305 Eileen Cunniffe


I’m a homebody who loves to travel. I’m a traveler who often has dreams about her house when she’s ventured far from it. This small piece of copper once held in place two sections of the gutter on the house I’ve lived in for the last fifteen years; when the original copper gutters gave out and I had to replace them (sadly, with aluminum), I held onto this small relic of the house’s history.

It’s possible the travel bug first bit me at Philadelphia International Airport during my college days, nearly forty years ago, when I worked part-time for the city-run information desks. My job was to answer questions, to promote Philly’s tourist attractions and to help solve travel problems—long before cell phones or the internet, when everything had to be looked up manually and worked out person-to-person. I loved watching people come and go, all the family reunions (especially in the drafty old hangar that passed for an international terminal back then), the sendoffs, the little dramas that played out day and night in every corner of every terminal. I left that job when I graduated, and even though at that point I’d only taken one trip that involved an airplane, I knew I’d be a traveler one day.

Or maybe I got that bug long before I reached college, when Philadelphia’s airport was a much smaller place, with easy parking and a wide-open rooftop observation deck. Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, my parents would dress us up and take us to the airport—a short ride from our house in the suburbs—to watch the planes come and go. We almost never knew anybody on one of those planes, but it was fun to look through the big binoculars and feel the wind in your hair.

As a traveler, PHL has always been my home address—my point of departure, my point of return. So I like the idea of having a little piece of my house safely stowed away in my home airport.