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Our First Anniversary, A Look Back

blusk
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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.

12 Comments
drew
Not applicable
Fantastic post and peek into the past! I cannot wait to see more. It is interesting that in the first year Employees were already demonstrating industry leading productivity and being rewarded for that even in the absence of profits. Lamar Muse wrote the following in a June 1972 memo: "In a recent issue of the Aviation Daily there was a short article attributing Continental Airlines' success to employee motivation. There is no question whatsoever that Continental Airlines is generally regarded by both other airlines and airline passengers as being the best of the CAB certificated carriers from the standpoint of service to the passenger and productivity of its employees. Therefore, I am sure you will be pleased to know that during Southwest Airlines' first year of operation, we provided our customers with a substantially more reliable service than Continental, and the productivity of each of our employees was, practically speaking, 100% better than that of Continental's [...] Even though our passenger loads are not yet sufficient to produce a profit from our operation, our 195 employees have performed much better than any other airline in the world, and it is for this reason you will receive substantial increases in take-home pay effective July 1, 1972. If each of you continues to perform in our second year the way you have in our first, and I know you will, no one including 'Brand X' will be able to stop us, and you may be assured that you will share in the rewards!"
Anonymous1070
Not applicable
Do you know the names of the people in the pictures?
James_Herrmann
Not applicable
I remember those days! Man we were "cool" -- I had both a baby blue and lime green leisure suit -- photos of which my kids swiped and remind me of from time to time. I still regularly fly SW for both work and pleasure. And while the planes have changed a little, the service has not! Thanks Southwest for all the years past and many more to come!
blusk
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Well, we know Lamar, and we were able to identify Mr. Bloom from his name tag. It appears that guests of Southwest at the party wore name tags. The amazing thing is that probably 25 percent of our Original Employees are in these pictures, maybe more with the crowd shots. If anyyone can further identify these folks, please let us know.
Debbie_Muse
Not applicable
Seeing this has brought me to my knees in tears. Thank you, Nancy Keene for sending this to me. The beautiful woman standing next to my father and presenting the ""#1 Lover" award is my mother, Juanice Muse. Mom died 2 years after this photo was taken of lung cancer. Most of you do not know that it was my mother who designed the first hostess uniform, with the help of Randy Randazzo, and Lorch of Dallas made them. I was in the first Hostess Class, and was at the first birthday. When the ad folks wanted the neckline of our sweater to be about an inch lower, my mom put her foot down, and said "No, my 20 year old daughter will be wearing that! The Hotpants are sufficient!". What's really cool is that my mom had such great legs, she could have easily worn that uniform and would have looked great in it. Only a few of you will remember Juanice, but those who knew her were blessed by her involvement in the early days. I was 23 when she died, and am now 58, but not a day goes by that I don't think of her. As for my dad, Lamar, he left this world to be with the Lord on 2-5-07, just two years ago. With the country in the mess it is in today, and the airlines in the dumps, I wish I could ask him, Lamar, what would you do if you were still running Southwest? I shutter to think what he would say. Again, many of you know exactly what I am talking about. He was a man of words. These days, every time I board a SWA flight to SAT or AUS, I remember my days there as a Hostess, and the legacy that my mom and dad created for me there. I will always hold SWA and its employees in my heart because you are a link to my past. Love to you all!!! Debbie Muse, Class of June, 1971
carroll3
New Arrival
I cannot imagine anybody working harder to keep Southwest up and running than the current leadership. I would like to think Lamar would agree. This is a tough business in a tough economy and I do not know what else could be done that Southwest is not already doing or researching. I have been here for 3 decades, I have alot of faith in the Customers and the Employees. We will survive and eventually thrive again. Amercians need to ask themselves Where have I been? and Where will I go? Because without Southwest low fares and the competition it creates most Americans would not have gone, seen or done everything we dream of doing. Southwest has been and always will be one of the most AMERICAN companies in the country. They treat their employees well, provide a great service at a more than reasonable price, fly safe,smart and really care about their Customers and their needs. Next time you go to an airport look around at the friendly faces with helpful spirits and warm hearts. This is the airline that was built by the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE.
kim-seale
Active Member
Brian, These are GREAT pictures and wonderfully nostalgic! I very well remember the early days of that little upstart company down at Love Field while I was in high school. Several of us discussed how well they'd do against those "big" airlines whose planes we were used to seeing at DAL back then. I clearly recall the day I was reading the afternoon edition of The Dallas Times Herald (for you youngsters, that was the other newspaper in town that competed with The Dallas Morning News) and saw a large ad that caught my attention with the large bold font mentioning Raquel Welch. It was at that moment that I realized the new airline was not only an upstart, it was a fiesty upstart with a lot of Spirit! As to your question about the location of the picnic pictures, I think that is Turtle Creek (a small branch of the Trinity River) here in Dallas. It is NOT Bachman Lake -- the trees are too close together and the body of water is too narrow, but it does remind me of some of the area around Lee Park, down near the intersection of Lemmon and Oak Lawn. Just a guess... Oh, and by the way, maybe this afternoon's Deck Party would be the perfect time to bring back the Charleston? LOL Kim, Fresh From His Journey in the Wayback Machine 🙂
blusk
Not applicable
Kim, My guess was also Turtle Creek. Brian
Debbie_Muse
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It definitely was Bachman Lake. It was lunchtime, and the employees came over from the office which was on the airport side of the lake. This was before Bachman was renovated and improved. Those of you who were not with SWA in the first 5 years probably don't remember that Bachman does not look today like it did then. Turtle Creek would have been way too far to go, and Dad would not have wanted to take that long for lunch! I sent this to Camille Keith and she will be able to fill in the blanks for everyone. Debbie Muse
Debbie_Muse
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The Hostesses dancing...Back Row left to right are Deborah Franklin, Jill Allen (now Cohn), and Sandra Anderson. Front row, second from left is Sally Glenn. Far right, I believe, is CJ Bostic, but hard to tell without a better angle. All of them except CJ were in the first hostess class with me. I believe CJ was in the second or third class that year, our first Black Hostess. What a hoot she was. I wonder if she is still flying the line? If you ever took a trip with her, you never forgot it. Debbie Muse (again)
blusk
Not applicable
Hi Debbie, Thanks for the additional info (fyi, CJ is still flying). I've been around Dallas since 1967 (you and I are almost the exact age), and I didn't remember Bachman Lake as being that narrow or overgrown. However, its proximity to the first Headquarters makes it a logical spot. Thanks too for identifying some of your Coworkers. Stay tuned, we have a lot of interesting historical stuff planned. Brian
Bev_P-H
Not applicable
While it's nice about your anniversary, I'm unhappy with your new policy that moved families w/children into a boarding space between Group A & B. What happened to pre-boarding those families so they could be guaranteed to sit together? I lost my aisle seat on a flight today because a family was seated late, and I ended up in the middle 10 rows ahead of my carry-on - which meant I had to wait until EVERYONE was off the plane before I could retrieve my bag. Good thing I wasn't catching a connecting flight. I'll bet this has happened to other adults traveling singlely. And yes, I know it's not earth-shaking, but it still left me less than happy. I've sent an e-mail to your customer service; I hope someone answers. And I hope you change your policy - let the families on first, and then I'll take my chances on a good seat with everyone else. Don't dangle an aisle seat in front of me, and then snatch it away.