Sunday, June 12, 2011

Northwest Airlines B-377 Stratocruiser Crew Mates Reunited After 50 years

Bob Reardon and Lady Skywriter (Anne Billingsley Kerr) 2011

A photo I took of Bob Reardon and Bonnie Murray Vork in a B-377 galley, 1957

Yesterday, June 11, 2011, I saw Bob Reardon, in person, for the first time in over 50 years!
It was at a "Coffee & Conversation" get-together at the NWA History Centre, Bloomington, Minn. as over 100 guests "Remembered Donald Nyrop," a revered former NWA CEO, who took an insolvent, broken airline and transformed it into a solvent, huge, international player. More on the event in a later post.
For today, I just want to relish being with Bob Reardon again. We met on a Stratocruiser, flying a MSP-Washington D.C. schedule, which we repeated many months during the late 1950s. It is very appropriate that there is a photograph of a Stratocruiser just over my shoulder in the above photo. In 1960 I was forced to resign my job because I got married - married stewardesses not allowed in those days. Bob, on the other hand, is still flying at age 87, for Delta, as Northwest was acquired by Delta in 2008. He is probably the longest-serving flight attendant in the world! When he was introduced at the event yesterday, the first thing he said was, "I just keep breathing."
There are many memories that include Bob Reardon. Eating lunch at Bassins, in D.C. across the street from the Willard Hotel, upon arrival. (This link to the Willard shows her in her present, zillion dollar refurbished state. Back when we stayed there she was dowdy and dusty. Great location, though.) During lunch at Bassins (blue plate special) we would plan our layover and Bob always knew the best places to eat dinner. When we could afford it we joined him. (As I recall, I made $212.50/month at the time.)
I also remember his skill at his job, when we had a runaway prop on takeoff out of MSP. He was down the aisle in a flash, pulling pillows from the overheads and leaving them on passenger's laps. I did what he told me to do. We evacuated and re-seated all the forward compartment passengers. After a successful landing and passenger deplaning back at MSP the cabin crew retreated to a restaurant in Mendota and drank scotch out of coffee cups. (We were in uniform, you see.) Meanwhile back at the airport the flight deck personnel were busily filling out forms and answering questions. Our flight did depart later in a different aircraft. It was a long day.
Bob Reardon is a living legend. I am so glad we were reunited yesterday.


Blogger JJSHAR said...

I was a ticket agent in SEA for 33 yrs. started in 1966 and would see Bob on flt 7 and later on Flight 9 at 3am to NRT. I have been on his flights and service was like eating at the "Brown Derby" in LA. His airplane would come in cleaner then when it left its departed city Great person very strict but what service. Thanks for the memories "JJ" Jim Joraanstad

August 9, 2011 at 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Tom Erickson said...

I just flew with Bob to NRT and he mentioned he was thinking of retiring. He still moves down the aisle faster than anybody. His stories are amazing if you can get them out of him! He is a pleasure to work with.
Tom Erickson

February 21, 2012 at 12:15 AM  

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