A recent column about the demise of observation decks at big airports triggered some nostalgia.

Bob: When I was a kid we went to the Akron-Canton Airport’s open house and we were on the deck. A plane started up and scared the you-know-what out of me. I saw fire and flames because it was a prop plane. I never forgot it.

In 1964, when the Browns beat New York to get to the NFL Championship Game, we went to Hopkins to watch them come in. They got off the plane and I got lost in the crowd. My cousin was married to Ross Fichtner at the time and it was big stuff.

When I was older, we would go to Akron Fulton to “watch the planes come in,” but we just went to make out with girls.

Bill Beck

Cuyahoga Falls

Bill: Any decent multitasker would have made out with girls and watched the planes land at the same time.

Now this is scary: I can remember Ross Fichtner’s uniform number: 20. How sick is that? These days, Ben, I can barely remember your name from one paragraph ago. Bill. Sorry.

I also remember getting up-close-and-personal with the Browns of Fichtner’s era when they trained at Hiram College, their summer home from 1952 to 1974.

None of which has anything to do with airports, but it’s my column. Stop trying to hijack it.


Got an email from a St. Louis attorney who sort of wanted to reminisce about Hopkins but also wanted to sell some copies of a book he wrote about another airport.

Bob: I well remember the observation deck at Hopkins and spent much time there as a child and teenager when my family lived in Cleveland during the 1950s and 1960s.

St. Louis’ Lambert Airport had a similar observation area in that era which disappeared when the concourses were upgraded and double-decked in the 1970s, but an observation area for cars at the end of [a runway] remained open and popular until the 1990s.

I co-wrote “The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis’s Lambert Airport” … and learned in doing the research that watching planes at Lambert was a major spectator sport in the 1930s, and admissions to the observation deck continued to provide substantial revenue through the 1960s.

The Jet Age transformed air travel into a form of mass transit and removed much of the romance and excitement of flying. Today it is onerous, burdensome and unpleasant.

Yet the magic of flight continues to move us, as reflected by the attendance at air shows and air museums such as the National Air and Space Museum in D.C.

Alan B. Hoffman

St. Louis

Alan: If your new favorite columnist hadn’t personally flown into Lambert and enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have allowed you to plug your book. So you got lucky. But I agree: Flying can be a monumental hassle at times, but the planes themselves are still fascinating.


Bob: It was with great sadness that I read about the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus deciding to close. However, there is one aspect of the closing that will have severe repercussions. There will be hundreds of out-of-work clowns.

Does this mean that there will be an increase in the number of creepy clown sightings in the woods this fall? They have nowhere else to go. Scary thought, isn’t it?

Lolly Smith


Lolly: Certainly is. And we’ll also have to worry about getting trampled by elephants.


Colleague Monica Thomas said she thought of me when she saw a suggestive license plate. Not sure what to think about that, but I’m glad she snapped a photo because that will help me fill up this column.

The plate, on a silver Hyundai with a Summit County sticker (No. 77), reads:


“How did that get past the BMV?” she asked.

Maybe the BMV consulted with the Health Department and decided it was a valuable public service announcement.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31