And when we get together, it is so much fun! Never too old to remember and tell stories
|Looking at a bid sheet and there we are!|
|Really cute, but the supervisor's office would have something to say.|
Yeah! That means undoubtedly I am excited for another opportunity to sign my book More Than a Ticket Memoirs Flying with American Airlines from Props to Jets at the Salt Lake International airport.
WHERE: Terminal 1 After you go through Security and are heading to the escalator with all your luggage, I will try to stop you. Well, you have a couple of hours. Before you board the escalator, I will be seated at a table in front of Weller Book Works.
WHEN: October 9th
TIME: 8:00 til 12:30 noon
If you are taking a flight, drop by and say "hi." Wouldn't it be fun to meet or greet!
Now comes the treat of the day! MaryLou said I could do this, so it is my "best of the day" to share. This is one of the chapters in the book. The photos are not included in the text of this blog. I don't know how to do that. Have to buy the book to see the photos with the text. At the end of this you wilI see them--they are great. This has been edited for spacing and for the many photos.
Below: The Electra Team admiring a model; Bill Hall, MaryLou, and Jim Shires
MaryLou Parkes Whipple
AMERICAN AIRLINES STEWARDESS, 1955–1959
MaryLou and I happened to get the same flight. Seniority
and knowledge of the equipment is everything with airlines.
I happened to like to fly to Texas and could hold that bid
line. More often than not, I would fly with different stewardesses. Some months the pairing would be more compatible
than others, and MaryLou and I were very compatible.
We had a lot in common and became friends.
And now from the words of MaryLou:
"Approximately fifty-five years after the events of my years with American Airlines my memory is extremely weak. Only some awkward thoughts come to mind because I have no journals or records, and the years are a blur to me. In 1955, I believe we had to be 21 to fly. I was first accepted by Western Airlines to join their Stewardess program, but then they went out of business. A secretarial job opened a few miles from home with American Airlines’ engineering office which I took and loved. I never wanted to leave.
Right: An American Airlines Electra in flight. Photo © Bob Garrard
Left: MaryLou modeled for a promotional about the new, beautiful Lockheed
Electra. Before MaryLou was a stewardess
American Airlines bag tags and Electra matches that we would give passengers.
I had such a glorious time at the newly built stewardess college in Fort
Worth, Texas. I remember strutting around in bathing suits with so many beautiful girls around the pool with instructors’ eyes upon our every move,
the entire time there. The instructors knew everyone’s name the moment we entered. They were fantastic women. Their eyes followed us along the cafeteria line and every other move we made. They had to make sure we did things
just right. Emergency training was the most critical. What was it, six weeks? Whew!
The moments in those weeks when a student disappeared from our view were especially sad. Their bags had already been packed for them, and they were led to the awaiting taxi. We had a wonderful dormitory, big classrooms, gorgeous grounds, and a beautiful huge main hall with a wide curving staircase where we would meet our guests. Elvis Presley was dating one of the
we would be assigned, and of learning to use different types of equipment in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, I am a very independent person, and I tried so hard to fit in with a group, or with my roommates, or whatever. I determined to wait with my roommate to go down to the field with her. She was a gracious Southern girl, but slow. I managed to go with her, only to learn that I missed my flight! Surely, I would be sent home, I thought! Luckily, they gave me another assignment. From that moment, I became myself again: independent, on-time,
and successful, but often a loner.
Graduation time was beautiful. We had received our uniforms: dark blue for winter, tan for summer, all measured to fit to our body shape perfectly. There were military pressed creases, even in the blouse underneath our suits.
Local newspaper clipping announcing MaryLou’s graduation.
MaryLou’s graduating class. She is on the back row on the stairs, the fourth from the bottom.
Our class made up a fun song to the tune of the music from The Bridge over the River Kwai, a 1957 British World War II film. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the lyrics we used for the last line.
Today we’re going to march with you, Today we make our grand debut, Soaring, forever soaring,
Ta da-da-da-da; da, da-da, de-do!
MaryLou’s graduation certificate; MaryLou and stewardess friends on graduation day.
The other big hubbub was about where we would be located. I was thrilled to receive Los Angeles as my base. It is my birthplace. As it turned out, if I had a few days off, I could be at home with Mom and Dad in North Hollywood. That was the best! If I had a quick turn-around, I had a nearby apartment with other American Airline Stewardesses. It was a little tricky when I served on standby and had to be at the Los Angeles Airport (a small little airfield) in an hour. My uniform stayed ready to jump into when I drove from North Hollywood. Once I forgot my jacket, and Daddy drove it down to me when I was almost already in the plane. There were no freeways then, it was city streets all the way! There were also no jetways in those days. We had to cover our heads with the American Airlines scarf and walk out across the windy tarmac to our flight.
I served as Stewardess in mostly DC–6s and DC–7s (Douglas Aircraft Company planes). They allowed about 100 passengers tops, and it was an eight-hour flight from coast to coast. I remember spending all-night flights hoping to visit with a passenger and not sit and just look at the Exit sign and take coffee to crew.
On those LAX-NYC flights we usually always had movie stars on board. The one I remember best was Dick Powell as he sat back in the lounge with me on an all-night flight. He was wonderful to visit with!
MaryLou on a plane.
In the East, when it was cold, the passengers entered and gave us their coats as we welcomed them on board. We had to tag their coats with seat numbers and hang them up for them, returning each one to the correct person just before deplaning. Whew!
Here are some highlights that come to mind about flights and layovers: bidding vacation replacement, which meant I had four flights to New York a month! I loved seeing the sights, five star hotels, walks all over Broadway, and seeing the high rises! The Empire State Building was the tallest! I also loved my three-day layovers in Chicago where the Museum of Science and Industry became my weekly stop over. On June 19, 1933, the Museum of Science and Industry opened its great doors for the first time. It was the first museum in North America to feature interactive exhibits.
MaryLou (far right) with stewardess friends and Pat Boone (center).
The run from LAX to Fort Worth was delightful as there were some fine young men who took us water skiing on Lake Arlington! The rental car companies treated stewardesses very well and gave us cars. In fact, everyone treated us like royalty. In Dallas, a pink Cadillac limousine would take us shopping.
It was the crews in the LAX to Dallas runs that were the best: We went bowling! What a lot of fun with the whole crew and then huge steak dinners for just $1 or $2. The prices were out of this world, and shopping was great at Neiman Marcus. I did all my Christmas shopping there; no sales tax. Sorry, California, but I don’t like tax.
The best part of those LAX to Texas flights was flying over the Grand Canyon—what a sight that was from the air! It was exciting for the passengers to hear the Captain’s voice point out places of interest.
In the summer in St. Louis the big outdoor park had Broadway productions, great musicals, and the powers that be put in extra chairs up front just for us stewardesses. No charge, of course.
I enjoyed going to Detroit and attending church there. We usually always included a ferry trip over to a city in Canada, I believe. It was quite an experience. One of the best parts of my benefits was having mother and dad travel
a bit. Other than Mexico, American only flew in the United States, so Mom and Dad did have great travels in Mexico City, attending the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico with dazzling costumes that kept them in another world of music and dance. We also visited the pyramids, Xochimilco, Taxco, Guadalajara, and Acapulco, where we stayed at the beautiful Majestic Hotel overlooking the bay and had huge fruit plates for breakfast. Daddy had fun swimming in
the pool and shopping for his grandchildren. I got terrible sunburns. We hit all the sights, and then Mom and Dad took a grand train trip to the other coast and enjoyed many other cities, including Vera Cruz. They even met some Mormon missionaries there.
Another really memorable trip on American Airlines was to Boston. I walked the historical city and saw the opening release of Around the World in 80 Days. It seemed like we were doing just that. Then on down the coast to New York, Washington D. C., the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, then crossing the Potomac to Washington and Jefferson’s plantations. Arlington Cemetery with its Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was one of the most outstanding memorials at the time. I think we all had one of the best experiences of our lives.
Following my career with American Airlines, I continued to live with a spirit of adventure. I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Humanities and a master’s degree in Communications from
Brigham Young University. After that I
worked as an office manager for the prolific
Hollywood producer Albert Zugsmith in
addition to teaching in the Los Angeles
Unified School District. I eventually
retired as manager with the Walt Disney
Company and decided to serve a mission
for my church, The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. My call was
to Melbourne, Australia, and I loved
it. One will find me now “living on the
edge of the sea” in La’ie, Hawaii.
MaryLou in front of a Lockheed Electra.
A newspaper clipping about American Airlines. MaryLou is the fourth from the bottom.
The flight has been enjoyable in every way, particularly because of the efforts of the hostess, Miss
Parkes. She has been very helpful and friendly. Her service has been unobtrusive, as the best always
is. Yet her manner conveyed a warmth that immediately put us at our ease. She did everything possible
for us to ensure a comfortable, pleasant trip.
Signed, Miss Joann M. Baumert
Passenger letter from flight number 3 from New York City to Los Angeles on August 26, 1958. It reads:
My wife and four children
flew from LA to NYC on flight 2 July 31. When putting my family on the plane, I recognized the 2 hostesses as ones
with whom we had flown previously. My wife reports
that, as always, the hostesses were most courteous
and helpful with the young children.
I should like to express
for the selection of such excellent personnel.
Signed, Mr. M. S. Marvin
On this flight there were two blond young ladies, both very efficient. But may I say the Miss Parkes was most gracious and kind.
Signed, Mr. and Mrs. Julius M. and Gertrude L. Schoen
Passenger letter from flight number 76 from Los Angeles to Cincinnati on August 15, 1958. It reads:
Air travel is a new experience to me and a delightful one. This is an enjoyable flight with American.
Your stewardesses are most concerned for passenger comfort and happiness. I find them superior to
stewardesses on other air lines. They are charmful and helpful young women. I shall look forward to
other trips, flying with American.
Signed, Mrs. Dean Brill
P. S. I liked having a choice of drinks. Some other airlines do not.
I would like to thank you and your fine organization for the wonderful flights I have experienced in
the last few years.
Right now we are cruising at 20,000 feet, and I am enjoying every minute. The two fine stewardesses
we have are just wonderful, polite, efficient, and extremely helpful. I have just returned from Europe and have been on a plane for the last 21 hours, but right now I feel as if it has been one hour.
Thank you and your fine company again.
Signed, Mr. Chancford Morence Jr.
Dear Sir: I would assume most of these memos are complaints, however, I wish to express
my opinion relative to the services rendered on this flight. Personnel very courteous and accommodating, food excellent, public consideration very good. It is appropriate to commend Miss Jerry Coher and Mary
Lou Parkes for their passenger consideration and courtesy extended on this flight. They make a fine team worthy of their assigned responsibilities.
Signed, Mr. Forest F. Duwe
Passenger letter from flight number 2 from Los Angeles to New York on August 25, 1958. It reads:
I wish to call to your attention the excellent manner and efficiency displayed by one of your hostesses on this flight, Miss Parkes. I do a great deal of flying, and she stands out in my mind as being the best hostess I have seen.
Signed, Mr. Martin Tahse
Stwd. Corps! Jan E.”
The book is full of stories! Enjoy! Enjoy!
Here are some of the photos from the book. MaryLou continues to be a wonderful friend. She is kind, caring, brilliant, funny, determined and a true friend. Mahalo for writing a story for the book. Come puddle with me.
Grateful for friends. Come fly with American Airlines!