July 12, 2006


On Thursday July 17, 1947 Mrs. S. B. Jackson caught a train to New York City where she stayed five days before flying to Amarillo. She spent one night there and then took a bus further into Texas. Who is Mrs. Jackson and why did she make this journey? I don't know. A few years ago I found a small bundle of keepsakes from this particular trip at a flea market. I thought I'd share these things with you because this little stack of paper goods provides a great look at typical traveler's ephemera from the days before SkyMall. And I love the fact that these items represent a real trip that was taken by some lucky lady of the 40s.

Her adventure began with a thirty dollar train ticket. There's no indication of where she departed from, but according to the note scribed on this envelope she expected to "arrive 5:30 New York, Thursday P.M." I sure wouldn't mind spending some hours cruising the landscape in the train pictured on this envelope. I see that she was on Track 13. So apparently they didn't skip over 13th tracks like they did the 13th floors in buildings.

After a five day stint in the Big Apple (I'll bet that was fun) it was time to hitch a plane to Texasland. Mrs. Jackson was destined to experience the new Lockheed Constellation aircraft (which had just started delivering passengers in November of 1945.. less than two years earlier.) I can't help thinking of the scene from The Aviator in which Howard Hughes discusses the Constellation's fabric swatches and window coverings with his competition over a fancy meal.

Being one of the early passengers, Mrs. Jackson received this Constellation "first reader" booklet...

The pocket-sized edition is full of facts about the plane, whimsical rhymes, and cool cartoon illustrations that were designed to exalt the aircraft while easing potential fears of even the most dim-witted passenger.

The prize of this collection is this strikingly illustrated portfolio which TWA issued to help their customers organize flight related paperwork...

Front view (click to enlarge)

Back view (also click to enlarge)

The next time you find yourself annoyed by an airport video terminal, imagine flipping through a thick, finely-printed flight schedule, attempting to locate your flight among hundreds of others...

In the cut-throat world of mid-century air travel, making customers happy was paramount. Therefore all patrons were given a pre-paid comment card.

Once the exciting flight was behind her, and she'd gotten a good night's rest in Amarillo it was time for Mrs. Jackson to kick back and let a lush Greyhound bus carry her down the "happy way" to her final destination..wherever that was.

This glimpse into the glory days of American travel was brought to you in part by..
Southern Railway System- "The Southern Serves the South"
by Trans World Airline- "Still Finest, Fastest Coast to Coast!"
by Greyhound- "Make Highways Happy Ways."
And by my ability to romanticize a trip that I know nothing about. For all I know, she could have been on her way to a funeral.


chuckbaris said...

Well I've read all of your past blogs. I particularly like the woolworth's and "pet department" creature stories.

Efendi said...

the pictures of all places around da world is awesome !! nice !!

Kirk D. said...

chuck- it sounds like I peaked at posts two and three and have gone downhill ever since.

efendi- I agree. I'm glad to see they're being appreciated!

Herva said...

That portfolio is incredible! They should bring back that design campaign again...

Kirk D. said...

If they do not bring the campaign back, we will MAKE them bring it back. We can CRUSH them.