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Terry Calhoun

 

 

last updated: October 18, 2002

 

NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION WEEK

Unbelievable as it may seem, the birth of Transportation Week is the out come of a project sponsored by the Women Traffic Club of Houston in 1952.

In the year 1953, when the Women’s Traffic Club of Houston was only a year old and boasted a membership of 63, these women begin to look for the worthwhile project whereby they could contribute to the industry of traffic and transportation. They decided on a scholarship for the study of transportation and foreign trade at the University of Houston.

Sparked by Charlotte Woods, owner-manager of Shippers Guide Service at Houston and a director of Associated Traffic Clubs, the project got underway. Necessary arrangement were made at the university and Houston and Harris county public and private schools were supplied with application forms and full particulars concerning the scholarship, with local papers carrying several articles of interest to promote the program.

After five months of waiting and meetings with teachers and counselors of the various schools, they find that high school seniors, after one look at the scholarship, paid no further attention, thinking this to be the training program for policemen and traffic officers.

Confronted with this fact, Mrs. Woods came up with the idea of a Transportation Week. If the public was made aware of the job possibilities and it’s contribution to everyday living, she concluded, the interest of graduating students could be gained in the field of traffic and transportation.

Charlotte went before the club membership, requesting permission to institute a Transportation Week observance. Regardless of all else, she explained the public had to be made aware of transportation in its phases if success was to be attained in awarding scholarships in this field.

The challenge of staging such an observance had a two-fold purpose. First, was to promote outside interest in the field of Transportation. Secondly, was to build a better public relations program for the industry as a whole. This accomplishment would surely stimulate interest among students to consider transportation as a career, thus creating a demand for scholarships such as the club had to offer.

With full responsibility resting on their shoulders, the Women of the Houston Club set to work to enlist the aid of the Traffic Club of Houston and other groups; whose primary interest were transportation; as well as individual carriers in all forms of transport. The traffic department of the Houston Chamber of Commerce gave full support, always coming to their aid when things went wrong.

With Charlotte Woods at the helm as chairman of the steering committee, the observance of the first Transportation Week took place in Houston, Texas the week of March 29 through April 4, 1953.

The program included a poster contest for the elementary, junior and senior high school students. Public School auditoriums were obtained to show movie films provided by the various modes of transport. A young lady was selected to represent the industry as Miss Transportation.

To advertise the poster contest, local radio stations where enlisted and gave freely of their time making announcements during the day and evening, calling the contest to the attention of all school aged children and at the same time making the public aware of the transportation industry.

Miss Transportation was selected from among the women employed by transportation companies, traffic departments of industry and students enrolled in traffic courses at the University of Houston. The winner made many public appearances on radio and television and at luncheon and dinner meetings during the week. A trophy suitably inscribed and numerous prizes of gift certificates and savings bonds were awarded the fortunate young lady.

Transportation Week continued and expanded in 1954 and ’55, with an easy contest and store window displays added to the program. Participation by all modes of transport increased each year, improving the local program and reaching more people.

In 1954, Charlotte Woods began a drive for the statewide program. Through the Combined efforts of this lady, the Women’s Transportation Club Of Houston and Frank Norris of Dallas, local representatives of the Transportation Association of America, the Governor of Texas and mayors of many Texas cities proclaimed a Transportation Week to be held each year, encouraging everyone to participate. A booklet, “How to celebrate Transportation Week in Texas,” by Mrs. Woods and Mr. Norton proved invaluable to other Texas cities in planning their programs.

Further efforts in this endeavor succeeded in President John F. Kennedy proclaiming, in 1963, observance of National Transportation Week during may of each year.

 


 

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