A Toast to the Huskies and History
(A Visit to the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Arizona)

by Don Doman

For the last seventeen years I have traveled to the farthest away football game of the Washington Huskies each season. Each trip has been an adventure as well as a learning and sometimes touching experience.

This year’s trip to the University of Arizona in Tucson proved no different. In addition to enjoying the football game (We won!), golfing, visiting a few watering holes, and feasting on a 32 oz. steak (I couldn’t eat it all. Next time I’ll skip the baked potato, well, the second one anyway.), my group of Husky stalwarts visited the Pima Air Museum. It was there that I met history face to face. . . so to speak.

The air museum contains nearly 150 planes and helicopters scattered over enough desert acreage to give me blisters. Husky friend Rob Erb, surveyor and part-time pilot, shared his knowledge of almost every plane. There was a replica of the Wright Brothers’ flying machine, World War I vintage craft, and a good representation of everything up to the current era.

One plane even had its own tour -- the last propeller driven "Air Force One." This airplane served as a cargo plane when originally built in 1959. After a year it was refitted and serviced both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. It was replaced by a new 707 version in 1962, but still was used by both administrations for flights to areas that could not accommodate the longer runways needed for jet passenger planes.

The interior of the plane reminds me of my truck and camper days. Everything is so compact. The plane was a lot longer than my camper, but just about as wide. With flight crew, Secret Service agents, cook, President and guests, it must have been like playing Twister to go a mere five feet anywhere in the cabin.

The main cabin was just large enough to contain two small couches that faced each other across the aisle. Two easy chairs were there, too. Both the couches and chairs were not of the comfortable, overstuffed variety of today. They were Spartan by 1997 standards.

The President’s desk was there, also, with short-wave radio and telephone to Moscow. The phone was for emergency discussions between the two heads of the most powerful countries on Earth. I picked up the phone. It’s now connected to a 900 line for “Naughty Russian Gals.” Times have certainly changed.

The desk reminded me of a Tacoma School District student desk, but nicely finished with no graffiti. I felt under the edge for bubble gum. I was disappointed.

In the rear of the plane was the roped off, ugly, powder blue lavatory. I leaned out and touched the potty. A warm glow enveloped my body. My hand had touched the seat of sixty's power. Now, I feel a connection between John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Onasis, LBJ, Lady Bird and, yes, even Marilyn Monroe and me. If you ever meet me, I’d be happy to shake your hand and extend the connection. You’ll be able to tell your friends, “I touched the hand that touched the potty that touched the fancy bottoms of Camelot, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.” History knows no bounds, or taste for that matter.

As our tour made its way through the galley, I spied an electric toaster. I quickly reached out and tipped it upside down. A small pile of crumbs dropped onto my palm. I swept them into my pocket. Later, while others snacked on Snickers, my hand pulled the few toast morsels out and popped them into my mouth. I truly have broken bread with the political greats of the sixties. It was a satisfying experience.

This page has been visited times since October 28, 1997.

John Weymer

P. O. Box 7185
Tacoma, WA 98407
United States