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Best of Flashback Fridays: Southwest Cargo—The Early Years

Adventurer C
I’m always looking for inspiration when attempting to choose just the right Flashback Fridays post to repurpose as a “Best of.”  So, when I saw that there are a half-dozen anniversaries of Southwest Cargo locations this week, I knew I had found a timely topic.   Given that the small packages and envelopes that often were just brought to the ticket counter comprised a great deal of our Cargo business “back in the day,” you have to wonder if anyone envisioned the time when Southwest would become the most decorated on the planet in terms of cargo excellence.   Here’s a Flashback Brian did for our Employees in July 2011, which I have followed with a few “insights” from Southwest Employees that help to pinpoint locations and, in some cases, Employees featured in the photos. Let’s face it, air freight isn’t the flashiest of topics when it comes to commercial aviation.  Most people think of the airplanes, airports, Pilots and Flight Attendants.  These “more glamorous” aspects also gather the most photos, but freight contributes its fair share to an airline’s bottomline. I worked in Detroit Air Freight for a short time at my previous carrier, and one of the guys I worked with used to joke that he had photos of shipping boxes on his walls at home.  Fortunately, we have some early Cargo photos from Southwest’s first few years.  I am guessing these photos are from the 1970s, judging by the hairstyles, logos, uniforms, and backdrops, but I’m not sure where they were shot, or if it was the same location for all three.  Maybe some of you can provide some details. FF1 This might be the oldest photo.  Our original logo is on the wall beyond the Cargo Agent.  There’s no way to know if the hard-hat Customer is dropping off or picking up the three boxes on the counter.  From personal experience, the boxes probably contain metal parts, maybe fasteners, since each box has metal banding for shipping.  He could be shipping them from the factory, or he might be receiving them off an inbound flight to take directly to a work site; either way, it illustrates how urgent the world of Cargo is. FF2 The next photo appears to be a different cargo facility, (unless the lettering in the top photo is behind the photographer.  Small articles are in the shelves behind the “lab-coated” Agent—are they arranged for pickup or are they arranged for outbound flights?  Through the window behind the Agent, we see fencing, which probably is where large shipments were held for pickup.  The Customer’s outbound package is on the scale, and it looks like he is filling out the airbill, while the woman patiently awaits her turn. FF3 Our final photo looks like it might have been shot in a locker room with all the chain-link fencing.  (Is this the fencing/inbound shipment area seen through the window in the second photo?)  The “Hostess of the Month” poster featuring Flight Attendant C.J. Bostic to the left of the Cargo Agent appears to be an attempt to bring some “style” into this room of boxes and manifests.  Then take a look to the right of the Agent.  When is the last time you saw a rotary dial phone?  Even more, when is the last time you saw a business using a rotary phone?  The piece of paper on the bulletin board nearest the Agent is a memo drawn up on stationery using our original logo, the same logo on the back of the Agent’s jump suit.  The Consignee’s package appears to be on the desk at the far right of the photo.  Take notice that, in all three of these photos, there’s not a computer anywhere in sight. So, here are a few of the insights I promised to share: •    More than one Southwest Employee identified the bottom photo as being Houston Hobby (in the tunnel next to the bag make-up area), and the Cargo Employee was identified as Bob Kovar. •    The second-to-the last photo was identified as being Dallas Love Field, and one Employee thought that the woman in the line might have been Employee Sandy Carmen •    Employee in the top picture is thought to be Louis Salmon