Time to give to Children’s; more memories of Dulles

John Kelly
Columnist December 29, 2012

When Carol Barnes-Bryant saw the photograph of Children’s Hospital in this column last week, she was transported back to 1955. Back then, she was a 2-year-old patient there, getting her tonsils removed. The photo made her remember the smell of ether. And then she remembered another patient on the ward, a boy in a body cast who had something very cool at his bed: a television set.

“The nurses let all of us other kids sit around his bed and watch,” Carol wrote. “When I saw that picture of the bed today, it took me right back to that ward. Funny how things trigger memories.”

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

The column triggered memories for Marsha Gilchrist, too. She was also a patient at the hospital’s old location on V Street NW. “It was such a comforting place for a sick child, and I will be forever grateful,” Marsha wrote.

There are just six more days left in our annual fundraising drive for Children’s National Medical Center. If you want to take a tax deduction this year, there are just two days left. In other words, if you’ve been meaning to donate, now is the time to do it. Your gift will go into the hospital’s uncompensated care fund, which helps pay the bills of underinsured patients.

And 20, 30 or 40 years from now, when a former child looks back fondly at the time he or she spent at Children’s and the care received there, it may be with thanks to your generosity.

You can make a tax-deductible donation by going to www.childrensnational.org/washingtonpost or sending a check (payable to Children’s Hospital) to Washington Post Campaign, P.O. Box 17390, Baltimore, MD 21297-1390.

No amount is too small. Added together, the readers of The Post can make a sizable and important contribution to this very important cause. Thank you.

Lounge wizards

The Dulles International Airport mobile lounges that Answer Man wrote about recently continue to be a source of fascination. Tom Zmudzinski of Fort Washington stumbled across a syndicated comic strip from 1960 called “Closer Than We Think!” that described something called the “jetscalator,” even then in development for Washington’s new airport.

“It would have an up-or-down ramp and capacity for about 100 people,” wrote the strip’s author. “When departure time is at hand, travelers wouldn’t have to stir from their chairs — they’d be transported in the ‘jetscalator’ right to the side of the plane.”

Don Fitzgerald of Vienna pointed out an economic reason to take a shuttle from the terminal to the plane, rather than having the plane come to the terminal.

“Jet engines had really poor fuel economy back then — especially when idling and taxiing — and the planners wanted the planes parked close to the runways so that they could minimize the time planes spent on the ground,” Don wrote.

Scott Talan unearthed a neat detail. “You may not be aware that architect Eero Saarinen’s idea was to have cocktails and drinks being served in the mobile lounge, which is partly why they were called that,” he wrote. “Sadly, this never came to pass, but what fun flying could be with more thinking like this today.”

Indeed, in early artist’s conceptions, the interior of the lounges resembled bachelor pads. The lounges were not meant to be viewed as buses that took you to the plane, but rather as a piece of the terminal that traveled to the plane.

Nowhere is this clearer than in a brief 1958 animation made by Charles and Ray Eames, designers best known for their iconic chair and ottoman. (See the cartoon at vimeo.com/4139559.) The film has a wonderfully jazzy style and outlines in detail the shortcomings of then-current airport design. Each wheeled lounge, a narrator explains, would be “a spacious room isolated from fumes and noise.”

Apparently not everyone understood the mobile lounge concept. Margaret Johnson of Alexandria remembers when Braniff Airlines began flying into Dulles. A friend of hers had scored a cut-rate “promotional” flight on the carrier, which is now defunct. After boarding one of the mobile lounges to be ferried to the jet, the lady sitting next to Margaret’s friend looked out the window and said, “I knew this was a bargain flight, but at least I thought the plane would have wings.”

Finally, Jay Cherlow pointed out that Answer Man transposed some words in his most recent Dulles column. Jim Wilding was identified as the former head of the “Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority.” Wrote Jay: “However, that authority, which has been in the news quite a bit this month, is the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, more commonly known as MWAA.”

Answer Man needs questions! Send them to answerman@washpost.com.

To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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