November 28, 2011 12:00 PM

White gloves. Linen napkins at 30,000 ft. Hotel dinners with the President and his staff. In 1963 Norwegian Kari-Mette Pigmans was 22 and a Pan Am stewardess-as they were called then-on John F. Kennedy’s press charter. “It was very glamorous,” she says. “He liked people around him,” recalls Pigmans, who says they were never romantic-but recalls JFK asking her how to say “I am a Berliner” before he flubbed the line in Germany. The morning of Nov. 22, her plane arrived in Dallas ahead of the President and First Lady’s. “It was a happy day; he looked so vivacious.” Later, during lunch, the crew was suddenly called back. “We were in absolute shock,” recalls Pigmans, 71, who retired after Sept. 11, 2001. “[His] coffin was forklifted into the plane.” The return flight was silent. “We witnessed history-it was quite unbelievable to be so close to it.”

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