Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Turtle Race? On an Airplane? During Flight?

Joyce Rudquist working on a NWA DC-4 Joyce Rudquist photo
Yes, yes, and yes!
Oh, it was a while ago, to be sure. Somewhere between 1945 and 1952, the years Joyce Rudquist flew for NWA. On a recent visit with Joyce and her husband Chris (Howie) Norvold in Woodville, WI, Joyce trotted out an aged newspaper clipping. It was the column Town Talk, by Amy Birdsall, Editor, Women's Department.
Ed. note: I'm pretty sure this was a St. Paul newspaper, because the ads on the page all contain St. Paul addresses, but there were two newspapers back then, St. Paul Pioneer Press and St. Paul Dispatch. We're not sure which newspaper or what date, since they have been cut off Joyce's saved clipping. If anyone out there knows which paper Amy Birdsall worked for, please comment.
Anyway, back to the turtles.
Amy says in her column, "Bring on your rabbits!" That's the challenge of Joyce Rudquist and Dorothy Morris, Northwest Airlines stewardesses ~ for they claim to have the fastest turtles in the world. They'd like a re-run of that fabled race between the tortoise and the hare, just to prove it. Their turtles, the stewardesses aver, have a record of 250 miles an hour.
That's what you think.
The turtles - named George and Mergitroid - were bought by the stewardesses when they attended a rodeo in Madison Square Garden, New York. On the way to the Twin Cities, the little hard-shells attracted so much attention that a passenger suggested a race.
George, owned by Dorothy, won.
The turtles covered the length of the DC-4 aisle, tail to flight deck, in 30 minutes.
The ship itself was doing 250 MPH.
So, that's their record.
Yep, the fastest turtles in the world."
You'll be hearing more about Joyce and Chris (Howie) Norvold. They met in Tokyo on a layover. Chris was a NWA purser until 1967, then got his A&P and was an MSP NWA mechanic until retirement in 1984. They married in 1952.
Thanks for a great story!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Style in the Aisle

Mary Finley North and her sister, circa 1945-47. Courtesy Museum of Flight
Careful girls, or one of those things might bite you!
The above Northwest Airlines uniforms are navy blue with airplane emblazoned buttons. Oh, and a mink scarf.
Geoff Nunn, exhibits developer for the second Style in the Aisle exhibit at Seattle's Museum of Flight, explains that the mink was an effort to upstage PanAm, whose stewardesses had begun wearing pearls. It seems Northwest had just opened up transcontinental routes and was about to be awarded international routes, putting them in direct competition with PanAm. Ergo, escalating adornments.
Reality check: "We're not entirely sure, but we suspect that they actually just wore them while walking through the airport or in publicity photos," Nunn said.
Minks . . . pearls . . . so mid-1940s, wouldn't you say?
By my time, a mere decade later, there wasn't a mink or a pearl to be seen around either airline!
"Style in the Aisle" opened Saturday, January 29 and runs through May 30, 2011 at the Museum of Flight.