Hello readers, thanks for tuning in to today’s entry in the get-to-know-us series. It’s going to be a lengthy one so grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and relax. All set? Drum roll please…introducing Mary Keto!
Mary began her career back in October of 1985. Her cousin Marge, who was also working here at the time, informed her that John was looking for some part-time help. Marge knew about Mary’s knowledge of Washington, DC because both of their sisters lived there then. (Clue: this comes in handy later!) The work schedule was perfect for Mary because it allowed her to have holidays and summers off, which is also her favorite thing about working here. It helped that the office was in close proximity to her home and her kids’ school. She adds, “We were in a little house in Mutual, in a residential area. The neighbors had no idea what we were doing in that little house. What kind of travel agency was in Mutual? What a hoot!” Back then, Mary answered the phone. After John and Alan wrote the itineraries, she called them in to the coach companies and when the prices were back, she helped type them. She says, “Everything has changed now. Then we had no computers, no fax machines, no internet, no email.” You do remember that I said we did things old-school, right? Mary’s duties have increased since then but read on for one she didn’t expect.
Remember the clue that would come in handy later? Time to learn why. There are certain dates during peak travel months that make finding a tour leader a difficult task. One such time occurred in January of 1987. An adult group from Connellsville wanted to go to DC in April to see the cherry blossoms. John said, “You know the city, why don’t you take them?” and voila, a tour leader was born! When the time came, the group got to see the cherry blossoms all right, but also five inches of snow! They still had a blast and so began Mary’s love of tour leading. Adding to her enjoyment are the wonderful teachers and students she has worked with over the years. She goes on to say, “When I have a child that has never been out of their little town tell me they want to go to college in DC or NYC, I know that I have opened up the world to them.” I asked her to name her favorite destination, but Mary enjoys tour leading to all cities. Then I asked the hardest question yet; what are your best and worst tour experiences? BEST: “…when I can write no accidents or sickness on my report. Keeping everyone safe and getting them back home safely makes me very happy.” WORST: “…of course, bus breakdowns. Once, returning home from Virginia with five buses, one kept breaking down. By the third time, the kids were fainting because of the heat in the back of the bus. The same Virginia policeman stopped all three times! He was quite angry so I told him to just stay with us until we got out of Virginia.” Plucky gal, our Mary.
I hope you enjoyed reading all about Mary. Keep checking in, as there are more contestants to come!