip that was…two other friends joined us. We arrived in Europe via a combination of cheap tickets on Icelandic Air and a military dependents charter. We also purchased a one month EuRail Pass. Planes, boats, buses and trains took us to England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, France, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and finally Germany with only $10 to spare and an emergency American Express Card. So many stories and so many close calls!!!
Upon our return to the United States, we both were hired by Pan American World Airways and to the delight of our parents became roommates in a smashing 2 bedroom apartment in Arlington, Virginia. Linda met Jeff. Linda and Jeff got married and moved to West Virginia. I of course, visited them. Jeff and Linda decided to walk on the wild side and sign up for the United States Foreign Service. They were accepted and traveled the world. I met Joe, got married, still worked for Pan American World Airways but now resided in Chicago.
Fast forward several years, I am now working for United Airlines and I have a Star Alliance meeting in Vienna. It was perfect time to visit Linda and Jeff who were assigned the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. Frequent travelers sometimes get a “Tad” smug about their knowledge of all things travel related. I had checked Joe’s passport and confirmed it was still valid…I should have had my glasses on because it had expired. And NO ONE caught that error until we took a hydrofoil from Vienna to Budapest! Our friends to the rescue and in 3 days, Joe had a new passport and we were able to safely depart Budapest for the United States.