Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review - Behind the Smile

Behind the Smile During the Glamour Years of Aviation

By: Bobbi Phelps Wolverton
Publisher: Village Concepts, L.L.C.
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-615-82764-3
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: November 26, 2013

The author tells us that this book was written about “Sex, Humor and Terror during the Glamour Years of Aviation.” This sounds like an awful lot to put into one book but it turns out to be very true. This memoir, about being a stewardess on international flights, takes place during the "glamour years of aviation," (1965-73) and there are a lot of stories about crazy things that happened during travel that the author recounts in an easy reading and enjoyable style.

It's true that those years were a time when air travel was much more relaxing, enjoyable, and yes, fashionable. Today, it's the age of having to get to the airport hours before your flight to be checked out by folks with cameras and have luggage searched for contraband, also, perhaps sitting next to a US Marshall on the plane. In contrast, during the 60’s and early 70’s, people actually dressed up to travel by plane and flying was a much more laid back means of transportation, with very little thought to terrorism or security.

When the author, Bobbi, joined the ranks of Stewardesses, it was a glamorous time in air travel. The ladies had to go to school, not only to learn the ups and downs of taking care of their passengers, but they also had to attend a beauty school to learn how to put on makeup correctly and dress, talk and look like fashion models. As noted earlier, passengers frequently dressed formally, no shorts and T-shirts on those planes, passengers were allowed to smoke and drink and have a party in the air, and the Captain would allow people to visit the cockpit.

However, notes the author, there were bad times too. Sometimes the work was difficult, such as when the stewardesses had to take care of passengers who were scared, tired or just plain unhappy or grumpy. Sometimes the trips were very far from glamorous and, once in a while even dangerous. The stewardesses were in charge of everything and expected to do a lot. In those early years, there were no male flight attendants and many of the passengers had never flown before and were a little antsy about it. There were no in-flight movies and no hook ups for cell phones and game cartridges to keep passengers busy.

Some of Bobbi’s stories are set in Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Many of them are in Europe: France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Egypt. Bobbie and her cohorts worked long hours and had to do many tasks that they didn’t enjoy but they had lovely vacations in many exotic places. This book is a fascinating read and includes some wild stories about crews and their passengers, some stories starring rather weird passengers, and trips to fascinating and exotic places.

Quill says: Behind the Smile is a real page-turner with very real adventures using humor, excitement and sometimes sadness to get the point across.

For more information on Behind the Smile During the Glamour Years of Aviation, please visit the author's website at:

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