Friday, May 16, 2008

Wayne Sherman's continuing history

I was pleased to hear from Wayne Sherman again! I'm always pleased to hear stories from former/retired employees. Here's the latest from Wayne...

"When I started at Midway, out facilities consisted of a ticket counter about 10 feet long, and an operations office that, size wise, resembled a narrow custodian supply area. Very small. There were two teletype machines, plus a weather printer. It also contained a stand up forms desk, and one roll around chair. It was perhaps 5 feet wide and about 12 feet long.

Behind the ticket counter there was a baggage pass-through door about 3 feet high, and 2 1/2 feet wide with 2 swinging doors. Ticket agents passed bags through the door onto the bag room floor that was actually the sidewalk outside! Our bag transport equipment consisted of 2 hand operated bag carts that we pushed to and from the ramp through the passenger boarding gate.

There was a 4 foot chain link fence, and the gate consisted of a chain stretched between 2 posts. The bag claim consisted of returning the off loaded bags to the gate where we verified claim checks against bag tags, and passengers took their bags. It worked really fast when it was raining or snowing.

Facilities also consisted of a managers office in what was then the OLD terminal about a 1/2 mile South of the main terminal. The only time I remember ever being there was for a training class run by Chuck Vesper. I don't know what his job title was at the time but I later dealt with him quite a bit when he was the Manager of Tariffs and Schedules.

There were 2 sessions of the classes for 2 groups of employees. My most memorable part of the training was when we went to replace the first session class and I met my buddy, Joe, coming out with Chuck just behind him. I asked Joe what did he learn, he responded, 'Bemidji ain't a swear word.' Chuck didn't look pleased.

One of our more memorable days of operations was after a severe rain storm that resulted in a lot of flooding around the city, and severe at the airport. The ramps and runways were a bit higher than the terminal and were above water. Not so for the terminal that had water and 12-18 inches deep! Passengers walked around in their bare feet with paint legs rolled up,and for our boarding passengers, there was a dip between the terminal and ramp that was over 24 inches deep. We put passengers on our hand bag carts and moved them through the deep stuff.

There was a severe electrical outage, except on the West side of the airport, where our hangar was. It had electricity and phones, but we didn't at the terminal. In order to operate, we had one plane remain in the gate with a GPU attached and an agent in the cockpit who communicated with the hangar via radio. Pertinent flight releases were given over the phone from Flight Control along with necessary weather information to an agent at the hangar. He relayed the information to the agent in the gate plane who wrote it down and passed it to the outbound flight crews. Flight movement reports were handed the same way, and for about 8 hours, we were the only carrier able to operate at the airport. The control tower did have emergency power available so they were still in business.

We stayed in these limited facilities for a couple of years until Delta Airlines, that was located some distance from our gate, merged with Chicago & Southern Airlines that was in the gate to the North of us.They had a larger ticket counter facility that we moved to. Continental Airlines, that wanted to start a Chicago operation, sub leased counter space from us in our newly acquired space. That was when we got enough ramp space to upgrade flight frequency from one flight at a time to four at a time.

That was also the occasion when we acquired our first tug. It seems that on the night of the big merger, one of C & S's tugs got a brand new North Central paint job! Now that is real improvisation. No more moving the Hobarts by hand."

Thanks again Wayne! I've heard many replies from people that enjoy reading these, along with others' stories as well. The flooding story reminded me of a photo in 'Ceiling Unlimited' by Robert Serling that should fit this posting quite well!
Take care everyone...

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