Friday, March 16, 2007

Coffee, Tea or Me? by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones

Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses is a reprint of the 30-year-old memoir of two stewardesses(now known, of course, as flight attendants). The book was actually ghost-written by a fellow named Donald Bain; he must have had a great time listening to those two ladies.

The tales are told first-person, through the eyes of Trudy Baker. "Trudy Baker" and "Rachel Jones" are pseudonyms and the airline they worked for is not mentioned by name. In fact, I searched online and couldn't find any information, whatsoever, about their true identities. I'd have thought the two would have been unmasked, by now. Interesting.

Trudy and Rachel's tale begins with a little background: Trudy's desire to see the world and escape from her small-town Texas life followed by a similar but shorter bit about Rachel. Trudy and Rachel were roommates at stewardess training school and became fast friends practically from the moment they met. In spite of their reputation as trouble-makers, they also managed to end up flying together once their training ended.

Originally printed in 1967, the book now serves as an excellent lesson in social change. Anyone remember the concept of "swinging"? Think "nice word for sleeping around". How about dressing nicely to travel? Remember a time when all flight attendantss were pretty and unfailingly friendly? If you can remember the days when flight attendants never frowned, you're really old. Sorry. Kidding, kidding, just kidding. At least, I think I am. It's certainly true that American women would not tolerate the kind of restrictions Trudy and Rachel experienced. "Call a woman too fat to employ in 2007 and they'll sue the pants off you," is the thought that crossed my mind as I read about Rachel doing calisthenics in a hotel room.

Trudy and Rachel's story simply could not occur, in our day; and, that's what makes it so fascinating. When they became stewardesses (or "stews"), women were hired for their looks and even a pound or two of weight gain was grounds for suspension. They had to be single and pregnancy was verboten. Training packets contained cosmetics, certain men known as "stew bums" went out of their way to hang out with stewardesses, troublesome passengers were the exception and air rage didn't exist. The book is not overly graphic or detailed about their exploits, but it was pretty racy at the time of its release; and, even now, it's a little strange to read about the drunken parties and the litany of lovers from a variety of countries and professions.

Coffee, Tea or Me? is an enjoyable and entertaining memoir--not a work of literature, by any means, but definitely worth reading if only for the glimpse into the past. There was never a point at which I laughed out loud, but I did smile at some of their antics.


Coming up: Kid goes back to school; husband returns to work. Oh, wow, I cannot tell you how anxious I am for Monday. This week was Spring Break for the kiddo and hubby took off all but one day. Kiddo got his learner's permit after eight failed attempts to gather all the correct papers and arrive at the driver's license bureau at the proper time; and, hubby bustled around the house, mostly removing doors from their hinges (???why???) and threatening to paint them. He managed to paint one side of the front door and I've been advised that, "You have to push it a little." I must have given him a really funny look because he defended the door. "It's not the door, it's the weather stripping," says he.

And, of course, there was that deal with our beloved kitty cat. Sunshine is looking perkier every day. Actually, she's looking a little expensive, also. Sunshine asked me to pass a kiss along to everyone who sent good wishes. And, of course, I said, "Gross, I'm not going to lick all those people." Yes, I'm joking, again. She'd give all of you a love rub, if you dropped by, though.

We took a drive up to Oxford, MS to see Faulkner's home - up Friday night and back on Saturday (just in time to pill the cat - what fun!). Thanks to Andi for the excuse. Now, I've got to sit down and write up an article about Oxford's bookish atmosphere for Estella's Revenge. Okay, I wrote it down so I can't get out of it. Someone kick me if I don't sit down the moment the guys leave the house.

Also coming up: Thinking Blogger post. Not that I've had time to think about who to nominate, with my husband going around unhinging the house. I haven't forgotten, though, that it's my turn to nominate.

Remind me to take a photo of: the treasures I've acquired during the past couple of weeks. I had a little too much fun with the gift cards, I'm afraid.

Gotta quit because: I'm getting glared at and the spouse claims it's his turn on the computer. What he doesn't realize is that I must grant him a turn. Silly man. Guess I'll go read.

Bookfool in search of a 48-hour clock.


  1. I read this one in High School and LOVED it! Wow, you've brought back some memories for me *laughs* Tell Sunshine I'm so very happy life is good again *rubs his silky ears and tells him what a GOOD kitty he is*

  2. Wendy,

    I don't know about you, but I particularly like the psychedelic lettering on the cover. It looks so Sixties. LOL

    Sunshine is looking so happy, today. It must be the virtual ear rub and being told she's a good kitty (that always does the trick). :)

  3. Yayyy! Looking sooo very forward to your piece for the April Estella.

    I've often heard of Coffee, Tea or Me, but I didn't realize it has been out that long. I'll have to give it a look. It sounds velly velly interesting.

  4. Andi,

    Thanks for the excuse to tour Rowan Oak. We had a blast. :)

    Coffee, Tea or Me? is a fun book - nice and light. It was a pleasant change after a couple of war novels!

  5. You know, I remember my Aunt Peggy having this book on her shelf way back when. Even before I had a CLUE what it meant, I thought it was a cute title!! I never did read it though!

    One for the list....great review!

  6. Stephanie,

    Aunt Peggy probably would have barred the way if you'd tried to read it as a child. LOL Seriously, I don't know if I'd heard of the book or just heard the phrase but it's a fun book. Hope you enjoy it, when you get around to reading!

  7. Anonymous6:37 PM

    Oh wow, I haven't thought of that book in ages. It was one of the racy books I wasn't allowed to read, so of course I had to!

    Hi, Sunshine! [scratches her chin]. Now be good and stay well.

  8. Oh, my gosh! I haven't seen this book since I was in Junior High and would sneak it off my parents' bookshelf when they went out because it's"dirty book!" I had no idea it was still out and about! Now I'll have to get my own copy. It was great fun having you bring it up again.

  9. Carrie,

    You sneaky devil. I can just see you tiptoeing to the bookshelf, hiding the book in the folds of your jammies and then reading in your beanbag. LOL Did you have a beanbag?

    Sunshine says purrrrr, thanks for the rub!

  10. Bellezza,

    LOL! It's not as dirty as everyone thought it was in the 60's! Apparently this is a book that stirs up some memories! It's a reprint, so you can easily find yourself a nice, fresh copy. Mine was remaindered; I bought it at our outlet bookstore just before they went out of business (sob). You might want to try somewhere like Bookcloseouts, unless you tend to get in trouble if you go there (ask me if I know what I'm talking about).

  11. So glad Sunshine is feeling better. Give her an extra pet from me and Bailey!
    Oh, and don't forget to take that picture! ;P

  12. Hi Nat!

    Thanks. Sunshine still seems to be in some pain, but her awareness level is dramatically better. I'll give her that extra hug and rub; she's been enjoying all the extra cuddles. :)

    Oh, yes, the picture. Gotta get to that. I can't believe how little I'm accomplishing, so far, this week. I've got to get in gear!!!

  13. Anonymous10:44 PM

    At first I thought the book was a new one of those co-written chick lit novels (like The Nanny Diaries), until I read the post. Sounds like quite a time capsule of a book.

    I remember dressing up to go on a plane - does that make me old?

    And glad to hear Sunshine is on the mend!

  14. Lesley,

    Thanks from Sunshine. I'm still worried about her, but at least she doesn't look like she's too sleepy to lift her head - that's something. :)

    "Time capsule of a book" is an apt description. I really enjoyed that glimpse into a past that wasn't *that* long ago, obviously, or I wouldn't remember it. Right? No, no, we're not old.

  15. Anonymous12:03 AM

    FYI The real author is a guy named Donald Bain. He wrote Coffee, Tea, etc as a PR stunt for an airline and got some help from two stews. One girl did change her name to be "Rachel Jones" to capitalize on her fame, but neither wrote the book and they were only used because they had great voices and bodies to go with the myth.

  16. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Coffee, Tea or Me? is among my favorites...I've even bought their other books (they wrote three more) and their books are part of my permanent collection. Their other books are: "The Coffee Tea Or Me Girls Lay It On The Line", "The Coffee Tea Or Me Girls' 'Round The World Diary" and "The Coffee Tea Or Me Girls Get Away From It All." As you've said, they write about a time (and a type of society) which doesn't really exist anymore, but is still fun to read regardless. I recommend all of their books. I keep hoping to read a "What Are They Doing Now" article one of these days, because I do wonder how they handled the 80s, 90s and this decade.

  17. Coffee, Tea or Me? by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones
    Je viens de découvrir ce livre et je trouve que vous en faite un excellent résumer.

    Merci...thank you.

    jean B.


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