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Ric Romero recounts working as Pan Am flight attendant

September 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
I was one of the first male flight attendants hired by Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, in 25 years.

That was in the early 70s and I was based in London. At the time, Pan Am was the premiere airline, the flagship carrier for the United States, that flew only international flights.

For more about "Pan Am," go to ABC.com/PanAm

For me and the other flight attendants, the travel and the job were an experience we'll never forget.

"If I could choose one word, it would be elegant," said Sheila Riley, a former Pan Am stewardess.

Pan Am was known worldwide as a first class airline, especially in first class where we used real silver and bone china.

"Flying in the Pan Am era was unlike flying today. It was the difference between heaven and hell," said Pamela Taylor, another former Pan Am stewardess.

In those days, we were the highest-paid flight attendants in the world. We were treated very well and stayed in some of the finest hotels.

We also worked very hard.

"Not only did I have to know how to cook a fresh roast beef five different ways, maybe right in the middle I might have to deliver a baby," recalls former Pan Am stewardess Karin Fiedler.

On the other hand, we played hard, too, while always remembering the image we were expected to maintain.

"There were four things we definitely had to remember: Do not talk about politics, do not discuss religion, you had to serve the meat on the plate at 5 o'clock and you had to have fresh parsley, not only in first class but in economy as well," Fielder says.

Training took place in Miami and lasted a month. Our motel was our home away from home. The pool was used for life raft training and testing our swimming skills.

But we needed to know a lot more than that.

"We were hired because you had to have a college degree, we spoke a language fluently and we also had to have medical background training," Riley says.

I was single back then and now that I'm married with children, I can't imagine traveling that much. But I'm still a member of an exclusive club of former Pan Am flight attendants. It's a membership I will never forget.

For more about "Pan Am," go to ABC.com/PanAm

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