Saturday, April 23, 2005

For my friends who kept their hats in the ring at Eastern Airlines

I am a member of Germantown United Methodist Church in Germantown, TN. . We are blessed to have a really wonderful senior pastor. His name is Rick Kirchoff and the following was edited from his sermon on April 10, 2005. To read or hear the audio of the complete sermon, click on the Web Site above and then click on Library / Resources.

When I heard the sermon that day I was reminded of all the friends I have had through the years who worked for Eastern Airlines. Those of us who started our airline careers at Southern Airways have had an almost daily reminder of Eastern Airlines, as our airline, now know as Northwest Airlines, is still flying some DC9 airplanes that were acquired from Eastern. You could always tell an aircraft that began service at Eastern, especially with the DC9-10 series. Those airplanes had the original blue side walls below the windows for years.

Grace and Peace
Larry L. Walters

"The Aftershock of Easter!"
Reverend Rick Kirchoff
April 10, 2005

Let us pray. Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove. Descend on us, reveal your love. Word of God and inward light, wake our spirits; clear our sight. Surround us now with all your glory. Speak through me that sacred story. Take my lips and make them bold. Take hearts and minds and make them whole. Stir in us that sacred flame. Then send us forth to spread your name. Amen.

Worship always reminds us that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. Worship is that holy reminder that all of life is to be wrapped up in gratitude.

I want to describe a scene for you, and for those of you who have been here more than three years, you’ve heard me describe this scene before.

It happened at sunset, every Friday evening, on a lonely stretch of the Florida seacoast. There would be an old man, white-haired, slightly bent, bushy eye- browed, walking toward a pier. In his hand, he held a bucket filled with shrimp.

There on that pier, a weekly ritual would be enacted. Almost as if on command, the sky would suddenly become a mass of dancing dots as seagulls would come from all directions there on that weekly pilgrimage to meet this old man. For half-an-hour or so, he would stand on the pier, tossing shrimp into the air. The seagulls would fight over the shrimp until finally all of the shrimp had been eaten. When the shrimp were gone, the gulls would continue to flutter about, hoping for something more. Occasionally, one of those seagulls would fly up and perch on the old man‘s cap, and he would remember a day many years before.

That day came in October of 1942, when Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew were reported lost at sea. His mission was to deliver an important message to General MacArthur. But the plane became dangerously low on fuel somewhere over the South Pacific and the plane had to ditch in the ocean, and stayed afloat only long enough for Captain Eddie and his eight crew members to get out into the three tiny life rafts. For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his crew fought hunger and the heat and the rain and spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed against their three tiny rafts. But the most formidable enemy that they faced was hunger, for eight days out, and all of their rations were gone.

They knew that it would take a miracle to sustain them and it was one afternoon that the miracle happened. They had just had a brief time of worship and Captain Eddie pulled his cap down over his eyes to doze off and take a nap and just as soon as he pulled his cap down over his eyes he felt something land on his head. He knew at once that it was a seagull. Everybody knew if Eddie could capture that gull, that it meant food. So, ever so slowly his hands went up and the gull didn’t try to fly away. Its flesh was eaten and the remains were used as bait to catch fish. The men were sustained and their hopes were renewed all because of a lone seagull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land that gave itself without a struggle.

As long as he lived, Captain Eddie never forgot. Every Friday evening he was there on that beach with that bucket of shrimp to remember with gratitude a day long past when one gave itself without a struggle that he and his men might live. (Paul Harvey -- The Rest of the Story)

Well, we have a lot in common with Captain Eddie. For we, too, have been saved by a Sacrificial Visitor. We, too, were rescued by One who came a long distance and journeyed far to touch our lives with hope. Like Captain Eddie, we have every reason to look to the sky and to give thanks. (Lucado)

Worship is what we do when we are aware that what we have been given is so much greater than what we could possibly give. Worship is that “thank you” in our lives that refuses to be silenced. Worship is that act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, by the delivered to the Deliverer. Worship is always wrapped in gratitude.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tom's Tale - A Story From The Early Days Of Southern Airways

Tom was a newly hired airline agent at Southern Airways in Memphis, Tennessee. He was assigned to work at the ticketing counter and one of his first customers was a cute co-ed from "Ole Miss" in Oxford, MS.

The pretty little co-ed was purchasing an airline ticket to return home to visit her parents. This was in the 1960's and Southern Airways policy for an agent accepting a check was for the customer to have three forms of identification. Typically, these forms of identification included a driver license, social security card and/or a credit card or two.

Well, this cute co-ed had a drivers license and a student ID but nothing else. Tom had worked for his uncle's country store before coming to work at Southern Airways and considered himself a pretty good judge of people. Besides her obvious cuteness, Tom decided that she appeared to be from an affluent family. Tom considered himself to be a master southern verbal wordsmith and set in to have some fun at the co-ed's expense.

Tom's recollection of the conversation went something like this.

Tom - "Well little missy, I'm a gonna take a chance on this here check being good. But, if it bounces and Southern fires me, I guess you'll just have to take me home and cook me dinner!"

Co-ed - "My father is a physician and we don't cook at my home. We have help that does the cooking."

Tom - Not to be out done. "Well, if your daddy is a doctor, I guess, if this here check bounces, then he will just have to swap me out some services."

Co-ed - "That may not work either, my father is a gynecologist."

Tom said that it was all he could do to keep a straight face and maintain his composure, The cute co-ed received her ticket and proceeded on her travels. Tom admitted that he was glad to learn the lesson. That no matter how sweet and innocent your customer appeared and no matter how smart and clever you thought of yourself as a airline agent, you could always be one upped.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

You Ain't Gonna Believe This Stuff

Every good tale told by folks from around here begins with...."You Ain't Gonna Believe This".

Today I was priviledged to hear a funny story told by Tom Miller, a retired SO/RC/NW, CSS/CSA. You airline types will know what all those initals are. In all the years I have been blessed to know Tom and as anyone who has ever meet him knows, Tom loves to talk and is never short of a tale.

It distressed me when Tom retired, as he is one of the few people I know who can out talk me, well maybe, except for Don Wilson and Ron Kattawar. Anybody who has worked in Memphis, knows this is true. Anyway, Tom told a great story about when he was a new agent at the ticket counter for Southern Airways in Memphis and took a check from a college student at "Old Miss". You had to be there, the punch line was great and delivered as only as Tom can do it.

Tom's story was told at the quarterly Southern Airways Dutch Treat luncheon at the Raddison Inn at the Memphis Airport. This group has pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, ramp and customer service agents, managers and administrative people, both active and retired, as members. They get together quarterly to enjoy a meal and the fellowship of friends and to update each other on current events in the airline industry and to tell humorous stories of their past experiences.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 16, 2005 at 1130AM, at the Memphis Airport Raddison.

The attendees are mostly current and retired people who began their airline careers at Southern Airways, however, EVERYONE IS WELCOME, regardless of their airline hertiage. Active employees are especially encouraged to particate. You will get to hear stories about when it was fun to work for the airlines. The cost is $10.00, which includes a huge buffet lunch, beverages, desert and tip.

This group was started by Captain Billy Bob Haas in May of 1994 and his widow continues to host. Call Jim Rickman at (901) 755-2871, or E-Mail to to RSVP and get on the mailing list.

Another great resourse to find old friends is a website created and maintained by Lillian Allen (770) 491-6424.

The address for the site is WWW.SouthernAirways.ORG.

This is Lillian's fifth year maintaining the site. Be sure to bookmark and visit the site often. If you find the site valuable and would like to help defray some of the cost, send your checks to: Lillian Allen, 2530 Midvale Court, Tucker, GA 30084 with "Southern Web Site Support" in the memo section.

Tom Miller reminded me of a project that I have been working on for years. Every now and then, I have collected stories about mine and my co-workers funny, embarassing and humourous experiences while employed at Southern Airways, North Central, Hughes Airwest and Northwest Airlines.

I would love to share yours. Please send me your stories via this blog site or to the address or fax number listed below. To reply via Blog site click on comments at bottom of article or click on E-mail in personal profile section.

A few years ago there was a columnist for "The Atlanta Journal Constitution", Lewis Grizzard, who wrote opinion pieces and books of short stories like "Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself" and "Don't Bend Over In The Garden Granny, Them Taters Got Eyes".

I fancy myself as the same style of writer with a simular sense of southern humor.

Eventually, I plan to publish as a collection of short stories about and by the people in our industry.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Larry L. Walters - The MidSouth Mirthster
2128 East Glenalden Drive
Germantown, TN 38139-5447
(901) 759-5906 H/Fax