Pre-Pan Am, a book lover dreams about being a stewardess

I’ve been watching the new show Pan Am and find it reassuringly solid in its storytelling, something that surprises me these days when it comes to television programs. It’s kind of charming, thus, to have perused my shelf in search of more inscriptions and found Jane, Stewardess of the Air Lines, a children’s novel from 1934 by Ruthe S. Wheeler that links nicely into the them of air travel stories, young women and dreams.

Pan Am is partly built around the idea of air travel with a “new breed” of woman, the flight attendant. Watching the show, I was scratching my head, thinking surely there must have been stewardesses  prior to the sixties, those iconic baby blue Pan Am carry-on bags and tight uniforms. I mean, I’d seen them in movies and on TV, hadn’t I? I suppose Pan Am just glammed it up back then and re-birthed the idea of being served drinks in the sky by beautiful women. I guess they did a good job of it, if they’re gimmick inspired, some forty years later, a very expensive-looking TV drama.

Clearly, though, it isn’t just us and twenty-somethings from the Kennedy era who were taken by the idea of stewardessing. After all, the book,

published in ’34 banks on excitement merely by mentioning Jane’s job. Obviously, working for “the airlines” as a stewardess was quite something, and those keywords alone could carry the promise of a great adventure. It’s kind of amusing to see Jane on the cover wearing a flight cap and goggles like she was also going to pilot the plane. I think we’re still waiting for that series to happen.

So, I guess little Miss Jean Staples may well have been quite taken with the idea of being a stewardess. It looks from the penciled writing like she got the book at Christmas in 1938, possibly after another little girl named Virginia Cartwright. Somewhere along the line Miss Jean, or someone, decided to add a little poem should the book be lost.







“If this Book should ever roam, box its ears and send it home.”

Obviously, another child who loved books.


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