Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Bob Greene writes that flying, with jammed-to-the-groaning-point cabins and torture-rack legroom; fees for everything from checking your bags to being handed a paltry package of food; and the endless, we'll-X-ray-you-to-within-an-inch-of-your-dignity security lines, is too often such a dreary, joy-sapping slog that it's difficult to remember that it was ever any other way. But back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s — even the 60s, flying was a big deal. When a family went on vacation by air, it was a major life event. "Traveling by air in those years wasn't like boarding a flying bus, the way it is today," says Christopher Lynch, author of "When Hollywood Landed at Chicago's Midway Airport," a celebration of the golden years of commercial air travel in the United States. "People didn't travel in flip-flops. I mean, no offense, Mister, but I don't want to see your toes." The trains were still king in those years and the airlines wanted to convince people that flying was safe. "People were afraid to fly," Lynch says. "And it was expensive. The airlines had to make people think it was something they should try." That's where Mike Rotunno came in, photographer-for-hire at Midway Airport in Chicago where cross-country flights in those years had to stop to refuel. His pictures of Hollywood stars as they got off the planes made air travel seem to be glamorous, sophisticated, civilized, and thrilling. "Think of his photos the next time you're shoehorned into a seat next to a fellow who's dripping the sloppy innards of his carry-on submarine sandwich onto your sleeve," writes Greene. "Air travel was once a treasured experience, exciting, exotic, something never to be forgotten. You, too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.""
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