The first page of this letter was missing but it was probably written in early autumn of 1966. I got teary-eyed when I first read this. The awe that mountains inspired in my sea-loving Dad is the same awe they inspire in me. He’s also got an amusing take on airlines.
We had a very nice Vacation, the highlight of which of course was seeing Pete and his beautiful wife and two children. The fly in the ointment was the air Lines which stranded us in Denver overnight on the way out (which is the reason I did not stop at Newton on the way back) and on the way back in Chicago they just were not going to let us on the plane even though the reservations were confirmed from Jackson the day before. I had a terrific battle to get home.
Mama thought they did the best they could. I didn’t! And I told them so in no uncertain terms or we would have been in Chicago yet! On the way out the landing gear doors opened about one half hour out of Chicago and we had to drop from 40,000 ft to 25,000 ft and fly at 250 miles per hour instead of 550. That of course made us miss our connections to Jackson. They did put us up at a second rate Motel but we had to buy six meals extra ourselves. At Jackson when I made arrangements to come back on Tuesday, the girl said they know nothing about my reservations and that Chicago would not even put me on their waiting list. The next day I got the “head man” at Frontier lines in Jackson and he said don’t worry about it. Your reservations are all in order all the way through. Mind you I HAD my round trip tickets and they had been paid for for a month, but the catch was they were family plan. Anyway when we got to Denver on the way back, a Hertz car had to pick up all the passengers who were catching the Chicago plane by Hertz car and hustle us over to the plane for Chicago or we would have been left in Denver again. We got to Chicago and with only half an hour to call home for someone to meet me at the Airport at Bradley and get straitened out the guy at the desk said “you can’t go on this plane as you are a Tourist with Tourist reservation and this is a first class plane.” I said my reservations which are right here with my tickets call for this flight not only from the Travel Bureau in Torrington but from Jackson made only yesterday to this Office. Not only that but as far as I can see there is only two differences between First Class and Tourist and that is two seats instead of three divided by a blue curtain and a glass of whiskey and (or) Champagne served to the snobs who want to be separated. Anyway I have paid my money made my reservations a month ago and I AM GOING ON THIS PLANE OR ELSE I AM GOING TO RAISE ALL KINDS OF HELL WITH SOMEONE. He called someone from another office and the guy came down and tried to stare me down but did not succeed, so he stamped the tickets and said “go ahead” and I said “thanks for nothing” and we boarded the plane. That’s that!
What a bunch of snobs we have in this Country. Actually the appointments in the little Frontier Plane down from Jackson were nearly as good as United and the Hostesses just as good. As for their Food (Uniteds) I think it is much overrated. Mama can cook a much better steak than theirs which is kept in a warming oven and all dried out, and if I could drink whiskey I would bring myself a fifth for $7 instead of paying $150 extra for the privilege of being called first class and divided by a blue curtain. “On the way out Kirk wandered up into the two seat part of the plane divided by a blue curtain and they sent him back. He was quite upset and wanted to know if we were too poor to be in that part. I said partly that, and partly because we are not such damned fools and snobs as to WANT to pay it for nothing but a curtain and the privilege of not being contaminated by the rest of the people. Nuff?
The West is simply wonderful and if I were 30 years younger I would have stayed and sold my pencils and pens and ash trays in Jackson and Wyoming the rest of my life. The water and air are pure. You can drink right out of any brook (Creek) or river and the water is pure and ice cold. The air is clear and pure and dry and you can sleep nights. The forests and the animals are the way God made them thousands, yes millions of years ago. The only drawback to the place is that they have over 2 million guys like myself wandering around there in the summer and ARE they glad when they leave, although I DID tell them that without us they would not make much of a living but they allowed they would manage, and I believe they WOULD.
A friend of Pete’s took us up twice right on top of the Grand Tetons in a small plane and I could reach right out and touch The Grand. The streams and lakes were fantastic. The wildlife was plentiful and always about. We saw Trumpeter Swans, Moose, Elk, Bear, Coyote, Capri, Eagle and everything except the Bison which had escaped their place they kept them and were roaming all over the Park but nobody knew where. I hiked, climbed, fished with Pete’s children, had a power boat at my disposal, and cruised all over Jenny Lake (400 ft deep in places and ice cold) and had a real reunion with the Universe and THE men that made it.
Looking down The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is an awe inspiring spectacle and makes a human being feel very small indeed. Everyone was just fantastic, and none of Pete’s friends would take a nickel for anything. There are no such words as “rich and poor” out there, and nobody ever dresses up.
“And I wait for the men who will win me- and I will not be won in a day;
And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave, and mild,
But by men with the hearts of Vikings, and the simple faith of a child;
Desperate, strong, and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat.
Them I will gild with my treasure, them I will glut with my meat.
This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive,
That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the fit survive.”
Ever read that piece of poetry by Robert Service? Well that is what The Grand Tetons and my Son Pete reminds me of. It is the most awe inspiring and fantastic Country I ever had the privilege of looking at.
Even little Connie (Pete’s beautiful wife who can’t weigh over 100 lbs) takes her sleeping bag and climbs to the top of The Grand Land spends the night on it with Pete quite often. WHAT a bunch of paltry sissies we are here in the East. What a tremendous part of Life we are missing!
In a way I am sorry that I went as I shall never be happy again in the East and I am too damned old to start all over again, or else to be honest I don’t have the “pure guts that my son has.”
The Grand Tetons shall always run a close second in my heart to The old man of the Sea. Both of them are so tremendous and we are so puny. If I could only turn back the clock and SEE this great big beautiful World as God made it to be seen instead of through they eyes of “The Wall Street boys,” BUT it’s too late now I guess.
Anyway, as you can judge by now I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. It was 32 years coming and was all too short, but at least I had a week of “Gods Country” anyway, so now “back in the saddle again.”
This is also a fine boost for Newton, not that I am anything particular to hold, but nobody except such fine people as yourself could over hold me in line for a minute. I should hate every minute away from the Sea and the Mountains if I did not have such fine people to work with, so I will try to put it all in the back of my mind for awhile and get to work again.
It simply doesn’t pay for me to get in the open and free.
Tags: Pop's Letters