Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What was your first big trip?

My family members were not great travelers. My parents were not campers, so summertime weekends or Dad’s vacations were limited to day trips. However, I vaguely remember going to a resort in Indiana when I was about 3. We went on a train because my dad did not have a car.

I had a great aunt and uncle who had a farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and we would go there for a week. Then, my grandfather built a summer cottage in Edgerton, Wisconsin. My dad had a car by then, so we would go for many weekends.

My first memorable trip was when my sister and I flew to California to visit my parents’ friends. I was about 17, and my sister was 12. These friends had two daughters and a son. Janet and Diane were about the same age as my sister and me, so we looked forward to this trip.

It was the first time we had flown. We got to O’Hare Airport and found out that our flight was delayed because of mechanical problems. Our parents stayed with us for a while, but they went home not knowing how long the wait would be.

After several hours, we heard the announcement that there were splitting up all the passengers from our flight on flights that had extra available seats. Unfortunately, we had already missed our connecting flight from Los Angeles to San Diego by this time.

When we got to LA, I went to the information booth to tell the woman what our problem was and when we could get another flight to San Diego. She said we were in luck because the plane to San Diego was getting ready for takeoff.

I should mention that in those days, you traveled in Sunday’s best clothes (hat, high heels, and white gloves). She made a phone call and told us to follow her. So we ran (not easy in high heels) to where the plane was already moving. They stopped the plane, and we got on.

Of course, no one was waiting for us when we got to San Diego, as we had not anticipated all the delays. In addition, we had no phone number, so I had to call information from a payphone to let our hosts know we had arrived.

When Chester came to pick us up, we found out that our luggage was not on our flight, but they would call when it reached the airport.

When we got to their house, they said they had a little party for us, but unfortunately, we missed it. Janet and Diane were great hosts and told us not to worry about clothes because they were about the same sizes as my sister and me.

We called our parents to let them know we had arrived safely, and they breathed a sigh of relief.

Chester went back to the airport at about 10 pm, and our luggage had just arrived. We were exhausted, and we all called it a night. We had breakfast in the yard the following day and enjoyed the scenery, which was very different from Chicago.

During our trip, we traveled to Disneyland and Tiajuana, Mexico. Helen, the mom, was a real jovial lady. We had a lot of laughs in Mexico, watching her bargain for everything. We became closer friends with the girls and corresponded for a long time.

Many people would not want to fly anymore after our adventure, but I got the bug and made many more trips throughout my lifetime.