As I entered the hotel lobby, a grenade exploded, shattering glass everywhere. An employee shoved me into a hall closet and locked the door.
Eager to taste adventure, Bobbi Wolverton became an international flight attendant in 1965 at age 23. It was a more innocent and glamorous time of travel, when passengers dressed formally, smoking was permitted, and the captain allowed in-flight visits to the cockpit.
But there was another side to her profession. It was also hard, sometimes unglamorous, and often dangerous work. In this memoir, Bobbi shares fascinating true tales that shocked her friends and parents.
Harrowing landings. Unruly passengers. Sexual escapades. Babies born during flight. Terrifying episodes in war zones. Stories are set in such exotic locales as Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, and Egypt.
Behind the Smile takes us on a roller-coaster ride of laughter and drama, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the joys and heartaches of working in the airline industry during its most glamorous era.
©2013 Village Concepts, LLC (P)2014 Barbara Phelps Wolverton
The narration was just fine, and Wolverton isn't a bad writer - I'd be open to trying another book from either or both of them.
The most interesting chapters were probably the stories about flying into a war zone in Egypt, and transporting US troops to and from Vietnam. Wolverton was a flight attendant through some quite interesting 20th century history, and her personal experience of those events brought colour and reality to them.
There aren't any stories that stick out as memorably uninteresting - but there were some that annoyed me (Wolverton appears to have been a major prude), and some that distressed me enough to skip ahead (children dying during flights).
The main thing I look for in a narrator is that they should not distract me from the story - either by over exuberance or by putting me to sleep. Burdette did a fine though unexceptional job.
The subtitle - "Sex, Humor and Terror" - promises things that the story doesn't deliver. There is certainly some sex going on, but Wolverton is not involved and makes it clear that she strongly disapproves. Anyone with personal connections to the aviation industry knows stories about hijinks occuring between cabin crew and flight crew on layovers; the fact that Wolverton repeatedly insists that this never happened makes her sound untruthful or at least very naive. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not in any way sexy or titillating, which is actually a shame - a gentle sprinkle of titillation would have made it a better book.
Would have like to have heard from a TWA or PanAm flight crew member. There WAS a story to tell, of a bygone era that does show airlines as more than flying cattle cars, flight attendants as always attractive, sometimes stunning, and a fair amount of crews enjoying the lifestyle of the late 60's and 70's. The author flew for a charter carrier that made its money flying soldiers to Vietnam. The TV show PanAm, did a much better job of telling that story, and it was cancelled.
Clearly, she set out to write a book about her, personal adventures that are, on the whole, not very interesting. Seems like a nice woman but too "goody two-shoes".
She's got a solid delivery, but her narration added to the feeling that this was going to be like a four hour speech at a country club, G-Rated.
There is a story.....a great story of stews and pilots, a younger generation learning about flying and how societies attitudes about women and sexuality affected flight crews, but this isn't it. I dated a stew who flew for American in the late 60's and she had more interesting stories in 10 minutes than the author had in the 2 hours I listened.
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