Saturday, September 14, 2019

St. Joseph County Airport, Indiana - 1951

Sometimes it's fun to find really old slides, even if they don't initially seem that interesting. Images can be chock full of vintage goodness. 

Like this first one, showing two ladies in their best travel clothing, circa 1961! They've got their nice dresses, overcoats, gloves, and hats. Mid-century fashion at its finest. But where was this picture taken?

Well that's helpful; we're out in front of St. Joseph County Airport, located 3 miles south of South Bend, Indiana. Love that awesome Ford!

The airport started as "Bendix Municipal Airport" in 1933; At some point the name was changed to "St. Joseph County Airport", and after that, "Michiana Regional Airport". 

Here's an old postcard (1960's?) showing the front as it looked back then.

And here's another postcard from the runway side.

On January 1st, 2000, the name was changed yet again, to "South Bend Regional Airport", and again in 2014, to "South Bend International Airport". Whew!


Nanook said...

A lovely, 1949 Ford - possibly in Midland Maroon, to give 'fashion' competition to those gals, who are definitely very well-coordinated-! Undoubtedly, they are both proud of their hats.

I had a funny feeling as I was reading-along, if a current image was included - the building instantly outdated, by the way - the former 'county' airport would attain 'international' status. And, what do you know... it did.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love the architecture of the airport in that second pic and the postcards. I can't say that I care for the current look. They ruin everything, don't they?

I love the one lady's purple outfit. I wonder why she didn't opt for a purple coat? I mean, everything else she is wearing is purple, including her shoes, gloves and even her necklace! My great-grandmother used to love wearing that color and she even had a purple pantsuit that she had made herself!

TokyoMagic! said...

Maybe a purple coat would have been too "matchy-matchy"? I learned that term from Heidi Klum on Project Runway!

K. Martinez said...

The first two pics are gems. From the beautifully dressed ladies to the varied brickwork styles and vintage vehicles these are wonderful images. The second pic gets extra points for the telephone/power poles in the distance.

The airport looks great in the two postcards (especially the second postcard) but then in the last pic you have this monstrosity. That's really bad architecture. And that's not an opinion. It's a fact. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

If nobody else wants it, I'll take the Aeronca 7CCM Champion in the second postcard.

I love the original, mid-century design of the terminal building. It sort of reminds me of Toledo Express Airport from around the same era. That glassed-in gallery would have been a perfect place to watch airplanes.

The updated terminal reminds me of the final Commissary (on-base grocery store) at Norton AFB in San Bernardino, completed in about 1989. When I reported to the base in 1993, just 6 months or so from its closure and conversion into San Bernardino International Airport, I remember thinking "you know, they could convert this building into a pretty neat-looking terminal with a minimum of effort." The building at South Bend now looks very dated.

Andrew said...

Man, this is when going to the airport was an outing! I like Saturdays here on Gorillas Don't Blog!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Fun pictures and subjects, today!

Nanook, I really thought you would give the Major a compliment for knowing that car was a Ford, but you passed up your opportunity.

The last building looks more like a hospital/medical center. And I wonder what the "n" stands for in "sbn" - since it's the South Bend International??


Chuck said...

Sue, "SBN" is the three-letter airport code for South Bend International.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, Chuck!


stu29573 said...

It's strange seeing these little airports. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and DFW airport is a city unto itself. It makes Dallas Love Field look dinky, which is considerably less dinky than SBN. I like the smaller airports...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, “Midland Maroon”, how do they come up with names like that? I love the hats on the ladies, it wouldn’t be long before both men and women stop wearing hats for the most part.

TokyoMagic!, yes, the current airport looks like an 80’s shopping mall that has seen better days. No charm. But perhaps it functions more efficiently as an airport? As far as I’m concerned, you can’t wear too much purple. Same with lime green.

K. Martinez, both of the old photos are perfect examples of pictures that give a great sense of the time in which they were taken, with the clothing, cars, and architecture. It’s one of my favorite things to find in old slides. I agree, the new airport is very homely.

Chuck, you can have the Aeronca 7CCM, but I will need it every other weekend. Funny about your remark on the new airport resembling the Commissary - on rare occasions I still take my mom to the Commissary (and Navy Exchange) in Port Hueneme, and I think your comparison is apt.

Penna. Andrew, they are “Anything Goes Saturdays”, after all!

Lou and Sue, considering that the car says “FORD” on the hood, I can’t feel very smug. I see that Chuck has already answered your query about the “sbn”!

Chuck, I knew it!

Lou and Sue, it’s like “LAX”, they get loosy-goosey with one of the letters.

stu29573, airports are fascinating places - big or small. The sheer number of people that need to move through a huge hub, such as Denver or DFW is incredible, and amazing that they’ve gotten it down to a pretty efficient system. It would almost be fun to visit airports, if security wasn’t so strong now.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, ooops, I accidentally skipped one of your comments. I have never seen "Project Runway", and don't even really know what it is. Is it sort of a "American Idol", only for amateur fashion designers?

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
'Contrast', my friend, could explain the non-matching purple coat. (But, I wouldn't be so certain the darker color in the pattern of her coat doesn't have some sort of purple - or dare I say it - violet tone to it).

Dean Finder said...

If it weren't for the "Departures" signs under the covered walkway, I'd be certain that the last picture was of a dying 1970s mall with an unfortunate 1990s update.
Modern airports are fascinating in their efficiency, but not much fun to visit (and forget about operational tours) thanks to current security mindsets. Though I really wish the Eames proposal for airports with mobile departure lounges had been realized.

Nanook said...

And another phrase from the wonderful world of fashion, to add to your ever-growing vocabulary: ‘tone on tone’. Tone on tone clothing is a popular choice because a singular color palette helps to elongate the body and draws the eye up and down. This technique is especially effective when wearing a colorful or detailed layer over a monochromatic base..

With all this knowledge, pretty soon you’ll be able to start your own ‘schmatta’ business-! TokyoMagic! Clothing - it just ‘screams’ chic-!!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, pretty much summed up "Project Runway" right there. Only the contestants can sometimes get nastier with each other than they do on "American Idol." I've actually stopped watching both of those shows after following them for many seasons.

Nanook, I also learned about "tone on tone" from "Project Runway." And I remember learning the meaning of the word "monochromatic" in seventh grade art class. Maybe I should throw out the idea of making custom t-shrits and think of something more "designer" that I can use for my "They Ruin Everything, Don't They?" and Rolly's "The Park Is Gone." Perhaps pillbox hats or capes?

By the way, where on earth did that lady on the left, find an oyster that could produce purple pearls?

JC Shannon said...

Looks like a great day for flying. Let's all take a flight and get pampered like they did in the 50's. We can fly to Anaheim and spend the day at the park. I bet we could all do all of that for the price of admission today. Major, thank you and as Frank sang, "Come fly with me let's fly let's fly away."

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
Well, let’s start out on the right foot. Please, nothing as ‘pedestrian’ as “custom t-shirts”, oh no-! We must call them couture-!!

Chuck said...

Major, I'm curious - the last time I shopped at the Port Hueneme Commissary was in 1994. At that point, it was in a couple of small, interconnected, fairly-run-down-looking 1940s warehouses (not unlike several of the commissaries of my Air Force brat youth). Have they finally upgraded to a new building? Also - good on you for taking your mom there.

TM!, wait - you mean "Project Runway" isn't about airports?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I think that both ladies were very put-together that day, but it must have been colder than they expected, and they had to use whatever coats they already owned. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

Dean Finder, yeah, the airport doesn’t look so good these days. I suppose ti’s too much to ask of smaller airports to spend extra money on architecture, but it’s a shame that they ruined a perfectly charming mid-century building (that was probably inadequate, admittedly). Thanks for the link to that fun video!

Nanook, I’m learning more about fashion today than I did in my previous 73 years. I’ll just go goth and wear all black, it makes life so much simpler.

TokyoMagic!, sounds like you are primed to watch something nicer, like “The Great British Bake Off”. I’ve only seen one episode, but everyone talks about how nice and friendly it is compared to American competition shows.

Jonathan, it is quite something to look at ads from the 50’s and 60’s, when air travel really was something to dress up for. Of course those were also the days before body scans and shoe x-rays.

Nanook, you mean my “Barney” (the purple dinosaur) t-shirt is high fashion?

Chuck, there was a long stretch (probably 20 years) in which I didn’t go to the base in Hueneme - it was something my mom and dad did together, and I was away with school, or work, or other stuff. So I don’t remember what it was like pre-1994, even though I did go there on rare occasions. Based on your description, they’ve fixed it up; the Exchange is rather large (why do I say that, I don’t really have any point of comparison), but I don’t think of it and run-down, and can’t imagine it’s from the 1940’s. And the Commissary looks basically like your typical grocery store, maybe a little less attractive, but I have no complaints!

JG said...

Major, these are fine photos from the era when air travel was fun.

My Dad was fascinated with planes and aeronautics, he would take us to Fresno Airport (FAT) for Sunday lunch at the buffet restaurant, which had a huge two-story window looking out at the departure area. This was separated from the main building by a taxiway. You had to go down and through a tunnel and up again to get to the gate areas. This was a memorable experience for 10 year old me.

@Dean Finder, there are two airports in my experience with mobile departure lounges, although the one at Dulles may be closed now. I recall them as somewhat tedious, but that was over 50 years ago now. We recently flew out of Madrid, Spain, and a bus picked us up at a "gate" and drove clear across the airport to the plane, where we had to cross the pavement and climb a mobile stair into the plane. Not a great experience. I don't know if that was intended to be a mobile lounge, or if it was a response to a crowded airport.

The changes in society and the travel businesses have conspired to make air travel a thoroughly unpleasant experience most of the time, it's good to look back and see what it used to be. Thank you.


JG said...

And the recent remodeling of the airport in the post is certainly uninspired. The 1963 FAT won an AIA award, and was remodeled in the 80's into a complete mess.

Even SFO, which used to be fairly nice, is getting run down and outdated. Hopefully the new terminal 01 will raise the standard a bit.