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Letters: The joys of world travel

Good tidings to 'A Christmas Story's' Jean Shepherd; Virgin Airlines' top-notch crew.

December 26, 2010

Leon Logothetis' article ["Revelation Road," Dec. 19] on the joys of travel was great. I have been a world traveler since arriving in England in 1974, knowing no one, and hitchhiking all around Europe. I am still an adventurer and traveler and am so grateful for it. I encourage others to get out of this country and see what the rest of the world is about. It is such a great thing.

Michael Kimmel, San Diego

I greatly enjoyed reading about the "Christmas Story" house ["Hide in the Cupboard," by Jay Jones, Dec. 19], but the article barely scratched the surface. It failed to mention the author/narrator of the story, Jean Shepherd. I discovered Jean when he was a late-night jazz deejay in New York in the '60s. Between Brubeck and Parker, he'd go off into these stream-of-consciousness raps that were absolutely spellbinding. Later, he put some of them into the funniest books of short stories ever written. I've read them all many times and laugh myself sick every time.

There were three movies: "A Christmas Story," "It Runs in the Family" and "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss." The movies were masterfully cobbled together from the short stories, and Sheperd appeared in a couple of them.

I grew up in northern Indiana in the '50s, and these movies and books were like revisiting my childhood.

Shepherd's stories are timeless. I urge you to buy everything he ever wrote.

Tony Vice, Tehachapi, Calif.

I just returned from a brief trip from Los Angeles to New York. It was a special "cousins' trip" (three from L.A., one from Seattle). I had always wanted to fly Virgin Airlines, and this was our chance.

First of all, security at LAX was a no-brainer, except for the cousin with the hip replacement. She needed "wanding" but was treated very well. OK, so December isn't the best time to travel to the East Coast. There was a three-hour delay due to rain, plus the two-hour early-arrival time, making it five hours. The flight was fine once we left. Now for the return: We arrived at the airport at 11:30 a.m. for a 1:30 flight only to find out there was a screw loose — or something like that — on the plane, and we had another three-hour delay, plus the two-hour early arrival. This is the reason for my diatribe. I had made the decision to never fly Virgin (or maybe any other airline) ever again. But once we boarded flight 411 from JFK, the crew was nothing short of amazing.

The ground crewwoman worked overtime to get us boarded and received applause from everyone on the plane. The flight crew was the most gracious, helpful, generous and friendly I have ever experienced. They comped us on a lot of wine (which we really needed), helped people reschedule connections missed by the delay and went all out to salve our frustrations. I hugged every one of them when we finally arrived in Los Angeles. Bottom line: Richard Branson's people do a lousy job of getting passengers from one place to another, but they excel at hiring fabulous crew members.

Elaine Cohen, Santa Monica

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