Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold, pilots. Does this familiar old quote hold true for stewardesses as well?

I know some old and bold ones.

Back in the days of automatic termination for marriage and/or reaching the ripe old age of 32 . . . organizations were formed so that former stewardesses could escape dishes and diapers once a month and regale one another with tales of the good old days. One such organization was called N.E.S.A, Northwest Ex-Stewardess Association. N.E.S.A. enjoyed a robust membership and though getting together for the fun of it was thoroughly enjoyable, the group began casting about for something worthwhile to pour their considerable energy into. Seizing on an opportunity to lend support to the Minnesota women's detention center at Sauk Centre MN, members bussed up to Sauk Centre once a month for visits and special programs.

Their most gratifying project was a horse program. Staff felt that by grooming and feeding the animals and with the added benefit of learning to horseback ride, inmates would embrace the animal's unconditional love and respond to the discipline that caring for horses would require. Funds were raised for horses, feed and staff through donations and fundraisers including an annual "Ball," the epitome of escape from dishes and diapers, and in a long dress to boot!

Even now 50 years later, Northwest Ex-Stewardesses continue to enjoy their special bond.

l-r: Jan (Gossman) Konezny, Patty (Elliott) Olson, Anne (Billingsley) Kerr, Bev Ahmann, Jean (Carlson) Schreier, Pat (Stravens) Goodyear and Pat (Allen) Tennyson are pictured on March 12, 2008.

In an age when only a few of their old buddies are still working flights in their 60's, 70's and, wonder of wonders, the legendary Bob Reardon in his 80's*, these folks have become critical passengers instead. At their bi-monthly get-togethers they enjoy endless recounting of one another's stories from the golden age of passenger flight and swapping horror stories of their experiences as passengers today. Most had to muster out back in the day because they got married, a very big no-no for 1950's era stewardesses.

*Still working at 83, Bob Reardon is the most senior NWA flight attendant. Virtually all of the women pictured above worked with Bob on stratocruisers in the 1950's.

Are you an ex-stewardess from any era? Come join us the second Wednesday of every other month at 11:30 at the Embassy Suites in Bloomington MN (next time July 9, 2008.)

Please, share your stories . . . Click on the "cloud" on this website masthead or go to the Contact page. And while you are "clicking", see what happens when you click on the airplane!


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