A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Phun Phacts

In the course of writing The Shipwrecks of Time, TOF has had occasion to look back and realize how much things have changed since those halcyon days of the 60s in which the narrative is so far set. An example:
  • In 1965, no more than 20 percent of Americans had EVER flown in an airplane. By 2000, 50 percent of the country took at least one round-trip flight PER YEAR. The average was two round-trip tickets.
  • In 1965, flying was a serious business, and people normally "dressed up" for the occasion, at least to the extent of wearing sports coasts or business suits.  
  • For you ynglings, people back then could walk down the concourse to the gates -- anyone, passenger or not. No identification need be shown, and no security screening was employed. Friends and family would often see the passenger off in this fashion.
  • Family members greeted returning passengers at the arrival gate itself by standing directly in the flow of disembarking passengers, as close to the gateway as possible. Business travelers would sometimes use their briefcases to club their way through the press. 
  • People routinely placed tightly-rolled tubes of tobacco in their mouths and lit them on fire while on board aeroplanes. A special section in the rear of the plane accommodated this practice. There was some debate as to whether sucking burning leaves into your lungs might not be an entirely healthy thing to do. 
  • In 1965, no airline passenger was dragged, screaming, by his limbs down the aisle of the plane.


  1. I'm just old enough to recall the excitement of picking up my oldest sister at LAX around 1965: we went right up to the gate and met her as she walked off the plane.

    It seemed kind of normal at the time. How we got by without the tender ministrations of dozens of security personnel drawn from the pool of people unable to get jobs at Kmart or Taco Bell is beyond me.

    1. Sometimes an act in unimaginable until someone acts. Then one imagines it everywhere, and can think of no counter but 100% inspection to prevent it.

  2. Not long after the new restrictions were put in place, NPR had an article comparing the old way of flying through a John Wayne movie (he was the pilot). From what I recall, and leaving out the things TOF has already pointed out: (1) The pilot and head stewardess met passengers. (2) A kid passenger dressed as a cowboy carried a toy gun. He had fun pointing and shooting it at people. (3) A stereotype Italian carried a huge hamper of stereotype Italian food on board.

    1. I still have the pic of when I first flew on a plane. They let me see the cabin and I wore the captain's hat for the picture. Was flying as unattended minor to summer camp.

      Even in later years, I still remember handing my pocket knife to the guy at the metal detector, him looking at it, and then giving it back to me as I went to get on another flight.

      Ah, the wonderful days before everyone lost their minds.

  3. On the other hand, four hijackings occurred between May and July of 1961, prompting John F. Kennedy to create the air-marshals. And between 1968 and 1972, 72 US flights were hijacked to Cuba (no word on how many were hijacked to other destinations). That was why metal-detectors were introduced to airports in 1974 (as a Cracked article put it, "since the honor system clearly wasn't working").

    1. TOF's Solution to hijackings in that era: Since they were all by socialists wishing to go to the worker's paradise of Cuba, offer free monthly one-way flights to Cuba to anyone who wishes. End of problem.

    2. Only problem is that the socialists in question wished everyone to go to the worker’s paradise of Cuba, and were so enthusiastic about it that they felt themselves compelled to volunteer on behalf of planeloads of other people.

      If a revolutionary socialist did a thing just because he wanted to do it, and let other people refrain because that was what they wanted, that would not be very socialist and not at all revolutionary. The purpose of revolution is to give the people what they don’t want but ought to have, at gunpoint, to make sure that they get it.

  4. When my family flew home from Fairbanks to the Delaware Valley in the summer of 1966 when I was seven, I would discover in my subsequent school years that I was the first kid that anyone in my classes knew who flew in a jetliner.

    My younger brother and I were invited by the stewardess [flight attendants having not been invented yet] to visit the cockpit. After doing so, my brother and I were each given wing pins.

    I've deliberate refused federally-compliant State ID, so I can no longer fly commercially, until the kabuki-security farce has ended.


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  6. Am thrilled to hear you're still writing Shipwrecks of Time! As you are an actual author and not a wannabe like me, I had thought it safe to assume it hadn't worked out, and it made me sad.


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