The unifying element of the photos in this week’s installment is that all of these images came from uncut rolls of negatives that I found recently. In this case, the negatives were large format black and white, and they appear to have been taken in late 1973 or early 1974.
We start with a photo of a dollar bill changer, and therein is a strange story of early competition. Not only did Southwest Airlines face fierce competition from other airlines in our early days, we also were competing against airports. When the new DFW Regional Airport opened in 1974 (it didn’t become DFW International until 1985), it featured a system of people movers called Airtrans (not to be confused with AirTran Airways) that moved connecting passengers from terminal to terminal. Passengers had to insert a quarter into the turnstiles, and the DFW Airport provided dollar bill changers in each station. The only catch is that the changers charged a nickel to make change. Perhaps the photo above is the first example of Southwest proclaiming we won’t “nickel and dime” our Customers, as this machine at Love Field provided 100 cents back for every dollar. The happy gentleman proudly shows off his four quarters, and the sign explains that this is “because we love you.”
Next, let’s take a look inside Lamar Muse’s office for a photo of the original Southwest Board of Directors taken at our first Headquarters building located on Love Field Drive, up by Bachman Lake on the north side of Love Field. (This building was the Love Field passenger terminal during the 1920s and 1930s.) That’s Cofounder Rollin King at the right of the photo with Herb Kelleher next to him. Lamar is on the far left of the photo, and in between Lamar and Herb are the three original “non-Officer” Board Members. Next to Lamar is Sydney Adger, followed by Todd Alexander and then, A.A. Bradford next to Herb. These photos were taken for the 1973 Annual Report.
Here is a view of our Dallas Reservations Office taken in late 1973. That is Original Employee Karen Ordner sitting at the Reservations Desk. Note the rotary dial phone in front of her. Employees would enter the flight data on cards and place the cards in a tray system that ran underneath the shelf where the phone is mounted. Judging from the walls in the background, I think this room was also located in the original Headquarters facility. The approximate date was determined by using the big wall calendar in the background.
We feature another Original Employee, Dallas Mechanic Jerry Puckett, in the next photo. I’ve found that photographers often would take photos of Employees who helped out with the publicity photo shoots, and it appears Jerry was tending to the aircraft, which are displayed in the background of the publicity photo at the bottom of the post. He is standing in front of one of our first three aircraft, N21SW (c/n 20345), that was built for but never delivered to Aloha Airlines. Under the nose of the aircraft, you can see the engine of the other aircraft used in the shoot, N22SW (c/n 20336). Air California had been the intended owner of N22SW, but like each of our three original aircraft, it was delivered to Southwest instead of the initial airline.
Original Employee Camille Keith was also at the shoot to represent our Public Relations Department. N21SW wears the revised livery without the “Airlines” titling on the tail. As far as I can tell, the titles were removed from N21SW and N22SW sometime in 1973.
And here is the publicity photo that all the fuss was about. This duplicates similar shots taken in June 1971 before we began service. N21SW is in the front, followed by N22SW. Based on when the “Airline” title was removed from these aircraft, the fact the Flight Attendants are wearing the original uniforms (Flight Attendants changed uniforms in late September 1974), and that both Jerry and Camille are wearing coats, these last three photos probably were taken late 1973 or early 1974. The camera is looking toward the east, and the photos were taken late afternoon and in the fall or winter because of the long shadows and because Camille is squinting looking into the sun.
Individually, these photos document a small moment in time, but as a collection they give us a taste of what it was like to work and travel on Southwest Airlines during a time when we still flew three airplanes to three cities. The collection is also a landmark on the evolutionary road of change that leads to today.
Update: Original Employee Dan Johnson reminds us that the Southwest dollar bill changer actually dispensed $1.05 in change to "give back the nickle that the DFW machines took." Looking at the original negative under magnification does indeed show the man holding five coins: four quarters and a nickle.