A Very Special Christmas Memory
December 20, 2013
One of my most vivid Christmas memories is of my grandmother. Most everyone can say that, I suppose, but this one doesn’t involve going to her house for Christmas. My grandmother, Dorothy Perry, lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. We lived in Kansas City. I grew up during the 1950s and 60s, and travel to Los Angeles was quite expensive, as were as long distance telephone calls (you paid by the minute). As a result, I didn’t get to see or talk to her very much. Even so, there was a strong bond between us forged by letters we wrote to one another and helped along by the fact that I was her only granddaughter.
After her mother had passed in 1963, she began to fly back here in December and stay with us for a month. At the time, airplane travel was thought to be quite elite, so when you embarked on a trip, you dressed up as if you were going to church. Kansas City’s airport back then was called Municipal Airport (now Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport). The planes landed and taxied to the gate, the jet stairs were lowered from the side of the plane (or the mobile ramp stairs were wheeled out), and the passengers walked from the plane across the tarmac and into the airport gate, where they were met by their loved ones. My grandmother’s arrival day was full of anticipation and excitement. We always had to wait until almost everyone had deboarded because she let the other passengers go ahead of her. When the moment came that we saw her walk through those doors into the terminal gate, she looked to me as if she had stepped out of a fashion show. Beautiful Sunday dress, high heels with very pointy toes, hair freshly done by her beautician (for a while her silver hair was even tinted blue–very stylish at the time!), as well as a hat and white gloves. Her yearly visits to Kansas City were my favorite time of the year. I can still feel the excitement of waiting to see her walk through that door.
Fortunately these days, communication and travel is much easier and less expensive than in the 1960s. Airplane travel is much more common and definitely not a reason to put on your Sunday best. The cherished letters my grandmother and I exchanged would today be replaced by phone calls, emails, and texts. But for me, the most special memories of her were linked to the days of her arrival, which made Christmastime an extra special holiday.
Midwest Genealogy Center