Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Minneapolis AAA Women's Travel Club Welcomes Northwest Orient Airlines Stewardesses from the 1950s

l-r Pat Tennessen, Nola Wagner, Jean Schreier, Anne Kerr speaking at the
Minneapolis AAA Women's Travel Club July 16, 2013
photo courtesy of Lori Martz   

Jean Schreier called me about a month ago to ask if I wanted to attend a function at the Minneapolis Auto Club.  She said she heard about a couple of 1950s stews being on the program.  I said, "Sure, I'll bet we know them."  As soon as we walked in I recognized Pat Tennessen and Nola Wagner.  These were the two "1950s stewardesses."  Both Jean and I worked with them and have kept in touch with them from time to time over the years.  When they saw us they insisted we share the stage with them.  What a blast!

This was the blurb in the AAA E-newsletter:
"Join us as we welcome two stewardesses from the 1950s for a discussion on their experiences in the airline industry and how the industry has changed over the years."

First on the program we learned about many great travel opportunities for women (and even men on some occasions), and second, it was great fun renewing friendships with Pat, Nola and Jean.  50 years just melted away.  It was also sort of a "welcome home" for me, as I worked for Minneapolis AAA as a travel counselor in downtown Minneapolis in 1954-56, just before I became a stewardess.  I met my future husband Tom there, and he and I led tours for AAA to the New York World's Fair, the Ozarks and the great circle tour of Lake Superior by motor coach, just after roads were completed to make it possible for the first time to drive all around the lake.  This was after I had to resign from NWA in order to get married.  Another one of the "rules" of the day, along with no corrective lenses, height between 5'5" and 5'8", weight under 130 and no flying after age 32!

Tonight it was fun reminiscing about flying on DC-3s, DC-4s, DC-6s, DC-7s, the L-1011 Lockheed Electra and the favorite of all of us, the B-377 Boeing Stratocruiser,  Once the stories started, it was tough to slow them down.  For one thing, the food we served.  For another passenger comfort.  Huge seats, wide aisles and big square windows.  The pilots inviting the passengers to "C'mon up to the flight deck and say hello."  Sleeping berths, lower level cocktail lounge, air to ground telephone service, and the electric organ installed on one of our ships, played by live organists at 25,000 feet to and from New York or Washington D.C.

We shared stories about flying cargo flights, carrying animals and caskets, about emergencies in flight and celebrities we carried.

Thanks, AAA for the memories and for the opportunity to get together with old friends.