Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flying the Friendly Skies

J e s s l y n Arnold, left, and Edna MannAronson had many fond memories toshare whenmembers of the Retired United Airlines Employees Association gathered at theBright Star for lunch on Feb. 9. Herb Wilbanks, president of the newly formed Birmingham chapter, did too. In their combined decades of service, they had crossed paths with many famous people and, just as important, had strong ties to Bessemer. Herb was born in Bessemer in 1934, went to Arlington Grammar School and then to Bessemer High School until 1950 when his family moved to Birmingham. Jesslyn Arnold was born and raised in Bessemer also. She graduated from Bessemer High in 1969 and began her career with United Airlines in Chicago at the tender
age of 18. In her first interview, her future boss was worried that she was a little too young and
awfully far from home. “Don’t you think you’ll get homesick?” heasked. If she did, she kept it a secret for thenext 36 years when she took early retirementat 55 and came back to Bessemer in 2006. “I first thought I’d retire in Florida,” shesaid. “But I wasn’t really happy there. I have
cousins, aunts, uncles, friends here. So I came back home, and I have no regrets. I
love it here.” So does Edna Mann Aronson. She returned to Bessemer when she retired in
2000. “My family has lived here all their lives. I still have two brothers and a sister here.”

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