The College hoped that this photo would publicize “up-to-the-minute transportation available to Bates students.”
But it was published in the Freshman Catalog in December 1941, an inopportune moment to ballyhoo any kind of commercial air travel. With the U.S. entering World War II after Pearl Harbor, airlines used their planes to support the war. In fact, the airline pictured here, Boston-based Northeast Airlines, used its prewar experience flying from Boston to Maine and Vermont to forge a regular military route, the first of its kind, from Presque Isle to Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, and Great Britain.
In this image, the logo on the fuselage of the famed DC-3 shows a smiling Pilgrim astride a plane, while the air hostess’ uniform displays the distinctive white pilgrim collar. The airport is either Portland or Auburn-Lewiston, while the identities of the Bates men are unknown. (The pencil notation on the Kodachrome slide says, “Frosh boarding plane.”)
Airlines, of course, weren’t the only businesses to retool for wartime. In the prewar pages of The Bates Student, a weekly ad for Chesterfield cigarettes always included a celebrity endorsement from the likes of Bette Davis. The ads disappeared for several weeks after Pearl Harbor but reappeared by March in patriotic form. Under the statement “More Pleasure for You,” the March 11 ad noted that Chesterfield was paying more than $2 million per week in war taxes and that “Chesterfields are mighty important in this man’s army. New recruit or old-timer…they all like the cigarette that satisfies.”