Pan American Flashbacks

So I caught a few minutes of the new Pan Am show on ABC. I give the show a solid – meh. I did like the uniforms the then-stewardesses wore. I know, I know, I’m a caveman, ooga, ooga. And the terminals looked spiffy, amazing what computer graphics can do. I did notice though that there were a few details that seem to have been ever so slightly gently swept behind the curtain.

Like back in the early Sixties, well, you’d only be flying if you were in the top five or ten percent of the income bracket. No $29 specials to Vegas for a wild weekend of debauchery, or $175 flights home to the family for spring break. Or like the fact that everybody, and I mean everybody smoked. Constantly. In the air, on the ground, in the toilets (take a look, in some of the older aircraft you can still find the ashtrays in the restrooms). There was no In Flight Entertainment system unless you meant a chess set, or assembling a jigsaw puzzle. This video from the ancient past, reveals some of the secrets of this near mythical time.

Of course, everyone gets lobster, or steak, or lobster and steak. I wonder if the little girl in the video also got lobster with her meal? Probably a Rob Roy and a Chesterfield, too. It was the Fifties after all.

Wonderful as all that sounds though I kind of like the present age of flying with lie-flat beds in first and often in business class. With honest to god sheets and a duvet. The food’s not great, but it’s not bad, in the front of the plane anyway. Even in the back they have snack packs, which when you get right down to it are an acceptable substitute to the old grey mystery meat that’s been heated and reheated till it has long past any resemblance to an actual food product. I can pick from several dozen movies or TV shows on many airlines, even in coach. And no matter where I sit, I am free, free forever, from the stench of unfiltered cigarettes.

Of course, it’s a rare person nowadays who dresses as nice as they do in the video or on the TV show. Still, an eight hour flight in a jacket and a tie (even a bow tie, and bow ties are cool), doesn’t seem all that elegant and charming.  So I guess I’ll stick with my horrible 21st century flying, looking back wistfully and longingly to those golden days of yesteryear when men wore uncomfortable clothes all the time, the women were there to serve the men martinis and steaks, and they all puffed away constantly on cancer sticks.


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