Pan Am Aloha Reunion, Apr 2-5, 2014 by Mary Lou Bigelow

From Apr 2-5, 2014, more than 500 former Pan American World Airways employees from around the globe gathered together at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki in Oahu, HI to celebrate the airline’s importance in opening up passenger travel throughout the Pacific, beginning in 1935 with the famous Martin 130 China Clipper flying boat.

Well, he did it again! Three cheers for Captain Don Cooper! With the support of the President of the Pan American Association -Aloha Chapter Darlene Laster, Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff of the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Terry Webber with Elane Kato and Geri Kai (who produced the memorable Pan Am cook book “A Touch of First Class”, and a group of dedicated Pan Am committee members, Don made this event a very special one that is now part of the Pan Am Legend.

Don Cooper and Darlene Laster


Geri Kai, Teresa (Terry) Webber, Elane Kato

Monday, March 31 – John O’Keefe and I boarded US Airways flight #582 from Boston to Phoenix at 5:45am. With a short connection time in Phoenix, we were luckily to hitch a ride with a passenger trolley cart to our flight #692 to Honolulu. The crew were terrific. Cathy Carruthers wanted us to look up former Pan Amers Bette Nash and Joan Meyer Sing who now fly with US Airways. The steward Jamey suggested Chuck’s Steak House – for great food and an airline meeting place.

Hawaii Prince Hotel


Arriving in HNL at 2:30pm, we jumped on a shuttle to the Hawaiian Prince Hotel Waikiki. The end of our journey at last! Resisting the urge to curl up on the bed, we took the hotel courtesy bus to the famous pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel and enjoyed a relaxing time down by the beach for the setting of the sun. Every Monday evening the hotel puts on a Luau feast with entertainment for $198 per person. We watched it from the bar, however, for the price of a delicious small pizza, beer and a virgin Piña Colada. Back to the hotel and sleep. We met pilot Jack Timken from North Carolina who flew out of New York when I did and wife Aurele. We saw Bill and Ginny McKillop, who were also early arrivals.

Tuesday, Apr 1 -We had a terrific breakfast at the hotel. Fortunately, we were seated at a table next to Don and Betty Cooper and Shirley Zellmer and husband Eric. I gave Don the first of my souvenir Pan Am Aloha Calendars. With his approval, I passed some on to Muff Solvinto and Alda Halldorssan-Duin, Jackie Brown and son Jason.

Aloha Souvenir


Aloha Reunion souvenir

A gorgeous day, though windy, I coaxed John into a shopping trip to Dukes Marketplace on Dukes Lane across from the Moana Surfrider Hotel. I found a wonderful red and white muu muu for me and and shirts for John. Next we headed over to the beach side of the Moana Surfrider and had lunch in the Banyan Tree Courtyard featuring a live performance – singer with guitar. We hopped the hotel shuttle back to the hotel for a nap and later that evening returned to the Beach for dinner at Chuck’s Steakhouse on the second floor accessed through the Outrigger Lobby. We arrived during happy hour (5-7) and chatted with some United Airlines flight attendants. They liked my souvenir calendars and wanted to know all about our reunion. Sure enough, behind the bar were the airplane models of United, Continental, Pan American and others etc. We had dinner at a little table next to the bar overlooking the porch and beach – a scrumptious steak and shrimp scampi, salad bar and rolls. They gave us a 10 percent airline discount. And can’t forget the mud pie to top off.

Helen Davey and Mary Lou Bigelow


Wednesday, April 2 – Today the troops would start arriving at the hotel, as registration was all day. I stopped to see Helen Davey and thank her for the wonderful article on the reunion that she wrote for her blog column in the Huffington Post in advance of the event. John and I thought it would be a good chance to take a morning Pearl Harbor tour and yet get back in time for the cocktail party in the evening. We had a quick breakfast in the hotel before being picked up for our tour at 6:30am.

JOhn O'Keefe and Mary Lou Bigelow At USS Missouri

First we visited the USS Missouri and then continued on to the USS Arizona. We saw a film on December 7, 1941 and then took a boat ride over to the Memorial – a serene experience felt by all who pass through this beautiful WW11 “Valor in the Pacific” National monument.

USS Arizona Memorial

Mary Lou Bigelow and Robert Lee


On the way back to our tour bus, I stopped at a table in front of the bookstore to chat with Robert Lee, a Pacific Historic Parks volunteer who was a Civilian Witness to the events back on December 7, 1941. He gave me a copy of an article written by Paul C. Heintz, Education Director for the Parks about Bob’s experience on that fatal day. I gave him my Pan Am Aloha Reunion souvenir calendar. He looked over at me with wide eyes and asked, “Were you with Pan Am?” I nodded affirmatively and we instinctively hugged each other. During the war Bob served in Naval Intelligence on Oahu, at Naval Air Station Punene in Maui, and was assigned to the V12 Naval Officer Training Program in Michigan. Bob joined Pan Am in 1955 where he worked in Passenger Traffic for thirty years. Bob made my day! He explained that he was just about to close up shop at that time to go over to the hotel for the Pan Am cocktail party. We saw each other often throughout the Pan Am event. KUDOS goes to this fine gentleman! Hats off!

Puamano Trio

Upon our return, we saw Pan Amers milling around the registration table which was set up in the lobby. The famous island singers the Puamana Trio, dressed in colorful muu muus, serenaded the crowd. We picked up our Pan Am carry all bag stuffed with goodies and our name tags with tickets and hung them around our necks. We stopped to talk to Terry Webber, Elane Kato and Geri Kai, who produced the nonprofit book “A Touch of Class” for the Pan Am Heritage Association. I stopped for a picture with them-they looked so pretty in their muu muus. I then stopped off at another desk where Jackie Banning (with Captain Chuck Cutting) was selling Gene Banning’s (pilot with Pan Am for 38 years – passed away about eight years ago.) book “Airlines of Pan American Since 1927.” Barnaby Conrad, author of “Pan Am: an aviation legend” also had his beautiful book for sale.
That evening was the welcome cocktail party, where 400 to 500 people crowded into the Moana Kea Ballroom. The heavy hors d’oeuvres was plentiful and delicious. John and I joined a table with World Wings International President Jane Euler and husband Phelps. To my delightful surprise, Rich Yoder and wife Mary Ann were there -hadn’t seen them since 1968, when I was married to John Bigelow and worked for Pan Am ticketing in the downtown Miami office, prior to moving to Kabul Afghanistan on the Technical Assistance Program with Ariana Afghan Airlines.

Jane & Phelps Euler and Mary Lou Bigelow (rear)


Mary Lou Bigelow, Darlene Laster and Debby Fuller


Eva Kama, Sumiko Imai Allegar, MLBigelow, Agnes Von Brimer


Linda Garver,Debby Fuller, Natlee Grimley, ML Bigelow, Carla Neeld, Linda Toscano-Fountain


It was fun to see so many familiar faces:
2012 Monaco reunion: Max Gurney, Tim McCully, Don and Mary Ann Fell, Joan LeBlanc, Ann Wilkerson and husband Keith Wodarski, Gina Siu Oerelius, Gene Vricella and Jill Ramsfield, Lora Ford, Cynthia McMillen, Muff Solvinto, Debby Fuller, twin sisters Gunn Chencinski and Anne Marie Panel, Kevin Kramer (who had the Dixie Clippers made in the Philippines for the Monaco reunion).
Facebook Pan Am Groups : Tine Beam, Nellie Aviles, Author Psychologist Helen Davey, Faye Liu Zawatski, Linda Kirkpatrick Garver, Aunty Carla, Melanie Camp, Sandy Clarke, and who could forget Linda Toscano-Fountain?

Tine Beam and Mary Lou Bigelow


Muff Solvinto


Plus: Maria Rinna, Marnie Stanfield, Leyland Maguire who ran the Tahiti Lodge, twin sisters Gunn Chencinski and Anne Marie Panel, Ruth Loewenstein, and Maria Rinna, Leilani Maguire who ran the Tahiti Lodge, Anne Marie & Stavros Olympios, Vivi-Ann Riordan, Capt Joe & Marty Roise, Edie and John Stavinoha, Marlies Suter, Agnes Von Brimer, Tori Werner, Don and Jan Wohlers, and Captain Ron and Judy Andersen, Jennifer Morgan and John Massey, and Sharon & Don Krump, Sumiko Allegar, Frank Garcia (Flight Engineer with Captain Ogg on Flight# 943, the Boeing Stratacruiser B-377, that was successfully ditched in the Pacific in October 1956), Eva Kama, Judi Machens, Donna Lindgren, Christie McElroy, Charlette Seidel, Mary Jane Ellis, Melanie Marshall, Joan Davis and so many others that are listed throughout this blog.


Ruth Loewenstein


Thursday, Apr 3 – Forum at the Mauna Kea Ballroom 9-4PM
• Don Cooper talked about Magellan’s discovery of the Pacific and its impact on the area.
• Author Jon E. Krupnik discussed Pan American’s transpacific and South Pacific route development. His book is “Pan American’s Pacific Pioneers, The Rest of the Story.”
Sold out 8 years ago, except for a few regular editions at $100 each or a limited edition for $170 are available from Jon at Jon at jonpac@aol.com.

Photo show Krupnick

• Betsy Pease Tryon presented her father’s account of the December 7th bombing of Pearl Harbor from his memoirs. A CD with her father’s narration is available from Betsy for $20.
• Merry Barton told of her evacuation from New Caledonia on the Pacific Clipper when the bombing at Pearl Harbor was announced. Her father was station manager at Noumea, New Caledonia.
• Ed Dover gave an account of the Pacific Clipper being the first commercial aircraft to circumnavigate the globe.
I bought two Mihana DVDs www.mihanahawaii.com from Terry Webber for charity.
On the hotel shuttle to Waikiki Beach, we met a Fiji Airlines crew – Captain Harnek Singh, an A330 pilot and his check officer Capt. Jone Turaganivaki who remembered John Bigelow when he trained with him in Toulouse, France. I bought a gorgeous blue & white muu muu and presents for John’s family. Before we knew it, the time had flitted by and we ducked in to a restaurant for dinner before returning to the hotel for evening.

Friday, Apr 4 – Early to rise, we had the usual wonderful breakfast spread at the hotel and enjoyed our time with Shula and Herman Jaffe, formerly Pan Am maintenance, now living in Israel

Shula and Herman Jaffe

At 9am fifty of us, who were lucky enough to sign up early for a tour organized by Clipper Skipper Darlene Carver Laster, boarded our bus for Ford Island, Pearl Harbor to see the historical site of our Pan Am China Clipper operation on the edge of the West Lock of Pearl Harbor known as “L -dock”. We saw where the Clipper flying boats landed and tied up and were serviced during their layovers in HNL. Originally there was the Atkinson house, leased by Pan Am for the operations office, passenger service area and a clinic. All that is left now is a foundation. We were very fortunate, however, to be invited inside one of the original houses, known as the Uyehara home designed by architect C.W. Dickie, still used today as military housing.

Boeing Clipper Inaugural Flight Mar 14 1939


Dee Dee Orzeszczak, who lives there now with her Navy husband, has renamed it the Pan Am Clipper House. She graciously showed us the inside along with a wonderful Pan Am commemorative plaque on the wall. Captain Robert Hicks, who began his professional flying career as an officer on flying boats, including the famed Boeing B-314, had a nice chat with Dee Dee.
Then we walked over to the landing and take-off spots for the Pan Am flying boats and farther on where they were serviced.

Architect Jack Dodge

Architect Jack Dodge showed photos and talked us though the site. We saw the monument installed by Pan Am on November 22, 1985 as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first Transpacific Flight – the China CLipper. We finished up and returned to the hotel about noon.

Max Gurney, Mary Lou Bigelow and Tim McCully


Back at the hotel, I ran into Tim McCully and Max Gurney. Tim wore a shirt belonging to Tommy Carroll, so Tommy would be there in spirit. Both Tommy and Jean were unable to make the reunion and they were sorely missed.
I stopped in the Clipper Lounge and met Joe Roise, who was training captain for a few years on the B707. His wife Marty started in 1955. I also met Barnaby Conrad III, author of “Pan Am: An Aviation Legend.”

Tanya and Kenneth DeHoff

I put my uniform on again for the evening event at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor on Historic Ford Island.

Pan Am Museum display

We boarded the busses at 5pm and they dropped us off at Hanger 37 where the Pan Am exhibit can be seen next to the museum store. Kenneth DeHoff, Executive Director of the museum, and Tanya introduced me to the Pan Am exhibit and took my picture with some of the Pan Am models. The museum hall was set up with tables amongst the airplanes.

Roy Stocks and Diane VanderZanden

We sat with Diane Vanderzanden (1963-1985 and then switched to United 1985 – 2005) who produces the Aloha Clipper newsletter for the Hawaii members. It costs $30 a year – in case anyone is interested .
Betsy Smith opened the festivities with a few tales from Pan Am days. Kenneth DeHoff, then addressed the audience, telling us the history of the Pan Am exhibit.

Betsy Smith, Kenneth DeHoff, Don Cooper


Smith Family


Group of Flight Attendants




Mary Lou Bigelow and John OKeefe


The end of the night was celebrated with the newest nostalgic video created by Tommy Carroll called Pan Am: The Legend Lives On. There were Cheers and Tears from the crowd of 500+ who attended.

Saturday, Apr 5 – At breakfast we bid goodbye to Don and Betty before they set off on their 50th Anniversary Island cruise with Norwegian.

Betty and Don Cooper

At 1pm, Kevin from Makani Kai Helicopters picked up Marilyn Slattery, John Whalen and me and drove us to the airport where we boarded an open door helicopter. Marilyn and John sat in front. I sat in the back seat on the right side. It was open on both sides which was great for filming. Fortunately the day was sunny and calm so the only reverberation for filming came from the wind from flying, but it was not bumpy and the pilot Eiki who is the chief pilot for the company was gentle with us. He had been flying for them for 25 years.

Selfie in the Helicopter

For the first fifteen minutes or so, I was scared —-less and lonely all by myself in the rear of the airplane. Every time we would bank, I could see straight down. I envisioned my body strap breaking and me hurtling down into the mountains or sea! Shudder. Finally I just left it up to fate and thought – “what will be will be” and fortunately kept myself busy taking videos for the rest of the flight. I even took a selfie, where I actually smiled and waved to the camera! All of sudden, we saw the airport and my excitement mounted. Land! We hovered awhile and I rather liked that as I could take better videos.

John Whalen, Eiki (pilot), Mary Lou Bigelow and Marilyn Slattery

Once on the ground, we thanked the pilot with the “hang loose” sign and Kevin brought us back to the hotel.
After a brief nap, John and I headed over to the Surfrider to listen to two singers and a very graceful Hula dancer. We had a snack of quesadillas and later returned to the hotel about 9pm.
We wandered over to the Chart House near the hotel, where we received the shock of our trip. It was late and we were hungry. When we sat down, we were handed a Card offering $8 Specials for those eating after 9:30pm of clam chowder or salad and a choice of dinners. We chose the wonderful grilled Shrimp with macaroni and rice. Topped off with a $6.75 piece of Key Lime pie. A marvelous band ( 2 Point 0 (Tito & Billy) entertained us.

Sunday, Apr 6 – After breakfast, we packed and brought our bags down to the bell hop for safe keeping and then set off to meet the bus for an Ecological North Shore and Circle Island Tour by Oahu Nature Tours that left from the Hilton at 12:30pm, returning at 6:30pm. It was definitely worth seeing the countryside. We saw the lovely Japanese Byodo Temple in the Valley of the Temples, Sunset Beach, Walmea Bay to see the Green Sea Turtles and the Dole Plantation. The day was glorious and a perfect ending to our Hawaii adventure.
Our Shuttle was late so we gladly accepted a ride on VIP with the US Airways crew for flight #693 to Phoenix that left 35 minutes earlier than our flight. They liked my Pan Am Aloha reunion calendar.
Back in Boston on Monday at 5:30pm. Felt fine on Tuesday. Full-fledged flu on Wednesday!

Articles/Links:
www.pacificaviationmuseum.org
“Pan Am Logos and Slogans” by Don Cooper
“Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor” by Jeff Kriendler, Airways Magazine, July 2013
“The Aloha Reunion: Celebrating the Underlying Spirit of Pan Am” by Helen Davey, Huffingtonpost, March 28, 2014
“Come Fly with Us” by Simplicio Paragas, InsideOutHawaii.com, March 2014.

Janet Clark


“Pearl Harbor Civilian Witness (Robert Lee) Joins Educational Program” by Paul C. Heintz, Education Director, Pacific Historic Parks.

Paste link into the Internet to see my 99 photos in Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/MaryLouBigelow/media_set?set=a.10201784311596526.1073741833.1443762234&type=3

DVD:
“Pan Am The Legend Lives on” by Tommy & Jean Carroll

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Afghanistan – Pride of its People! (Event: June 11, 2013)

When:  June 11   5:30pm to 7:30pm
Where:  Bedford Mass. Council On Aging, Town Center Building 12 Mudge Way, Bedford, MA (Entrance and parking is in rear of building.)

The Council on Aging invites you to sample some traditional Afghan food and view a special 90-minute photo-video presentation on Afghanistan and its people, as seen through the eyes of an American woman who lived in the country from 1968 to 1972. Arlington TV producer/filmmaker and Realtor Mary Lou Bigelow lived in Kabul while based there as part of the Pan American Technical Assistance Program with Ariana Afghan Airlines.

In September 2002, she returned to the country to attend a reconstruction conference where Afghan engineers, architects and planners gathered from around the world to offer their expertise. Bigelow returned once more for filming in March 2004.

 

Visit The Mary Lou Bigelow Show website at www.maryloubigelow.com/tv to view her award-winning Afghanistan Series videos.

 
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Afghanistan Then & Now (1968 to today) event May 13, 2013

Photo: Mary Lou interviews H.R.H Gen. Sardar Abdul Wali in the royal palace (Arg) in Kabul, October 2002.

Date: May 13, 2013
Time:  1:30 -3pm
Place:  Lexington Senior Center, 1475 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington MA 0242
RSVP  to Lexington Senior Center @ 781-861-0194

Come to a 60-minute photo-video presentation on Afghanistan and its  people, as seen through the eyes of an American woman who lived in the country from 1968 to 1972.  Local TV producer/filmmaker and Realtor  Mary Lou Bigelow  lived in Kabul  while based there as part of the Pan American Technical Assistance Program with Ariana Afghan Airlines.   In September  2002, she returned to the country to attend  a reconstruction conference where Afghan engineers, architects and planners gathered from around the world to offer their expertise.   Bigelow returned once more for  filming in March 2004.

Following the presentation, an  Afghan-American  will join in for a question and answer period on the country today.

You can visit The Mary Lou Bigelow Show’s website @ maryloubigelow.com/tv  to view her  award-winning  Afghanistan Series  TV  interviews.   

 
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First TWA International Flight for Bigelow May 1960

May, 1960 -

TWA International – My European adventures begin! TWA had already transitioned into the jet age with the 707, but my first few flights were on the Lockheed 1649 Jetstream.

TWA World coverage 1960

My first pattern was so much better than I could have imagined. I was lucky enough to have a three-day stay in Paris, France plus a day and a half in Bad Homburg, Germany.

After the long trip across the Atlantic on my first international flight, I finally arrived in Europe for the first time.  It was Sunday morning, and my introduction to Paris was from the crew bus that whisked us off to our hotel on Avenue George V, across and down the street from the famous George V Hotel, close to the famous  Champs-Elysées.  

This was a TWA rendition of the Champs-Elysées

I can’t remember the hotel name. It was one of a number of hotels that TWA contracted for the crews and on any specific layover, the hotels were chosen by the crew on a seniority basis. Being lowest on the seniority list, I was happy just to have a room. I was tired, but much too excited to sleep. I quickly changed out of my uniform into comfortable clothes and walking clothes and prepared to set off down the Champs-Elysées.

In the lobby, I ran into a U.S. Air  Force captain staying at the hotel, who was also heading out and he asked me to accompany him.  I was thrilled he did, as he pointed out many of the places of interest along the way. We walked down to the Place de la Concorde, through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Musée du Louvre, crossed over to the Left Bank and then turned around and returned to the hotel. By then, I was exhausted and fell fast asleep, but set the alarm for two hours only. Hard as it was to get up, I knew I must.  I ate dinner with Robbie, another hostess on my crew who stayed at the same hotel, and later we took a short walk to a café nearby to watch people parade by on one of the most famous boulevards in the world.

The next morning, on Monday, Robbie and I took a morning tour of Paris which took in the modern section,  a stop at the Eiffel Tower and a visit to the Place Vendôme with the Column that has Napolean’s statue on top. We returned to the hotel for lunch and then took an afternoon tour of Versailles Palace with its famous Hall of Mirrors.  After dinner we turned in early for a much needed sleep.

Tuesday morning I went shopping and then met Robbie and our Navigator Joe for a trip to the Eiffel Tower.

Tour Eiffel

We took the lift to the second level and sipped on coffee as we overlooked Paris.  Robbie wasn’t feeling very good so she returned to the hotel. 

On the way to Montmartre

Joe and I headed for Montmartre. What a site to look up at the beautiful white Sacré-Cœur Basilica perched high on the hill overlooking Paris!

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

Montmartre was my favorite place in Paris. Artists busily painted in the center of the Place du Tertre and tourists relaxed in the sidewalk cafés that surrounded the square.

Our next stop was the Île de la Cité to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, but it was closed , so we didn’t  have a chance to look inside this famous gothic cathedral. Disappointed, we returned to  the hotel,  ate dinner and then set out again.

 Joe and I headed over to the Left Bank, stopping first at the cafe Les Deux Magots at 6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, known for its legendary popularity with artists and writers from 1914 onward.  We walked through the narrow streets near the coffee house and happened upon a tiny restaurant, decorated in red – a lovely warm intimate place. This as many of the  restaurants in that area do not have any advertising on the outside. We took our chances upon entering. The bartender, a second Maurice Chevalier, talked to us for quite a while and then we set off again, walking back to the Champs Elysee.  

Close to the Champs Elysee, we noticed two bars - the Blue Note and the Mars Club.  We opted for the Mars Club at 6 rue Robert Estienne.  And, we were glad we did. We listened to a wonderful three piece jazz band with an English singer.

Wednesday, Robbie felt better so we took a bus tour to Chartres. On the way we passed the Château de Rambouillet, the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic.

Then we continued on to Chartres. After luncheon, the guide took us though the gothic cathedral known for its famous stained windows.

Back in Paris, we took the Cabaret tour that evening.

We began at the Folies Bergère and then on the famous Lido with its waterfalls and dancing girls -a magnificent production. The waiters let us stand at the side to see better and even brought us our own table. I confiscated a menu from the waiter, as well. Robbie and I went over to the Jours et Nuit snack shop which stays open 24 hours a day and then turned in for the night.

Thursday was spent leisurely shopping and resting and later that afternoon we flew to Frankfurt, Germany.   

Ritter's Park Hotel, Bad Homburg

We stayed nearby at the Ritters Park Hotel in Bad Homburg. We ate dinner in the luxurious hotel dining room. On Friday morning, I took a bus to the Saalburg on the Taunus ridge northwest of Bad Homburg to see the old reconstructed Roman Fort – then stopped in a restaurant nearby for coffee and cake and then returned to Bad Homburg. Next, I went through the Schloss Homburg castle near the center of town and though I had a guide who spoke only German I understood little of what he was trying to tell me.  The inlaid woodwork is absolutely beautiful, and the yellow room is a site to behold. I ate dinner, slept a while and then went to the airport to face 96 mothers and 40 babies on a military flight. I’ll never forget the hundred times baby bottles passed though my hands.

What a wonderful trip this was!  I realized how lucky I was to have Navigator Joe as my guide, as it was clear how much he loved sightseeing in Europe. He was so enthusiastic, savoring every moment, even though this was probably the 100th time he had gone on this private tour. His attitude was due in part to the fact that he knew his flying days were numbered.  With the propeller aircraft, the cockpit crew complement was a captain, first officer, engineer and navigator. But with the new jet age upon us, there would come a change in cockpit needs. No longer would navigators be needed.  The cockpit would now only have three. The engineers, on the other hand, were also pilots, so they had a future to look forward to.  I appreciated Joe’s company so much!  He made this first trip of mine in one of the most beautiful cities of the world a very special one indeed. Shortly thereafter, I heard that he had been laid off  :(

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Pan Am’s Dixie-Clipper Reunion Monaco Nov 1-4, 2012

 
 For four days, November 1-4, 2012, 500+/- former Pan American Airways (1927-1991) pilots, flight attendants and sales & traffic personnel gathered at Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel in Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first revenue transatlantic passenger flight – one of many Pan Am aviation firsts. On June 28, 1939 the Dixie-Clipper flying boat (B-314) carrying 22 passengers, (including Betty Trippe, wife of Pan Am founder and aviation pioneer Juan T. Trippe) and 11 crew departed Port Washington, NY for Marseille, France via the Azores and Lisbon, Portugal, arriving June 29.
In order to tell how I came to attend this fabulous historic event, I need to tell the story leading up to it. In 2011, a new ABC TV series, Pan Am, was born. It was conceived by Pan Am’s own Nancy Hult Ganis. Nancy paid particular attention to all the details. Of that I was certain! Why! Because she chose 1962 as the year of the show – exactly the year of my Pan Am graduation. The show was so exciting for me. It was fabulous to see those blue uniforms again. And the four young women on the show were my roommates, at least in my own mind’s eye. Wonderful memories of those days back in 1962 flooded my mind. I rejoined a number of Pan Am organizations made up of former employees – World Wings International, the philanthropic arm of former Pan Am flight attendants; the Pan Am Historical Foundation; and Pan Amigo. I was so happy to be back in the Pan Am family and wondered why I had ever left.

I was already a member of facebook, but didn’t use it very much. Once my interest in Pan Am was reborn, however, I found numerous Pan American –related groups. There I immersed myself in everything Pan Am and/or relating to the Pan Am TV show.

Sometime around June or July 2012, I read about the 75th anniversary reunion of the first transatlantic flight made by the flying boat Dixie Clipper to be held in Monte Monaco. I joined the facebook group called “Monte Carlo Crew Party 2012.” There, I wrote asking to join the closed group in order to hear what others were planning for the trip and to let them convince me to take the trip. It only took a few days, however, to convince myself that it was a “must go” trip. After all, I had been apart of the 25th anniversary 50 years prior and I have the certificate to prove it. 

I broached the idea to John O’Keefe and he agreed to accompany me. Next step was to contact event chairman former Pan Am pilot Don Cooper who was exceptionally helpful. I also called pilot Tommy Carroll to talk about sending him some of my personal crew photos to be included in a DVD he was putting together of Pan Am flying days around the world. He would call it “Gone But Not Forgotten.”  And finally, I called Jeff Kriendler who was in charge of putting the event booklet together.  He was looking for people to advertise in it, to raise money for the Pan American Historical Foundation.  I put a half page design of my Pan Am history and sent it off to him.

Entry for Monaco Event Booklet

In preparation for the trip, I started a count-the-calories-diet that was long overdue.
I yearned to wear an old uniform to the reunion, but I do not have my own, as Pan Am had insisted we return them when we resigned; and they would only pay us our last check after doing so. We were able to keep our gold wings and gold hat pin, however. I complied when I left the job to marry. (In those days the girls had to resign when they married.)

While hunting on the internet, I found a copy of a Pan Am uniform on line – I was shocked to see it – a copy of the Pan Am TV show uniform, which, in turn, was a copy of my own old uniform. As I previously mentioned, the TV show was set in 1962 and that was the year I joined the Company.

When my new uniform arrived, I was so excited to try it on. I was pleased with it and it was large enough so that my tailor could take it in to fit me. The hat was a bit wide in the front – not exactly like my old hat, but again it was a copy of the ones on the TV show. It did have the correct shape in the back and there was the white piping that made my old hat distinctive for the Pan Am uniforms of that period. A week or so later, I picked up the uniform and the tailor-adjusted hat. I had lost about 4 pounds and it looked fairly good on.

Now, I needed to find white gloves to complete the outfit. I found them in a costume store – parade gloves.

Next, I designed some luggage tags with my black & white graduation head shot on one side and my graduation class on the back with Zazzle.com. I also designed a round pin with my graduation head shot. I needed something to pin onto my uniform jacket in place of my wings. My beautiful gold Pan Am Purser wings was now attached to my gold charm bracelet and I didn’t plan to take that overseas with me for fear of losing it. And, the picture, I decided, would remind people what I looked like as a young woman of 24 back in 1962.

 I was set to go, but continued my diet to lose more weight. Finally, around October 7, I returned to my tailor and asked that she refine the tailoring. The jacket needed more work and, amazingly, the skirt needed to be taken in at least 3 inches on the sides. When the work was done, it finally fit well.

Meanwhile, John and I didn’t want to forgo our annual Mediterranean cruise, so I looked for a cruise we could attach to the end of our Pan Am trip. I was hoping for a cruise that would take us to Istanbul, Turkey. I could barely remember the one layover I had there so many years ago, when I flew for Pan Am. I vaguely remembered the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, but that was all. Voila! I found an 11-night Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Rome on November 5. It was even better than I imagined – an overnight stop in Istanbul with plenty of time to see all the major sights there including a boat trip on the Bosporus and an evening of Turkish singing and dancing at a nightclub and restaurant.

That would give us one day to fly from Nice to Rome with an overnight at our favorite hotel –Le Valadier, with its memorable lounge for dancing to the music made by a singer who played a synthesizer.

My excitement grew as we approached the day of our trip. On October 13, 2012, the Boston World Wings International group led by president Carol Guerrin met for lunch at the The Hotel Providence and then walked down the street to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see the musical “Catch Me If You Can”. Many of us wore uniforms, including me. During the intermission, Frank Abignale (about whose earlier life of impersonating a Pan Am pilot is what the story is all about) approached us and we all went up to the front lobby to take pictures with him. It was fun to see him again. Earlier in the year, in March, the Boston group met with him for lunch in Boston, so we all felt we knew him pretty well. Frank is a board member of World Wings International, Inc. and he always seems to enjoy meeting with us Pan Am girls and we enjoy his company. At the end of the show, he addressed the audience.

Carol Guerrin, Rosemary Lusky, Frank Abignale Jr., Mary Lou Bigelow, and Mary Greenfield.

That evening, John and I were due to attend a dance at Vittorio Rocci Post in Beverly. I kept the uniform on for the dance.

John O'Keefe and Mary Lou Bigelow

As the Monaco trip approached, I scurried to get all of my real estate business organized for Cathy Shea in my office. A day or so before we were due to leave for Monaco, John and I attended a Halloween Dance at the Andover Town Hall. John wore a pilot’s uniform that we put together and I wore – you guessed it!

The day was almost here and then came Superstorm Sandy, which hit the tri-states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on October 29. Boston was spared heavy damage, but flights stopped operating out of Logan Airport in Boston the morning of October 30.

Oct. 30
Our reservations were made for a 6:55 PM flight on British Airways leaving Boston for Nice with a change in London to arrive in Nice about noon on October 31. The British Airways morning London flight was cancelled due to inability to position aircraft at Boston’s Logan Airport. By the afternoon, however, Boston flights resumed. We were lucky, as approximately 150 people who needed to fly out of New York or New Jersey weren’t able to go.

I didn’t want to pack my uniform for fear of losing it with my luggage and so I wore it to Logan Airport, complete with my white gloves, hat and Pan Am pin. I also carried a recently purchased Pan Am carry-all bag which is a copy of the one the Beatles sported when they arrived in New York for the first time in 1964.

George O’Keefe drove us to the airport, arriving at 4pm. When I stepped out of the car, I noticed two pilots glance over at me. Their mouths were open and they had quizzical looks on their faces. I noticed them whisper something to each other, and then saw their facial expressions change into big grins. I gave them a quick wave and a smile and continued on into the airport. The pilots must have thought they were seeing things, as they knew Pan Am was no longer, disbanding in 1991. It had been 21 years since the great airline took its last flight.

As we moved along into the airport, a female British Airways ticket agent approached and stopped to tell me about a relative of hers who worked for Pan Am. She went on to explain that she inherited the woman’s large collection of Pan Am paraphernalia. She expressed interest in joining our Word Wings International group. I encouraged her to do so and to email me her information.

Next came the check through Boston Logan Security. Two of the security officers looked at me and chuckled, asking me about the uniform. Obviously, they knew it was a Pan Am uniform and were entertained at seeing it – not disturbed as some people had cautioned me.

Once through security, an English couple stopped me. They told me how happy they were to see the Pan Am uniform again and told me of their many remembrances when flying with the airline throughout the years. The husband took my picture. He looked at the photo on his camera, but from the expression on his face, I could tell he was not too pleased. I asked if he would care to take another. A huge smile broke out on his face! “Yes, Thank you,” he said. This time his wife posed with me and it was a success!

Upon boarding the British Airways 777 aircraft, we reached our seats, when a gentleman from Business Class tapped me on the shoulder. He had this incredulous look on his face. “Pan Am,” he asked? “Yes,” I replied. He asked if he could have a picture taken with me. “Of course,” I said. He handed his camera to this beautiful young British Airways flight attendant and asked her to take the picture, which she graciously agreed to do. I chuckle when I think of it, because why didn’t he rather have his picture taken with the beautiful young stewardess, but no –it was the nostalgia of Pan Am that he wanted to capture to take home to show his wife.

The trip was uneventful.. The flight attendants were very cordial to me. They seemed so happy to see me in my uniform, asking me all about the reunion.

Oct. 31.
As we started to deplane in London, an Englishman, with the proper countenance, so typical of a British gentleman, turned to me and said, “When I first saw you, if you don’t mind my saying, I thought I had entered a time warp!” I laughed and said with emphasis, “I am in a time warp!” He smiled and continued on.

We had a two hour layover in London and then took our flight to Nice.

When we arrived in Nice, we found bus #110 quite easily, boarded it and headed off to Le Meridian Beach Plaza Hotel in Monte Carlo. It was a drizzly Seattle, Washington sort of day, but we didn’t much care, as we planned to stay inside the hotel for the evening.

As we entered the hotel, Ulu, a former Pan Am stewardess from Honolulu rushed up to me and commented on my uniform. She helped us over to the desk. Then a large group of Pan Amers from Chicago who were with Ulu gathered around me. One in the group suggested taking a picture of all of us. They put me in the middle and snapped away. I met June Gruner (husband Klaus) and Marilyn (whose mother is Mary Lou), who were in the picture. Later that evening, June came over to me and said, “I just want to thank you for wearing your uniform! When I saw you walk into the hotel, my former life as a stewardess flashed before me. It was such a wonderful feeling.”

After a brief nap, John and I went downstairs. The registration desk for the event was not open and would not be open until the following morning. In the bar, I met Sally Tobin with her friend Linda. I knew Sally’s face right away and realized we had flown together. Sure enough, she confirmed that she flew out of John F. Kennedy Airport in 1963. It was such a thrill to meet someone I had flown with some 50 years ago.

That evening, John and I strolled along the boardwalk. The weather was misty. We came to Bouchon, a very nice French restaurant, and sat next to Stephen, an English entrepreneur who lived in the building just next door. He fascinated us with his talk of how the whole world is so wonderful to explore and that traveling is his hobby. He was very helpful as we perused the menu. We ordered steak au poivre.

We then sauntered down the avenue and over to some other restaurants including an Irish pub. On the way back, we walked down a staircase that connects the two streets with the hotel street. The stones were slippery from the rain and suddenly I heard a loud, reverberating “boing”. I swing around to see John on the ground. He had hit his head. I rushed to him and helped him up. Fortunately, he has a hard head and was okay – no headache or dizziness, but both of us were a bit shook up as we cautiously made our way back to the hotel.

Nov. 1.
The next morning, we joined the group for buffet breakfast in the hotel. The morning was nice and clear and lots of our Pan Am people enjoyed their breakfast outside on the patio on the water side of the hotel.  

Le Meridien from the water side

Waterfront by Le Meridien

The buffet was spectacular – as good as on any cruise ship, with smoked salmon, jambon, prosciutto, lovely cheeses, yogurt, eggs made to order, bacon, ham, sausage, juices, and wonderful yummy croissants and pastries of all kinds.

After breakfast we went over to the side lobby to register for the reunion. I looked for the organizers – Chairman Capt. Don Cooper, Capt. Tommy Carroll, Max Gurney, and Jeff Kriendler. I never did meet Lou Berman. At the desk, I met Annette Khalifi. I asked her if she knew George Khalifi, who was the assistant manager of the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel in Beirut Lebanon back in the early 1960s and who later served as manager of the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan. By way of explanation, George had introduced me to John Bigelow back in 1964 and later when John and I lived in Kabul, George moved to Kabul to become the first manager of the newly built hotel. Annette’s face lit up with a huge smile and she called her husband Jean Khalife over to meet me. It turns out that Jean is George’s brother. Jean showed me a picture of him on his cell phone.

Captain Tommy Carroll, who produced the souvenir DVD for the trip – called “Gone But Not Forgotten,” smiled when he saw me and told me that I was on the DVD quite a few times. He had used the photo of me in uniform standing by the Phoenicia pool– Mary Lou Moore – in graphics was written under it; my 1962 graduation class picture; and the group photo of me with the crew who had attended the Grand Opening of the Royal Teheran Hilton as well as the one with the crew celebrating the 25th reunion of the Dixie-Clipper flight – 50 years prior.

When I met Max Gurney, I immediately noticed his playful, sparkling eyes and happy countenance. Still a handsome man, you would never believe his age. Don Cooper, chair of the event was very busy – so many details to take care of. I thanked him for all his work, and let him go on his way.

JoAnne Emmett, who was there with her husband George Emmett also a former flight attendant, was standing behind the desk. She recognized me right away and called to me by name! I was so surprised. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t think why. She explained that Don Cooper had forwarded my film “A Pan Am Memoir 1962-1964″ to her and told her that she was in it. JoAnne told me she had meant to contact me, but was busy getting ready to leave for Monaco and knew I would be in Monaco anyway. Sure enough, in my video is JoAnne, one of the girls in their blue serving smocks sitting next to me in the B707 lounge. We hugged and took a picture.

Tommy Carroll or Max Gurney suggested I  wear my uniform and to meet them at 6:00 pm right there in the side lobby in front of the auditorium where the first event would be held – a cocktail welcome party. They mentioned that a Monaco newspaper would be taking pictures. Later that day, I dressed in my uniform and arrived at 6pm.

Eva Demetro was standing next to a beautiful bronze sculpture of the globe, featuring a Pan Am stewardess in a blue Pan Am uniform (one like my original uniform from 1962) reaching heavenwards for a Pan Am blue ball (that represented the sun). Her famous sculptor husband Jim Demetro, who I met later that evening,  designed the piece.

Sculptor Jim Demetro with his Pan Am bronze sculpture

Eva was taking orders and explained that only 64 would be sold. After that, she explained that the mold will be destroyed. I knew I just had to have one, especially where it was my uniform. We were able to choose the number we wanted. At first I chose number 19 for my birthday, but later changed my mind and chose the number 62 to stand for 1962, the year I joined Pan Am.  His website is  www.jimdemetro.com and a new one in the draft stages www.demetrodesigns.com with his daughter Sculptor Christina. As of January 5, there are still some for sale.

About 6:30 pm, the newspaper photographer showed up, but where was Capt Carroll? I asked Jean where Tommy was. Jean went off to call him in his room. Tommy finally appeared in his full regalia – a fabulous, crisp Pan Am pilot uniform. He looked dashing. And then the photographer posed us for pictures – Don Cooper, Tommy Carroll, Max and me. He took some by the welcome poster and then in front of a Pan Am airplane poster. Meanwhile, John took lots of pictures of us as well. John did a fabulous job, getting in all the heads and feet! Dozens of other Pan Am people snapped pictures of us. I felt like I was on the red carpet – my 15 minutes of fame.

Tommy Carroll, Don Cooper, Max Gurney and Mary Lou Bigelow

Tommy Carroll, Monique Peyrat, Max Gurney and Bigelow

Mary Lou Bigelow and John O'Keefe

That evening, Sally Tobin’s friend Linda took a picture of John and me, as we stood by the Monaco welcome poster. A bystander crashed into Linda and my Casio camera went flying. When I picked it up, I saw that the it was broken. We also noticed that the person who had bumped into Linda left in a hurry, not even stopping to apologize. We went to the bar area and split a turkey club sandwich while we talked over the evening events. We then retired for the night-absolutely exhausted.

Nov. 2
The next morning, we went down to the breakfast buffet and then asked Raymond, the wonderfully helpful concierge, where I could repair or buy a new camera. He directed us to take the #6 bus from across the street to a shopping center to FNAC, a large electronic appliance/TV/ camera store. Once there, the sales person looked at the camera and shook his head. It was not fixable. I searched through the display of cameras and was shocked to see a similar Casio camera but an upgraded version. I was thrilled to see that it was only 148 Euros, as my original one cost me $220 US dollars about four years ago on Susse Air. When I took it to the cashier, she asked me if I wanted the service warranty. I responded that I didn’t because I didn’t live there. “In that case,” she said, “it will only cost you 79 Euros without the plan.” I couldn’t have been happier. I bought a red one!

We walked through a beautiful downtown garden to the Hermitage Hotel and peeked into the stunning gilded reception room – it was gorgeous. We stopped at the La Poste Monaco central office. We wandered until we found the Monte Carlo Casino, which dominated the square. It loomed up in front of us – very impressive. In front of the casino were various automobiles – a black Aston Martin, a white Ferrari, and assorted BMWs and Mercedes. John took my picture next to the Aston Martin and Ferrari.

We began our walk back toward Le Meridien, stopping back at the Galleria, where we had purchased the camera, and split a sandwich at the food counter. Then we took the #6 bus back to the hotel.

Before going upstairs to change, we stopped off at the Clipper Club hospitality room for a snack, wine for John and coffee for me.

That evening, the Monaco Tourist Office hosted a party for Pan Am. I wore my uniform that evening as well. This time a number of other Pan Am “girls” wore various uniforms from throughout the years. Max had told me the night before to be sure to make myself available to TV people who would be shooting video for a local TV show that was panned for airing on Tuesday Nov 6 (after we left Monaco). The TV cameras took my photo a number of times, and then seemed to disappear.  Susanne Malm and Jackie Banning held up head shots of some of the girls who couldn’t make it to the event.

Suzanne Malm and Jacke Banning hold up photos of Pan Amers!

There were lots of still shots taken with large groups of Pan Amers in uniform. I was in one large group of about 20 girls taken with Max. Captain Carroll was in many photos with the girls, as well. And, John O’Keefe continued to take fantastic photos for my collection.  It was nice to finally meet Jane Euler, president of World Wings International, as well as Joan LeBlanc, another young woman I remembered flying with – 50 years ago!!!

 

That evening, John and I took a bus to the harbor and sauntered through a large carnival. We shared un jambon et frommage sandwich at the carnival and finally hopped the bus that returned us to the hotel.

Nov. 3
After breakfast, John and I took pictures around the outside of the hotel by the pool and the water. We then took the bus downtown and switched to Le Grand Tour on-and-off again touring bus and took the whole circuit. We didn’t dare get off at any of the scheduled stops, because we noticed that it was hard to get back on again – the lines were too long and the seats too few. We finally disembarked near the hotel. That was when I noticed the Welcome Pan Am banners installed along the street near the hotel.

We stopped in to the Clipper Lounge for a few pictures of Jim Demetro and his bronze statue, had something to drink and then went up for a nap.

Fortunately, Jim mentioned that I was pictured in an article on the Pan Am event in the Monaco-Matin newspaper that day. I went into the hotel convenience store, but found that all the papers were sold out. A wonderful waiter, however, found a copy in the staff room for me. I was so grateful. The picture was one taken by the Pan Am airplane of Tommy Carroll, Monique Peyrat, Max Gurney and me.

l. to r. Charles Hambleton, Margaret Kelly (cousin of Princess Grace, HSH The Princess of Monaco), Ann Blumensaadt, Robert Genna and Mary Lou Bigelow

That evening, we dressed up – I in my white jacket and long black skirt and John in his black suit. Many of the girls wore their uniforms again, but I had had enough and was happy to be able to wear something else. John and I chose a fun table of four pilots with their wives. It was a nice table and we enjoyed the buffet dinner, seated with them on the ground floor. The event took place in two rooms as there was not enough room to hold everyone in one. The floor above was where the speakers were. Downstairs we had to watch the events on a huge screen. Before the official start of the program, Capt. Tommy Carroll’s DVD played,  interspersed with some pictures taken throughout the event. It was a terrific evening.

Nov 4.
The next day we packed up and left for the Nice airport by the same bus we took from the airport. It was easy enough and checked into our flight to Rome. A wonderful time was left behind in Monaco, but our pictures will help us relive this time many years to come.  I met so many wonderful Pan Amers on the trip that I can’t begin to mention all of them. You can see my album of pictures on the Monaco event in facebook.  I also submitted them to an album made up of  photos by other attendees, graciously organized by Clipper Pioneer member Jim Kelso called “2012 Dixie Clipper Celebration -Monaco” on Shutterfly -http://monacodixieclippercelebration.shutterfly.com/

And, the Monaco TV report can be seen at -

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nCwgSeNewE&list=LLem293Eb59HWE9kjCQEjlFg&feature=mh_lolz

or a shortened link at:        http://bit.ly/13gnWzJ

Thank you from the heart to the organizers beginning with Chairman Don Cooper!  Wil Groote and Jean Khalife callaborated with the committee as the French-based liasons.  A special thanks has to go to Max Gurney, former Pan Am District Sales Manager for Southern France and Monaco, for the idea and for coordinating with the Principality’s officials.

More recently, Jeff Kriendler submitted an article for Airways Magazine-February 2013 issue. Courtesy of Airways Magazine.

And another terrific article by Patrick Middleton of The Riviera Reporter, the French Riviera’s English Language NewsMagazine  is at -http://www.rivierareporter.com/travel/461-pan-am-remembering-the-great-days

On the Pan Am Historical Foundation website is a story by Lou Berman http://www.panam.org/community/pan-am-events.html  and a 

Recap of the event under Pan Am Historical Foundation tab What’s Happening - http://www.panam.org/whats-happening.html.

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Easter Weekend April 15, 1960 in New York City

Dear Diary,
“On Friday April 15, 1960, my sister Nancy and I flew to New York on Eastern Airlines – her first flight and she loved it. After dropping off our suitcases at the apartment, we toured the UN building. Next we walked down Fifth avenue and both bought spring shoes and pocket books. We returned to the apartment for dinner and spent the evening in Greenwich Village. The dear Gaslight was as good as ever and this thrilled Nancy as I thought it would.

The next morning, we set off for the Museum of Modern Art and the Claude Monet exhibit. We returned to the Village again walking around Sherwood Square-book shops etc and then over to McDougal Alley where we had coffee in Figaros. Russ and Steve (Nancy’s date) picked us up around 9 pm and we drove to Times Square. As it was Easter weekend, parking proved a problem, but we finally found a space and went to the famous traditional jazz spot the Metropole Cafe, Broadway to hear Turk Mauro? and Chubby Jackson and then on to the Hotel Edison for dancing. We ended up the evening at the Right Bank, a little coffee house on 63rd and Madison for coffee and hamburgers- and a rum chocolate-was it ever tasty. We stopped off at my apartment and stayed up until 4:30 am talking and then the guys left. Nancy really liked her date and was sorry to see him leave.

Sunday morning we almost got to church, but we just couldn’t quite struggle from our beds. We dressed around noon and headed for Fifth Avenue to join in on the Easter parade. One or two blocks were enough for us, and yes once more we headed back to the Village. We took a chance and tried to get tickets for “The Three Sisters” by Chekhov. We were in luck! We then attempted to eat at Brunos, but it was closed, so ate at another Italian restaurant – where we had lasagna and then headed for home.

The next morning, April 18, I took Nancy to the bus station and I set off for Philadelphia. I flew with a new girl and what could go wrong did! That evening we went over to the Pub, and then of course the famous Philadelphia jazz club Billy Krechmer’s. We returned to the hotel and the next morning went shopping , by golly.

The next stop was Indianapolis, IN. Two men from GM bought our drinks and on our way out, two other guys walked in. One was my dream man –tall dark, big football player from West Point who graduated five years ago and is now a test pilot based in Alabama. They were left stranded in Indianapolis, when their plane had engine trouble. They explained that there are only two planes of its kind, so they had to wait for parts to be sent from Alabama. We danced and spent quite a fun evening. The next morning, when I reached the airport, I saw his plane soar off, Alabama bound. I’ll never see him again. But in this business, they come and they go.

Enroute to Indianapolis, I met Tommy Crawford again – Educational Television. He drove me into Indianapolis and showed me around the University of Indiana Medical School campus. We conversed over a cup of coffee in their student union, which overlooks a luscious looking pool. He is trying to interest me in getting into Educational TV. How serious he is, but what can I do? Only time will tell! (An aside: Many years later, I began my Mary Lou Bigelow Show-a community interview TV show. Perhaps I should have listened to Tommy more carefully.)

Thursday evening, on my return trip to New York, I gave Lonny Southerland a call and we made arrangements for the evening. We dined and danced at the Grille Room at the Roosevelt Hotel and later attempted to meet his roommate to no avail. I returned early with the pretense of having a flight early in the morning . The next morning was spent basking on the apartment roof top and that evening Walt and Ed dropped over.
Saturday I was off again on Flight 509 but as the schedule changed on the 24th of the month, our crew deadheaded home the same evening.

Sunday, Russ and I had dinner at some friends of his family. It was a nice time and a very good home-cooked meal. Later we visited Roy and wife-to-be before setting off for the apartment.

This morning I spent on the roof top and now again at 5:30 pm I am back up top – enjoying the cool breeze. A peaceful calm prevails-only Lynn and I wouldn’t mind a bit of intrusion as our main purpose for our being here in Manhattan is to meet eligible young males. So be it. I now return to my book on (Salvatore) Dali, a fascinating book of a rather eccentric personality. My fascination with his paintings remain intact.
Stay tuned. More to come…

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TWA Flights in the Winter Months of 1960

Since my last diary insert, I visited the Rodin Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both were places of extraordinary delight. I went home to Boston in December, but was confined to my bed for the first part. I finally saw Irv on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On January 30, I was sent to Philadelphia again. My college roommate Betty came over to the hotel. It was good to see her.

My next stop was Indianapolis, where I visited the famous Speedway and Museum as well as the World War 1 Monument and the Indiana Soldiers & Sailors Monument (1902,) commemorating those who served in the Civil War-Spanish American War.

I met many interesting people on my flight. One, Clyde Shelton, whom I hope to see again sometime, and we talked about philosophy, agnosticism and Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata. ”

#####
After a long break from writing in my diary, I need to catch up. Starting with March, the first few days were spent in Flushing.

On the fourth, I took out flight 215 and returned to attend a party about 12 pm where Russ met me at the door. After much ado about losing my pocketbook and keys, Russ and I had to wait until the next morning to return to my apartment in Flushing. It was Saturday morning and we were able to wake up the tenants below us. Finally we were let in by the landlord. Russ went on to work and I slept through until Sunday. Russ came over on Sunday and we listened to records. On Monday, he drove me to LaGuardia to pick up my pay check before he went to work.

On March 9, I headed for Philadelphia on flight 509 where I spent the night at Betty’s house and met her next door neighbor Bruce.

On the 12th, Russ helped me move into Manhattan on the west side. That night we went to Maxl’s in White Plains- a quaint little German Rathskeller.

My next trip on 509 to Philadelphia was spent at the Franklin Institute.

On the 18th I went to a sophisticated party of sorts at the Celtic apartment put on by Irish girls of TWA.

On the 19th, I was introduced to Billy Kretchmer’s, a great little jazz spot in Philly and the following day, Barb Bracht and I visited Philly’s broken down aquarium. We walked past the boat houses and toured the Malta Boat Club (dedicated to the sport of rowing since 1960).
On the 22nd, Joe Yablonsky and I went over to the Fireside for a quiet evening

The next day, I met Bill French for a cocktail in Grand Central and we reminisced over old times at Amherst College.

That evening was delightful. Russ and I went over to my favorite spot – the Gaslight – where we saw four folk singers , three poets and a bongo player.

My next 509 flight left on the 24th. The Captain and I went over to my favorite jazz spot – Billy Kretchmer’s.

On the 25th, Barb and I had dates with two medical students. First we dropped in at the Meadows? in Indianapolis, and then to her date’s home where we toasted marshmallows, and danced.

On the 27th, I felt very lucky and was assigned flight 215 to Chicago, where immediately after reaching the hotel, I called Joan Pitalko. We took the night tour of Chicago and then went to the Chez Paree where we saw Sarah Vaughn (Misty) and the Vagabonds and then we continued over to the London House to hear Jonah Jones, whom we chatted with before we left.

The next day we set off to Albuquerque. We arrived quite late, therefore making us illegal (by 15 minutes) to take our morning flight. With some time to spare, the crew decided to drive to Santa Fe. Enroute, we saw two ghost towns – the first an old coal mining town. Santa Fe was an exciting town to see with its Spanish architecture. We only had an hour and a half but were able to visit a few old churches and the top of the State Capitol for a view of the city.

Once back in Albuquerque the first officer and I drove to Old Albuquerque which is a small replica of the old days built around a square park in the city. We ate Mexican food in the Pasodoble and then left to spend the evening in Oklahoma City before deadheading home to New York.

April started off rather poorly, as I was overtaken by an intestinal grip. After missing two flights, I was still free for another week, as there were quite a few new girls who had just bombarded LaGuardia. Instead of letting them stagnate after their training, flights were taken from some of us lucky older girls and given to them. I hopped a bus home to Boston for a few days and returned early Friday morning.

My sister Nancy flew back with me via Eastern Airlines – her first flight and she loved it.”
More to come…

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TWA Hostess Uniforms 1959-1962 on Youtube

 

I edited this short video today, showing the TWA hostess uniforms in 1959 and the new one introduced in 1960.

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TWA & Coffee Houses In Greenwich Village 1959

October 26, 1959

“On October 23, I took out Flight 519 again. Captain Z., Barbara Davis and Flight Engineer Frank got together for dinner at Tony’s – an Italian restaurant, well known in Saint Louis.

Flight 215 was my next flight. On board, I met Karl H., a Swiss flight engineer. We spent most of the layover in Kansas City together. He was very interesting and much the philosopher. He was the kind of person that I would like as a brother.

When I reached Chicago, I called Dick “Zeke” Bogosian, a high school friend who is a student at Chicago Law. He came over to the hotel and we decided to go out on the town. I had enough money for the both of us and we had a lovely time spending it.

TIP TOP TAP postcard

We hopped into a cab and went over to the Tip Top Tap, a lounge at the top of the Allerton Hotel. The view of the city was like a lovely painting. We talked about his studies, my new airline job and his girlfriend/my school chum Claire Mornane, who was teaching back in the Boston area. Poor fellow, he wants to get married so desperately – a very understandable wish.

We left the Allerton and walked around the corner to the Scheherazade and Arabian Tent Room restaurant for Shish Kebab, which was served on little swords. It is a small restaurant, but quite atmospheric. The food was delectable and quite reasonable at $2.50 a plate. The most expensive dinner was an Arabian dinner for $3.50. An appetizer served before the meal, made of egg plant, was called Baba Ghanouj – very good! I must remember the name. I returned to the hotel after a lovely evening.

Back at the hotel, one of the hostesses and a crew member came trouping upstairs with glasses of scotch in hand. In fact, they walked with the bottle in plain sight – crazy people!

October 26, 1959

The 26th of October found me on my way to Columbus, OH. Passenger Al, nicknamed Ali Baba offered me a deal – sew a button on his jacket and he’d take me out to dinner. I sewed on the button, but refused the dinner invite. Later, he found out my room, by enquiring at the front desk for a hostess from Boston. After all his work to find me, I finally agreed. The other hostess Donna Lou Franklin came along with his friend and we went over to the Skylight Room on the 16th floor of the Deshler Hilton. The restaurant lounge overlooked the city – a very atmospheric place. I fell in love with it. We met three others, who were Al’s business associates. The filet mignon was delicious. We danced and dined to our hearts content. Al is very smooth – a charmer. He is Ukrainian, born in Russia and has worked all over the world. Only this year, his business St. Regis paper sales is domestic. At the end of the evening, he walked me to the hotel, saying that the next time we meet on a plane, nothing will be said, but as we get off the plane, I will say yes or no for a date that same evening.

Al had planned to call me at home on Thursday. To my surprise, however, the very next day on my flight back to New York, he walked onto the plane.  And behind him were 10 fellow salesmen, who were also at the Skylight room the night before.  Our bargain stood. When we deplaned I said “yes” and met Al at the baggage area. We took a taxi to my apartment where I changed into my new black dress. Then we went into the City, stopping at the Commodore Hotel, while he checked in. I waited in the cocktail lounge.

First we went over to a small lounge in the Pierre Hotel and then to another little place. I was giddy, feeling like a school girl. People stared at us – perhaps because of our apparent age difference. Al was 35 with graying hair and I was only 21. Come to find out, he was married – with four children!  The fun was over. I took a taxi home early that evening. The next day, I slept 18 hours…

On October 29, I was sent off to Chicago again. Sue Buckley flew with me. When we reached Chicago, we went to a restaurant down the street and then saw Harry Belafonte in the movie “Odds Against Tomorrow.” The next day, we flew to Kansas City (MKC). But then I realized that I would be illegal to work a flight back to base, as we were governed by the total number of hours allowed in a given month; therefore, after much explaining to my supervisor and scheduling, I deadheaded on Flight 282.

About 20-minutes out of Kansas City, the captain had to feather (turn props so they slice through the wind) the props of one engine. We returned to MKC and three hours later we were airborne again. In my gold dress and TWA apron, I helped the cabin crew serve people. A supervisor was on board! – but the crew needed help, so there were no repercussions for not being in uniform.

Suddenly, there was a racket sounding like a hail storm. An aileron had came loose this time, but the power to it was shut off and we made a safe trip home.

November 23, Val and I saw The Best of Everything. The following day we went into the city and saw “The Beloved Infidel” with Gregory Peck. This was a good movie, but mostly because Gregory Peck was on the screen. I can’t compare it with “Roman Holiday”- my favorite. After the movie, we went back to Flushing, picked up Val’s car at the garage, dashed home and dressed for the evening. We decided to go back in town and see “Sweet Bird of Youth”, the Broadway play starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page. I was spellbound by Paul. The play was good-an Elia Kazan production and quite enjoyable.

On November 25, crew scheduling called and sent me to Newark to take an Eastern flight to position me to protect a flight out of Philly. Easter was late and I missed my Philly flight. Another hostess took that flight and I took her flight to Chicago. I arrived at 8:30 pm and was told to deadhead home on the earliest flight possible. I sat around the airport until midnight; then met another girl in the same position. We went over to the hanger and slept for a few hours. Finally after much delay of a flight originating in Los Angeles, we left at 3:00pm for New York.

It was Thanksgiving and when I arrived back at the apartment, I was happy to see Joan Pitalko visiting from Chicago.  Sue Buckley and Joan had spent the day in the Village (Greenwich Village) but most everything was closed.  Joan was disappointed, of course, so I went back to the Village with her the next day.  We stopped off at B. Altman Warehouse and bought a few sweaters and then walked the rest of the way to the village – straight to MacDougal Street.

Many, coffee houses lined the street. We stopped in San Remo’s, Figaro’s, and the Cafe Bizarre, where we listened to a guy recite his poetry – it was awful . We ended up at the Gaslight Cafe, located in the basement of 116 MacDougal Street.

Hugh Romney 1959 (Wavy Gravy)

Co-poetry and entertainment directors Hugh Romney (now known as Wavy Gravy)  and pal John Brent as well as a a folk singer performed. Everyone clapped by snapping their fingers. The tenants above the cafe had complained about loud clapping, so that is how it became the rule to finger snap to show appreciation.

I bought Hugh’s beat-poetry booklet called Song of Alive.

Just love that Gaslight Cafe!

Wavy Gravy

December 1959

I was lucky to have Christmas off this first year of flying and spent it in Boston with my parents and a dear college chum, that I have recently become quite enamored with. He dropped over to my house at Christmas. He and dad talked aviation and navigation. Mother liked him very much. Nancy thought he was a hunk!”

More on TWA to follow…

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TWA & New York City in 1959!

October 19, 1959

“Thursday evening, October 14, Val and I drove into the city to meet her friend Harry and my blind date. We arrived at Harry’s apartment to see the two men dressed in Madras jackets and sailor hats. They changed, thank goodness, and we set off into the big city. Lonny S. was dark, slim and just tall enough for me. We went to Jack Silverman’s International theatre restaurant at 52nd St.

Starting off with Brandy Alexanders, we watched a great stage show featuring comedian Alan Gale. Harry suggested that the waiter order for all of us. We had roast beef just the way I like it. Lonny and I danced the cha cha and the meringue and danced our feet off. A few people remarked about our good dancing. To my surprise, the manager of Jack Silverman’s paid the bill; after all, he spent more time at our table than greeting other guests.

Next we went to the Gaslight (Key) Club. The rooms were decorated with a rich red carpeting, a gay nineties decor – reminding me of beatnik St. Louis but twice as lovely. The waitresses were in tiny costumes with plunging necklines and fishnet stockings. The manager Duncan Newton sat at our table and entertained us. He told us that Burton Browne opened the first one in Chicago in 1953. And in 1956, he opened the New York club in this plush mansion. He also told us that the club was used in the film Butterfield 8 with Elizabeth Taylor.

Burton Browne, The Ace Of Clubs 1970 from Charles Lange on Vimeo.

We returned to Harry’s apartment for awhile and then Val and I drove home. I fell onto the couch and slept for two hours, dreading the thought of taking my early flight home to Boston. I woke about 6 a.m., called the airline and changed my flight to 10 am. I made this flight and arrived home in one piece.

Mom and I went shopping on Friday. Saturday, my younger sister Nancy and I drove up to Francis Berecz’s house (my mother’s long-time friend) and planned the folks’ coming 25th anniversary. That night Marilyn (long time school chum) and I went over to the Jazz Coffee House (Club 47  at 47 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge MA) a jazz/blues/folk club. I met a younger imitation of my former college boyfriend Dicky. He was only 19 and played football for Harvard. He obviously had hurt his hand, as it was all bandaged up. Such a sweetie! I had hoped that Nancy would come in so I could introduce him to her, but she didn’t. I talked to John Neves downstairs. He remembered my name, which pleased me. During the second break, I talked to Paul Nevis about old times. Steve C. is working in Connecticut now, he said, after working at the Sea and Surf all summer. And, he has a record coming out very soon. Paul and I talked about New York and, as a big brother might do, he cautioned me about New York life. It was good to see him. He gave me the name of a man working for United Artist Recording Studio in New York , just in case I needed work during the on-coming strike (as I recall the strike never happened). Mal and I left and went back to my house for coffee and talked til 3:30 in the morning.

On Sunday, the family went out for dinner and Monday morning mother and I went shopping in Malden. That same afternoon, I had to head back to New York. Daddy took off from work ( he owned Moores’s Welding Company in Medford, MA) to drive me to the airport. Once there, I told him that he needn’t come in with me, but he said he wanted to. Looking around and noticing that most of the male travelers were in suits (flying was a dressy affair in the 1950s), he looked into my eyes, reached up to stroke his cheek and with a concerned look on his face asked, ” “Is my face dirty?” Oh, he was so cute. Later in the snack shop, he grinned at me and said, “You should have your uniform on!”

More to come…

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