2/20/12

The Groovy Age of Travel #8: Stewardesses



My how times have changed. Nowhere is the difference in the cultural mindset between our own time and that of the 1960s more striking than in the role of the flight attendant. The job basically was transformed from 'eye candy' to 'serious professional' in a manner of a few short years.  It's a topic that I've gone into before on Retrospace, so I won't perform any further armchair sociology on the subject. Suffice it to say, the concept of total gender equality rendered the 'cocktail waitress in the sky' obsolete and an object of derision - a horrible example of male chauvinism in action.

Note the advertisement below I scanned from a 1970 comic book: "An airline stewardess must be.... five feet and two inches to five feet and ten inches tall".  I'm surprise they didn't specify her bust size requirements.... and notice they keep saying "she".  A male stewardess would've caused widespread panic back in '70. Salaries start at about $420 per month.




Well, times have changed, and we'll just have to accept that.... but not at Retorspace. Our sole purpose is to wallow endlessly in the past.  So, let's check out some images of flight attendants back when they were called 'airline hostesses' and 'stewardesses'.  (Please note that I've already posted numerous pictures of vintage stewardess photos; but I've gathered up a fresh batch, so they hopefully won't be too many that overlap.)  Enjoy.




Yep. That's a candid polaroid of Dean Martin.  Somehow, this is exactly how I pictured Dino on a plane would look .










































19 comments:

  1. There's nothing worse than a stewardess with a fat ass. Much as I appreciate a larger woman under other circumstances, I just can't stand when they bump my arm as I'm trying to grab some Z's thirty thousand feet over flyover country.

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    1. Somehow your single comment sums it up better than I could in an entire post. Well said.

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    2. Well, don't stick it out in the isle then! Dumb dumb...;-)

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  2. "Nowhere is the difference in the cultural mindset between our own time and that of the 1960s more striking than in the role of the flight attendant."

    I'm going to politely say that I very very strongly disagree with that statement. People were burned alive in their own homes for trying to organize the black vote in the 60s. Wife beaters just...beat their wives as much as they wanted with virtually no repercussions. There was a draft. It was a different universe, as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. WTF. Go read a serious blog and don't be a downer here.

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  3. Fate has you ending the post with photos from PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines)...here is the copy from an ad that aired on Los Angeles radio in the summer of 1969:

    "Right now PSA, the airline that is famous for its stewardesses, is looking for girls. Yes..girls to fill a cute orange mini-uniform...girls who smile and mean it...girls who give other people a lift. Now if you're single, 18 1/2 to 26 years old, 5 foot 1 to 5 foot 9, 105 to 135 pounds, have a high school diploma or better--come in for an interview at the Los Angeles International Airport stewardesses department Tuesday or Thursday. PSA is an Equal Opportunity Employer"

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    1. Equal opportunity except with regard to age, sex, height, weight, marital status. Were all of those categories unprotected in 1969? If they'd only left that last sentence off. In its favor, PSA had a woman vice president in the days when employers could be as discriminating as they wished.

      I worked in California and flew a good deal in the 1970s-80s. PSA was the best and their crews, however they hired them, were the best. An era ended for me when USAir (formerly Allegheny AKA Agony) bought PSA.

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    2. I'll take a stab here and say that in 1969, "Equal Opportunity Employer" meant "Yes we'll hire blacks and Jews."

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  4. So, what's the opportunity for advancement? Marry a pilot?

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  5. Love the short skirts and go go boots!

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  6. 'eye candy' to 'serious professional'


    They are neither anymore.

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    1. Stewardesses started out as the most serious professional you can imagine...the original ones hired in 1930 were all trained nurses.

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  7. Yowza! The one left of the traintrack...Mercy! How long since a good hotpants story?

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    1. Too long, my friend. Too long. Be on the lookout for one in the near future.

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  8. Hey pallies, likes how totally totally rad to see that candid Dino-shot with those adorin' stews grantin' our Dino his every desire. Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool....oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth. Know this stunnin' Dino-pose is bein' shared this very day with the pallies gathered at ilovedinomartin.

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  9. Sexist? Well, maybe and/or probably behind the scenes, but to me the whole 1960's stewardess thing was about fun. Who was traveling the most back then? Men. It just catered to them. They weren't slaves, they were employees. The more color and kooky outfits the better! Made the whole air travel thing that much more glamorous.

    Planes today have no fun whatsoever about them - airlines should take a tip from those "future forward" days and try to bring back the idea of stewards having more personality.

    We the passengers are packed in like rats on those tubes with wings - at least give us some funky outfits to look at!

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  10. The last time I saw an FA wearing a short skirt-she was on another airline. I missed out on PSA, and still drawing the short straw, or in this case, the long pants, or a male FA, lol.

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  11. Singapore Air, Koreana, Asiana, and to some extent JAL all still have gorgeous stews. Whenever I fly int'l I'm always shocked to return to the unionized, geriatric gasbags on domestic flights. Bad attitudes all-around. WTF. The US invented commercial air travel and we do it the worst.

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