This story really hits close to home. I worked in reservation sales at Apple Vacations years ago, and my mother is a travel agent. Because of this, I had a preview of all the changes that were to come in the industry.
I wanted to highlight the difficulties and the decline of the profession. Ironically, this was written a few years before September 11, which, as we know, delivered quite a blow to the industry.
When Getting took on the job initially, she was merely filling the shoes of an acquaintance, Louette Neusbaum, who had to leave town unexpectedly. The job was to last for two weeks. It was 1951.
She acquiesced to answer the phones and do filing for a short time. Jo, as she is called, says she was a “complete greenhorn” and knew nothing about the business. She worked at the Chamber of Commerce building, where travel arrangements were made at the time.
When doctors discerned that Neusbaum had multiple sclerosis, her husband, Frank, decided she could only work part-time. He asked Getting to stay on. She agreed to continue working until they found a replacement.
But business was booming and Gettig didn’t find herself going anywhere–except on her first flight to Europe in 1953, on a British Airways Stratacruiser.
She watched the business evolve from what was the back room of the Chamber of Commerce, when it was first called a “travel agency, ” into occupying its own office space in downtown State College on Allen Street where Bostonian Ltd. is located today.
It was the first travel agency in State College.
Getting attempted to retire several times. But word got out that she knew the business, and she was eventually persuaded to work out of her home.
“They needed a travel agent, and there weren’t any around.” She proudly calls herself the first outside sales agent in Centre County.
Today Gettig continues to work in outside sales at Carlson Wagonlit Nittany Travel, in State College.
Getting has a wealth of knowledge from her 46 years in the business and recalls dates and names almost instantaneously.
In the beginning, All American Airways was the sole plane in and out of State College, she recalls. Local resident Sherm Lutz owned a field, an “air depot,” at the upper end of town,
where he taught people to fly.
All American Airways later evolved into Allegheny Airlines, which subsequently became U.S. Airways.
Gettig describes her first flight as “very exciting.” She and her husband, C
arl, traveled free from New York to London in 1953 on a flight that took 11 hours and 40 minutes. Gettig remembers it was a propeller plane, which usually meant having to stop to refuel.
The planes were double decker, with berths in first class. One could pay $50 extra for a bed, which was furnished by folding down the seats, she said.
Gettig contrasted the current airplane restrooms with those found on the Stratacruiser. Six women could be in the bathroom at the same time, and one could even change clothes there, she said. Read more…
Reprinted with permission from Voices