FICTION!! And it is NOT Alaska’s most SENIOR Flight Attendant either.
But for you, loyal CloudDancer StoryBook readers, I shall solve the mystery and you will know something even a majority of their own employees don’t know. WHY does this face adorn the verticle stab/rudder assembly of all the Mad Dogs and Boeings flown by “Seattle Air”? How LONG has he been there? Learn too how he survived some smart airline management’s push.....
(huh, “”smart airline management” ....now THERE’S an oxyMORon for ye’) to be rid of the Eskimo, fearing he had outlived his “usefulness”. And now....we begin.
Once long ago and far away, the Territory of Alaska at the end of the 1940's to be exact, the predecessors of today’s Alaska Airlines along with the old Wien Consolidated Airlines were flush with airplanes and scraping for revenue.
Good Ol’ Uncle Sam , true to his word, had bequeathed upon them (as well as ALL airlines in America) war surplus DC-3s and C-46 Curtiss Condors to replace and make up for all the passenger liners that the government had “commandeered” in the days and weeks immediately following Pearl Harbor.
Sidebar here for our “under 30" readers. If, when you first read the words “Pearl Harbor”, you were puzzled and wondered briefly if it was some obscure heavy metal or Pacific NW “grunge” band......PLEASE..... Google it, and you will find it was an extremely sigNIficant American naval battle which....oh, nevermind. Just go ask your Grandpa.
At the same time Alaska’s young, but well established already boom ‘n bust cycle was in the “bust” portion following the “boom” years of World War Two. And the airlines were looking under EVERY rock to find revenues to pay the employees and keep the fleets going.
Someone, and I confess I know not who, came up with the clever idea of marketing Alaska and her charms as a TOURIST destination, complete with day and overnight trips to the undiscovered hinterlands of Barrow, Nome, and Kotzebue so that people could “see how the natives lived”. But after having that initial flash of brilliance, which would lead to one of today’s three largest in-state industries and sources of employment; all were totally at a loss as to what to do with the “tourists” if and when they came.
Turning their gazes south and westward their attention was drawn to another American Territory, the Islands of Hawaii. Realizing that THIS paradise and it’s native peoples had been successfully exploited for well over two decades already, with ever increasing numbers of visitors; I suspect that, sensing an opportunity to learn much, a “business trip” to the Islands was hastily arranged for these ‘visionaries” to conduct “research”.
Now fast forward to the late 1960's and early 1970's and think of ANY episode of Hawaii Five-O or newsreel footage showing the arrival of tourists at the airport. There were ALWAYS two GORgeous “Hula Girls’ complete in grass skirts standing at the bottom of the airstairs.
ANOther sidebar for our younger readers - Prior to the invention of jetways, airline passengers boarded and deplaned using external “airstairs” mounted on wheels or pick-em-up trucks, or in some cases (such as Lockheed Electras or Convair products) using integral fold up/down stairways which, in either case meant you started and ended your journey at ramp level.
(Sheesh....whoda’ thunk I’D ever be teaching HISTORY just to write!!)
Why I’ll never forget MY first trip to the islands as just a mere “tadpole” CloudDancer; one of the privileges of being an “airline brat”. I was all of seven precocious years old in 1961.
I emerged from the front of the Newnited Douglas DC-8 front door into the brilliant tropical afternoon Pacific sunshine and was IMMEDIATELY overwhelmed by the salt water and multi floral scented air that had rushed into the cabin the instant the door was opened to replace the artificial environment of the pressurized tube in which we had been cocooned for the last seven hours.
Totally awestruck by the beauty of the almost completely green and heavily forested nearby hills and mountains, I unconsciously let Momma CloudDancer grasp my hand tightly as we descended the heavy diamond plated metal steps toward the tarmac. My head spun on a swivel from the geographical beauty around me to the sky over the runway where Intercontinental Boeing 707s and DC-8s lifted off one after another with their pure turbojet engines roaring like God’s own thunder and spewing four trails of greasy black smoke as they depart for points around the globe.
Therefore I was down to about the last two steps as Mother CD jerked my arm and told me to watch where I was going.
Now, the “job” of the two aforementioned “Hula Girls” was to greet EACH and every arrivee, male and female alike with a garland or necklace of fresh flowers (called a “lei”, and pronounced “LAY”). This was placed by the “Hula Girl” around the person’s neck and at the same time the girl would lean over, give the recipient a short and polite “peck on the cheek” followed immediately by saying cheerfully and warmly “ALOha! And Welcome to our Islands!”
Well, I was about somewhere between four-and-a-half and four-and three-quarters feet in those days, I guess. So when I finally focused my attention straight ahead to “watch where I was going” the couple that deplaned ahead of us had received their welcome, moved out of the way, and there I was, eye-to- BEAUtiful, soft, laughing, and dancing eye with my very first “Hula GirL”. And she was SMILING....at ME!!
Continuing the last two steps of the descent, I raise my cherubic baby-face upward to take in the glowing white orchid protruding from her coal black and wavy long hair which cascaded down over her shoulders to frame the multi-colored and blossomed floral lei that hung around her slender and tapered neck.
Now finally on the ground I was no longer eye-to eye- with her, but rather my view was more of....um.....um......the bottom of the circular flower garland I noted rested on and between two half coconut shells which could not fully contain.....oh...my...GOD!! HalleLUjiah!
Filling my vision as I wrenched my hand free of Momma CloudDancer’s grasp ( I mean a MAN doesn’t go around holding Momma’s HAND!!) My eyes were filled with WONDER as I beheld for the first time in my young Catholic life (oh, I’ll SUREly be going to hell after THIS) two of the most supple, firm, and naturally sun-bronzed bountiful BREASTicles I had ever SEEN!!
Now...I’m not sure exACTly how it happened. I SWEAR...I mean HONest I didn’t do NUTHin’!! But as I staggered the last two steps toward this Polynesian Goddess, this ...this VISION of South Pacific loveliness, her arms extended outward toward me holding the flower necklace out......me bug-eyed and mouth surely agape.....(ya’ catchin’ FLIES again boy???) hypnotically mesmerized by those two.... COconuts....well........SOMEhow she acciDENTly tripped it seemed and fell forward!!
Fortunately for HER, even at that age, I possessed the lightning quick reflexes that would so often in the future save my ass upon hearing some man’s voice booming “Honey....I’m HOME!! as I lay in some strange bedroom I did not recognize) AND Momma CloudDancer had already raised her young’un to be nothing if not courteous, gallant and self-sacrificing.
Ergo, giving NO thought to the personal risk involved I immediately spread my legs slightly and braced myself as I grasp her lower forearms when she grabbed mine. And I’m SURE my scrawny seven year old legs must have trembled, threatening to buckle under most of the full weight of this girl who must have been twice my own weight. But FORtunately for all concerned the laws of physics had come into play here as I, leaning somewhat forward, now supported the majority of the “load” with my upturned FACE which had SOMEhow wound up wedged earlobe deep beTWEEN those luscious lobes, mouth still agape. :P ( No Dad! A’hm NOT a’catchin’ flies THIS time!!)
Now, over the decades, yer favorite aviator extraordinaire has had many, MANY opportunities to explore similar valleys. Some, young and aglow with the vibrance of youth while some were less some. Some with the lingering scent of recently sprinkled lilac talc and some sweaty. And, of course, so many with the added attraction of a vaRIety of tasty “toppings, be it caramel, chocolate or my PERsonal all time favorite....Reddi-Whip!!
But. As long as the breathe of life remains I shall never....EVER forget that brief ACCIDENTAL encounter so long ago on the HNL tarmac. The combined scents of coconut oil, flowers and natural musk, which buried themselves so DEEPLY in my young olfactory memory banks that day.
Hmmmmmmm. You know what, loyal readers. Telling this story has FINALLY made me realize just exACTly why it is I love COCONUT MILK so much!! Maybe...just maybe this may ALSO resolve an embarrassing life-long problem as well You see.... on the very RARE occasions that my local grocery has fresh coconuts for sale in the produce section.....I get this exTREMEly RIGID........
Oh yeah. So anyway....where WUZ I????
So these guys come back to Alaska from their “fact-finding” mission to Hawaii in the late 1940's and the Territory-wide search is ON for the “official greeters” (native-type) who will welcome the hordes of soon to be (hopefully) invading tourists.
Now, far, far from ANC, way up in Pt. Hope (which by the way IS the farthest most NORTHWESTERN point of land and human habitation on the North American continent) resided a handsome young twenty-something Inuit hunter and his soon to be blushing and quite attractive bride. Their names were Chester and Mary and they toiled day-to-day in complete obscurity as life for the indigenous natives back in the forties was every bit as demandingly difficult as it had been for their ancestors centuries before. Little did they dream that they would become two of the most well known faces in North American Native history....yet..
Seems they were discovered by....oops!
Well committed CloudDancer Cronicle perusers (and I’m sure many of you SHOULD be committed ) it seems that, yet again, I find myself short on time and somewhat LONG on THIRST!! So....as one of MY favorite storytellers (Paul Harvey) likes to say...be sure and come back LATER for the REST of the Story!!
Yes, YES! Oh-KAY. I hear you already!! I.....PROmise I will finish BOTH this story as well as “A Good Day’s Work” by..... NEXT Monday.
There! Satisfied??!! I PROmised. And CloudDancer’s word has ALWAYS been his BOND!!
Now exCUSE me. My children NEED me! Well, I mean...ACTually...the kids belong to a pair of AC/DC strippers, a cocktail waitress and a bartender and NONE of them are biologically MINE!! And, to be TRUTHful, it’s actually their mothers that call me “Daddy”......