I found this story looking through Grandpa’s book The Anhalt Family . This happened exactly one year before he became an Army flight surgeon in WWII.
By James Anhalt, Sr.
We decided to go First Class. Air travel was just becoming popular, so we made reservations to fly American Airlines to New York City. Reservations were made weeks in advance. Ernestine couldn’t decide what to wear on the flight. She finally settled on a two piece suit for which she would need a corsage. People did not fly as passengers on American Airlines, unless they were properly groomed. I wore a 3 piece suit, white shirt and matching tie. Needless to say, even the baby was “decked” out in his finest.
When the flight was booked, we arranged for the baby. We were assigned the two front seats in the DC-3 in which we were flying. The DC-3 was one of the earliest passenger planes used. It had retractable wing wheels and tail dragger wheel. It carried 21 passengers. Our seats were just behind the bulkhead and had ample leg room to put the baby’s basket.
For ten days before departure the Airline called us daily inquiring about the baby’s feeding schedule and formula. The also furnished diapers. Everything seemed to be in order. All of the family members were notified of take-off time.
We were dressed. powdered and perfumed and Ernestine had her orchid corsage in place. She wore a wide-brimmed hat and I wore a Holmberg. We were very excited. Ernestine had never flown before and I had flown only once in a “Ford Trimotor” piloted by a Barnstormer pilot. I think I paid a dollar for a take-off and landing in a cleared field just out of town. The old Ford Trimotor was also known as the Tin Goose. The DC-3 was much more elegant than the Tin Goose.
So, we spent several minutes saying our goodbyes. I’m sure most of the relatives thought we were insane. The way every one was crying and warning us of the danger we faced, I’m sure they thought this has to be the last time they would see us alive.
We entered the plane and hesitated at the door to wave our last farewell. We were ushered to our seats by the stewardess who was required to be a registered nurse at the time. It was comforting to hear her say that she had been flying this route for 8 months. She sat us down and fastened the belts. She also secured the baby in his basket and fastened the basket to the bulk head.
I was a little fearful but did not dare show it for Ernestine’s sake.
The pilot revved up one engine, then the other.
The plane moved forward and turned to enter the runway. I tried to be cheerful but there was very little talking during this time.
Both engines were given full throttle and we lurched down the runway. In less than a minute (a very long minute) we were airborne.
There was a constant drone of the engines and we were definitely aware of the movement of the plane.
Everyone aboard the plane seemed comfortable and were smiling a sort of forced smile. The baby was sleeping soundly and seemed very pleased with the sound of air rushing by and the “roar” of the engines. We looked at the baby and then at each other and said everything is all right, lets enjoy the ride.
We had flown for a couple of hours and the pilot announced that we were entering an area of turbulence. Not to worry. It would get smooth later.
Another hour into the flight the turbulence was increasing. There was thunder and lightening. We were near Bristol, Tennessee on the Kentucky border. The pilot announced very calmly that we would land at the airport there and await the clearing of the storm. “Fritz” was still sleeping soundly.
A short while after we landed the airline decided we should not try for New York. We were taken to a hotel, had wonderful dinner and given a room for the night. We were told the rest of the trip would be by pullman car on the railroad.
We were placed on a pullman car the next morning and continued our trip to New York City. We arrived at Grand Central Station and were ushered by the Airline people to limousines which delivered us to the address we had given them. The luggage and a trunk was delivered separately.
Bella and I flew to Boston last night and arrived at 5:45 am this morning. This has to be one of the worst routes UAL flies: SFO-DEN, one hour layover then depart at midnight for BOS on a 3.5 hour flight, but it was the cheapest flight I could get with a discount coupon. After many uncomfortable flights this year and bad luck getting upgraded, expectations were low. Surprisingly though, our first leg was upgraded. Fruit plate, yay. At least we’d get some food and free alcohol. Our flight attendant was unusually happy. “Our pleasure” she’d say after every interaction. Pre-flight drinks, food quickly served (no nuts though…) and wine glass kept full. Coincidentally, the next flight was going to be on the same plane, so chances for upgrading seemed better — the original flight was supposed to be on a 319, but this was a 320 — four more 1st class seats! The upgrade went through and there were even empty seats. We had the same uber-happy FA, but the coach class flight attendant was quite annoyed at having to tell me to shut down my computer (which I was doing) and returned later to tell me to turn off my phone (which I also was in the middle of doing). He then comped an upgrade to a woman on active duty from the back of plane, escorted her to the empty seat across from me, and returned several times (with more cologne each pass) to hit on her during the flight. Our flight attendant kept up her spirits the whole flight, I even managed to sleep for an hour, and wasn’t too exhausted when we landed.