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The School of Flaunt

Back when "Flying Was Fun" Alexandra Smythe and Cate Clarke were Flight Attendants with a Major International Carrier. Prior to Private Jets coming into vogue, Alexandra and Cate traveled in the First Class World, meeting and greeting the top celebrities, politicians who would become Presidents, nouveau riche, and yes the occasional Headline Grabbing Criminal in Handcuffs!

What the two ladies viewed and experienced became fodder for the School of Flaunt, so much money, such bad taste and oh those terrible manners. Something had to be done! Hence, The School of Flaunt Handbook was born. Read More

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Vivid Memories

Category: SOF Divas’ Diaries ®  |  Permalink

Published: Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vivid Memories


Politicians who would rather talk with me!

Well, this week on Pan Am, one of the "stews" was shown running out to a plane with a box of cigars to give to President Kennedy. I had no need to run, for one of our soon to be Presidents was on my flight and we had our own private conversation. Oh yes we did! But then who would not want to talk with Moi. Stop laughing, I know you would!

Now going back in time, when I was in college one of my sorority sisters came into the house and said that her father had extra tickets for some political rally and wanted to know if I would like to go with her. Curious about this, I said, "Yes."

What an experience! It was a mini convention. Bands in the aisles, confetti, balloon drops and screaming adoring political junkies in attendance. And we were in the first row! Think football game and your favorite team just won the game in the last second. That is the picture there.

Now flash forward a short time later -

I am a junior flight attendant and as such many times you would have to work first class because the passenger load in the back was light and first class was full or vice versa. Remember the airline life is all about seniority. Unlike what they show you on the TV show Pan Am.

But I digress. I was working first class and who comes up the outside jet way stairs? None other than Ronald Reagan, who is being ushered onto the plane by one of our PR people. He was traveling with one aid. OMG! This was the speaker that had them all on their feet screaming and clapping!

Now having been well schooled in airline training and also by my Mother who could have given the airline many pointers, I greet Governor Reagan with a "Good Morning Governor." (Remember once they have the title you should always use it regardless of whether they are still in office. SOF manners students!)

Reagan had a twinkle in his eye, an easy smile, rosy red cheeks and looked like the epitome of an Irishman. As Tip O'Neil (former Speaker of the House) said, "The President and I don't always agree but we are still friends." Why do I bring that up? Because Reagan was a man that you just couldn't help liking when you met him regardless of your politics. But let's continue -

A few minutes later I approach Governor Reagan and his aid to ask for their menu selections. It is then that I tell him about hearing him speak and how he had thousands of people standing on their chairs and how exciting the whole thing had been. Governor Reagan smiled and looked at me as if he was totally delighted to get a compliment and then thanked me.

But here is where it starts to get good!

About three hours into the flight, Governor Reagan is stretching his legs by the first class galley when I came out of the cockpit. I asked him if he needed anything and that was when the start of our 20 minute conversation began. Yes twenty minutes.

What did we talk about? History, wars, flying and yes his best friend Jimmy Stewart. He said to me, "Do you know an actor by the name of Jimmy Stewart?" I'm thinking who doesn't know who Jimmy Stewart is but I politely say, "Of course I know who Jimmy Stewart is." He then informs me that Jimmy Stewart was one of his best friends. This I did not know.

Now you're not going to believe this, he does a Jimmy Stewart impression for me of Stewart critiquing the public about only being interested in what they are eating on the plane, and forgetting about the marvel of flying at 33,000 feet in the air. And I might add he had Jimmy Stewart down perfectly and it was quite entertaining.

Note: I did have Jimmy Stewart on another flight later and told him the story about President Reagan doing an impression of him and he laughed out loud!

But I digress; here is the really good part of the story! Governor Reagan and I are totally engrossed in our little private conversation when who appears but the Captain.

Captain: "Governor Reagan would you like to come up to the cockpit and sit."

Governor Reagan: "Oh no, I'm sorry I'm talking with Alexandra right now."

Well, you should have seen the look on the Captain's face. Shock and ah! Priceless! Score one for me!! Reagan would rather talk with me than be in the cockpit. Of course upon reflecting on the experience I thought he was just being cagey and didn't want to get stuck up there with three men. But it was still fun!

Then years later when President Reagan died, I have to admit, I did watch a lot of his funeral on CNN. What an eye opener it was to me. Why? Because after listening to all of those eulogies, I realized that President Reagan was the "total gentleman" and if he had accepted the Captain's invitation to go into the cockpit it would have been as if he was saying, "you are just a flight attendant, I'm going to go talk with the Captain now." And who knows, maybe he was enjoying our conversation as much as I was?

Did I ask for an autograph? No, I never asked for autographs. But a few years after that I had a member of the President's press corps on flight and told him about having President Reagan on board. I said, "I regretted not getting his autograph." He gave me his card and told me who to contact at the White House to get an autograph. But frankly, it was never important for I had a memory like no one else did. Talking with a man who became President and him doing a Jimmy Stewart impression just for me!

Ah, memories. How sweet they can be.


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