In 1963 the Eastern Air Lines Shuttle regularly flew my father back and forth to Washington for business. No reservations. No check-in. No boarding pass.There were no security checkpoints or assigned seats. Cost? Fifteen dollars. He paid cash after he boarded. The Eastern Shuttle was the talk of the town. Seats were guaranteed. If the plane filled up, they’d roll out another. Flights left every hour. The Shuttle also flew to Boston.

As for me? Flying the Eastern shuttle from New York-LaGuardia to Boston was a quick and easy way to sneak off to see my boyfriend. He lived off-campus as a sophomore at Boston University. At age sixteen I moved in with my father in midtown Manhattan after running away from my mother in New Jersey. One Saturday I told my father I was taking the train to the Jersey Shore for a party and staying overnight with a friend. I lied but I’m sure he was not deceived. No questions asked. 

1963 fare was $15. No booking. No check-in.

I travelled in a logan green wool skirt trimmed in dark brown leather, with a matching heavy wool coat. The ensemble was part of a larger purchase from Henri Bendel’s, gifts from my father to show his love. A string of pearls that my father had brought home from Mexico a few years before set off my olive cashmere sweater. 

The bus to LaGuardia left from Grand Central Station, an easy cab ride from our home at the Delmonico Hotel at 59th and Park Avenue. I never imagined I’d be prevented from boarding because of my age. I was certain my clothes, modern hairstyle and lipstick made me look older. And besides, I smoked cigarettes like a sophisticated woman of the world.

The Shuttle was the busiest service in the Eastern terminal.  Signs were easily visible. It had multiple counters and gates. I never feared I’d get lost. I walked right onto the plane and grabbed the first seat. 

At Boston-Logan Airport I flagged a cab to Boylston Street and flew into the arms of my true love, a tall dark-haired green-eyed boy, whose name I cannot remember. 

We drank up all the beer and wine in his place, had sex and walked to a college party. When we returned to the apartment a charming exuberant roommate greeted us with the notice that we were out of booze and he was broke.

What to do? I needed my remaining cash for the air fare and the cab rides to and from the airport. So I gave the roommate my pearls to cash in for more liquor. 

I made my way back to New York with no memorable mishaps. Since my father was battling his own alcohol demons and unsure of his role in my life, he made no effort to question the particulars of my trip. 

The Boston boyfriend? He flew down to New York on the Eastern Shuttle to see me once or twice. 

And that was that. 

3 thoughts on “First Time

  1. I remember your dad’s place at was it 30 South Central Park, one story down down from the penthouse(those were some stories). We took the cab to Delmonico’s where we had dinner with Marjorie Abbajay. I had the signature steak and must have had a drink which is why I don’t remember almost any thing else. I came to your dad’s place on my way back from reform, er, prep school – stone drunk with assorted half empty bottles of Southern Comfort in my Harris Tweed overcoat. They had been given me before the conductor checked ID’s as we rolled into New Jersey where the drinking age was 21(I had proof).
    I remember a dinner at your father’s which was attended by you and me, your father, Marjorie, my mother, and Adam Clayton Powell(was Abe Beame there too?) They were hatching a plan to support the next mayor of NYC I think. I know Powell was making eyes at my mother.

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