Thursday, January 29, 2015

Airline "Camelot"

In Memory of our Dear Friend, Pam Hart Cole
Requiem Sempiternam

If ever there were a family inextricably linked with Continental Airlines, it was the Hart family. 

Jess Hart was one of Continental's earliest pilots and a personal favorite of airline founder Robert F. Six. Jess was Pam's grandfather.

Jess's son, Pam's father, Bill, grew up in aviation and, predictably, followed in his dad's footsteps and flew as a pilot for Continental. It was there that he met a lovely young hostess, named LaRue Johnson, who is Pam's mom. LaRue is soon to celebrate a birthday at her home in Kansas. She's well into her 90s, I believe.

In a way, in many ways, the Hart family was our "Camelot".  They became part of the company lore.  They epitomized the sheer beauty and glamour of aviation in its heyday.

Pam Hart was born to be a Continental Hostess, Stewardess, Flight Attendant and, as the job evolved, she was each to the "Nth" degree! I say "was" because we lost our beautiful, funny, loving friend a few Februarys ago to cancer. Even today, it seems unbelievable. How could something like cancer happen to Pam?

Earlier today, in social media, I posted a thread containing the pictures of Brandie W. (wearing her original 1969 Continental winter uniform for her retirement trip), Carole H. and Pam. I did so from a memory. When Pam was convalescing at MD Anderson and it was becoming clearer just how hopeless her fight would be, Philip and I drove down to visit and bring flowers or cookies or something. When we knocked and opened the door to Pam's room, there she sat in bed, with her knees drawn up, smiling, laughing, "holding court" with a room full of friends. It might as well have been a debriefing on a layover. But it wasn't. Above all, Pam was the hostess and lady. She knew how to entertain and to enthrall her guests, regardless of circumstance.

Among the gathered friends in her hospital room that day were Brandie and Carole. They were with Pam at the beginning in 1969. They were with her all along her airline journey, they were with her that day in the hospital and, from what I'm told, they never left her side. Along with a more recent but no less loyal friend, Linda B. (retired F/A and Registered Nurse), they pulled in close around Pam to protect, care for and love her any way they could, right until the very end. It was awe-inspiring and heart-breaking at the same time.

It strikes me as highly ironic that at about the same time that the last vestige of our Camelot ceased to be, so did our beloved Continental.  Life imitates Art imitates life.

"Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known

As Camelot"

Brandie W and Carole H flank Inflight Base Director Diane C who holds the obituary announcement of our friend, Pam on Brandie and Carole's Retirement Day (what very likely would have been Pam's Retirement Day, too).  Brandie is wearing her original 1960s era Continental Airlines winter uniform, the same uniform Pam is wearing in the photo below.

I'd say that 1969 was a very good year for Flight Attendants!

In this photo, Pam wears the "SST" wings.  Continental Airlines was the launch customer for the Boeing SST which was conceived to compete with BAC's Concorde.  The program was subsequently cancelled.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to Pam Hart and her family. Thoughtfully and beautifully written! Thank you, Mr. Reese.

    1. Oops.....Reese is the peanut butter cup. Reece is the Tony cup I meant.

    2. To remember is a special duty that falls to all of us who've been so blessed with special ones in our lives. So many stories. So little time.


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