In September 1970 Jocelyne Nowaski was working as chief flight attendant on a Pan American World Airways flight from Paris to New York when her life changed forever.In her two years at Pan Am the 23-year-old had made friends across the globe, served celebrities including Beatle Ringo Starr and featured with her coworkers in the pages of Paris Match magazine.
Intercultural community is at the heart of sustaining Japanese traditionsIntercultural exchanges are sustaining traditional Japanese culture in a period of increasing globalizationPan Am layovers were spent exploring Morocco, on safaris in Nairobi, galloping on horseback on the beaches of Barbados, swimming in Liberia, and browsing the jewelry stalls of Beirut.As she recalls it, her career happened almost by accident. Jocelyne had majored in biology at New York City’s College of Mount St. Vincent, intending to become a doctor.But right before graduation, a friend knocked on her dorm room and told her the luxury airline was interviewing for flight crew at its famous Manhattan skyscraper.
Her friend insisted they should both try out, for a laugh.”Why not?” agreed Jocelyne. She found herself recalling the glossy commercials: “Your Pan Am stewardess knows her way around the world like you know your way around the block.”To become a Pan Am flight attendant, candidates needed a college degree, and to speak a second language. Jocelyne’s mother was French-Canadian, so she ticked both boxes.She was hired — her friend wasn’t — and within weeks of graduating, followed by rigorous training, Jocelyne was working her first trip aboard a Boeing 727 to Nassau, in the Bahamas.
Jocelyne never became a doctor and never looked back.”It was the best job,” she tells CNN Travel today. “It wasn’t a job; it was a labor of love.”In September 1970, love was the last thing on Jocelyne’s mind. She’d ended a relationship with a pilot six months previously, and she was having a blast exploring the world with her girlfriends. Her focus was on her career.That fall, increased worries about airplane hijackings following the events of September 6, 1970 led to plans for a formalized air security program.In the interim, fire-arm qualified individuals from organizations like the CIA and FBI were seconded and assigned onto flights.
Traveling back to JFK from Paris in mid-September, Jocelyne recalls she and her crew were told that two security officers would be joining them: one in economy and one in first class.Jocelyne in her uniform, including her gold wings.Courtesy Jocelyne HardingJocelyne was heading up the economy cabin as purser, and they were readying for takeoff. All the passengers had boarded the Boeing 707, a narrow-body airliner used by Pan Am from 1958.But the security officers were late, much to Jocelyne’s annoyance. She rolled her eyes even harder when she learned it was because they’d been buying Parisian scarves to impress girls back home.
Finally arriving on board, the economy cabin security officer introduced himself. His name was Tyler Harding, smartly dressed in a suit and tie, a tan overcoat over one arm.Right away, Jocelyne recalls, she was struck by his charm and good looks, but she wasn’t interested in a relationship and didn’t think he was seriously interested in her.”I was working with some Swedish girls and the Swedish girls were absolutely stunning,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t even think of competing against them.”Tyler took his seat on the second to back row and the aircraft took off, bidding the Paris lights goodbye and setting off across the Atlantic Ocean.
Air marshals are supposed to blend in, so Jocelyne served Tyler as she would any other passenger, but unlike every other passenger he tried to strike up a conversation every time she came over.”He was very flirty,” Jocelyne recalls. “I was not, because I thought: ‘Oh, he’s just doing this because he wants to talk to my colleagues.'”This suspicion — plus the scarves — made her wary. She kept her tone terse, even teasing him about his drink choice. “He was very pleasant, in spite of my being snarky,” she says.As the aircraft started cruising over the ocean, Jocelyne and her coworkers began their dinner service.
Tyler continued to engage her in conversation whenever she walked by.Jocelyne and her Pan Am coworkers enjoyed their layovers in destinations across the world. Here they are on a safari in Nairobi.Courtesy Jocelyne HardingAfter she’d served the food, Jocelyne did her usual overview of the cabin. While walking down the aisles she glanced at Tyler. He wasn’t looking at her at that moment. But she felt herself stop in her tracks, struck suddenly with a thought: “I wonder what it’ll be like to be married to him?”She recalls quickly shaking herself out of it. “What are you thinking? You don’t even know this man.
“But Jocelyne couldn’t explain it, even to herself. In that moment she’d been struck by this strange certainty that a future with Tyler was not only likely, but inevitable.Sometime later, she was sitting up top of the plane on the jump seat, when Tyler sat down next to her. At which point he asked her out.”I don’t date passengers,” she said. “And you’re probably married anyway.”Tyler pointed out he wasn’t exactly a passenger, and when Jocelyne still looked unimpressed, he fished out his passport, which back then listed dependents — or in his case, absence of them.
He was 29, the black print said, and a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.Jocelyne was relieved, but still wary about dating someone she barely knew. Apparently sensing this, Tyler relented and returned to his seat.As the airplane approached Long Island, edging closer to New York City, it was time for Jocelyne to do the last drinks service, carrying a teapot in one hand and a coffee pot in the other.She got to Tyler, who requested coffee.”And as I’m pouring the coffee in his cup, he looked up at me with those amazing blue eyes,” recalls Jocelyne. “Naturally, I poured the coffee into his cup.
Unfortunately, at the same time I poured tea into his lap.”Mortified, Jocelyne grabbed cloth napkins from the back of the plane and handed them to him.Tyler told her not to worry, but was laughing. “Now you have to go out with me,” he said.Blushing, Jocelyne dodged the question and went to confide in her friend Mala, who was the purser in first class.“As I’m pouring the coffee in his cup, he looked up at me with those amazing blue eyes. Naturally, I poured the coffee into his cup. Unfortunately, at the same time I poured tea into his lap”Jocelyne HardingMala suggested they invite both the flight’s security officers to a crew party she was planning at her Queens apartment after they landed.Jocelyne agreed and returned to economy to tell Tyler and hurriedly pass on the address before making preparations for final descent.After landing, she couldn’t spot him amid the crowd, and felt disappointed as she traveled from JFK to Mala’s home. He was nowhere to be seen as the party got into full swing. Then the doorbell rang.It was Tyler, with his fellow security officer in tow.”It took my breath away. It really did,” says Jocelyne.
Right away, the pair went to the kitchen and started chatting over cocktails.”I was leaning against Mala’s range with my back to the ring. He was standing in front of me and we must have talked for about three hours.”The pair discussed their childhoods — hers in New York and his in California — their families, dreams, travels, careers.The only thing off the table was the true nature of his job — Tyler couldn’t reveal he worked for the CIA. She found that out later.Tyler and Jocelyne ignored the hubbub of the party around them, chatting incessantly.”At the end of the evening, he looked at me, and he said: ‘Will you marry me?'”Her answer, she says, slipped out instinctively, in a moment of clarity and assurance. “I said, ‘Yes.'”
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