C.B. “Pat” Patterini (by his widow Frances Treiber Patterini)



Beginning with his employment with the Port Authority of New York in 1947 (that was the name then!) until his retirement in 1981, C.B. Pat Pattarini experienced Modern Aviation's "story." Pat began as a Jr. Engineer in the Engineering Department, John Kyle Chief Engineer, which soon spun off into the new Aviation Department, which then included LaGuardia Airport and Newark, NJ Airport.

At the end of WWII, there was increased activity in overseas travel. Steamships had been the only transportation to Europe and beyond. They were the Rulers of the Seas in luxurious fashion for many decades. But shorter traveling time was needed by businessmen who were "rebuilding the world." Post-War, planes that had been gigantic bombers were being transfigured as passenger planes which could cross the Atlantic with fuel stops in Newfoundland and Shannon, Ireland. LaGuardia did not have long enough runways for those big planes, and, being surrounded by water, the existing runways could not be extended. So Idlewild Golf Course on the southern shores of Queens was made into New York International Airport with Quonset huts for a Terminal.

It was very crowded, with passengers and all those welcoming them very uncomfortable. The Engineering Department-then Aviation Department had to make it work while at the same time they created the concept and design which developed into a bigger/better New York International Airport, nicknamed Idlewild. At its grand dedication in 1957, Austin Tobin was Executive Director. Matt Lukens was Deputy Executive Director. John Kyle was Director of Engineering, The Director of Aviation was Mr. Koch, then John Wylie.

The PA’s Public Relations Director was Lee Jaffe, who always carried a tiny dog in her arms and strong-armed the press as she saw fit. It was a front-page story around the world. And news media carried stories daily, with photos of who was catching a plane or just arriving from European or South American shores. It became quite sensational, with Hollywood stars taking the spotlight. This newest of the PA’s facilities became the prototype of Post-WWII modern airports and welcomed “visiting firemen” from around the world, to inspect and go home with ideas for “one of their own.” Visitors includes the British Queen Mother (who was even given a coveted private tour of the tower by the FAA chief). Other British royalty includes Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon and Prince Phillip with his daughter Princess Anne.

Administration of this gigantic airport was restructured and Pat become its first General Manager with four Managers: Don Foley (Avionics), Morris Sloan (Terminals and Roads), and two others for finance and public relations. Following the assassination of the President in 1963, the powers that be in New York City willed that the airport be renamed to memorialize John F. Kennedy.

Roman Catholics who worked at the airport had convinced the Port Authority that they needed a place to worship close by and their red-brick “Lady of the Skies” Chapel early on found a place next to the Quonset huts, so when the new, modern airport was designed, there was a central place for that chapel as well as a Jewish synagogue and a Protestant chapel. The three chapels faced lagoons with the centerpiece being a huge fountain dancing with colored lights. The inspiration for the water extravaganza had been found when John Wiley and Tom Sullivan of the Aviation department were sent to Versailles in Paris to inspect its foundations. From the central area of fountains, lagoons and chapels there was a gradually elevated half-circle walkway leading over to the main roadway into a second-floor main atrium to the International Arrivals Building – the IAB.

It had been in the mind of the designers to build such a magnificent airport that the people of New York would want to spend time drinking it all in. So, on the passengers’ gate side of the huge terminal there were outdoor balconies on the second level, for the visitors to watch the planes take off, land, and taxi into the gate area.

(in the Sixties, this balcony was jammed with fans screaming for the Beatles, causing injuries and mayhem for the management!).

Behind the outdoor balcony were floor-to-ceiling windows where, in this part of the IAB, was a four-star restaurant named, “The Golden Door.” Tony Narden was its maître d’. It was so named, borrowing from the last line of Emma Lazarus’s Statue of Liberty poem, which was repeated in the Grand Lobby of the IAB. It was engraved on the back of the staircase, a place where arriving passengers would see it first, after they cleared immigration and Customs.

Hanging from the high-domed ceiling of the IAB was a huge, colorful, ever-so-slowly twisting Alexander Calder mobile. Flags from all the nations circled above the balcony where church choirs and other musical groups were invited to provide music welcoming the arrivals during the Christmas season. At that time a gigantic wreath hung in the half-circle, 3-4 story window, with a Menorah nearby. This original central design was inspired by the very early Newark Airport’s Newarker Restaurant which, over the years had been renowned as a favorite place for neighbors to gather. But post-war aviation swiftly grew to be so huge that, in time, all the central attraction of “Terminal City” was removed so that flyers could have that space for parking. Airports were not for lounging, but to get in and out of.



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