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Our First Anniversary, A Look Back

Aviator C

As most of you know, last week, we celebrated our 38th Birthday on June 18.  We had several big public and Employee events, starting with our annual Awards Banquet, to celebrate this milestone, and in a post later today, we will show you this year's Birthday Bash.  There is no question that we currently are in a very difficult time for our industry.  However, for our Original Employees, our first year of operation could easily have been categorized by perilous or dire.  On just about any day of that first year, Southwest faced the danger of closing up for good. 

Of all our birthdays, reaching age one was probably the most pivotal.  For the majority of us who weren't there, up until now, we only have had our Employees’ recollections of the Company’s first birthday.  Now, we have visual proof of the joy on the faces of our Original Employees at “turning one.”  This is (and was) Southwest Airlines, after all, so they celebrated with a picnic and a party with entertainment provided by Employees.  In our archives, we uncovered 37-year old negatives of these events.  The negatives are dated June 19, 1972, so maybe they waited one extra day for birthday celebrations just to make sure we completed a full year of operation.  Here are some of those glimpses into the earliest days of Southwest Airlines.


Evidently, the picnic was held during working hours, and from all the dresses and ties, it's easy to see that casual wear was still a glint in the eyes of Employees.  The venue appears to be a park, but it doesn't look like nearby Bachman Lake?

While the dress code may have been formal, those Original Employees were already coloring outside the lines.  Check out the airplane-shaped sandwiches being overseen by Southwest's first President, Lamar Muse.

 Lamar was presented with a one-year birthday card.  Then we move to the evening event where it looks like "finger-food" was the bill of fare.

Here's further proof of what year it was.  The airplane model (with Lamar on the left and advertising executive Sam Bloom next to him) shows our very earliest livery, which included the word "AIRLINES" on the tail.

Southwest has always been known for its talented Employees.  For the party, our Flight Attendants (Hostesses at the time) provided some song and dance entertainment.


For some reason, which is probably lost to time, one of the dances was the Charleston.

Clearly it was a different time 37 years ago, but what is really amazing is how much hasn't changed over the years.  In fact, a few of the folks at this event are still working with us.   We really do owe them a lot.

To see how we celebrated our 38th Birthday, click here.