Nine Rubies

Excerpted from “The Pan Am Journey” by Thomas Kewin

In 1949 a wealthy Indian gentleman went to Mayo Clinic for treatment.  After a few months there he was discharged, and told to go home, as they had done all they could for him.  In his weakened condition, he asked Pan Am if they could provide a traveling companion to help him through the long DC4 journey back to Calcutta.  Hope agreed to the assignment.

She sat next to him all the way to Calcutta.  Because of his frail condition it was necessary to overnight where possible so she helped him on and off the airplane, and in and out of taxis and hotels.  It required a week of travel to get him home, but she took care of his dietary needs on and off the airplane, and talked to him all the way.  By the time she delivered him to his waiting family, he thought she was the most wonderful person in the world.  Of course, he had to pay Pan Am for her round trip ticket.

A few months later, when she arrived for a trip, I met Hope at the airport to drive her to her apartment on Sacramento Street in San Francisco.  While I waited in my car she stopped at the Flight Service Office to pick up her mail and turn in some reports.  The secretary gave her a small package, and said that an Indian gentleman had stopped in a few days earlier to leave it for “Miss Hope”.  He said his father had recently died, and had asked that the next member of his family passing through San Francisco carry the package to the Pan Am office.

Hope opened the package when she got to my car, and found nine matched rubies, packed in a layer of cotton.  In San Francisco we stopped on Sutter Street to see a friend of mine, who was a wholesale jeweler.  He was stunned, and said they were very valuable.  The next day Hope took them back to the airport and turned them over to her boss, because employees were not allowed to accept any kind of gratuity, especially one of such  value.  A few months later Roy gave them back to her because the company could find no way of locating the donor.  She eased her conscience by having my jeweler friend mount them on a platinum cross , which Hope gave to her god-daughter.

Hope Parkinson Image provided by Thomas Kewin


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