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Special Advertising SectionMustHaves
Fish certainly didn’t feature
in any what-do-you-want-to-be
daydreams when Marlene was
growing up in West Virginia. But
it was clear she would be success-ful
in whatever she turned to.
She landed a job as a telephone
operator when she graduated
from high school. Think of an old
black-and-white movie with an
operator rerouting calls through a
huge, old-fashioned switchboard.
That’s what she did.
“When a light would come
on the switchboard, I would
put my plug in and say, ‘Long
distance,’” she says. “Then they
put me on the directory assistance
board because I could remember
She worked for General
Telephone for two years, until
a friend told her about another
opportunity. Piedmont Airlines,
which flew out of Bluefield, West
Virginia, was hiring stewardesses.
“I went up there in my Sunday
dress and little white gloves,”
she says. “I filled out an appli-cation.
They hired me on the
spot. I packed up and moved to
Winston-Salem. I took the school
and had a flight two days after I
She began on 44-passenger
turboprops in 1968, moved to
60-passenger planes, and then to
the top-of-the-line 737s. It was a
time when customer service was
still paramount on airlines.
“We had two flight attendants
for 90 passengers,” she says. “We
would serve catered meals. The
flight attendants would take
orders on the ground for drinks.
As soon as the airplane went
wheels up we would take the
drinks, then serve food, then
make and serve coffee. All within
While the cabin service was
taking place, there was some
amazing flying from the cockpit.
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