Early March of 1967 I was in my first year with Air Canada (my employer for the next 33 years) at Toronto Airport. A clerk in the Operations tower, I worked in a fishbowl perched at the end of a boarding finger reached by a metal spiral staircase. In those days people walked outside to board an airplane, any airplane not just the small propeller ones. One windy afternoon I had struggled down the stairs with an armload of flight plans heading for the terminal. A charter flight from Philadelphia, carrying Melina Merkouri and the cast of the Broadway-bound Illya Darling, was deplaning as I walked towards the terminal.
I don't recall how it happened but I tripped and 25 flight plans and I fell to the ground in an undignified pile. As I scrambled to collect the plans and my dignity a smoky accented voice asked: Are you okay, darling? Here let me help you. And a ring-laddened hand was proffered. I looked up into the most fascinating face I had ever seen in my young life. The halo of Carmel-coloured hair and a smile the like of which I have never seen again almost blinded me to an incredible pair of sparkling, laughing eyes. It was Merkouri. In a complete daze I know I must have turned a bright red as she helped me up, dusted me off and kissed my cheek. At that moment I was head over heels in love.
In fond memory of that moment, which I had forgotten about until a few days ago, and in celebration of our departure today for Athens here is the devine Melina singing Children Of Piraeus in Never On Sunday the movie that inspired Illya Darling.
Σας αγαπώ, Melina.
12 marzo - San Massimiliano