When he was in the Air Force, my father served on Air Force One under four presidents – Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. He was on the engine crew and got to see a lot of the world over the course of those administrations. I grew up with Presidential memorabilia all through our home: signed photos of the presidential plane, commemorative holiday pictures from the White House, and Christmas ornaments, for example. Occasionally, I’d run across fun things like his old passport with stamps from countries who have not been friendly with the US in decades – hints of a bygone geopolitical era. One time, I found four sets of gold-rimmed Ray-Ban aviator glasses that had been standard issue for a few years – especially for those who spent long days on tarmacs.
Recently, he pulled out a memento I had never seen, pictured at the top of this post. It was box that was given to personnel who accompanied Eisenhower on a trip through Europe, Asia, and Africa in 1959. The box was full of other mementos, including a deck of cards from the Columbine, the propellor-driven predecessor to the Boeing jets that have been flown for several decades now. Also a Zippo lighter still polished to a high sheen. But what fascinated me was the map on the cover. I took a picture of it and came home intent on recreating it with GIS.