Photos by Angelina Aragon
Whenever Jack Moody’s friends and family fly around the globe, the Phoenix engineer hands them a mission: Bring back airsickness bags. Moody has been collecting the retching receptacles for more than 40 years. “What appealed to me initially is the humor, just the silliness,” he says of the bags, which span cultures, decades and design motifs, from the plain-Jane to the surprisingly ornate. “They’re very fancy for something that’s such a funny bodily function. I mean, not funny at the time, but funny to everybody else afterward, right?” Moody’s collection clocks in at 101 unique bags that he organizes in a doorstopper of a binder, with duplicates stored in boxes. Has he ever had to avail himself of a prospective addition to his collection? “I never have.”
“This is probably my favorite one,” Moody says of the bare-bones bag his father brought home from the USSR shortly before the Berlin Wall fell. “It just looks so Soviet Union,” he says of the exceedingly utilitarian bag. It’s stamped, not embossed, and not lined with wax – an icky rarity.
How to pass the time on an air journey before in-flight movies and Wi-Fi? A game of gin rummy, helpfully laid out on the back of this defunct airline’s sick bag.
A Nepalese coworker brought back this token from his home country’s since-shuttered airline. It’s one of only a few in Moody’s collection with an illustration explaining how to use the bag.
Moody’s friend flew on the supersonic passenger jet Concorde before it ceased operation in 2003. The same pal also flew on Air Force One. “I was like, ‘You gotta get me one from Air Force One,’” he says. Alas, “he couldn’t find one.”
Moody is tickled by the “multipurpose” barf bags of yesteryear. “Back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s… you could use them to develop your film. Literally put [the film] in [the bag], put your name on it and drop in the mailbox.”
“I’m fairly in love with Kenya,” Moody says. He’s worked on multiple projects for Engineers Without Borders in the East African nation and in India.