Why I was trolling through
HistoryOrb.com doesn’t matter much, but there I was reading about things
that happened on November 11th through the years. I never did find what I
was looking for, but interesting things kept me reading. At least I was
Not everybody, I’m sure, cares one way or the other that on Nov. 11, 1941
the first ever Gold Record was presented to Glenn Miller for his smash hit
“Chattanooga Choo Choo;” or that on Nov. 11, 1953, President Eisenhower
refused clemency to the Rosenbergs, a couple convicted of spying; or that on
Nov. 2, 1916, a lady named Emma Goldman was arrested for lecturing about
birth control; or that on Nov. 21, 1861 Abe Lincoln started out from
Springfield, Illinois on a
train trip to Washington, D.C. to be sworn in as president.
By the way, on that train trip President-elect Lincoln stopped in Utica,
N.Y. and gave a speech, a very short speech, from the back of his railroad
car, this right after a disagreement with his wife about what coat he would
He wanted the old, ratty, comfortable one. She wanted the new, fashionable
one. I’ll let you guess which coat he wore.
In any event, I’m reading down this long list of things that happened on
Nov. 11th over the years and came across this: “Ruth Carol Taylor is first
African-American woman hired as flight attendant.” This was in 1958.
As a self-appointed and completely unofficial historian for Mohawk Airlines,
this caught my attention. Although HistoryOrb.com doesn’t mention it, Ruth
Carol Taylor achieved this distinction by being hired by Mohawk Airlines,
once based at the old Oneida County Airport in Oriskany.
A couple of points:
1. The date of her hiring is in conflict. HistoryOrb.com says 11-2-58. But
in other places I’ve seen the date as 2-11-58. Someone has transposed the
day and month. Nobody disagrees that the year was 1958, though. More about
dates in a second.
2. That Mohawk Airlines was the first airline in the United States to hire a
woman of color as a stewardess won’t surprise anyone who knows the history
of Mohawk, a history that includes many firsts.
3. HistoryOrb.com refers to Ruth Carol Taylor as a flight attendant. In
1958, nobody was called a flight attendant. They were called stewardesses,
stews for short. Don’t use that term today, though. Flight attendants want
to be referred to as flight attendants.
Some other information I know about Ruth Carol Taylor: She was hired by
Mohawk when she was 26 and lived in Manhattan. She was born in Boston,
attended Elmira College and graduated as a registered nurse from Bellevue
School of Nursing. (Many stews in the early days were nurses.) Ruth Carol
Taylor worked for the New York City Transit Authority before going to work
for Mohawk, an event that generated national publicity because of her color.
By the way, although there is confusion about dates, of this I am sure: it
was Feb. 11, 1958, when Ruth Carol Taylor and Mohawk Airlines made history.
That is the date she boarded a flight from Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca
and took charge of passenger safety and comfort on a Mohawk flight to New
Joe Kelly is the editor and publisher of The Boonville Herald & Adirondack Tourist and