Seeing yourself in the mirror by accident can sometimes give you a shock, but just imagine seeing yourself from 70 years ago in a busy airport. This is what happened to 94-year-old Gwendolyn Bruhn, a former flight attendant. Bruhn was recently traveling with her family from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii, when she spotted herself as part of a group photo of airline hostesses from 1947.

It’s interesting to see what the girls were wearing then: a crisp yellow button-up shirt, long skirts, spectator pumps, and flowers in their hair. This was a much different time and seeing herself unexpectedly on the wall brought back a lot of memories for Bruhn. She’s pictured in the top right of the photo above.

At the time being a flight attendant was a much different job. The airline was in the business of getting passengers to the various islands of Hawaii, a feat which previously would have only been accomplished by boat. The island-hopping airline later became known for taking passengers to and from the mainland on bigger, longer, and more involved flights.

According to CNN Bruhn got the job after learning the airline was hiring from a friend who worked there. She said in an interview, “At that time they wore beautiful gray uniforms and yellow blouses, and they were very striking, and I’d admired them from afar, not knowing that someday I was going to be lucky to be wearing that same uniform…”

Inter-Island Airways plane from just before the company became known as Hawaiian Airlines. Via: SDASM Archives/Flickr

Bruhn also recalled the interview process for the job in which she was asked if she’d ever flown before and whether she had gotten sick from it. She decided to fib and tell them she had flown when in fact she’d never set foot on an airplane before.

While she did get the job, she also had to fight with air sickness and nausea her first few flights. Back then the rides were not as smooth! And the planes were quite small, unlike the big jets they use today. In fact, she would often be the only flight attendant aboard, meaning she had to handle everything from people sneaking liquor on board to passengers who got nauseous or ill.

But, she enjoyed the work and getting to meet people from all over the world during her flights and to represent Hawaii (which at the time was not yet a state) to the world. This meant maintaining a certain weight, a rule all airlines had at the time to keep flight attendants looking “trim” as Bruhn put it.

airline stewardess 1940s
A flight attendant of the era in action. Via: SDASM Archives/Flickr

She grew to love flying and even dreamed of becoming a pilot before she met her husband, William Carl Bruhn II, and ended her career in order to raise a family. In those days flight attendants were almost always expected to be single without kids. Like many other professions it was usually expected that if you got married and had kids you would leave your job, with some companies even stating in their rules that married women or mothers couldn’t work for them.

The couple had 4 kids and were married for 62 years before he passed away in 2012. Today she has 11 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren! Some of her family even went on to work for Hawaiian Airlines as well. Bruhn said, “I’m glad that I had my time with Hawaiian Airlines…I never will forget how lucky I was to have all these memories to sit down with.”

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