One time when I went to the Indianapolis airport to catch my flight to Los Angeles I was treated to a real surprise. At the ticketing line I encountered Joe Spitznagel, a good friend of mine who was working for TWA. I handed Joe my ticket and he issued me a boarding pass, smiled and then stamped it FIRST CLASS. Tickets were not yet computerized so it was standard procedure to use that rubber stamp. I proceded to the gate and was greeted and welcomed to my first-class flight to California.
I needed to change airplanes in St. Louis and had about a three-hour layover. I walked around the airport for awhile and then proceeded to the departing area for my flight. I had dozed off when I heard a noise and saw several people around the gate to the airplane. I walked in that direction but the gate agent told me it was too early to board.
When first class was called there was just a uniformed soldier and me. As I neared my seat I noticed a man sleeping in his seat. I was shocked. It was Art Linkletter, the host of several television shows and an author. He died in May 2010.
After taking my seat I looked across the aisle and saw a smiling Mary Tyler Moore. All of a sudden it clicked in my mind that Art and Mary were the ones boarding the plane early.
I later found out that Mary had been in Minneapolis to film the opening credits for her self-titled show, including the scene when she tossed her hat into the air. At the time I had no idea what she was talking about because the show would premiere for about six months.
As soon as the seat belt light went off, she scampered forward to wake up Art, and we began playing a game trying to guess what city we might be flying over. To find out if any of our guesses were correct, Mary knocked on the door to the pilot’s cabin and asked what city was below us.
We ate, drank, laughed and walked around the first-class area until we were instructed to sit down and prepare for landing.
After landing, the three of us (me in the middle) walked through the Los Angeles airport arm in arm and laughing. We grabbed our luggage and walked out the door, where there were two limos waiting. My two new friends climbed in them and vanished into the night. I waited 20 minutes for a parking lot shuttle bus, found my car and drove to my apartment.
That was a fun flight.