Maggie Simpson knew early what she wanted to do.
“I always wanted to be a flight attendant,” she says. “Well, we weren’t flight attendants when I was working. That didn’t happen until they started hiring men. When I was working, it was all women and we were stewardesses. And we wore skirts and heels and hats and stockings. And gloves. We had glove check every day.”
Maggie, who was born in Woonsocket, RI, was one of five children. Her dad worked for the utility company while her mom cared for the family. Growing up, she knew what she wanted to do, but she also knew she couldn’t do it until she turned 21. So, after high school, she worked as an assistant buyer at a department store and saved her money so she could go to airline school at 20. When she finished in 1953, Eastern snapped her up, and there she stayed until she retired 35 years later, shortly before the airline closed.
“Oh it was a whole different world back then,” she says. “And mostly it was wonderful. I was on the go all the time and we traveled, first up and down the east coast. I remember how exciting it was when we started going to Bermuda. Then Mexico and the Virgin Islands. We did a charter flight to Vietnam once, but I didn’t get to go.”
For many years, Maggie lived as many other flight attendants did in those days: five to a two-bedroom “crash pad.”
“We were the five Ms,” Maggie laughs. “Maggie, Mildred, Myra, Maryann, and Molly.”
Maggie has lots of fond memories of her career. Served Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, and a handful of popular news commentators etc. Also, lots and lots of DuPont businessmen, who were regulars on her flights.
“At the time, there was only one stewardess on each 40-seat plane,” she explains. “We did it all. And there was a lot to do, too. Back then it wasn’t a pack of peanuts and a drink. We served full meals. Do you know we served a meal on the flight from Atlanta to Columbus? I once did a run of 11 stops in one day – and we served a meal or a beverage on every leg! It was a lot of work, but the customers were wonderful, for the most part. I got to know the regulars by name and they would actually help me clean up, help gather the trays. There were a lot of good times.”
While Maggie loved most aspects of her job and career, there were some downsides — like weight requirements, weigh-ins, and girdle checks (actual girdles, not today’s shapewear).
“I remember when the union took the airlines to court in the early 70s to prevent them from firing women for failing weigh-ins,” she recalls. “They flew me up to testify. And they won, too.”
In 1970, Maggie met a VP with that same union – and married him a year later. She moved with him to Chicago, then New York, then Miami. When he passed from cancer seven years after their marriage, she returned to Georgia and moved to Peachtree City. When she retired in 1987, she began volunteering.
Go to school. Get a good education. And be happy.
“I mentored at Huddleston and Oak Grove,” she says. “And I volunteered at the Humane Society and Clothes Less Traveled and Saint Vincent DePaul. I’m still at Saint Vincents.”
These days, Maggie spends her time as the unofficial “Mayor of Driftwood Lane.”
“When I first moved into my house, I discovered that the decorations for the neighborhood tree live in my shed,” laughs nominator Peggy Thomas. “I had some questions, of course – the shed roof needed to be fixed, for one thing – and everyone said ‘oh ask Maggie; she’s in charge here.’ And that’s how I met Maggie.”
Maggie, who was one of the neighborhood’s original homeowners in 1979, still coordinates many of the neighbors for a regular “lunch bunch,” says she has no idea how she got her title.
“Mayor,” she laughs. “I don’t know where that came from. I just enjoy people. I always have.”