Pulskamp News

Family History, News, and Plans for the World Wide Gathering of the Pulskamps August 1-3, 2008

Exciting Trip Home

Posted on August 6, 2008 - Filed Under Pulskamps Today, World Wide Gathering of the Pulskamps

Well, we finally got home from the World Wide Gathering of the Pulskamps. What an adventure! The weekend was incredibly wonderful! Awesome cousins! Great food! Fantastic weather! Super conversations! Photos, mementos, an awesome PowerPoint presentation by the German Pulskamps, and hayrides too! We got to visit the original Pulskamp farmstead, the current Pulskamp farms, Oldenburg, and St. Marys-of-the-Rock where we celebrated a lovely Eucharistic liturgy with outstanding a capella singing.

Our group got to go to the Freedom Center (Underground Railroad Museum), the museums at Union Terminal, the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and stopped by my grandfather’s childhood home on Young Street. That house is not in the best of shape, though the brickwork looks okay, the woodwork is severely damaged. It looks vacant. In a few years, the area will be yuppie-fied and perhaps that house will survive. Maybe I’ll win the lottery?

Getting home to California was a bit of a challenge. Going through airport security with my Mom is always fun, since she has a couple of metal pins in her hip and knee. Jennifer had an additional challenge as the German Pulskamps had given her a package with instructions not to open it until they arrive in California. TSA needed to open it. Lucky for us, the agent she got at the Cincinnati Airport has a friend from Ettlingen, Germany, so he understood the package, and after opening it, let her take it on the plane. Then we go to O’Hare Airport in Chicago and things got interesting.

We had two hours to wait, so we were not rushed at all, but then the tornado hit town and everything changed. O’Hare Airport emergency plan seems pretty non-existent. First, all the American Airlines employees disappeared without telling us why. Then a single person with a clipboard came by and told us to move away from the windows and go to the food court. The public announcement speakers continued to tell us not to smoke and to park in the right places. We moved Mom’s wheelchair toward the food court, but it was mobbed. Then we heard an announcement that everyone should proceed to the basement. We started moving that direction, but first had to buy Mom a very large sweatshirt to put on over her jacket and a blanket to help her get warm again. The air conditioner was still on stun. The store clerks couldn’t decide if they were supposed to close or not. We started moving again, but then Jennifer spotted a family bathroom and we ducked in there. The theory was that the bathroom, in the center of the building, was a safe place during a tornado. We had a toilet, a sink, and an emergency telephone. We settled in. We also called our son in Seattle and our other daugther in California to see if they could give us any information. Rebecca was able to tell us how the storm was moving along. We also listened to the people in the hall outside, but we did not open the door when folks tried to get in. People never did leave the hallway outside. Eventually, the public announcement came on and gave the all-clear and we joined everyone outside.

At least, we thought, we didn’t have to go through security again with ten thousand other passengers. Then we needed to figure out how to get home. We found that our plane was still in St. Louis and our flight was canceled.  Ray stood in line, and got on the phone, and booked us for the next available flight to San Jose at 10:55 AM the following morning. We started to settle in, then Ray stood in line to get us on a flight to San Francisco on standby. That might have worked if the couple in front of him had not been playing hardball to get whatever it was that they wanted. Eventually, that plane left with a few empty seats because they could not process anyone due to the irate, irrational folks right in front of Ray. I made sure that the American Airlines employees saw my dear sweet Mom and that we kept our cool. After the San Francisco flight took off, we found a somewhat warm place to spend the night, near our original gate. An American Airlines management type came to ask how Mom was doing. She wanted to know how many were in our party. That was just as Ray gave up on the standby flight. The AA manager said some other person was claiming to be responsible for Mom and demanding some assistance for her! We gave her our boarding passes and she said she would try to see what she could do for us. Eventually she got us a voucher for one room at the hotel. (List price: $439! we were unwilling to pay!) As we left the terminal, we saw that they had set up about 100 cots for the ten thousand people who were stranded for the night. We appreciated our hotel room, especially since we were the last folks to get a room. They were all sold out!

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. We were only about fourteen hours late. Nice to be in our own beds.


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