Reproduced with permission from The Beacon Supplement July 27, 1977

A day in the life of a typical Gander-ite

By Jack A. White - Daily News Staff Writer

Gander Airport – Who is the typical Gander-ite?  What is his work like?  Where does he go for recreation?miller

To answer these questions the Daily News had chosen to spend a day with Mr. Jim Miller, a popular figure at the International Airport and, of course, as most Gander-ites are, directly concerned with air travel.

Jim is the Supervisor of Passenger and Cargo Services of American Overseas Airlines.  A tall, good-looking chap with an infectious grin and a personality that makes him one of the best known men in airlines offices at Gander.  Jim breakfasts early at his apartment on the American Side.  Mrs. Jim Miller, who comes from Saskatchewan and is of Icelandic descent, is up early to give Jim his morning coffee and bacon and eggs.  Then with a final “See you tonight” kiss, Jim bounds down the apartment house steps, steps into his car (most Ganderites)have a car, since the distances are so great), turns the ignition switch and is off to the Terminal.

Here, where the planes of many nations fly through, bringing the great and the near great; the homeless and the wealthy, Jim Miller begins his day.  His office, situated in the cavernous labyrinth behind the main front airline offices takes up a good deal of his time.

Jim says he estimates that of each day, five or six hours are taken up in the office with paperwork but there are many other things he must do, some of them glamorous to an outsider, all of them certainly strange.

Among the glamorous, meeting the Pandit Nehrus, the Hedy LeMarrs, the princes and potentates of the countries of the East, the great of every country in the world, who today fly.  To Jim, it is all a part of his job, to anyone but a Ganderite, it would probably be an experience to remember all their lives.

Thus, Jim Miller at the counter with a passenger agent has many things to do.  Passengers need attention, when planes hang over due to weather or some other difficulty, Jim generally sees to it that accommodation is arranged for them at the Skyways Hotel.  For short stop-overs, there is always, of course, the Big Dipper Bar, when Jim, represent ting AOA, sometimes acts as host.  Though the station manager generally handles VIP’s (to the uninitiated, Very Important Persons), Jim Miller has also in the unavoidable absence of his superior, carried through.

Another morning duty is checking the dispatcher’s room, where the course of planes across the North Atlantic is plotted.  He takes a look over their position, checks their ETA (estimated time of arrival), and naturally, knows all about such strange, cabbalistic utterances to the layman as PONR (point of no return).

A visit to Allied Aviation Services, which company now handles most of the documentation for AOA, is another “must” on his tour. 

His day also includes going out onto the ram to greet incoming planes but that is part of passenger duties which only takes up when the big airliners arrive.  Taking a trip to the commissary where all the dishes which hold the food a passenger eats in the air is another chore.

It is clear when Jim checks over the airlines eating utensils just what importance he stresses on cleanliness.  He refuses to accept any utensils not scrupulously sanitary, picks out a utensil here and there, points out a microscopic spec of dust on one, sends it back to be re-cleaned.

At 11 o’clock, he like most other airlines personnel, manages (that is, if a plane does not happen to be arriving), to take a trip to the Snack Bar, where all airlines personnel like to get a morning cup of coffee and a hamburger.  Jim generally sticks to a cup of coffee himself, gulping it down, then hurrying out to resume his duties.

Perhaps the next item on his list is a check of equipment – airmen call it a “Safety Check.”  Jim goes over all equipment and is directly responsible for this essential feature of airlines operation.

There are many other things to which Jim Miller must attend but that is, in general, an outline of his working day.  The part of the day he spends with his family, Jim employs in many ways.

He is a member of two clubs at the airport, the Elks and the Newfoundland Airport Club.  A member of the executive of the Elks, he is also one of its hardest working members and is justly proud of how they have converted their rooms in the old Recreation Hall into as fine a clubroom, although, Jim admits, “it may not be quite as large as any in the capital itself.”

Being an executive member, Jim gets called in on many a committee arranging dances or socials for the Elks.  He shoed us their clubrooms which have all been decorated and arranged by the members themselves.  So on Elks’ meeting nights that is where you’ll find Jim Miller. 

millerHe is also a member of the Newfoundland Airport Club where he goes “once in a while”.  The club has a billiards room and sometimes Jim gets in a game.  “But the club is always so popular amongst Ganderites, it’s sometimes pretty hard to get a table,” Jim admits.

As another recreation, there are two movies at Gander where Jim often escorts his wife, the dances held by various clubs and other clubs such as the BOAC “Caribou Club”, where Jim and Mrs. Miller are always welcome guests of host Harry Weekly, genial Englishman and Station Manager of BOAC.

This appeared in The Daily News December 31, 1949.  It is interesting to note that the reporter Jack A. White was later appointed to the magistracy and spent a number of years at Gander as the district magistrate.

Researched by Carol Walsh


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