When we moved to Singapore in 1975 my parents bought eight Skyway suitcases. They lasted through a good 15-20 years of use and abuse. They had wheels on the bottom and could be pulled by a strap — we learned quick to take off the straps right before checking them in or they got stolen — so my brother and I would each sit on one and get pulled around. You could overstuff them, sit on the top and squeeze the latches closed. And we probably don’t want to know what all the endured at the mercy of baggage handlers. They got taken off planes when they should have been left on and left on planes when they should have been taken off. Like most suitcases, they did more traveling than their owners’ did!
The frame on one got bent and left a gap. Once we were on the plane watching the luggage being loaded. We saw that suitcase and one of my mom’s dresses was flapping out of the gap. She said just to pretend like it wasn’t our suitcase.
And one got carried off by another lady when we arrived in New York. We were at baggage claim, we had all of our suitcases except one and the lone suitcase going around on the carousel wasn’t ours. Someone had mistakenly picked up ours. And my mother said she saw it happen and thought “that lady has a suitcase just like ours”. So it didn’t take Dick Tracy to figure out that the suitcase that was left belonged to the other person and it had contact information so someone in lost baggage was able to contact them. It wouldn’t have taken them long after they got home to figure out they had the wrong suitcase.
So when it got to the point where I needed luggage we made a trip to the Skyway store when were in the states the summer between 10th and 11th grade. I came home with two suitcases and a carry on.
I didn’t really care for the carry on (it came with the set) as I preferred a backpack and I think my grandmother eventually ended up with that. My brother borrowed the smaller suitcase several years later, left it out in the rain and it got mildewed. But the big one lasted a long time. It went to Indonesia a couple of times, Alaska a few times, on the train through Malaysia and countless trips around the states. One of the wheels lost a screw and wouldn’t roll straight but I kept using it. Then last summer one of the hinges broke so it was time for it to go. Only I never remembered to put it out for the trash until tonight.
I was really putting off buying a new suitcase because I hate suitcases with zippers and that’s they way they’re all made now. But all good things must eventually fall apart and need replacing.
The end of an era.