I will NEVER forget my very first time working a DC-9 -30! It will forever stay in my memory! "Why?" you ask?
Because my first DC-9 trip was with Captain Arden Roeske- better known to all of us as "Art" Roeske!
Warning! I can not tell this story without a few quotes which are "blue" words. Art Roeske certainly had a way with calling a spade a spade! Ha!
I was a bit nervous climbing aboard that DC-9, my first time working on that "bigger" airplane! There were two stewardesses on this one. A seasoned stewardess named Mary (wish I could remember her last name!) was the lead, inheriting a "green behind the ears" me. I remember her being very kind and encouraging.
One of the things we did on preparation for the flight was to put a big brown paper bag in the cockpit for the pilots. This is where they put their used paper work and any trash. I dutifully placed the bag in the cockpit, as was required.
Captain Art Roeske walked on board, gave a nod to us, walked into the cockpit, and let out a swear word!
Remember that I came from a Bible banging, Bible belt family. If my step-father ever let out a swear word, we hid. It just was seldom a part of my upbringing!
So- when Captain Roeske let out the "GD", I froze! Out of the cockpit he came, and threw the brown paper bag into the galley- where Mary and I were standing. I'm shrinking back into a corner, wondering what the heck is happening! Mary didn't seem that disturbed, but my heart was racing! Art said "No Paper Bags!!"
I have to say, Mary tried to reassure me that his bark was worse than his bite. I was close to tears! What just happened??!! Didn't I do what I was suppose to?
By the time the passengers boarded I had gotten my nerves under control. After a few stops, the pilots got out of the cockpit, I believe to get something to eat. (Back in those days, there was no such thing as crew meals, so we grabbed food where we could.)
Mary told me to take as many bags as I could and line the cockpit with them! What!!?? No! My God, was she crazy? But- she was senior to me, and telling me to do this, so I obeyed. (I was raised by a former Navy man, who taught me to respect rank, so I had applied it to the crew- silly me!)
With trembling hands I stuffed that cockpit with bags- hanging them on every knob I could find. Then I cowered in the galley- waiting for an even bigger explosion from that frightful Captain!
Up the stairs he came. I thought I was going to throw up! Into the cockpit he walked. My knees were going weak! I held my breath! And then I heard it. That wonderful belly laugh! Oh God! What a relief!
"Okay- Okay" he said. "Get the damn things out of there. You got me good!" He said this with a smile.
I believe this was a two or three day trip- because I got a chance to talk to him at some point, a real conversation! I shared with him my reaction to his language and anger over the bag situation. Art said something I never forgot!
"Little missy, you'd better Damn well toughen up, or you'll never make it in this industry! We're all blow hards, but don't mean any harm. Get rid of your halo! This isn't a God Damn church you're working at! And I'm sorry I scared you. But I swear, I cuss, and I'm not going to change!"
Looking back, Captain Art was right. I was naive, idealistic, and had a lot to learn! But I did survive the industry, though had a lot to learn about human nature along the way.
That was my first encounter with Captain Art Roeske! Over the years I flew with him from time to time. I still tip toe'd a bit around him. His language was always a bit on the "blue" side, and he indeed was a gruff son-of-a-gun, but also had a good heart.
Art did more than fly airplanes. He also drove a car transport semi-trailer. He retired in the 1980's- but continue to haul cars. I had heard he died in a traffic accident, still hauling with that semi. I've tried to find the particulars, but have been unable to locate the accident records.
What I did come across was this bit of "past history" news from Green Bay Wisconsin:
Just a note from the GreenBay
Life is truly an adventure, and a great part of that adventure is the unforgettable, and sometimes "Unusual" characters we encounter along the way!