Aviators No More


The Boobs-a-lot Age is not the only era that has vanished since Howard Hughes' heyday. Consider this: Just today, Boeing announced that it is shutting down the last commercial aircraft built in California, the 717 in Long Beach.

That's just astonishing, to a kid like me who grew up within walking distance of what was then the McDonnell Douglas plant, which at its peak employeed nearly 50,000 people, including about one-third of the fathers in my neighborhood. The fact that Lakewood and Long Beach managed to absorb such a blow (this last one will cost about 750 jobs) is a testament to the dynamism and resiliency of the Southern California economy. Which, as Howard Hughes knew but few non-Californians realized, had much more to do with aerospace than Hollywood, producing a swath of Red State culture a 40-minute drive from the capital of the Blue.

The Press-Telegram story, by the way, features quotes from the two first bars I ever snuck into. Sniff.