First TWA Flights and the Naivety of a 1950s Girl!

The following comes from my diary.  These are the  innermost  thoughts of a naive, young TWA air hostess, excited about her first trips and the people she was meeting. You may also perceive the generational code of the girls growing up in the  conservative 1950s.  Please note that most names were changed for privacy reasons.

The following excerpts were entered on October 3, 1959, but covered August and September flights:

“It seems like ages have passed since those first few days at TWA school in Kansas City. I passed the four week course, fell in love with dear Frank C., visited the Starlight Theatre and dined at the Golden Ox.  Now that is all behind me.
My first flight was on a TWA Jetstream  (L- 1649* Starliner).  It was  a routine one, except for Captain Xs  attempt to lure me into some dark corner, so to speak.  

Flight #519 to St. Louis, MO was my next flight.  Captain Tom W., flight engineer Randy  J., and I went down to the river and listened  to boogie music on the old river boat.

Meanwhile, fellow new hires Sally McVay, Sue Buckley, Val Knost and I,  planning to room together,  finally found an apartment, after spending a few days in a rat hole  – The Belmont in New York City.  While back in New York, Val and I saw the “Boyfriend” and took an excursion bus ride around the city.

On my next flight, the other hostess and I had a beautiful room in Saint Louis in a suite with marble floors, leather chairs – the works.  We had two baths, a living room, dining area and large bedroom. We couldn’t let this room go to waste, so we called the captain and first officer down for a peek.

Martin 4-0-4

My first and only Martin 4-0-4 flight was a full load (40+/- passengers).  Sounds easy, but it was quite an ordeal.  This was a one-hostess 45-minute flight with a scheduled meal service.  I was nervous with no other experienced hostess for guidance.  I popped my head  into the cockpit to get some reassurance from the flight crew, but they were  uncommunicative.  Was it me? What did I do to offend them, I wondered.  Perhaps they had a tiff among themselves!  No matter,  they did not talk to me throughout the entire flight.   I felt so alone!  Once up in the air, we experienced turbulence and  it was a feat to try to hold on to the seats for stability and, at the same time, pull out each tray from the carriers to serve each passenger.  Once the trays were out, the Captain announced that everyone was to get in to their seats and fasten their seat belts.  I  checked the passengers and then did his bidding myself.  Shortly , we started our descent, so I made an announcement, ” Please  fasten your seat belts, place your trays under their seats and fold up your tables for landing.”  We landed, bouncing along on the runway, being tossed about  in the heavy winds.  Never mind the jostling about, I was just happy to feel those wheels touch the ground.  Everyone on board clapped!

When the passengers disembarked, I began the ordeal of pulling trays out from under the seats.  I heard a woman’s  chuckle coming from the front of the plane.  It was the  air hostess , who would relieve me for the trip back to New York.  She was a seasoned  woman and took pity on me when she saw the embarrassed  look on my face.  She set to and, between the two of us,  we picked up all the trays and stowed them into their carriers.  “Don’t fret”, she said, It is not unusual to have this happen on this short flight.  I usually bid this flight pattern, so I’m used to it.”  We stayed in Dayton, Ohio  at the Cross Roads Motel.  I never saw the crew appear  that night for dinner and never  saw them again on another  schedule.  

My pattern  for September was  Flight #519 again to St. Louis. My captain was Ralph L.,  first officer Carey H. and flight engineer Hugo R.  My first flight with the crew was a quiet one. We all ate at the Lennox restaurant  and then went to our respective rooms.  I changed into casuals and walked  toward Jack Spratt’s Waffle Shop, when I noticed a grey haired gentleman walk toward me. We passed each other  and then almost simultaneously, we turned and sure enough if it wasn’t Ralph.  We laughed and laughed over that little incident.  He was returning to the hotel, as Hugo had met some girl and split up the party.  Ralph came over to the Waffle Shop  with me and kept me company while we had coffee.

After that night, he kidded me about the white ducks he saw on the girl “walking the streets”.  On my next flight, my roommate Val was the other hostess.  She had a date, so the three male members and I ate at Roses – an Italian restaurant, then went to the Vogue and then the Carousel.  Ralph and I danced  for hours.  Carey went to the movies and finally, Hugo disappeared to meet some girl. Ralph and I returned to the hotel, a short time later.

On the next trip, my  hostess partner stayed at the airport, as she was planning to deadhead (take a flight to position yourself for another flight pattern or to go home when not scheduled). The three male crew members and I again went out to dinner, this time to the Mayfair Hotel (both the Lennox and Mayfair are owned by the same people and both restaurants are German) We then went to the Carousel and Ralph and I danced once again. As the time before, Hugo disappeared and Carey left with him.  

On the next trip, Val and I changed into slacks and went over to a cafeteria. Both of us were disappointed  that the crew wouldn’t do anything with us, but perhaps it was just as well…”


* Lockheed Constellations were the L-049 and L-749 at TWA. Super G was the L-1049G, the bigger, faster improved Connie. The Jetstream was TWA’s name for the L-1649 Starliner. Very few of these were ever built as the jet age was soon upon us.

PAN AM comes later.  TWA to be continued…

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