Now that The Playboy Club has gone to that great after-hours nightclub in the sky, while Don Draper and the rest of his Mad Men won't be back until March, we have to rely on ABC's Pan Am to provide us with weekly lessons in 1960s history. Last night's episode proved to be an especially relevant one, as it took place during JFK's famous 1963 trip to Berlin, where he delivered his iconic "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. But we already covered that in our high school history class. Here's what we didn't know, but do now, thanks to the show:
In the '60s, the best place for a spy meeting was the 1 train
And here we thought it was the invention of cell phones that encouraged people to New York's public transit system for their private business! According to Pan Am, CIA handlers made a point of meeting their novice undercover couriers on the MTA's South Ferry line. Sure, Kate's exchange with the fedora-sporting agent sounded innocuous enough, but c'mon... it's like they were begging to be overheard by some overly curious commuter. (Actually, as veterans of the NYC subways, the fact that their fellow passengers completely ignored them rang very true.)
In the '60s, the Village Voice was considered a big enough outlet to be flown to Berlin on a charter flight as part of the press corps.
Though its stature has diminished in recent years, the Voice is absolutely a New York institution with a storied history of breaking big stories the political elite didn't want you to read. Still, we wonder if the Pan Am writers took some historical liberties here; launched in 1955, the Voice kept its focus strictly local for the first few years of existence and struggled to turn a profit up until 1962. While it's possible they would have been invited on the junket to witness the president's speech, for the record, a quick Google search doesn't turn up a copy of a Voice dispatch from Berlin and Mike Ruskin is almost certainly an invention. Most likely, they were on the plane to remind us that Maggie is hip to the changing times and coming counter-culture.
In the '60s, all you had to do to crash a presidential soiree at a U.S. Embassy on foreign soil was to show up dressed as a Pan Am stewardess
Who needs a printed invitation when you're clad in that royal blue uniform? Not only did their outfits get them past the front gate, the gals were waved through by the bouncer as well... after their pilot pal Dean vouched for them, natch.
In the '60s, people still watched Casablanca an awful lot
The scene where Colette sings the German national anthem in front of a roomful of West Germany's upper crust is an obvious reference to the famous moment in the 1943 classic when Paul Henreid bravely sings the French anthem "La Marseillaise" in a bar filled with Nazi soldiers. Only in this case, her act of defiance is meant to be more sad than inspiring, especially since nobody else joins in and sings along. Still, Humphrey Bogart would no doubt have appreciated the hat-tip.
In the '60s, a box of Cuban cigars could nab you a wave from JFK
These days, if a strange woman runs up to a secret service officer and hands him a box of "cigars" accompanied by a long, rambling story about how much she wants to meet the president and almost did one time but missed her chance due to a two-minute bathroom break, that lady will likely be taken aside and subjected to some severe questioning. But back then, the secret service apparently took such encounters in stride, not even bothering to open the mysterious box before passing it along to the commander-in-chief. But it was nice to see that JFK was enough of a gentleman to wave at the potentially crazy lady that brought him his favorite kind of cigar -- Cubans, of course.
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