Saturday, October 17, 2009

"What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?"

United Airlines

The title of this blog is what Representative Martha Griffiths said in a 1964 Congressional hearing, after airline executives testified that it was imperative for businessmen that attractive women light their cigars and fix drinks.
I came across this gem in Amy Bloom's review of Gail Collins' new book "When Everything Changed," in The New York Times this week.
In it she chronicles American women's social and political history, and uses the experience of flight attendants to illustrate one of the ways our world has changed since then. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established, Collins tells us, its first complainants were stewardesses, and airline executives found themselves in Congressional hearings.
Sadly, it was too late for Lady Skywriter, who had to "retire" four years earlier in 1960 because she got married. Had she not gotten married, she could have kept her job until her 32nd birthday, when she would have had to "resign" due to old age. But by then the rules would have changed and who knows? She might still be flying the Orient today, alongside Bob Reardon, who is still flying for NWA, ... er Delta, at 85 years of age.
Bob Reardon and Bonnie Vork in the galley of a Boeing Stratocruiser in 1957

Fujiyma rays & Oshibori Towels, recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies by Anne Billingsley Kerr now available on Amazon.

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