Sunday, September 25, 2011

I hate saying goodbye at the airport

The old Winnipeg airport is soon to be mothballed for the new one right next door which will finally be opening up next month.

I don't know if they will be tearing down the old one or not. I hope not, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do. As far as modernist architecture goes, what was once known as the Winnipeg International Airport is my favourite building of that style. I heard they were thinking at one point of putting the manitoba aviation museum in that building.. but that probably fell through. Which would be too bad, because it's also the perfect location for an aviation museum.

As a child, I would run around the airport from novelty to some other novelty. Many of said novelties requesting a tribute of quarters. I played pac-land and learned that pac-land is a quarter eating piece of garbage at the Winnipeg Airport. I played pole position, I played many an arcade game (a few of which are still there!) They also used to have some car game in where the arrivals area is currently. I think they also still have another arcade in behind the departures security zone. Probably still have good old Terminator 2 there.

There was also that weird plane/helicopter flying game that was always broken. They removed it years ago, but I remember it sat there for years. You put money on it and it seemed like it flew around.

I think they also had a sheriffs badge making machine once. I wonder why you don't see those anywhere? Kids today would still love that sort of thing.

Then there were the black and white TV's. Remember those? I watched an episode of Star Trek TNG on MTN one friday night on those. They only got local OTA fuzzy analogue TV. Now they have one big shared TV stuck on one channel (unless you bring in a universal remote.. which I've often been tempted to do)

I mostly remember the games and coin operated mechanisms. I remember sitting bored in the international arrivals basement area a couple times as well.

I also remember the secret basement pop machine that's 25 cents cheaper than the other pop machines. (Of course now they have Pepsi, used to be Coke.. I hate exclusivity contracts when Pepsi has them) Theres neat tunnels down there too.

It's the last place I saw my grandparents and many family members leave. No they didn't die in a plane crash. They just came to visit. I was there as a kid in my pajamas when my mom left with my sister to visit my dying grandmother (her mother) leaving my dad and me alone to eat McDonalds and pizza (Sometimes McDonald's pizza!) for two weeks. I was there when my sister went to Montreal for some French learning related thing, only to return complaining french guys kept hitting on her and talking to her in english, completely defeating the purpose. I remember going to vancouver on a cheap Jetsgo flight and returning a week and a half before they went bankrupt. I had a whole window seat and aisle to myself, but the lack of washroom facilities should have been a sign of what was coming.. but I still have my free jetsgo badge!

I remember my father returning from a few months on Baffin Island with an Ookpik owl for my sister and me. We still have them. Hers looked like a baby snowy owl, mine looked like a penguin.

I'll miss the observation deck. I showed it to my four year old nephew a few months ago. I don't know if the new one will have an observation deck. I somehow doubt it. I hope the new airport has decent (and free and public) areas for people to decompress and relax in.

But like my torn down elementary school (of which my mom managed to save a limestone brick as a memento), everything has its time and place. Winnipeg's airport was around during the heyday of commercial travel. It was there when Winnipeg was a hub. If any building in Winnipeg can be said to have a personality and soul imbued with the memories of the people who came and went, YWG is certainly at the top of the list. Farewell, YWG. Farewell unlimited refills at Harveys. Farewell overpriced DVD's and books at Virgin. Farewell money exchanging kiosk and bothwell cheese store (BEST CHEESE IN THE WORLD), Farewell pocket scissors from 5 years ago I had to throw in the garbage. I hardly knew ye.

I hope the new airport can live up to its predecessor. I hope it can absorb the memories of those in the city and those from outside who visit. I hope its not a cold and impersonal and boring and cold and sterile concrete monstrosity. I hope it gives people who visit a good impression.

But the 7 year old inside me is shuffling his feet and hanging his head down mumbling goodbye to someone he'll likely never see again. Thanks for the memories, airport. Last flights are on Sunday October 30th. New airport opens on Halloween. Oooh Spooky stuff! :)


The View from Seven said...

Good post!

I have good memories of going planespotting there as a young child. There was much more variety back then:

- Air Canada and CP Air (which then had a striking orange-and-silver colour scheme) from various places in Canada and sometimes overseas. CP Air was well-regarded for its service, such as serving salmon using real plates and cutlery in Economy.

- The last of Transair's gold-coloured 737s, from about the time of the PWA takeover

- Pacific Western's 737s from the west and north. A profitable, well-run airline that probably would still be around if it hadn't let visions of grandeur lead it into the mistake of going deep into debt to buy every domestic airline other than Air Canada on the eve of a recession.

- Nordair's white-and-blue 737s from the east, with the huge "N" on the tail

- Northwest Orient, Republic and Frontier from the U.S. I remember Northwest being more formal, Frontier being more a more casual WestJet-like carrier.

- Wardair packing people on to the occasional DC-10 or 747 for a trip to London or Hawaii, which was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many people back then.

Anonymous said...

That game w/ the airplane in the plastic dome is still around! John Scoles from Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club bought it! It sits in the basement of his club!

reedsolomon.matr1x at said...

Does it work?

Someone should take a pic of it. Seems like a rare machine even if broken.