36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 001: The journey begins


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Pan Am Flight 72

Day 1 — The journey begins
03-August-1971 (Tue.)


Pan Am, Flight 72, 6:00, 747

Received the royal treatment. Made things easier. Guitar checked “special handling.”

Met by the Pan Am photographer. Besides taking pictures, he’s pretty good at sending 40 lbs. of books down the chute. I used the “international traveler’s pose” for his complementary photograph.

Also was met on the plane by another gentleman. He was surprised
not to see my guitar. All a very pleasant experience.

When I said goodbye to Dennis, he cried. Made me feel sad.


The Flight

$2.40 to see “David & Lisa.” $1.00 for scotch and water. Great flight so far. Plane very big…kept very busy…didn’t notice the plane was moving. …”Fasten your seat belt, you idiot.” Next time I’ll pay more attention to the emergency instructions.

First Flight
• 5:50 — Looking out window.
• 5:51 — “
• 5:52 — “ … Homesick already.

• Seat over the wings…they move?
• About to take off…made Sign of the Cross.
• Planes take off every 3 minutes. They might as well race. One landed in between, yet.

Before I knew it, it was all over. Unbelievable plane. Unbelievable power. On the way up it turned. It felt like it was standing still—about to fall…maybe it was my stomach.

Flight with clouds

• On the way up.
• Scenery beautiful.
• Keep getting higher—more beautiful.
• Clouds both low and high.

• Flight info: 6 hrs. 30 min. to Frankfurt.
• Captain H.
• 33,000–37,000 ft.
• Going north along coast – Newfoundland — Amsterdam — Germany.

On ground, the clouds were dark and ominous. From up here, beautiful, white, and fluffy… It just goes to show you, “There are always two sides to every story.”

• This is the way to learn geography.
• Nothing seems dangerous from up here…I wonder why the newspapers say different. (I think that I’ll save the following space for another philosophical comment.)

[ ]

• Boston.
• Scotch is here…with nuts.
• Up in the clouds…I’ve been taking pictures all along.
• What’s this…another airliner somewhat below us? Unbelievable. Pretty soon it’ll be bumper to bumper.

• Disappointing…No good sunset…sun behind clouds.
• Dinner - very good.
• Night already.
• The only thing wrong so far is that the “Theater-in-the-Air” doesn’t work.
• Stewardesses are extremely efficient…must be foreigners.
• Spoke to soon…Theater-in-the-Air works — classical, stories, Rock, WPAT, Jazz, Language…

• A spot of rough weather…what happened to my sense of security.
• Met a very nice girl—Californian. Pleasant conversation. She was probably tired of a whole planeload of soldiers trying to pick her up.

• Daybreak—slow and revealing.
• Arrival in Frankfurt, Germany.
• Short stay.
• Frankfurt to Vienna. 1 hr.
• Beautiful countryside.
• Too tired to write…slept. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz


I'm 22. I’m 22 and a recent graduate with a B.A. degree in Music Education from Montclair State College in New Jersey. I was going to be a teacher, a music teacher.

Rotarians present award to John
Rotary International Fellowship. I was fortunate to have my plans interrupted by winning a full-year scholarship to study abroad. The award was the Walter D. Head Foundation Fellowship presented by Rotary Club International. This award allowed a recent graduate to experience the world abroad, and foster goodwill among students of all nationalities. I owe the Rotary Clubs and Rotary Club International big time, for one of the most exciting years of my life. Rotarians Ira Mitchell and Robert Spaulding present the award.

Nick Lioy presents Rotary Award
Heartfelt thanks to my boss, Nick. I also owe my heartfelt gratitude to Nick Lioy, my long-time boss at Archie’s Delicatessen. Nick sponsored me (and other students) for the Rotary fellowship. [We worked many years for Nick, 6+ years or so for myself, demonstrating our work ethic and character, and of course having good grades in school.] I worked part-time for Nick all throughout my school years. We worked serving the best Virginia ham, roast beef, and other deli sandwiches with his renowned (and secret) recipes for the best potato, macaroni, and coleslaw salads in the universe. We learned math by grabbing a paper bag and pencil and totaling up 10 items or so without a calculator. After work, we could grab a sandwich and do our homework. I now realize that, at that age, I looked to him as perhaps one of the important influences in my life. Thank you, Nick [up their in Heaven]. And thank you Rotary. I finally decided that it is ok to use Nick's last name. Nick is pictured at the far right in the picture.

Moving on.

First flight. I’m about to take my first flight. I’m about to go abroad for a one-year fellowship to study. I’m excited and getting special treatment (thanks to Rotary, most likely). You can tell I’m naïve. Why in the world would I be bringing a box of books that weighed 40 lbs?

Brother Dennis Age 8
My bro, Dennis. Dennis is my brother (there were five of us—myself, Mike, Steve, Frank, and Dennis. God bless my poor mom.) He was the greatest kid. We were born 11 years apart, exactly on the same day. Can you believe that? That means he was 11 years old at the time I left. This was the first time anyone in our family was leaving home. He made me cry as well.

First Flight. 36 years later, my first flight seems a bit funny. I was obviously writing these impressions down as my experience unfolded. Gee, I even had a bit of a sense of humor. I’m not exactly certain where that came from, maybe from my best friend, Lenny.

Clouds. I am always fascinated with the beauty of nature. Just the clouds amazed me those many years ago. Today, when I fly, I still look out the aisle seat and love to watch the unfolding patterns and textures that the clouds, sunlight, and sky produce. Those cottony balls of cumulus clouds seem to invite you to just flop down on them and go to sleep. (Perhaps, I need a Sleep-Number bed.) Of course, you would just fall through the clouds, crash to the ground, and die. Even then, in my youthful wisdom, I knew there were two sides to every story. Today, the clouds still intrigue me. The dark-grey pollution haze that is everywhere makes me wonder though, how we’ll ever solve the energy-pollution mess we’re in.

The spirit of youth. I remember, and it’s still true, that teens and young adults have great spirit and ideals. Our youth want to solve the problems of the world—bring about world peace, and such. I’m happy that spirit is still part of young generations. After all, they are the ones who will change things, once they assume the positions of power and become the future voices of people in democracies. Change things for the better, please. For your fellow man, and our Earth. Keep that spirit for as long as you can.

Joy of discovery. To finish up this first, day’s remembrances, I’ll point out a couple of things. First, there’s the joy of discovery. The first time you experience things, you are amazed. That the plane’s wings move. The sudden stillness of motion as the plane banks. The first time you talk to a nice girl (from California, yet) on your first plane flight. (Suddenly I'm the world traveler, cosmopolitan, and very international.) The first time you see clouds up close. Your first sunrise at 37,000 feet. If you’re young or old, try to keep that joy of discovery. As you get older, “life” will tend to drag-you-down with its problems, challenges, and struggles. We all have them. That’s life. We can all learn to better focus on the positive things of life, the beauty of the world, the beauty of all types of people. Ok, easier said than done, but doable. Focus, John.

Rediscovering this journal reminds me of my first joys of discovery.

It's never too late..too early. Second, my new slogan.
“It’s never too late to start. It’s never too early to start.”

It's never too late to start. As an older bloke (oldster), during the last few years I have been invigorated by writing and planning a number of web ventures. This web idea, 36yearsago.com, is just one of many. It feels great to write, think, plan, and execute these new web ventures. All without almost no money. I feel like I’m a budding entrepreneur. At my age, no less. Will the buds take root? Will they become beautiful bouquets or, dare I say it, as grand and tall as the mighty sequoias? Doesn’t matter, it’s fun to try.

It's never too early to start—never give up. As a younger dude, both in 1971 as a student and in short periods throughout my life, I have also had ideas, creative periods, business ideas, career paths that didn’t work, and a ton of music that no one has ever heard. Why didn’t anything happen? Well, some things happened. Did I not have the “talent to bubble to the top?” Or did nobody just discover me. Probably both. However, I did try a few things. In retrospect, I wish I had pursued some of my ideas a bit further—a là “don’t give up.” These won’t be the topic of this blog, but the point is, if you are young, don’t be afraid to start. Try out things. Work on dreams. Be responsible, work, and pay bills. However, if you want to write a song, novel, TV or movie script, write it. As Nike says, “Just do it.”

If you're older, "It's never too late to start."
If you're young, "It's never too early to start."

Keep a journal. Third, for interesting periods of your life, keep a journal.

This blog is based on this one-year-plus journal from 1971. It was the only year in my life that I kept a journal. If I hadn't kept it, or if I lost the small collection of books that comprise it, those memories would have been lost, leaving me with only a "summary"—"It was a great year in Vienna."

Today, I'm glad I kept that journal.

Write. Keep a journal. Start a blog. Save your memories.

Photos of the day (new feature as of August 2009—I am going back to the blog and will put all of the photos of the day in a larger size at the bottom of each page):

Getting ready to board Pan Am
Pan Am Flight 72

The Rotary Scholarship
provides the opportunity for this amazing journey

Rotarians present award to John

My boss of 8+ years at Archie’s Deli, Nick Lioy,
sponsored me for the Rotary scholarship. Thanks Nick.

Nick Lioy presents Rotary Award\

My wonderful brother Dennis at age 8
Brother Dennis Age 8

First time flying was amazing

First Flight

Flight with clouds

I love the clouds



- - - -