The History of Eastern Airlines

Once considered one of the “big four” US carriers, along with American, Delta, and United, it had been innovative and highly successful, having evolved into the world’s second-largest airline during its six-decade history.

Tracing its origins to Pitcairn Aviation, which had been formed on September 15, 1927, it had inaugurated airmail service the following year between Brunswick, New Jersey, and Atlanta with open-cockpit PA-5 Mailwings.

But North American Aviation, a holding company for several fledgling carriers and aircraft manufacturers, purchased the company a year after that, and, changing its name to Eastern Air Transport, inaugurated passenger service with Ford 4-AT Trimotors on the multi-sector hop from Newark to Washington via Camden, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond on August 18, 1930. Acquisition of the Curtiss Condor enabled it to extend the route to Atlanta.

After absorbing Ludington Air Lines three years later, it was able to incorporate a New York-Philadelphia-Washington triplet to its system.

Eastern’s growth, like that of many other carriers, was jumpstarted by the Air Mail Act of 1934, which entailed the awarding of government contracts to private companies to transport the mail, while the US Postal Service selected them based upon the bid they submitted in competition with others. Although this prompted the formation of upstart companies to operate the airmail routes in the hopes of being chosen, it equally required the separation of the then-common aircraft manufacturer-and-carrier co-ownership.

Circumventing the restriction imposed upon it as a result of its Spoils Conference involvement with General Postmaster Walter Folger Brown, Eastern Air Transport changed its name in 1934 to the one by which it would be known throughout its history, Eastern Air Lines.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, purchased the carrier from the North American Aviation holding for $800.,000 and took over the helm, implementing an aircraft modernization program.

Building its soon-famous Great Silver Fleet, he quickly replaced the slow Curtiss Condor biplanes with all-metal Douglas DC-2s, one of which became the first to land at the new Washington National Airport in 1941. Leaving its imprint on an expanding East Coast network, Eastern plied the New York-Miami sector with wider-cabin, 21-pasenger DC-3s in 1937.

Like many US airlines, whose growth was interrupted by the necessity World War II imposed on it and the requisition of its aircraft for military purposes, Eastern commenced its own military support flights in 1942, connecting the three states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas, spreading its wings to Trinidad in the Caribbean, and ultimately forming its Miami-based Military Transport Division, for which it acquired Curtiss C-46 Commandos.

The seed to its pioneer, tri-city northeast shuttle was planted two years later when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) awarded it the New York-Boston route over American.

The technological advancements of the 1950s, expressed as range, payload, speed, comfort, and safety increases, occurred so rapidly that, by the time an aircraft was produced, its replacement was already on the drawing board.

The quad-engine DC-4 soon supplemented its 39 twin-engine DC-3s, and its network now encompassed Detroit, St. Louis, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Lockheed L-649 Constellation, inaugurated into service in 1947, yielded to the higher-capacity L-1049 Super Constellation, which plied its signature New York-Miami route as of December 17, 1951. The Martin 4-0-4s replaced the DC-3s and by the middle of the decade, the first DC-7Bs sported Eastern’s livery.

Acquisition of Colonial Airlines gave it access to New York State, New England, Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico City.

The propjet took the form of the four-engine Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was inaugurated into service on January 12, 1959 between New York and Miami, and the pure-jet in the form of the four-engine Douglas DC-8 only a year later, soon supplemented by the smaller-capacity, but higher cruise speed Boeing 720.

Eastern was the first of the big four US carriers to operate the 727-100 tri-jet “Whisperliner”-specifically on the Philadelphia-Washington-Miami run-and the twin-jet DC-9-10.

The famous hourly New York-Boston-Washington air shuttle was launched on April 30, 1961 with the L-188 Electra, for which it advised, “No need to make a reservation. Just ‘show and go.’ All sections are with backup planes standing by to assure a seat for everybody waiting at scheduled departure time.”

One-way weekday fares were $69.00 to Boston and $42.00 to Washington, while the round-trip weekend prices were $55.00 for adults and $37.00 for children to both.

The shuttle was eventually operated by DC-9-30, 727-200, and A-300 aircraft.

Breaking its hitherto East Coast shackles at the end of the 1960s, it expanded to Seattle and Los Angeles on the West Coast, to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas with its acquisition of Mackey Airways, and to several Caribbean islands after purchasing Caribair.

Passing the torch to another famous aerospace personality, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker relinquished control to Colonel Frank Borman, who had orbited the earth in Gemini VII in 1966 and the moon in Apollo VIII two years later.

Eastern entered the widebody era with the Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar in 1972, became the first US carrier to operate the European Airbus Industrie A-300 in 1978 when it ordered 23, and was the launch customer for the Boeing 757-200.

After acquiring Braniff International’s Latin American routes in 1982 and establishing a hub in San Juan, it became the world’s second-largest carrier in terms of annual passengers after Aeroflot, establishing hubs in New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, and San Juan and toting its “We have to earn our wings everyday” slogan.

But, while it may have earned its wings, it did not necessarily earn the profits to support their lift. Debt from aircraft purchases needed for its expansion and labor disputes necessitated the $615 million purchase by Texas Air Holdings, which also owned Continental, in 1986, and Eastern became a carcass of fodder. Airplanes were sold. Employees were laid off. Assets were transferred to Continental. And its image rapidly deteriorated, especially when it virtually eliminated in-flight service to reduce costs.

Declaring bankruptcy in 1989 and ceasing operations two years later, on January 19, the one-time “wings of man” became the Icarus of deregulation after a six-decade flight.

Craft Beer History Is Impressive

Ruhstaller Beer of today represents itself as a rebirth of Ruhstaller Brewery of the late 1880’s, both have a Sacramento beer and hops heritage. But the similarities continue between past and present with the strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients and quality. Today’s Ruhstaller’s has a California sourced ingredient list which almost exclusively showcases California sources. Ruhstaller Brewery of the past was also a highly regarded local ingredient brewery for several decades starting just after the California Gold Rush era (1849-1855) and had its demise due to Prohibition-1920 to1933.

Captain Frank Ruhstaller came to America at 15 years old, arriving in Sacramento in 1865. In Sacramento he started work in breweries and a few years later he bought his first brewery. Upon his death in 1907 the local newspaper wrote in his obituary- “Undoubtedly no death has ever caused more regret in this city than did that of Captain Frank J. Ruhstaller.” He was a loved gentleman by all accounts.

The backstory about Ruhstaller Beer of today is centric to Sacramento as it was with the original Ruhstaller Brewery. Frank Ruhstaller built the largest brewery west of the Mississippi in Sacramento. That is astonishing because Sacramento, at one time, had 16 breweries in the town. Much of Sacramento’s economic success was based on the growth in population (due to the Gold Rush), agriculture, great water sources, rail, and ocean access. From 1870 to 1880 the Sacramento region became the hops capital of the world due to the success of quality beer. Regional hop growers were even exporting their hops to Europe.

An interesting fact of the time is that Adolphus Busch came to America in 1857. In 1861 he married the daughter of another German immigrant named Eberhard Anheuser. Mr. Anheuser had started a small brewery in St. Louis, MO in 1857. After the Civil War Busch went to work for his father-in-law at the Anheuser Brewery located “west of the Mississippi”. Here is what is interesting: Frank Ruhstaller had built Ruhstaller Brewery empire in Sacramento to be the largest west of the Mississippi by 1881. He accomplished this on his own.

In an era in California where agriculture was king, it was the quantity, quality, and variety of hops that were astonishing for that time. Sacramento would eventually become the major supplier of hops to much of America and world breweries.

It could be said, Ruhstaller Brewery (of old) was one of the first premium craft breweries. They produced a steam beer 15 years before Anchor Steam was founded. According to Beer-FAQ, “Steam beer is a style of beer originating in California during the gold rush. They are generally clear and crisp like a lager, but also full-bodied like an ale. The taste is toasty and malty but with a fairly aggressive hoppiness and carbonation. The brewing process is unique as it uses lager yeast but brewed at warmer ale temperatures.

Taking up the banner of the original Rruhstaller Brewery, in 2011 Ruhstaller Beer commenced operations. The culture of the first Ruhstaller Brewery is the foundation of the award winning “Ruhstaller Beer•Sacramento” of today. The founder and leader of Ruhstaller Beer is Mr. J. E. Paino. J.E., as he prefers to be called, graduated from UC Davis with a degree in business; the beer career came about later. He impresses me as a down-to-earth kind of guy who appreciates the team approach and is totally focused on the customer. As many who build companies, he is driven by quality in his ingredients and that quality starts with hops-that is Sacramento hops.

J.E. has been very methodical in building an award-winning craft beer company brand, drawing on a rich history of Sacramento in beer, grains, and hops. The company has spent a great deal of time and money to nurture the hops industry that remains today. From 3 local hops farms, enough hops are produced to supply Ruhstaller Beer with most of the hops they need, except for 5 % which come from outside of California. Even the barley is sourced from Northern California farmers.

J. E. is not shy about his belief that California offers the best terroir/environmental conditions for growing premium hops. “I have proven that with our own 10 acres of hops,” says Paino. When you drive west on I-80 in Dixon, CA you can see their hop farm beside the road. “At Ruhstaller Beer, we believe great beer begins with the best ingredients. Just as our founder Captain Frank Ruhstaller, we are partnering with California hop and barley farmers to grow the finest California ingredients for our beers.

To show how serious Ruhstaller Beer is about their commitment to ingredients, they started a hop school to teach Ruhstaller’ s history, the techniques required to grow premium hops, and to help consumers understand the foundation of good beer. In fact, the class is not free, in 2019 they charged $30 per participant for 6 sessions and they provided lunch and beer.

Interestingly, Sacramento was the hops capital of the world and that era is generally recognized as starting about 1850. One hops grower of that period started a hops farm located at what is now Sacramento University. By 1904 that grower was supplying hops to Guinness Brewery.

Research indicates most people buy craft beer based upon regional identity, a recommendation, a positive trial experience, label design, and brand loyalty. If a brewery owner and its employees have a passion about what they are doing, will inherently drive quality and customers recognition. Value of quality, passion, and a recognizable corporate culture that is recognizable will drive consumer brand loyalty.

To paraphrase a legendary New York City advertising genius-If it doesn’t sell, all else doesn’t matter. Probably the Ruhstaller Beer approach to marketing has had a profound impact on branding. As just noted, Ruhstaller Beer•Sacramento is built on a historic regional name that was known for consistent quality, the support of local growers, and an identity that consumers can relate with. From tap handles they make from old farm implements to the abstract stylized silhouette image of a man with a cigar and to the name ‘Sacramento’ on their labels; they have created a brand that is easy to understand and creates an affinity. Who doesn’t like the story of success built with the early history of a brewery from the upstart West?

In the Yolo County News article by Bret Johnson, J. E. Paino (founder Ruhstaller Beer) says about marketing beer, “You can’t just have a good story with a good name on it. You’ve got to have good beer first. When Sacramento was the largest hop-growing region in America before Prohibition, the brewers competed on quality not Super Bowl ads. Not gimmicks. It had to be good beer. That’s why Ruhstaller (the namesake of today’s Ruhstaller) put a gilt edge on the lip of the glass because it was supposed to be better beer.” The Ruhstaller family gave Paino one of the original gilt-edged glasses as a gift.

In that same interview, Paino predicted that beers made using local hops will cost an additional 50 cents per bottle. To justify the cost, it’s essential that the consumer is aware of the value and purpose of quality ingredients which brings aromas, flavor, and mouthfeel to the quality craft beer experience.

This is about Ruhstaller Beer•Sacramento: Yes, the name does matter. The resurrection of the iconic name by J. E. Paino comes with the best wishes from the survivors of the Frank Ruhstaller family. Ruhstaller Beer of today is unique to the craft beer industry because of its history. This craft beer brand has roots dating back to 1881 in humble beginnings. History for Ruhstaller Beer today is the documented history of Frank Ruhstaller, the history of Sacramento as the beer capital of the western half of the U.S., sourcing history of ingredients, and a profound history of corporate culture. We can always learn from old-time masters. Mr. J. E. Paino is adding to the Ruhstaller legacy/history by adding a keen understanding of building brand loyalty on true quality.

History can make for good beer!

The History of the Parsons Dining Chair

A parsons chair is a special kind of upholstered dining chair. The name has nothing to do with the clergy. The chair was named for its origin – it was created in Paris in the 1930s, by a designer at the famous Parsons School of Design.

When designing the chair, the Parsons School designers didn’t radically reinvent the idea of the chair (as, say, the Bauhaus did in Germany). Instead, the designers streamlined historical influences, kept what worked, threw away what didn’t, and created an enduring modern classic. The main traits of this – its naturalism, simplicity and linear look – are classic Modernist traits, but the style reflects 1800s Mission and Arts and Crafts styles, the Art Nouveau styles that emerged later, and the Art Deco that was contemporary at the time of the parsons chair’s design. The simplicity of the chair fits with these styles and a great variety of others, both classic and modern.

Originally, it was meant to be used in a set with the parsons table, whose linear look reflects a similar aesthetic in the matching chair. However, in a bit of irony, the simplicity of both has led to them being adapted separately into many styles of furniture and decor. The result? Today, they are rarely seen together. The parsons style is so adaptable that many who own a parsons table or a parsons chair have no idea that companion pieces exist. The parsons chair is virtually always crafted of hardwood, and features a slightly curving, squared backrest and legs. They are usually featured with slipcover upholstery that entirely covers the legs and gives it a solid, monumental appearance. This slipcover is optional or absent on many recent models.

Most parsons chairs nowadays are direct clones of the original Parsons School design. However, many recent variations exist, including versions with cabriole legs, Chippendale-influenced designs, shorter or taller designs, and versions with armrests, versions inspired more or less by Art Nouveau or Art Deco, and so on. The original Parsons School design was upholstered in leather, and this is still a very popular upholstery option, though microfabrics are increasingly used. The wide variety of options available today should ensure that you’ll be able to find one that’s right for you.

Due to its simplicity, comfort and ease of cleaning, the parsons chair remains enduringly popular, especially in restaurants. In fact, you might already own and enjoy one without realizing what it is. We hope that knowledge of this chair’s history should deepen your appreciation for this unique design.