We had to carry our flat shoes in our purses while walking to the planes, where we removed our high heels which could perhaps punch holes in the lightweight floors as we trod up and down the aisles serving as waitresses for almost a hundred people.
I was flying the Latin American routes instead of learning, while my sister and her boyfriend here are seeing me off, after I was hired in April 1963. I flew the 2 jets shown below, learning all the emergency procedures, as well as food service. I also flew in DC-6 and DC-7's, prop planes that flew shorter flights in the Caribbean. I'll never forget the live chickens in a straw shopping bag which was included along with several children piled with mom into one seat.
"Pan Am was the launch customer of the Boeing 707, placing an order for 20 in October 1955. It also ordered 25 of Douglas's DC-8, which could seat six across.
The 320 "Intercontinental" series 707 in 1959-60, and the Douglas DC-8 in March 1960, enabled non-stop transatlantic crossings with a viable payload in both directions.Popular Culture loved Pan Am:
Pan Am held a lofty position in the popular culture of the Cold War era. One of the most famous images in which a Pan Am plane formed a backdrop was The Beatles' 1964 arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport aboard a Pan Am Boeing 707–321, Clipper Defiance.
From 1964 to 1968 con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. masqueraded as a Pan Am pilot, dead-heading to many destinations in the cockpit jump seat. He also used Pan Am's preferred hotels, paid the bills with bogus checks, and later cashed fake payroll checks in Pan Am's name. He documented this era in the memoir Catch Me if You Can, which became a distantly related movie in 2002. Abagnale called Pan Am the "Ritz-Carlton of airlines" and noted that the days of luxury in airline travel are over.Then almost 50 years later... ABC had the TV show, Pan Am. And it only ran for one season.
Pan Am is an American period drama television series created by writer Jack Orman. Named for the iconic Pan American World Airways, the series features the pilots and stewardesses of the airline as it operated in the early 1960s at the beginning of the commercial Jet Age.
|Actresses in the TV Show Pan Am|
Pan Am premiered on ABC on September 25, 2011 and ended on February 19, 2012.
The Pilot Show: April 1963. Dean pilots the Clipper Majestic 's first New York to London flight—his first as a captain—and searches for his girlfriend, Bridget, about whom Dean learns some shocking news. Maggie, a stewardess suspended for not wearing her girdle to work, is unexpectedly reinstated when the scheduled purser, Bridget, does not arrive. Veteran stewardess Kate is revealed to be a CIA courier who was recruited during a layover in Rome three months prior, and she takes her first U.S. intelligence assignment to switch a passenger's passport. Meanwhile, Laura must deal with people asking her if she is the stewardess on the cover of Life magazine, and trying to do her best while not bothering her sister, Kate, who resents Laura's sudden fame. Colette sees a former lover on the flight, only to discover he is accompanied by his wife and son.
Pan Am won the "Best Series" at the Rose d'Or TV awards, Europe's equivalent of the Emmys.
I only flew to Latin countries, then back to the states. Portugal was the only European country I visited, but there were lots of trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and the east coast of South America as far south as Sao Paolo, Brasil. I flew over Cuba a few times on the way to Puerto Rico.
|Not where we stayed, but this is a park near Caracus|
I loved Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and that I had 3 days layover there to see the sights. The flight which I had just worked from New York was a non-stop overnight flight of 12 hours, carrying the Brazilian soccer team. We really had a strain on the little bathrooms when all those men woke up in the morning wanting to shave before landing and meeting their fans.
|You can barely see the serpentine walkway on the left, on which I remember walking.|
I would often be away from my home in Miami Springs FL (near the airport) for a week to 10 days. There might be a trip every day, and sleeping in a different bed each night. Or there might be one trip of 12 hours, then a layover for 3 days. I had no seniority, so I got the flight schedules that were least desirable.
|Not mine, but a typical Pan Am Crew of Flight Attendants (aka Stewardesses) ready to go to work|
And the traveling waitress life had a toll on me. I may have been recovering from my broken romance, but I was also away from home for the first time with no friends to speak of. I was immersed in a culture of mostly Hispanic women and men, and I felt pretty lonely.
I made some pretty bad decisions in my personal life during my six months as a Pan Am stewardess. And as a stewardess I stretched myself too thin with days and nights of work, then partying much of the time I wasn't working.
|British Stewardess, Betty Riegel welcoming passengers in the same style uniform which I wore.|
Incidentally, my little sister also quit college in her third year and became an Eastern Airlines stewardess. I don't remember if she flew longer than I did, but she traded the high life in to live on a farm in Tennessee as a "back-to-the-land" hippy. We Rogers girls weren't meant to stay in the air that long, I guess.
I may still enjoy a flight now and then...squeezed usually against some giant person or another...but I really enjoy a take off which feels so grand to the bottom of my shoes. Glad I never really had a lot of "G's" like an astronaut, or this might be chicken feed.
I'm sharing this post with Sepia Saturday, where this week everyone will be sharing something to do with stewardesses, or puppies. Come over to see the postings by lots of folks on Saturday HERE.
The Sepia Saturday theme image this week comes from the collection of the Preus Museum which is the National Museum of Photography in Norway. It is a photograph by Elisabeth Meyer entitled "Stewardess Hugging A Puppy" and forms part of the Preus Museum stream on Flickr Commons . It appears that the photograph was taken in Alaska and it dates from sometime in the 1950s
Read Betty Riegel's story I Lived the High Life as A Pan Am Stewardess HERE.
Wikipedia is my source for most quoted materials and photos.
Images of the two advertisements are from PanAmAir.org.
Information about Pan Am the TV Show comes also from Wikipedia HERE.