Two years ago, while on vacation in the Adirondack Mountains, I was fortunate to interview a woman who was a passenger on the first plane Amelia Earhart took before her lost flight, the Maiden Voyage. With the new investigation into the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, I’m hoping any information will shed some light on what really happened to her. The following post is in its original form from August 2005. It’s basically an interview/diary accout of my conversation with one of the last people to see Amelia Earhart alive.
We capped off our Adirondack Mountain vacation with a great treat, which was meeting Marguerite McDonough Jersey (woman in the middle, my mom is to the right of her and yours truly to her left).
Marguerite was introduced to us by Charlotte Defilippo, who my mother and my sister met while attending church last Friday morning. Why her story is interesting? She was one of the last people to be present with Amelia Earhart before her lost flight, the Maiden Voyage in early July 1937. By the way, there are some very fascinating people who reside in the Adriondack Mountains…hidden treasures.
Marguerite did not disclose her age to me. But Charlotte guesses she’s at least 95 years old. Interestingly, Marguerite never told her story to any news agency; but was very eager and gracious to speak to my mom, my sister and myself about her encounter with Amelia Earhart. She also showed us the original news clippings. Sometimes it pays to be a known newshound or news-pain…depending on who you ask. Here’s Marguerite’s story. Please keep in mind that Marguerite was around the age of 20, while Amelia was about 40-years old at the time.
"I was on my way to teach first grade at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation located in Bismarck, North Dakota." Before boarding her flight for the Reservation, a ticket agent said to her, "You’re going to have an interesting flight. You’re the only one on the flight with another lady and it’s Amelia Earhart. It’s going to be Capt. Bates and Northwest Airways. Amelia and you will be on the flight." [This was of course a thrill for Marguerite!] "I began to get on the flight and Amelia came from the waiting room in a full length sable coat, with no makeup on, and she, of course got on the plane first."
Captain Bates, [cannot find any info. on him] was the transitional pilot taking Amelia to her destination to meet the experienced flight navigator, Fred Noonan for her trip to circumnavigate the globe.
While in flight, (to drop these two ladies at their respective destinations) Bates received messages of a terrible storm hitting Fargo and decided to land at the Fargot Airport. Bates said, "Would you ladies like to come to my home? We can stay until the weather subsides." Marguerite agreed and said, "Mrs. Bates was very nice with coffee, cookies and two little children, Amelia spoke to no one, except the children and she played with them on the floor with coins. I stayed at the Bates’ home for about 3 hours with Amelia."
After the storm subsided for Marguerite, "it was off to Bismarck and for Amelia it was off to Seattle and San Diego for this new plane she never flew before." Marguerite wished her good luck never thinking the plane would run out of gas. She also noted to me that, "Someone found a piece of her shoe. But, never found her."
This story intrigued me so much because it’s one of those "by chance" encounters that doesn’t have a proper ending. Here you have two women, going in two very different directions in their lives with pretty much the same goals…Adventure and a New Life ahead. Maybe. That’s my interpretation.
Here are more interesting quotes from my interview with Marguerite.
"I noticed most that she [Amelia] was very quiet and private. Airplanes and motors were her love. She kept talking with the captain about planes. She was a quiet person; but her mind was great with the children. You have to keep in mind, a woman wouldn’t do this in those days 1935-1937."
"I couldn’t believe when I heard what happened to her. I thought, maybe she missed that island and they will find her. Maybe they would have found her. Many years later they found a piece from her shoe. She ran out of gas I guess."
"I told everyone in the world about it. And told everyone in Standing Rock Reservation. I was going to follow her until she got to her destination."
"Amelia and Captain Bates were courteous and polite to me. But they only included me in conversations about the weather. Amelia had very reserved and quiet moments."
Looking For Amelia