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See America First, Part II: The Marvels of the West

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be featuring Dale Schwamborn’s account of the 1965 “See America First” tour of the American West. Last week, Dale learned he’d be embarking on another great adventure – with a very special guest. This week, the group visits three majestic Western locations. The Grand Canyon: June 23-26, 1965 Nestled between the scrub pines of the Grand Canyon and the National Parks’ Ranger School, our caravan of Airstream trailers settled down. Lynda’s led the way; it also housed Mrs. Marta Ross, press secretary and Mrs. Carolyn Bennett Patterson, chairman of the Wally Byam Foundation Board

See America First, Part I: Lynda Bird Johnson

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be featuring Dale Schwamborn’s account of the 1965 “See America First” tour of the American West. This week, Dale introduces the trip – and the special guest that joined them on their journey. By 1965, caravanning had become an integral part of what Airstream represented. An incalculable number of miles and days had been spent traveling; curious adventurers crossed the world in awe. Within the perimeter of our own nation, the excitement of travel lured us to visit summer palaces, majestic mountains, and lyrical waterways. That year, President Johnson inaugurated a program called “See

Wally’s Creed, Part II

Airstream trailers have been seen all over the world. Caravans traveled through North America, Central America, Cuba, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and from Singapore across Asia all the way to Portugal (including Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union)! In Africa, the Caravan crossed roads, rough terrain, washboards, quagmires, and even endured blinding dust. But every night, you could find a bath, shower, dinner, and a clean bed after a long and difficult day. Today, Wally’s promise is just as active today as it was on earlier Caravans. Today’s Airstreamers gather with fellow Caravan members to enjoy camaraderie, fun, food,

Wally’s Creed, Part I

Airstream’s foundation can be found within the wheel ruts along the Oregon Trail. Wally Byam’s paternal grandparents came from Iowa, while the Biswells, his maternal grandparents, arrived from Missouri. Both families left their homes to find new lives in eastern Oregon. They endured hardships as they headed West and even still after settling in Baker City. Wally was born in 1896, on the fourth of July. There is no doubt that Wally’s patriotism was fueled by his being born on the fourth of July, but I believe it was simply a matter of fate he was born that day. As

Airstream Visits the Largest Waterfall in the World

When you’re raised on Tarzan movies, your idea of Africa is what you’ve seen on the screen: stage settings, Tarzan and Jane, and wild animals. I had also seen stock footage showing charging elephants, tribal warriors with painted faces, and filler footage that showed vast forests and bright jungles. In the classroom and in National Geographic magazines, you see that Africa is really so much more. I read about the Boer War, the Kimberly Diamond Mine, Kruger National Park, Dr. Livingstone, the Tutsi and Maasai peoples, the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, the pyramids, and Victoria Falls. In 1959, Wally Byam

The Caravan Enters Turkey

Planning for the African Caravan had been completed. It had been decided that the Caravan would travel from Cape Town to Cairo, Egypt, then through the Middle East and on to Europe. The Middle East was intriguing. The area that had been home to ancient civilizations that flourished, rich cultural traditions with wide-rippling historical impacts, centuries of nations at war, and religions that spread all over the world. Wally Byam had brought the Caravan back into ancient times, when Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans ruled the world. When the Caravan reached the northern region of Asia Minor, we were ready to

Airstream: an Advertising Legend

How did Airstream become an American icon? Let’s trace its roots in advertising and the way it created a visual experience of the road from its origins to today. In 1919, an up-and-coming advertising man named Wallace M. Davis, the advertising manager for The Daily Palo Alto, wrote a letter to Society Brand Clothes. An excerpt from that letter, soliciting a sale of advertising space, read: “The average Stanford Man wants his clothes stylish…we believe Society Brand Clothing to be well worth the expenditure; no other national clothiers are advertising on the campus.” After graduation, Davis changed his name back

Airstream and…Bikinis?

The 1956 European Caravan provided many eye-opening experiences. Imagine rows and rows of shiny aluminum Airstreams reflecting the pure blue of the sky. They lined up at campsites and dot-dashed all over the countryside. The Caravan ultimately arrived in the Netherlands after having traveled through Germany, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. There were headlines, crowds, and receptions. We saw cathedrals, castles, quaint and reserved cities, art galleries, tall mountains, and scenic seasides. We tasted wonderful culinary delights, fine wines, schnapps, and most importantly of all, formed new friendships. Wally Byam hired an advance scout and

Wally Byam’s Portrait

In 1956, Airstream moved from their Main Street location in downtown Los Angeles to Norwalk, which was later annexed by the city of Santa Fe Springs. At that time, Wally Byam was leading the European Caravan. By the time he returned home, his company was already manufacturing in their new facilities. The main office and lobby had a small store and a receptionist. On the wall was a striking painting: a portrait of Wally Byam. It was painted by an Airstream employee named Marius Hansen and was based on a photograph that had been taken of Wally years before. It showed

Wally and Helen

She was born on August 8, 1904 in Baker City, Oregon. What does it mean to live an interesting life? Some say it’s how far you travel, or the enriching experiences you have. Some say it’s the friendships you form and the love you share with others. Well, no matter what definition you place on it, her life was full of adventures and excitement. It’s notable that Helen Byam’s paternal lineage came to America in the 17th century. They were farmers, from England, and they served in the Revolutionary War, the Battle of 1812, and in the Civil War. Of her