Bobbie Burton Turnbull

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Contrary to a bunch or silly articles I did not apply for the job with the original airline (1928-1929). I knew the Braniffs Paul and Marie and Phil and Bea Braniff, socially. Paul offered me the job (the girl he had hired to take the place of the girl who had transferred to Tulsa was not satisfactory). I took it very 1ightly at first, actually more of a joke at first, until Marie pressed me to consider it. I went to work in March of 1929.

The office at that time was at the old Municipal Airport and my first day there was a calamity – pouring down rain and pilots and others laid down boards, etc, to enable me to get to the office. I would have given  almost anything to have my former job back – but the next day was clear and sunny – with planes taking off and landing and I was “hooked”.

The only pilots I can recall at that time were Maurice Marrs, Tip Sobier and Slaymeyer, one of the Slaymeyer brothers. The other brother worked for Paul Moore in maintenance. Shortly after I went to work the  Universal Airlines (whose headquarters office was in St. Louis) took over Braniff and the office was moved to the Braniff Building. The office expanded to Director of Publicity, Traffic Manager, Telephone operator, two stenographers and a bookkeeping Department. I was made Office Manager in addition to my duties of Secty. to Paul Braniff. Bill Bliss was in charge of maintenance and Jack Atkins was chief pilot. Universal was a division of the Aviation Corporation of America, later dissolved and much of the airlines became American Airlines.

Paul soon became disenchanted with Universal and resigned and Universal moved the office and maintenance to Tulsa and asked me to move to Tulsa with them. Ted Lewis was Operations Manager and Paul Moore was in charge of maintenance. I worked for several months but wasn’t happy being away from home, so moved back to Oklahoma City.

Shortly thereafter Paul accepted the job as General Traffic Manager of C.A.T. (Corporacion Aeronatica de Transportes for six months and prevailed upon Marie and me to move too. C.A.T., based at Torreon, Mex.  was the hub of four lines One to Brownsville, One to El Paso, One to Mazatlan and one to Mexico City. Later John Paul, their young son got a serous respiratory ailment and Marie and I brought him back to the  States.

On November 3, 1950 Paul and T. E. Braniff started Braniff Airways with two Lockheed Vegas. I was the first employee, had all tickets, flight reports and other forms printed before operations were started. We  advertised “The World’ s Fasted Airline” and later had signs painted on the planes “The B Line” with an arrow thru the B. We soon had a letter from an old airline in the East called the Boeing Airlines, no longer operating, advising that they had a patent on “The B Line” and we were to cease using it. Mr. Braniff wrote a tearful letter telling all the letterheads and other forms we had using this and asking if we would use up such stationery he had. We agreed and discontinued the use of all such advertising.

In 1932 seven more Lockheed Vegas were added to our “fleet” and, service was extended but by 1933 it became obvious that the line could not operate without a mail contract, so Mr. Braniff called all employees available with the department heads to his home “Wildwood”. He gave us an alternative – we accept what would be determined as a “Maximum Living Wage” with the balance charged to back salary – or he could not continue to finance the operation. We all agreed. We were, however, allowed to sell duebills in amounts of not less than $100 in exchange for goods, rent, etc. My minimum living wage was $70.00 per month and the pilots was $150.00. For almost two years we were headquartered in Kansas City and as they could not give me a living allowance I used duebills to pay my rent. When we moved back to Oklahoma City  we located at the Curtiss-Wright Airport. It was here that Wiley Post’s plane, the Winnie Mae was rebuilt for his solo trip around the world. George Brauer (the love) was in charge of the woodworking shops.

Because of the persistent pressure brought on the Post Office Department by Paul Braniff, Temple Bowen and E. L. Cord, President Roosevelt cancelled all Air Mail Contracts early in 1934 and the Army Air Corps took over the mail on February 9, 1934. The Post Office Department opened bidding to all operating airlines and on May 7, 1934 Braniff was awarded Air Mail Route (AM9) Dallas – Fort Worth – Oklahoma City –  Kansas City – Chicago. November 29, 1934 Operations and Maintenance were moved to Dallas and after acquiring Long and Harmon service was extended to Waco – Austin – San Antonio – Houston – Brownsville and the airline became “Great Lakes to the Gulf”.

While I was Assistant to two General Traffic managers, I spent much of my time in the different Traffic Offices making analysis of traffic and installing more comprehensive records and follow ups In 1935 a fleet of Lockheed Elextra l0 place was added and box lunches were served by the co-pilot. In 1937 O. M. “Red” Mosier joined Braniff as Vice President and asked for me as his secretary but I was sent to the Kansas City’ office for another traffic analysis. However Mr. Mosier asked that I be in Dallas June 1 and at almost at the same time told me that I was also to assume and supervise the Hostess service. The DC2’s were being put in service and it was necessary for me to take to the road in search of hostesses. We required Spanish speaking hostesses in the beginning, since we connected with Pan Am at Brownsville so I made  several trips to Brownsville, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, El Paso and other border towns. However, it soon became evident that we would have to drop the Spanish requirement as we found too few applicants who  met all the requirements.

Attached is a copy of letter Mr. Mosier issued stating that I was appointed Superintendent of Passenger Service. This included Hostesses, meals served aboard, magazines, training and checking service aboard. This in addition as secretary to Mr. Mosier. Francis and I became very close friends and spent many dinners and evenings toge ther when both Mr. Mosier and Virgil were out of town. Mr. Mosier asked me to go to Chicago when he went with American Airlines but I’m sure he knew I would’n want to go to the “big town”, was probably relieved when I decided not to go and him when he got Carlene Roberts.

When R. J. Smith came in at Mr. Mosier’s departure, I was given the title of assistant to him in addition to the hostess service and I was assigned a secretary. Virgil and I were married November 2 and I agreed to stay two weeks to enable them to fill the job. Mr. Smith had decided on a secretary to fill that job and I had recommended one of our outstanding hostesses to be Chief Hostess but nothing was done until Virgil issued an ultimatum that I tell the boss if I didn’t quit he would quit and keep house – so-o-o Mr. Smith had both jobs filled within a week, and I left on December 10, 1938.

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