As part of Throwback Thursdays, we will be hearing from some contributors who are experts in the history of Airstream, and people who have participated in that history. Dale Schwamborn fits both categories, and has been a part of the Airstream story almost from birth.
Dale — or Pee Wee, as he’s known in Airstream circles — is a first cousin once removed of the company’s founder, Wally Byam. He got his nickname in 1951 on a hike with Wally and some others. Being the youngest member of the group, he was also the smallest; hence, he was called Pee Wee. Shortly after that hike, Wally asked Dale’s parents if he could join in on the first Airstream caravan through Mexico and Central America. He had to miss four months of the eighth grade, but it was the gateway to Dale’s Airstream career.
Wally’s mother Helen Byam Schwamborn joined Airstream in 1955, and while Wally and his wife Stella scouted a possible caravan route in Europe, Helen led the First Eastern Canadian Caravan, where she helped to organize the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, Airstream’s owners’ club. Dale’s family was intimately interwoven with Airstream, and he’d soon join them for good.
Dale joined the 1956 European Caravan with his mother, Wally, and Stella. In 1959, he took a larger role – he was the advance scout for the Wally Byam African Caravan. He checked roads and accommodations and met with government officials during the trek from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt. After a stint in the Army and time at college, he was back – this time, as a full-time employee. He’s been here ever since in various capacities - Receiving Clerk, then Cost Accounting, Personnel Manager, and Materials Manager.
Dale has a vast knowledge of Airstream and its history, and in particular of Wally Byam. He will be sharing that knowledge on Throwback Thursdays with all of the Airstream World.