Monday, February 11, 2008

Wayne Sherman (Part One)

I'm pleased to add our third posting of North Central employee histories/stories with Mr. Wayne Sherman.
Wayne has the great honor of being our FIRST Wisconsin Central Airlines employee posted! He began his career with WCA in July of 1952 at MDW (Midway Airport, Chicago). His career with 'Herman' began by a matter of happenstance in fact. As Wayne states, 'I had a friend who was looking for a job, and did not have a car. I did, so he asked me to take him to MDW, where we went through the carriers in order of location and applied with everyone. He, because he needed a job, and I filled out applications as well to have something to do. We both ended up being hired the same day as Ramp Attendants for $140 a month!'
On their start date, Wayne and his friend were met by Senior Agent, Fran Balsis, who showed them around the ramp and pointed out where they'd be working, along with noting the neighboring carriers that were Lake Central, Chicago & Southern and Midway Ailines (of that time period). Fran said the carriers he'd pointed out were 'good people' and that they would loan equipment from time to time, seeing WCA was sorely lacking. Also, if they came asking to use something, you'd go ahead and loan them whatever they needed. TEAMWORK! Then Fran pointed out another carrier, Northwest Orient Airlines and said, 'that's Northwest, you hate them.' When asked why, he replied 'you'll learn soon enough but just remember, your most important job is to hate them.'
Wayne recalls today, 'well I took him at his word and spent the next 35 years doing everything I could to take business from them, and I was highly successful at it! I did spend the last five years of my career trying to learn to love them but I got mixed results with that effort.'
One would wonder if this mentality exists today in the airline industry. Loaning equipment? Doubtful. Friendly employees and a sense of 'family?' Maybe. Competition? Constant.
Wayne goes on, 'at the end of our shift, Fran said we were going to a bar and I had to remind him that I was seventeen years old. He said drinking was REQUIRED to retain what sanity I had. The drinking age in Illinois was 21 for men and 18 for women. I let Fran know I wasn't planning on passing for an underage woman! He said we could work something out and we went to the Airport Lounge that I learned later was the ONLY bar around the airport, and strictly enforced age limits. Well, I got started with them before they figured out I was underage. They saw me as an excellent and frequent customer! I happened to be there one day when an Army Captain came in and was asked for I.D. He was underage and was refused service as a result. The poor guy was on furlough from Korea.'
Wayne's history and stories are vast enough to warrant another posting! Please stay tuned for Part Two. :)

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