As we waited for our supper, Dad leaned over to Gayle and asked, "What does that remind you of?" He pointed to a crusty strip of concrete below.
"Going to the airport," she said, remembering with a smile. They have done this as long as I can remember– shared inside jokes and memories at the dinner table while we tried to guess what they're talking about.
Eventually, Dad explained that we were looking down on the former entrance to the airport, the bold symmetrical ramps that led to the 1961 terminal. This post card from Atlanta Time Machine shows how they would have looped the terminal.
"Did you fly much?" I asked.
"We were always picking someone up or dropping them off. I didn't fly for the first time until my 40s."
Then he told me about "Blue Lights," an infamous high school destination for necking near the runways. The long stretches of pavement were marked by low blue runway lamps, and virtually unsupervised.
I did the math. As Forest Park natives, my parents grew up with the airport, but it was the '90s before they ever actually flew anywhere. By then, it was a completely different airport– new name, entrance, tower, and terminal. It had become a place equipped to handle 4 times the passenger volume, and that volume included the very residents it had displaced.
The entire operation shown in that postcard now fits in one parking lot of the modern airport. Everything pictured there is gone, but for some reason, the entrance and exit ramps have survived. They lead nowhere and have no purpose. They are cut off and floating. What planning oversight or sentimental urge allowed them to remain? I think the lingering concrete is part of a secret map of old Air Castle of the Jet Age, only visible from the air.