Anthony Toth is so obsessed with perfectly recreating a vintage Pan Am first-class cabin in his garage that he once traveled to Thailand for—wait for it—original Pan Am branded headphones. And his obsession goes much deeper than that.
Anthony began his obsession with Pan Am as a child, when he and his parents frequently flew to Europe to visit family. Pan Am's service seems decadent and almost silly today, when Southwest and JetBlue achieve success with a budget mentality, but to Anthony, Pan Am was the epitome of class and style.
Pan Am was once synonymous with international jet-setting, with upper-deck dining rooms and flight attendants decked out in crisp blue uniforms, high heels and white gloves. First-class travelers were served out of silver-plated martini pitchers. A parade of linen-covered food carts made its way down the aisle at dinnertime.
Anthony saved things like the cardboard linings on food trays and recorded his trips with multiple rolls of film and extensive tape recordings of the radio selection on board. "This consumed my world," said Tosh. As an adult, he works for United Airlines, and two years ago bought a home with an oversized garage in which he could build a faithful replica of Pan Am's first-class cabin. The project has taken him, in total, 20 years.
Construction required multiple visits out to a spot in Death Valley where airplane carcasses are dumped, but the details of his project are unnervingly precise: The replica isn't open to the public, but if you visit (Tosh hosts executive meetings sometimes, appropriately enough), you'll be offered drink service and given a perfectly-crafted souvenir boarding pass designed to match those used by the airline in the late '70s and early '80s. He's got authentic Pan Am swizzle sticks and glasses. The overhead compartments are original Pan Am construction. Hell, he's even got sealed packages of salted almonds (we have no evidence regarding the taste of 30-year-old almonds, but they're probably not for eating anyway).
The one concession he's made to the modern age? A flat-screen TV in place of the old-school projection Pan Am used. Everything else (save the stewardesses) is either original Pan Am or a custom-made replica. He's hoping to open his obsessive ode to Pan Am as a museum, but he seems perfectly content to just hang out in first class. [WSJ, images also WSJ]