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LI B RARY

OF THL

UNIVLRSITY

Of ILLINOIS



383

L85m
cop . 3



111. Hist. 3ur



Mail by Rail



The Story of the Postal Transportation Service



BRYANT ALDEN LONG

Associate Editor Transit Postmark

with

WILLIAM JEFFERSON DENNIS

Author of The Traveling Post Office



SIMMONS-BOARDMAN PUBLISHING CORPORATION

New York



First Printing
Copyright 1951, by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation



Design and Typography by Elaine C. Farrar
Manufactured in the United States of America



^



To my dear wife



:i



CONTENTS

FOREWORD viii

1. STEEL CARS AND IRON MEN 1

2. A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY 14

3. "TRAINED LETTERS" FROM COAST TO COAST 50

4. FROM WOULD-BE "SUB" TO VETERAN 47

5. VIVID INCIDENTS OF THE RAILWAY MAIL ... 81

6. TRANSIT MAIL: FROM STAGE TO TRAIN 95

7. AMERICA'S FIRST RAILWAY POST OFFICE 103

8. THE RAILWAY MAIL COMES OF AGE 118

9. PERILOUS DAYS: THE ASSOCIATION AND

THE BROTHERHOOD 137

10. AMAZING FACTS OF THE RAILWAY MAIL 169

11. THE CHALLENGE OF THE UNUSUAL 205

12. R.P.O.S ON THE TROLLEY TRAIL 231

13. CANCELS AND CAR PHOTOS: THE R.P.O. HOBBY 254

14. ON FAR HORIZONS:

I-THE BRITISH T.P.O.S 268

15. ON FAR HORIZONS:

II-FROM CANADA TO THE ORIENT 297

16. TRANSIT MAIL LOOKS TO THE FUTURE 324

THE MAIL CLERK'S WIFE (A TRIBUTE) 568

TECHNICAL NOTES 570

APPENDIX:
I. CURRENT R.P.O.S OF THE U. S., CANADA,

AND BRITAIN 386

II. BIBLIOGRAPHY 406

INDEX 409

vi



ILLUSTRATIONS



Making the catch at Shohola, Pennsylvania

How men sort mail at a mile a minute

Cross-section of an R.P.O. interior

Unloading the Albuquerque S: Los Angeles Railway Post Office

A catch out west, on the Santa Fe's Chief

A tiny former two-foot gauge railway post office car

A typical local short-line railway post office

A Postal Transportation Service "terminal"

Owney, famed traveling dog of the mail cars

New York World's Fair Railway Post Office

Replica of the original Hannibal-St. Joe mail car

The long and short of it

Former interurban trolley railway post office

An electric-car railway post office

Old-time city street railway post office

A British railway post office

Clerks at work on a British Travelling Post Office

A Canadian railway post office train

Railway post office car in Germany

The flying post office

Modern highway post office

A famed postal streamliner

The ultimate in modern postal cars

The late Smith W. Purdum: beloved ex-head of the Service

A typical steam railway post office train



vn



FOREWORD



The purpose of this book is to tell the story of the Postal
Transportation (Railway Mail) Service, past and present.
In particular, it is the story of the unsung and highly trained
men who expertly sort your mail and mine on speeding
trains, day and night. The author and his collaborator, both
of whom have worked in this Service, are eager to portray
it so that it will interest everyone who mails a letter— as well
as the railfan, the R.P.O.-HP.O. enthusiast or philatelic
collector, and the postal transportation clerk himself. Above
all, we hope thereby to improve working conditions within
the Service and contribute to its personnel's welfare, as well
as to more efficient postal services in the public interest.

As the first general descriptive book on our railway postal
services to appear in over thirty-four years, this work is based
partly on its small predecessor of 1916, Professor Dennis's
The Travelling Post Office; but it has become a completely
new and vastly expanded volume, covering everything from
the mighty streamlined Fast Mail trains and Highway Post
Offices of today to the ghostly white street-car R.P.O.s of
yesteryear, even though maps had to be omitted.

Young men interested in entering the P.T.S., new substi-
tutes, and railway mail researchers should review carefully
the Technical Notes and Appendices at the back. The great-
est care has been taken to insure the book's accuracy; but
despite intense research in the field, libraries, and by corre-
spondence and re-checking of data, minor factual errors and
inadvertent omissions of certain facts or proper credits are
all too likely to creep in. The author makes no pretense of
infallibility and will appreciate all such points being called
to his attention for rectification in future editions and, if
warranted, by notice in appropriate journals.

A major share of recognition for outstanding contributions
in the preparation of this book is due to the following mail
clerks and officials of the United States and of the British
Commonwealth: Mr. Clinton C. Aydelott, Rock Island & St.
Louis Railway Post Office; Mr. John Brooks Batten, South

viii



West Travelling Post Office; Mr. C. E. Burdick, New York
& Salamanca Railway Post Office; Mr. LeRoy Clark, Office of
General Superintendent P.T.S., Omaha 1, Nebr.; Mr. Owen
D. Clark, New York & Washington Railway Post Office;
Mr. John J. Bowling, St. Louis & Omaha Railway Post Office;
Mr. Frank Goldman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Terminal,
P.T.S.; Mr. Charles Hatch, St. Louis, Eldon & Kansas City
Railway Post Office; Mr. G. Herring, Director of Communi-
cations, R.M.S., Post Office Dept., Ottawa, Ont.; Mr. Dan
Moschenross, Toledo & St. Louis Railway Post Office; Mr.
James Murdock, North Bay & Toronto Railway Post Office;
Mr. Nilkanth D. Purandare, Inspector R.M.S., Retired,
Poona City, India; Mr. Hershel E. Rankin, Editor Transit
Postmark, Memphis 'k New Orleans R.P.O.; Mr. L. Beau-
mont Reed, New York & Pittsburgh R.P.O., Retired; Mr.
J. L. Reilly, Editor Postal Transport Journal, ex-New York
& Chicago R.P.O.; Mr. Ronald Smith, Editor The Traveller,
Down/Up Special Travelling Post Office; Mr. Donald M.
Steffee, New York &: Chicago Railway Post Office; and Mr.
William D. Taylor, North West Travelling Post Office.

Equally outstanding credit is due to the following, not
connected with the Service: Mr. LeRoy P. Ackerman, Presi-
dent, AMERPO, East Orange, N. J.; Mr. W. Lee Fergus,
Glen Ellyn Philatelic Club, Glen Ellyn. 111.; Mr. Robert S.
Gordon, Northfield, Vt.; Mr. Norman Hill, President,
T.P.O. & Seapost Society, Rotherham, England; Mrs.
Dorothy Jane Long, Verona, N. J.; Mr. Earl D. Moore,
President, Streetcar Cancel Society, Chicago, 111.; and Mr.
Stephen G. Rich, Publisher, Verona, N. J.

Additional credit is due to such institutions and publica-
tions as the Bureau of Transportation, Post Office Depart-
ment, Washington, and its officials; the National Postal
Transport Association, the Postal Transport Journal, the
Panama Canal office, the Department of the Army and its
officers, the Post Office Department's Post Haste, its former
office of Air Postal Transport, and numerous embassies and
legations, particularly the Mexican, Polish, and Spanish, all
at Washington, D. C; Railroad Magazine, This Week, New
York Central System, and the Collectors' Club, all at New
York, N. Y.; the Go-Back Pouch, Oakland 2, Calif., for many
excerpts; The Traveller, London; T.P.O. , Rotherham, York-
shire; Postal Markings, Verona, N. J.; Linn's Weekly, Sidney,
Ohio; Transit Postmark, Raleigh, Tenn.; the Philatelic.

ix



Literature Review, Canajoharie, N. Y.; and to Clarence
Votaw's book Jasper Hunnicut. Special help was gratefully
received from Assistant Executive Director George E. Miller
of the first-named Bureau above, from his predecessor Mr.
John D. Hardy, and from publisher A. C. Kalmbach and
Trains. We thank espescially the many present and former
railway mail clerks and officials of this country and the British
Commonwealth who contributed, including:

F. E. C. Allen, L. M. Allen, G. E. Anderson. S. C. Arnold, E.
Avery, D. W. Baker, Harry Barnes, J. F. Barron, A. A. Bell-
mar, J. F. Bennett, C. G. Berry, A. N. Bice, F. J. Billingham,

C. S. Blakeley, San Bias, Supt. B. B. Bordelon, W. H. Bower,
Chas. Brassell, G. E. Brown, T. F. Brown, H. C. Browning,

D. D. Bonewitz, Amos Brubaker, G. W. Bruere, C. P. Buckley,

E. C. Bull, D. O. Brewster, S. J. Buckman, J. L. Buckmaster,
L. W. Buckmaster, Leon Burchardt, B. B. Callicott, Wm.
Carmody. B. F. Carle and M. B. A., W. V. Carter, C. W.
Caswell, Arthur Carucci, T. L. Chittick, Harry Christensen,
Ex-Gen. Supt. S. A. Cisler, C. G. Cissna, H. A. Clarke and

D. R. M. C. Fed., Wm. Cole, R. T. Confer, J. P. Connolly,
H. W. Cook, J. F. Cooper, Sam Cope, W. E. Cocanower,
L. C. Cox, H. C. Craig, W. C. Crater, S. J. Curasi, Geo. Cutler,
Leon Cushman, J. C. Davis, L. E. Davis, Wilson Davenport,
J. F. Daeger, O. T. Dean and Ry. Mail Clerk, Mike Del-
gado, W. M. De Soucy, Supt. R. W. Dobbins, A. B. Dodge,

E. F. Dodson, N. E. Donath, J. F. Donnelly, G. E. Doran,
Barney Duckman, W. Dunn, E. Ellsworth, Ruben Ericson,
Ray Exler, H. A. Farley, P. V. Farnsworth, Supt. F. G. Fielder,
T.J. Flannagan, W. H. Flowers, C. W. Gage, F. C. Gardiner,
R. E. Garner, Supt. L. J. Garvin, Roger Gaver, A. R. Geving,
Sid Goodman, Jack Gordan, G. H. Gorham, F. R. Gossman,
G. K. Greer, C. R. Groff, Isidore Gross, J. H. Grubbs, J. R.
Goodrich, Hugh Gordon, F. W. Gruhn, L. S. Hahn, B. F.
Harkins, R. A. Harter, H. Hammerman, C. M. Harvey, G. E.
Herron, C. C. Hennessy. S. H. Hill, J. A. Hoctor, John Hoff-
man, Earle Hoyer, J. H. Huber, F. A. Huether, Wilburn
Humphries, Al Humpleby, P. T. Jacoby, B. V. James, H. L.
Jeffers, R. G. Johnson, Supt. F. J. Jones, R. E. Jones, Harry
Kapigian, Jack Kelleher, Supt. E. J. Kelly, L. C W. Kettring,
W. F. Kilman, C. M. Kite. Supt. V. A. Klein, J. D. Knight.
Keith Koons, C. E. Kramer, Wm. Kuhnle, John Landis,
Supt. A. D. Lawrence, T. R. Lehman, C. A. Leuschner,
Supt. J. C. Livingston, Geo. Lonquist, E. R. Love, Supt. E. L.



Loving, D. J. Lucas, F. Luchesi, J. J. J. Lundcen, H. J. IMc-
Carty, Jerauld McDerniott, W. R. McDonald, J. G. Mc-
Elhinny, O. R. McGahey, W. R. McDonald, D. C. Mcintosh,
R. V. McPherson, Supt. R. H. McNabb, L. C. Maconiber,
Jas. Maher, R. A. March, Supt. Roy Martin, E. M. Martin-
dale, E. A. Maska, G. S. Mereweather, Earl Miller, J. L.
Miller, W. R. Miller, W. A. Mills, VV. H. Morgan, Russell
Moore, J. H. Morton, Claude Moyer, J. VV. Mullen, J. F.
Mullins, C. E. Natter, E. L. Newton, A. T. Nichols, R. A.
Norris, O. H. Ohlinger, O. A. Olson, F. E. Page, J. A. Parsons,
M. H. Peckham, F. E. Perry, E. Pierce, Arthur Piper, VV. S.
Pinkney, J. F. Plummer, J. C. Presgraves, VVni. Poole, H. F.
Potter, M. A. Priestley, E. W. Purcell, A. R. Querhammer,
F. L. Ray, Paul Redpath, C. E. Rench, VV. R. S. Reynolds,
R. H. Rex, R. A. Rice, H. B. Richardson, J. F. Roberson,
Melvin Robertson, VV. L. Robinson, Supt. VV. G. Ross, H.
Rothe, J. F. Rowland, E. C. Rumpf, Silas Rutherford, F. J.
Schneider, B. F. Schreffler, Dr. E. A. Shaffer, S. O. Shapiro,
Louis Shimek, Harry Shulder, H. VV. Shuster, f. L. Simpson,
R. L. Simpson, E. H. Slayton, D. O. VV. Smith, H. G. Springer,
Alex Steinbach, Ben Steigler, E. E. Stuart, C. F. Swerman, L.
H. Thompson, A. C. Threadgill, Chas. Tobolsky, G. E. Tyler,
E. F. Upham, L. N. Vandivier, Wm. Van Vliet, X. C. Vickrey,
P. C. Vincent, Anton Vlcek, VVm. I. Votaw, L. Wagner, Frank
Waldhelm, J. A. Washington, H. E. Waterbury, C. J.
Waterston, F. M. Weigand, C. J. Wentz, H. C. Welsh, VV. H.
Werntz, G. L. Wester, Willis Wildrick, B. O. VVilks, L. A.
VVilsey, Supt. R. C. Young, L. R. Zarr, and L. E. Zimmerman.

The following persons, not connected with the P.T.S., are
due equal credit:

John D. Alden, Lieut. L. W. Amy, Vernon L. Ardiff, VV.
H. Auden and G.P.O. at London, Donald Ashton and Bur-
linton Lines, Chas. L Ball, Paul D. Barrett, Postmaster Bauer
(Munich, Germany) , Gordon Berry, Phil Bolger, VVm. G.
Bolt and Miami P.O., Carl D. Bibo, C. D. Brenner, L. R.
Brown, John H. Brinckmann, A. M. Bruner, Richard O.
Bush, Secretary, Amerpo, Mrs. VV. H. Buxton, Dep. Asst.
P.M.G. Tom C. Cargill, Dr. Carroll Chase, Chief de Centre
de Tri (Mulhouse, France), Geo. Kenneth Clough, Richard
S. Clover, Sylvester Colby, C. A. Colvin, Eric G. Colwell, H.
T. Crittenden, Mrs. John R. Cummings, Edward [. Curtis,
Stephen P. Davidson, Louis Edward Dequine, L. W. Dewitt,
Heliger De Winde, Frank P. Donovan, Jr., Eugene Dubois

xi



and Pennsylvania Railroad, Carl Dudley, Henry Doherty,
Chas. A. Elston, Mrs. M. Engdahl, John F. Field, Bruce M.
Fowler, Edward A. Fuller, Joseph Galloway, Robert Gear,
G. L. Geilfuss, D. S. Gates and the I.C.S., Margaret Ankers
Gilkey, Philippine R.M.S. Supt. Vincente Gonzales, Ex-P.M.
Ernest Green, Arthur G. Hall, R. L. Hardy, Althea Harvey,
A. C. Hahn, Richard A. Hazen, E. W. Heckenbach, Glenn
Heuberger, R. F. Higgins, Elliott B. Holton, Stephen G.
Hulse, Sistem M. Ida, Lieut. Wm. C. Jannsen, Alan A.
Jackson, Michael Jarosak, Albert L. V. Jenkins, Mrs. Irl M.
Johnson, Eileen Keelln, Harry M. Konwiser, Fred Langford,
Merwin A. Leet, Sven E. Lindberg (railway mail clerk,
Sweden), Geo. W. Linn, Carleton M. Long, Dorothy M. Long,
L. L McDougale, Kyle McGrady, C. M. Mark, Lieut. Marquez
(Spanish Embassy), Dr. W. L Mitchell, Howard T. Moulton,
Barney Neuberger, Allan Nicholson, Scott Nixon, H. R.
Odell, Harry Oswald, L. B. Parker, Dave H. Parsons, G. E.
Payne, Postmasters at Bills Place (Pa.) Frankfurt-am Main
(Germany) and Skaneateles (N.Y.), W. C. Peterman, W. J.
Pfeiffer, Alden L. Randall, E. H. Redstone and Boston Public
Library, Bob Richardson, R. W. Richardson, Mike Runey,
Rev. D. B. Russell, Gideon G. Ryder, Arlene R. Sayre, Edwin
Schell, Don E. Shaw, T. J. Sinclair and Association of Ameri-
can Railroads, James C. Smith, Jessica Smith, John Gibb
Smith, W. R. Smith and Fairchild Aircraft, Clarence E. Snell,
Gunter Stetza, Mrs. H. W. Strickland, Walter L. Thayer, J.
G. Thomas, Gerald F. Todd, Robert A. Truax, Jas. H.
Tierney, H. T. Vaughn, C. W. Ward, W. S. Wells, Robert
West, Mrs. John S. Wegener, and Wilkins, photographer
(Brooklyn).

B. A, L.
January 1, 1951.



Xll



MAIL BY RAIL



Chapter 1



STEEL CARS AND IRON MEN



The Railway Maill Ah, how my mind goes ranging o'er

the years
When, in old Number 31, the mail piled to my ears,
I showed the world, along with all the others in the crew.
Just what a bunch of mail clerks in their fighting clothes

could do . . .

— Earl L. Newton




— Courtesy Postal Markings



Framed tensely in a door-
way on a speeding train, roar-
ing through the night past a
tiny village on a curve, he
stands alert— a postal transpor-
tation clerk. His eyes are fixed
upon a tiny light on a track-
side crane; his hands grip a
strange, huge hook on a cross-
bar; his faded denims flutter in the wind, held to his waist
by a big belt carrying a grim six-shooter and a long key chain.
He has just stepped away from a "blind" mail case into
which he had been flipping letters for several thousand post
offices to the exact proper routes— without even a mark on any
of his 150 pigeonholes to guide him!

As average Americans, we know about as little concerning
this grizzled mail-key railroader and his amazing, vitally im-
portant job as anyone could deem possible. These expert
superpostmen of the rails, who sort America's mails in transit
at mile-a-minute speeds to save precious hours and days in

1



2 MAIL BY RAIL

delivery, are seldom heard of or even noticed. Except, per-
haps, by their co-workers of the railroad and post offices; by
occasional bystanders at stations 'who suddenly notice their
car marked "United States Mail— Railway Post Office" and
peer through the barred windows, fascinated, to watch them at
work; or by the small-town resident to whom the flying tackle
by which our veteran clerk soon hooks a pouch from that
trackside crane is an old story, and to whom he's known as
a "railway mail clerk. "^

Weird are the misconceptions as to who this man might
be! For example:

"You just take on and unload the mail, don't you?"
"What railroad company do you work for?"
"How long have you been with the Railway Express?"
Such are the never-ending questions that in time may irk
even the best-natured clerk. Many persons still believe the
mail clerk starts out with a pouch ready-locked for each sta-
tion. Others remark, enviously, "Those chaps only work
every other week; the rest of the time they loaf. And they
ride all over the country free, seeing the sights. I know— I
read the Civil Service school ads."

Far from that, America's thirty thousand postal transpor-
tation clerks are trained experts employed solely by the
United States Government. Their richly earned time off is
spent largely in required studies, label preparations, and
scheme correcting. With their officials, they constitute our
nation-wide Postal Transportation Service— known as the
Railway Mail Service until late in 1949— and handle 93 per
cent of all non-local mail matter. It is small wonder that the
Postal Transportation Service is famed as "the backbone of
the postal establishment" or "the Arteries of the Postal
Service."

And these "arteries" are indeed manned by red-blooded,
keen-minded men of good physique and uncanny intellect.
Aged eighteen to seventy, they work night and day in con-



^The railroads still officially designate P.T.C.'s as "railway mail clerks," and
this popular terra will be frequently used here,



STEEL CARS AND IRON MEN S

necting mail trains, called Raihvay Post Offices (R.P.O.s),
from Halifax to Los Angeles. Still other railway mail clerks—
to give them their popular title— work in terminals, highway
post offices, boat "R.P.O.s," airfields, transfer and field offices,
and even (experimentally) in airplanes.

With the gruff self-deprecation so characteristic of these
clerks, we can well imasjine some veteran of the rails at this
point as he snorts and emits the classic remark:

"There luere days when we used to have wooden cars and
iron men. Now we have steel cars and ..." And his voice
trails off into mumble of good-natured exasperation.

But we who have really come to know these men, as they
are today, hold to the conviction that we must say "steel cars
and iron men"— for it is still true, as Postmaster General
Jones said in 1888:

"There is no position more exacting . . . He must not only
be sound in mind and limb, but possessed of above-ordinary
intelligence and a retentive memory . . . He must know no
night or day. He must be impervious to heat or cold. Rush-
ing along at the rate of [now, 60 to 90] miles per hour, in
charge of that ^vhich is sacred— the correspondence of the
people— catching his meals as he may; at home only semi-
occasional ly, the wonder is that men competent [for] so high
a calling can be found."

The whole purpose of the P.T.S. is to speed our mails by
sorting them iji transit instead of while lying in a post office.
In the 1850's a typical letter mailed to Florida from a town in
Maine would require one to two weeks for delivery, because
it had to wait its turn for sorting and resorting at Boston,
New York, Washington, and so on.

Today five speedy R.P.O. lines carry the letter continuous-
ly southward, while all necessary sorting is done en route. A
clerk on the Bangor k Boston R. P. O. (MeC-BRrM)-, running
through our Maine town, receives the letter and probably
puts it in a "South States" letter package in his case. Tied
with string, the package is addressed by means of a slip to



•Maine Central and Boston & Maine R.R.'s. Similar standard or easily-recog-
pized railroad abbreviations will be used following all R.P.O. titles as needed,



4 MAIL BY RAIL

the next R.P.O. connection, the Boston &: N.Y. (NYNHScH).
That line will probably make up a "Florida State" package,
and the next clerk, on the N. Y. R: Washington (PRR), will
probably put it in a pouch of Florida "working" packages
made up for the Wash, k Florence R.P.O. rRFR:P-ACU.
A clerk on that line will make up a "Flor. R: Jacksonville—
Fla." package, containing our letter, for this next line. If the
Florida village is directly on the Flor. R: Jack. (ACL) , the
clerk on that line makes a direct package for the to^vn and
puts it off there in a pouch; if destined for a connecting line,
the letter will go into a package pouched to that route in-
stead. Within two days after mailing, it can be delivered.

This ingenious work is done in over three thousand
R.P.O. cars (on passenger trains) and highway post offices,
operated on over eight hundred separate routes covering
over 205,000,000 miles annually. Routes are usually named
from their terminals— such as the "N.Y. R: Chicago R.P.O.,"
famed as the New York Central's "Fast Mail" route. Postal cars
are usually sixty to seventy feet long; but in all cars, except
the "full R.P.O.s" used on the trunk lines, clerks and mails
are restricted to a fifteen- or thirty-foot "apartment." ^Tain-
line R.P.O. trains containing two or three sixty-foot cars with
twelve or fifteen clerks in each are a sharp contrast to the
tiny one-man branch-line and suburban facilities.

In addition to the lettering mentioned, most R.P.O. cars
may be recognized by their low, continuous windows contain-
ing prison-like vertical or horizontal wooden rods, and by a
catcher hook or a safety bar in each sliding door. Inside, the
busy clerks work in strictly utilitarian surroundings, usually
finished in drab brown paint and plain varnish, except for
the newest cars, which feature green-enameled cases and
walls; ceilings are white. If a typical car is entered through
its "end door" from the car ahead, we find first of all a small
closet into which the clothes and wraps of a full crew can
barely be jammed. Doors, usually nine to 18 inches wide, as
well as closets, are wnder in newer cars. Front hooks, soon
completely covered for easy pocket access, are a particular
bane to those due to arrive later.



STEEL CARS AND IRON MEN i

There follow in quick, succession a tiny lavatory opposite,
steel-pole stalls or bins ("stanchions" out West) for stacking
bag mails, sliding doors, a water cooler, pigeonhole cases for
sorting letters, tray tables and steel racks in which pouches
(for letters) and sacks (for newspapers) are hung, and then
more sliding doors and storage bins. Letter cases, which in
some cars are at the center instead, are built fiat asrainst the
walls, with a ledge and drawers underneath. Each "letter
man" handles a case section eleven or twelve holes his:h and
four to sixteen columns wide; case holes are just four and
one-half or four and one-quarter inches wide. The canvas,
leather-strapped pouches are hung squarely open in their col-
lapsible steel-pipe rack; pouch clerks are busily flinging letter
packages and first-class packets {slugs) in front, behind them,
and above into auxiliary overhead boxes with sliding gates.
The "paper man" does exactly the same thing with his news-
papers and occasional parcels; his sacks, loosely hung with
dangling cord fasteners, are usually at the rear of the big
sixty-five ton car. Each car costs the railroad up to $85,000—
and Uncle Sam up to fifty-four cents per mile for its use.

Working at a mad pace in his speeding, swaying train for
nightly nine- to sixteen-hour stretches, the railway mail clerk
is a fascinating study in human psychology. His steadfast
attention to duty, superior intellect and memory, stamina,
and sterling honesty are all proverbial. Less known is his
typical, good-natured deprecation of himself and his job; he's
loath to admit that he does have a quiet, hidden determina-
tion to speed the mails home— to never "go stuck" (leave
mails incompletely sorted). He usually detests that hackneyed
saying "The mails must go through," and few clerks will
admit, as M. E. Peebles did recently in The Postal Transport
Journal,'' that "1 personally believe we have one of the finest
jobs in the country." And yet, should their expert teamwork
cease for only twenty-four hours, national chaos would result
and business and commerce grind practically to a standstill.

But in their personal ideals and special interests mail-car



*Then the Railway Post Office.



6 MAIL BY RAIL

men are as startlingly different as they are otherwise alike.
They run the whole gamut from stag-party-and-hot-swing
devotees to poetic symphony lovers, from avid horse-race fans
to musicians or creative artists, and from fervent Gospel-
declarers to revelers in wine, women, and song! Nearly all
clerks, however, like hunting and card games.

A surprising number of college men enter the Service,
including scores of former underpaid male teachers. Seventy
out of 150 typical new substitutes were found to be college
graduates, and many are likely to rise to the top— as did one
clerk, a Princeton man named John D. Hardy, who became



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