Buckle up for a trip back in time

They don’t come off the asphalt until that happens. Also, be careful: there are lights in the aisle along the floor and emerges above each wing. When oxygen is lost, the masks fall off. Put on your mask before helping others. In “Come Fly the World” by Julia Cooke you will experience a journey through time.

“Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Tale of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke. (Contributed image)

Lynne Totten had a degree in biology, but she saw the future and it wasn’t good.

It was the mid-1960s and women with degrees like hers might work as assistants or teachers, but never as heads of a laboratory. As a voracious newspaper reader, Lynne finally realized that there was “a whole world out there” to explore and pay for. She put biology aside and became a stewardess.

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Karen Walker was a seasoned traveler when she signed up for work at Pan Am at the advanced age of 26, which was at the top of the age limit for stewardesses. They also had size restrictions and regular balancing, regulated hairstyles, and mandatory makeup classes at Miami stewardess school. First and foremost, Pan Am and most other airlines’ stewardesses had to be unmarried.

Hazel Bowie of Mankato took advantage of the airline’s new rules: As a black woman, Pan Am’s reach for diversity matched her career goals.

Clare Christiansen had volunteered for a shuttle service to and from Vietnam offered by Pan Am through the US government – such contracts were another step on a carefully planned career ladder.

Torild “Tori” Werner, who grew up in Oslo, Norway, also has management in her sights, but first she also volunteered for a similar shuttle service for US soldiers arriving and departing from Vietnam.

And in the spring of 1975 three of these women went to Vietnam one last time …

If you split “Come Fly the World” into two different camps – which can be difficult since the book is pretty good overall – you will find that there are really two parts: the story of five women in Pan Am and the story of the Women in the 1960s.

On the one hand, writer Julia Cooke tells the stories of Lynne, Karen, Clare, Tori and Hazel; why they decided to become stewardesses (a word that fits the time frame); and what their experiences at work were. In addition to these anecdotes, most of Cooke’s subjects touched adventure and cheap off-duty travel, which also gives this book a travelogue touch, but with less romance and more practicality.

Then there is the journey back to 1965-1975 – the crazy music; the wild clothes; and the lawsuits filed to give women the right to get credit cards, have a job while married, and work while pregnant.

Be aware that there is no such thing as “coffee, tea, or me”. in this book; Instead, “Mad Men” hits a glass ceiling and destroys it. So grab “Come Fly the World” and buckle up.

Book notes

“Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Tale of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke is available from the Rochester Public Library and through online booksellers.

“The bookworm” is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was three and goes nowhere without a book. She lives on the Wisconsin prairie with a man, two dogs, and 16,000 books. Find her on bookwormsez.com or bookwormsez on Twitter.

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