martha thomsen left the wheat fields of washington state for a high-flying life in manhattan
Yes, the face is familiar. Two years ago, when Playboy was scouting the West Coast for coeds to put in a Girls of the Pac 10 pictorial, somebody handed us a slip of paper with a name and number: Call this girl. We did and met Martha Thomsen. She agreed to pose. Fully clothed. "Long sleeves. The works. I used to be very shy." You can see the picture in our October 1978 issue. Times have changed, and so has Miss May. A year ago, Martha took a leave of absence from Washington State University and became a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. She left the shy country girl behind, in the rolling hills and wheat country of eastern Washington, and moved to New York. "The job is a learning experience," says Miss May. "I've gone through the normal first-time-in-New-York experiences. Junior flight attendants always end up rooming together in apartments 'out in the country' -- that's slang for Queens. It's a permanent party -- you're always surrounded by friends. Now I share a place in midtown Manhattan: A chrome-and-glass apartment with a green door. I think it used to be a brothel." The apartment overlooks the East River. The sun comes through a wall of windows, past some house plants, to make patterns on the wicker furniture as we drink coffee and discuss the joys of flying. "The people you work with are fantastic. Independent, ready for anything, But tell your readers that we are also human. Don't come on with a line like, 'I bet I fly as much as you do.' Don't be rude or make absurd demands. We are there for safety reasons as much as for service. Show some sympathy for the job, some appreciation of our expertise, and you'll make friends."
Martha is putting off the decision to return to school. She's having too much fun: "This city is crazy. I love to watch the acts. People on stilts at neighborhood fairs, the guys with headphones roller-skating in Central Park. New York is like a small town, except the people you see on the streets and in discos are the people you see in movies and read about. It's an open-air classroom. I may never leave." New York won't mind.
Photography by Arny Freytag