February 11, 2016

Eating In Africa

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Eating In Africa

Any time the African Caravan comes up during an Airstream Q&A session, I hear familiar questions. Where did you find food? What foods did you eat? Did you go hungry? It’s true, there was no McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken when we were in Africa. But realize this: wherever people live, there is food. As we traveled across the continent, its we experienced diverse cuisines. We found wonderful restaurants and tribal markets, and tried a little of everything.

An Endless Source of Friendships

This article is part four in a series about Wally Byam’s Creed. Wally Byam was a proud man. In Airstream, he went beyond just creating a product: he created a lifestyle, connecting people to a life of travel adventure and new friendships. He wrote down his Creed, which has been recorded and adopted by generation after generation of Airstreamers. The part of his Creed I’ll talk about today follows: To encourage clubs and rallies that provide an endless source of friendships, travel fun and personal expressions. First came the Airstream. Next, Wally Byam led his Caravans, far and wide. Then Airstream

Wally Retires

The first Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan was in 1959. In the late 1950’s, before embarking on the first of these incredible adventures, he made plans for retirement. He turned over the keys to the California factory to Art Costello, and Andy Charles was chosen to lead in Jackson Center. A separate sales division organized the Caravans and managed the Wally Byam Caravan Club. My mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, would continue the Caravans and assist the WBCCI. But until his retirement, scheduled to take place after he returned from Africa, he was still in control of the corporation.

How Pee Wee Became Pee Wee

I don’t remember the very first time I met Wally Byam. I was just a baby in diapers. Over the years, I visited Wally and his first wife, Marion, at a typical California bungalow on St. Andrews Place in Los Angeles. When Wally remarried, I spent the occasional weekend with him and Stella at their home on Roseview, which had a marvelous view of Los Angeles. Wally, in 1951, was planning and organizing a new project within and outside of Airstream Trailers, Inc. His first Caravan would soon travel from the Texas border to Managua, Nicaragua and back. It was

Wally’s Kindred Spirit

In 1953, Wally Byam shipped his Airstream to Europe. He made arrangements to have a Volkswagen van ready as his tow vehicle. First and foremost, he was there to attend the International Trailer Rally, an annual event that was to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The European trailers were cute and small, with practical floorplans. Wally wanted to review the trailers, looking for engineering applications, cabinet hardware, floorplans to improve the Airstream, and appealing décors. Wally also met with a number of European trailer manufacturers. He befriended many, finding kindred spirits among them. One acquaintance in particular became a lifelong

Home for the Holidays

When you’re a child, your parents invent a world for you full of holiday magic. Christmas trees, Santa Claus, neatly wrapped presents. Some families familiarize you with the sacred aspects of the holiday, what it truly celebrates: the birth of the Christ Child. Music is fully ingrained as part of the season. “White Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “Hark! The Harold Angels Sing,” “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” and more can be heard on the radio, at fully-decorated department stores, and just about anywhere else you can imagine. It can be hard to escape the festive cheer.

Wally Byam, the Gadgeteer

When you get to know Wally Byam as I have, you will see, if you wish, the adult child. He loved gadgets. He loved War Surplus stores, and wandering the aisles looking for “goodies.” And when he traveled to Europe, he never passed up a chance to see the construction and hardware in European trailers, looking for a new latch or floorplan.

Turning an Airstream Negative Into a Positive

WOW! AWESOME! BREATHTAKING! UNBELIEVABLE! Here is a picture from the early 1930’s from a negative that has not been printed since it was first used in Airstream advertising.

Airstream and the Kodak Caravan

52 years ago, Eastman Kodak documented their plans for the Kodak Pavilion in New York City. The year was 1963. World’s Fair crowds gathered under the tower, where giant prints were on display for all to see, visible from all around. But where did those photographs come from?

Airstream’s Crown Jewel

During the 1956 Airstream Caravan through Europe, Wally Byam designed a dream trailer for his wife, Stella. It was built in spring 1957, ready for the All-American Caravan through the United States, which visited the Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500. The Airstream’s floorplan was constructed to Stella’s specifications, with expansive living and storage space for the married couple. it was custom-made, and built to stand out. Using gold anodized aluminum, it was regarded as a precious crown jewel, immediately recognizable.