Looking back: Super Bowl II

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter February 5, 2022

2022 eNewsletter #5

by Tom Blake – author and columnist


pre game floats
1968 TWO FLOATS ON THE FIELD DURING PRE-GAME – a Packer and a Raider (photo by Tom Blake)
American Airlines world stewardess queens–Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin before the kickoff at Super Bowl II (photo by Tom Blake)
Patty, Jill, and George Mira (in beige turtle neck)photo by Tom Blake
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter February 5, 2022

2022 eNewsletter #5

by Tom Blake – author and columnist


As next week’s Super Bowl LVI (56) approaches, I can’t help but think back to 1968, 54 years ago. I was a regional manager of public relations for American Airlines, working at the company’s headquarters at 633 Third Avenue in New York City.

On January 10, 1968, four days before Super Bowl II, my boss, Holmes Brown, the Vice President of Public Relations, summoned me to his office. He said, “Tom, I just got off the phone with the president of American Express. He invited our two world stewardess queens, Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin, to be the guests of American Express this weekend at the Super Bowl festivities in Miami.

“I can’t allow Patty and Jill to go alone. I need an American Airlines escort to go with them to be sure they are safe and treated with respect and dignity. As the only single man in our department, I would like you to go. Will you do it?”

“Love to,” I said, trying to act cool and calm, although I couldn’t believe my ears at the opportunity. He patted me on the back and handed me five one-hundred-dollar bills, saying: “All expenses are pre-paid, however, I want you to have money in case you need to pick up a tab. I want American Airlines to always look good.”

On Friday night, Patty, Jill, and I flew from Newark Airport on Eastern Airlines to Miami. A representative from Amex picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. For the next three days, my focus was to keep them safe (and trust me, only that!). As you can see on the ticket stub shown above, the official name of the game was the “World Championship Game, AFL VS NFL” and it was held on Sunday, January 14, at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

(Shortly thereafter, Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, recommended the name retroactively be changed to “The Super Bowl,” which was quickly adopted by the two leagues. Of course, it was an incredible weekend.

I remember the three of us riding to the game on a bus chartered by American Express. I was in the back of the bus sitting next to a young kid named Mike Garrett, the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner. He was at that time a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs who years later became the athletic director of USC for 17 years. He asked me what was in the cooler on the back seat of the bus.

I said, “Chilled beer.” Garrett said, “Oh, I wanted a Coca-Cola.”Patty, Jill, and I sat on the 50-yard line in the Orange Bowl with George Mira, a former University of Miami All-American and San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

Several of Mira’s admirers stopped by to greet him; they seemed curious about Patty and Jill who looked beautiful. (See above the photo of Patty and Jill and a photo of them seated next to George Mira–I took both photos).

Things have changed since then. The 1968 ticket stub shows a cost of $12. This year, 50-yard-line seats are going for more than $10,000.

There were two portable stages wheeled onto the field before the kickoff. Each team was represented by a 15-foot player in uniform standing on a float. Each figure appeared to be spewing steam from its mouth even though the temperature was in the low 80s. (see picture above)The Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. Vince Lombardi was the Packers head coach; John Madden was the Raiders linebacker coach.

A year later, Madden became the Raiders head coach for nine years.It’s hard to believe that there have been 54 Super Bowls since that experience. I always chuckle when I watch the Super Bowl and wonder how Patty and Jill are doing.

P.S. Two months later, on March 8, 1968, Patty and Jill were featured in the People section of Time Magazine with a nice writeup and photo of them together. (See article below) 
time magazine 1968