Dorothy Horton has sent us her memories of becoming a TCA stewardess in 1954 –
Airline experience by D.V.Horton in 1954.
My ambition was to become a nurse and airline stewardess. I accomplished my first goal by receiving my Registered Nurses degree after gradating from the Wellesley Hospital in Ontario early in 1953. However, in the meantime, I had met and fallen in love with the man I wanted to spend the rest pf my life with. Bill was an engineering student and on the University of Toronto Varsity football team. He urged me to follow my dream although at that time I was nursing full time, I decided to apply to Trans-Canada Air Lines to become an Airline Stewardess.
The regulations to become an Airline Stewardess in 1954 were rather rigorous:
- One was not allowed to be married.
- One had to have good teeth and good skin.
- One could not weigh over 130 pounds.
- One could not be too tall or too short.
- One could not wear glasses.
After two long interviews where I had to walk back and forth in front of a panel of men, I was finally hired (Human Rights would not allow that today). Then the fun began, I recall going as a standby passenger from Toronto to Montreal to begin my training. After seeing several flights take off full without me. I finally reached Montreal around midnight. This was the very first time I had ever flown. I can still recall my excitement when I arrived at the hotel, my roommate was already asleep. We were put up, all expenses paid, at the Belmont Hotel sharing a room. This was for the first two weeks only, and in the meantime we were to find a place to live. Hence, two weeks later, my roommate Jackie Fox and the two girls sharing the room next door Mary Litwyn, Gloia Fasken and myself rented a fully furnished flat in a big old building in Mount Royal.
Our training began the day after my arrival in Montreal. We were instructed to wear a girdle at all times. Once we were in uniform we would be periodically checked to ensure we were wearing the dreadful girdle. None of us in those days had an ounce of fat. Fat was not allowed. We were given a Helen Rubenstein beauty course, teaching us how to apply makeup and what to buy. These classes were so informative and so much fun. Billy Houseman was our training course instructor and was so understanding and tolerant of our clowning around. Just as long as we were serious at the appropriate times. I vividly recall the marvellously exciting weekend when the three of us decided to plus out to New York. We had no problem getting to New York.
While in New York we saw all the sights, shopped, and came back to the hotel where all three of us sat on the edge of the tub with our tired feet soaking so that we could take off for the Latin Quarter later that evening. Trying to return from New York was a different story. After many attempts we finally landed very late and very tired and broke in Montreal. Yes, we had spent our last dollars on a meal in the New York airport waiting for space to open up. We were relieved to be back in Montreal. Within a couple of hours I had to don my uniform and once again take to the skies. Those wonderful days are filled with many memories.
I was eventually stationed at Toronto (Malton Airport) much to my delight. If I recall correctly there were less than a hundred crews working out of Malton Airport. I flew the DC-3's, the only stewardess aboard and we had many interesting passengers. We were always supplied with a seating plan with each passengers name (as we had been taught). Having no seniority at the beginning I did the Northern runs. When we flew into Falconbridge, Ontario, I had to stay overnight in a rooming house and lined up in a large cafeteria in the morning for breakfast with all the miners (the only female). Eventually l had other very interesting routes.
Early in the of fall of 1954 the student l had fallen in love with several years before proposed. We decided to be married on Grey Cup day, as the Varsity Football would be over. However, in 1954 for the first time in history, Queens, Western and Toronto tied for first place forcing the final play of game, to be played on November 27th, 1954, our Wedding day. Bill made the headlines of the Toronto Daily Star Sport Section for missing this crucial game. However, the team won without him and we had our Wedding Breakfast with the team in London, Ontario.
Needless to say this ended my very short but wonderful career as an Airline Stewardess.
(Written on July 7th, 2002 by Dorothy Horton)