August 27, 2015

Airstream #50 and Two Pygmies

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Airstream #50 and Two Pygmies

At twenty years old, how in the world do you wind up in the Ituri Forest in the Belgian Congo with a pygmy on each shoulder? When Wally Byam, founder and owner of Airstream, led his twentieth Airstream Caravan to Africa, he split leadership duties with my mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn. Their responsibilities included writing, sending, and answering letters to embassies and foreign African nation ministries. They also mailed out detailed information to prospective Caravanners, as well as to those already taking part in the African Caravan. And there were transportation details to work out. Airstreams and tow vehicles had

The Most Important Thing

  Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. His mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, was the cousin of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and founded the Wally Byam Caravan Club. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide. In this week’s Throwback Thursday with Pee Wee, Dale explains what motivated Wally Byam the businessman, and how that made Airstream what it is today.

Advice for a Young Airstream Owner

Just when I thought I’d been asked every question about Airstream you could imagine, a videographer from Kansas City asked something I’d never considered: what advice would you give a 23-year-old first-time Airstream owner?  I answered spontaneously, yet surprised myself with the depth of my response, which follows. “As a 23-year-old, you have purchased the finest travel trailer available. It’s so much more than a product – it’s a door to our great nation. “First, visit the farmlands and rural towns. See the soy fields in Ohio, rows of corn in Iowa, cattle raised in Nebraska. Understand what farmers and

Harry Halbritter, Entrepreneur and True Friend

In his last entry, Dale wrote on the entrepreneurial spirit that ties together many of the Airstream Caravanners he met in his travels. This week, he discusses one enterprising individual in particular. Harry Halbritter was unique among the list of entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years. He was a hotel and saloonkeeper from San Diego, California, whose business grew during WWII, as each shore leave brought sailors and marines into his establishment. Harry’s cashflow increased each time the register cha-chinged to ring up each drink and as his rooms were rented out. He and his wife Allene were close friends of

Symbol of America

  Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. His mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, was the cousin of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and founded the Wally Byam Caravan Club. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide. In this week’s Throwback Thursday with Pee Wee, Dale talks about Airstream as a U.S.-made product, and how the iconic travel trailers represent the spirit of America.

Airstream and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Since 2007, I’ve been on many journeys, making presentations and sharing my experiences with modern Airstreamers. I’ve gone from Texas to Maryland, and Wisconsin to Montana, with many a stop in between for a nice cold glass of milk. Topics range from Wally Byam, the founder of the company, to the Wally Byam Caravan Club. But it seems like the hottest topic, no pun intended, will always be the famous 1959 Airstream African Caravan. When it comes to that particular caravan, the most frequently asked question that always comes up is this: “The Caravanners traveling must have been very wealthy to afford

A Way of Life

  Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. His mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, was the cousin of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and founded the Wally Byam Caravan Club. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide. In this week’s Throwback Thursday with Pee Wee, Dale talks about why Airstream is so widely adored and recognized.

The Mysterious Order of the Trident

The 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan was the event not to miss. 41 Airstream families and 104 Caravanners made the journey to Africa, and every single one crossed the equator, either by sea or by air. Equator-crossing ceremonies were held, a tradition of many seasoned sailors around the world. King Neptune, the Supreme Ruler, Monarch, and Potentate convened the first-timers, nicknamed Pollywogs. They were duly initiated into the mysterious Order of the Trident, recognizing their first equator crossing and their induction into the Brotherhood of the Nautilus. Don and Genevieve Christie, Caravanners from Carmel, Indiana, went through the initiation as

The Hands That Built Airstream

Last week, Dale discussed his feelings upon returning to Jackson Center, home of Airstream, for Alumapalooza 2015. See last week’s article here. I remember leaving the Main Street factory in 1955 on the first Eastern Canadian Caravan. Traveling Route 66, and then rerouting to Ohio, opened my eyes. Jackson Center was a city center composed of decade-old wooden structures. After a tour of duty in the US Army, I went to work at Airstream in California. In 1965, I established the first personnel department at the factory. Ohio and California were working on an employee classification system with defined work

Return to the Mothership

Arriving in Jackson Center for Alumapalooza, fond memories reappear from the past. For me, visiting Airstream is a pilgrimage which reminds me of the many times I’ve been fortunate to visit not only the factory but the charming and wonderful Jackson Center village. Today’s Airstream factory has been enlarged to meet the domestic and international markets that continue to grow. Growing up, I visited Wally many times at his home in Los Angeles. I took for granted his garage: looking back, that garage is a shrine, his home a brain trust, for it is on those grounds that Wally designed