Remember the last time you flew anywhere?  

OH (other half) and I have been taking a trip down memory lane and reliving some of our travel experiences. Flying abroad was much easier then than it is now and far more straightforward than it will be in the future.

Way back in 1977 OH and I were on a trip to the States.

In Washington we made a bee line for the Capitol Building as we wanted to take the tour and see the Senate in congress. It was a very hot day and there was a very long line going up the stairs.

Our three and a half year old son was a in a buggy and his little brother was in a baby carrier on OH’s shoulders.

We waited in line for a very long time.  The kids began to get fretful as small kids do.

– Not long now we said. Look, we’re nearly there.

At the top of the stairs there were a large number of scary looking cops with guns.  At the barrier there was a metal detector.

We had a bag of stuff with us – as you do when you’re travelling with kids.  Drinks, raisins, fruit, nappies (diapers).  We also carried a small fruit knife – useful for peeling and cutting apples when you’re out and about.

I pointed to the metal detector.

– Our knife’s going to set that off, I said. We had better declare it.

By now one of our sons was crying and the other was moaning.

–  When will we be there? When will we be there?

It was just like being on a car journey but without the distractions.

When it was our turn to go through the barrier we sensibly showed them the knife as we didn’t want to set off the alarm.

The cop recoiled.

– You have a knife.

– Yes, we said.  It’s so we can cut up fruit for the children.

– It’s a felony to have a knife on federal property.

I pointed to the lockers just behind him where they were putting people’s cameras and other personal belongings.

– It can go in the locker, I said.

The cop motioned to his mates.

– It can’t go in the locker.  You will have to leave.

Our kids starting crying again, letting out a howl that must have been heard by all the congressmen inside.

– We have been waiting in line for over an hour, I said.  We are here for the tour.  Our children are with us, I said, pointing out the two howling kids in case he hadn’t noticed them.

–  You will have to leave, he repeated. Alternatively, he offered, we could take the knife outside and bury it somewhere on the perimeter and collect it afterwards.

We thought he was joking. But, no.

–  If we did that, I ventured, we could skip the line right? We wouldn’t have to line up all over again?

– You would have to line up again, we were told.

So we left.  Back down the stairs. Back past all the people waiting who were all fuming because we had held up the line.  Down we went and back outside into the fresh air.

But we were not alone. We were accompanied by two cops with guns who escorted us, not just to the end of the line but right off the premises.

Welcome to America.

Walking back in the direction of the White House we spotted a helicopter heading for the White House garden.  Something made us think it might be the President returning from a trip.  We started to run – not an easy thing to do in the heat while carrying bags and pushing a buggy and with a kid in a back pack. But run we did.

We reached the White House fence just in time to see the helicopter land and President Carter step out.  This wasn’t that long after his inauguration so it was pretty exciting to see the new President. Even the children, who had stopped crying by now, caught our excitement.

But it was ice cream, not the President, that saved the day.


My blog will resume in September. In the meantime, please stay safe and keep well.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems






  1. Amazing story. Sorry you had this experience but it does not surprise me. I remember returning on my trip in 1973 from London. You had given me a wrapped gift for Andrea’s new baby (DALE). While in the return customs area, I opened my suitcase. The inspector wanted to rip away the wrapping to see what was in your gift. I told them what the gift was and the reason for the gift. I also told them if they unwrapped the gift that they had better have the same paper to rewrap your gift. She was not pleased with my comment. She glanced and nodded to the end of the line toward a man standing officially in a dark suit. Irene and Dave were looking down from the international windows at me. When I walked to the end of the section the dark-suited man flashed a badge and said ” I am from the treasury department follow me”. We moved to a very small room. He told me to empty my pockets. (I was wearing a sports coat). I emptied my pants pockets and had a package of dramamine (for air sickness). He asked me what these were and I told him. He confiscated the capsule and told me he would have to have these analyzed. He patted me down and felt something in my sports coat pocket. He glared at me and stated “I thought I told you to empty your pockets?! ” I told him I did and that if he wanted me to empty my sports coat pockets he should have told me to do so. It was at this time I stared him in the eye and said “Are you charging me with any crime because if you are not I am turning around to leave now?” He was silent and I turned & walked out of the room. Our Country is filled with agencies who try to intimidate and misuse power. Yet there is still power to citizens who recognize their inalienable rights under our Declaration of Independence. Maybe I should have offered to bury the Dramamine outside and retrieve it later. God bless you Andrea and your family. Be safe and keep writing. Ed

    On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 9:47 AM My Life in Poems wrote:

    > Andrea Neidle posted: ” Remember the last time you flew anywhere? OH > (other half) and I have been taking a trip down memory lane and reliving > some of our travel experiences. Flying abroad was much easier then than it > is now and far more straightforward than it will be in t” >


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.