Are you old enough to remember when airline travel was an event? I came of age just before the jet age became the standard for domestic travel and the public began to fly regularly as air travel became less exotic. In the mid 1950’s, flight attendants had to be single, attractive, under 32 and under 135 pounds. Flying was a glamorous experience for passengers, particularly if you were like me, at 13 years of age, about to fly from cold and dreary New England to sunny Florida for Christmas vacation.
I was excited. So excited that after school one day, without consultation, I marched myself into one of the less than exciting local department stores in Holyoke Massachusetts to find myself the right outfit to match the occasion. The pickings were slim. At 13, I was very slender. I settled on a linen pin striped fitted suit with a pencil thin skirt, paired with a snug jacket with a peplum waist. I think the saleswoman was slightly baffled by my interest in a woman’s suit. Undeterred, I gave her my mother’s name, address and proudly walked out of the store suit in hand
Excitedly, I brought it home to show my Mom. Her face fell. I came back to earth. She looked horrified. It wasn’t the reception I’d anticipated for my new suit. She quickly told me it was too “old” for me. Of course, I objected, replying it fit me perfectly and I REALLY wanted to wear it. The struggle went on for a few days, but I ultimately had more energy to fight it than she did. I won.
A photo exists somewhere of me leaning against the metal stairs leading up to the Eastern Airlines DC-7, wearing the suit and a big grin.
The day of the flight I wore a garter belt to hold up my nylon stockings that slid into my kitten heeled shoes. I pinned an artificial fabric red carnation to my lapel. I never felt more glamorous or grown up. I have no memory of wearing that suit again and my guess is as soon as she could get into my closet without me around, by mother gave it away. I never asked for its whereabouts because the urgency to wear it had passed.