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just as in a regular post office. On December twentieth, t!iis
service became Route A as three additional ones (B,C,D)
were established from that oflFice, covering Carroll County;
other routes followed at Frederick, Maryland, and in Penn-
sylvania and Missouri. The clerk canceled mail from patrons
with a rimless postmarker bearing a straight bar biller. Soon
after 1905 the routes became ordinary R.F.D.s. But none of
these wagon services sorted mail between offices.

The first verified, recorded suofOfestion for H.P.O.s within
the Railway Mail Service was the brain-child of James F.
Cooper of the old Tuolumne R: Stockton (Sierra Railway) and
the late Carl E. Allen (Sacramento R: San Francisco— SP)
in California; utterly unaware of any other alleged like pro-
posals, they hit on the idea of H.P.O.s during conversations
in 1925. Noting that a new highway between Cooper's
termini was ten miles shorter than his run and was siphoning
so mucli traffic (including bag mails) from the railway that


abandonment was imminent, they took action and began
publicly advocating "bus R.P.O." service. Cooper introduced
the first Division Convention resolution for H.P.O.s at San
Francisco in 1927, following its approval by his Sacramento
Branch, R.M.A. He wrote letters to bus companies, clerks,
and officials plugging the idea, and 8th (California) Division
delegates were finally directed to support H.P.O.s at the Na-
tion Convention. L. C. Macomber (who claimed to have
introduced a national H.P.O. resolution in 1915— not found
in the records) and others, too, hammered away at the pro-
posal; but no action was taken, and Cooper's line quit in 1938.

Meanwhile the first true highway post office in the world
(sorting mail between offices en route) is said to have been
established in Germany in 1929. No details are available, and
France also claims to have been first to operate a route, al-
though her poste automobile riirale (founded September 1,
1926) was much more like otir Experimental Postal Wagons
and may not have even sorted mail while moving. In this
country clerks redoubled their efforts, and in that same year
of 1929, Walter W. Mahone (the Flying P.O. proposer men-
tioned earlier) vigorously proposed the use of H.P.O.s on star
routes and else^vhere— only to have his resolution soundly
voted down at his Washington (D.C.) Branch meeting. The
Department, in turn, rejected an officially submitted sugges-
tion of Clerk H. E. Weiler for such service as "too far ahead of
the times, and Congress will not appropriate money." But
six years later the Mahone resolution was adopted both by his
branch and the .3rd Division Convention, and that same year
(19.35) the National R.M.A. voted likewise.

Then in July 1937 the first American motor vehicle to sort
mails en route began operation, but not as an H.P.O. This
surprising and little-known service was operated in Miami,
Florida, by the post office there, until December 1941; it con-
sisted of a three-ton, thirteen-foot Autocar truck manned by
three clerks who sorted foreign registered air mail, only, in
transit between the Miami A.M.F. and the Pan-American Air-
port at Dinner Key Base— using a thirty-six-box letter case.
(The restoration and expansion of similar services, on post


office-airport-railroad station circuits operated by the P.T.S.,
has been suggested in a meritorious proposal publicized by
one clerk in the Postal Transport Journal. Runs to distant
airports would permit a good bit of sorting, and both air and
ordinary mail could perhaps be expedited.)

In 1938 an investigating committee discovered that branch-
line R.P.O. service had been cut by twenty-two million miles
annually since 1922, and that mail circulation was being stag-
nated by the resulting unwieldy star routes. The urgent need
and the economy and convenience of proposed H.P.O.s on
such lines was stressed; newspapers like the Greensboro
(North Carolina) Neius took up the fight for "bus post offices."
At a 1939 congressional hearing it was shown that German
H.P.O.s were successfully expanding, and Representative
Gillie of Indiana pleaded for such service to replace discon-
tinued interurban and other R.P.O.s. (Clerks in the Indi-
anapolis area had been so outspoken in suggesting the new
service that one authority credits their office there with origi-
nating the idea.) The route particularly in question was the
short-lived, already-doomed Peru & Indianapolis R.P.O.
(IRR) described in Chapter 12.

Through concerted efforts by the R.M.A., Mr. Gillie, and
others, Congress finally passed a joint resolution authorizing
an experimental H.P.O. over this route. But even though
the electric line had already designed the mail-sorting bus it
planned to use thereon, President Roosevelt vetoed the bill at
Departmental urging— on the grotmds that volume of avail-
able mail was insufficient, that other R.P.O.s supplied all its
larger offices, and that the legislation was restrictive (to one
line only). At last, in 1940, a second bill was introduced by
the Department allowing it to establish routes anywhere—
and, backed by clerks and officials alike, it Avas enacted.

On February 10, 1941, the Washington &: Harrisonburg
Highway Post Office — first in America — left the national
capital on its inaugural 142-mile journey through Virginia's
beautiful Shenandoah Valley (over Highways 50, 15, Va.-55,
and 11). Despite Indiana's pleas, it was the first route au-
thorized; a spruce new government-operated White bus was


used— a Model 788, with full R.P.O. equipment and powerful
underfloor engine, finished in shiny red, blue, and silver with
POST OFFICE." The route was set up to supplement single-
trip R.P.O. service on the old Wash, k Lexington (Sou) which
connected the same two points. Oddly enough, the first letter
had been mailed in the new H.P.O. eleven days before— by
President Roosevelt, on his birthday (January 30), as it posed
before the White House for photos.

In the cool darkness of that early dawn on February tenth
a little knot of postal officials and an interested clerk or two
(including this writer) gathered to witness the historic e\ent.
Genial John D. Hardy, then General Superintendent of the
R.M.S. (which was assigned to operated all H.P.O.s), entered
the vehicle to distribute the first mail— consisting mostly of col-
lectors' covers, over fifty thousand being mailed. Amid new
fittings exactly like those of an R.P.O. apartment, Clerk-in-
Charge Clyde C. Peters, of Harrisonburg (a Washington &
Lexington veteran), worked with the busy assistance of Clerks
O. R. Liskey, L. H. Grove, and C. M. Bellinger. Both Mr.
Hardy and his superior, Honorable Smith W. Purdum
(Second Assistant Postmaster General), rode the thirty-three-
foot bus on the first trip as the clerks sorted mail into 120
letter-case separations and three five-foot racks of pouches.
Safety belts, supplied to all, were not needed, because of the
smooth riding of the streamlined vehicle.

Although the citizenry of Washington ^vas conspicuous by
its absence on this much-publicized occasion, any doubts as
to the people's reception of the innovation in Virginia were
soon dispelled. Cheering crowds, brass bands, and special re-
ceptions greeted the colorful bus at Middleburg, Front Royal,
Strasburg, Toms Brook, Woodstock, and Harrisonburg. A
Middleburg restaurant treated crew and spectators to coffee
and pastries, and after stirring speeches at Harrisonburg, A.
G. Carter ("co^vboy postmaster" of Edinburg, also on the
route) presented Mr. Purdum with a pistol he had used rid-
ing the Montana ranges. Arrival at this terminus was right
on time (1 1 A.M.), with the return trip being made on sched-


iile with equal punctuality. The H.P.O. was the first dis-
tributing line to serve the great suburban metropolis of Arl-
ington, Virginia (adjoining Washington), although this par-
ticular mail supply was recently discontinued. The route it-
self, an outstanding success, continues to operate every week-
day, supplying superbly efficient service to the Valley.

The triumphal commencement of the first route fired the
two principal groups of H.P.O. backers within the R.M.A.
with new enthusiasm, and it was natural that the second and
third routes should go to their areas. By extending the Peru
& Indianapolis route north to South Bend, all objections to
revival of this now-defunct line had been met; and the 152-
mile South Bend, Peru &; Indpls. H.P.O. began operating
May 3, 1941, over Highways 12-22-31. While the interurban
trolley company ruefully ditched its blueprints for a contract-
operated bus (the government provided the vehicle), the
populace went wild with enthusiasm; the eight-car official
motorcade was greeted with receptions everywhere by many
of the 780,000 postal patrons whom it still benefits. Then came
the San Francisco &: Pacific Grove (Calif., 151 miles) on
August fourth, with an even more ceremonious inaugination
at which James F. Cooper was deservedly the honor guest; he
was given a reception at his home town of San Leandro, and a
specially inscribed souvenir bell (rung at each stop) for his na-
tionally known bell collection. Nine officials made the run,
which likewise traversed at one end the route of a discontinued
trolley R.P.O. (the "Hay k Oak" of Chapter 12).

Further establishment of H.P.O.s was delayed by W^orld
War II until 1946; but of the three routes established that
year, two are particularly noteworthy. One, the 184-mile
Union & Mobile (Gulf Transport Co.) from Mississippi to
Alabama, was the first postwar and first interstate R.P.O., the
first one operated by contract carrier (as R.P.O.s are), and
the longest one yet established; it replaced a C.P. railroad-
truck route of the same name, formerly an R.P.O. The other,
unfortunately, was to become the first and only H.P.O. to be
abandoned thus far— the old Jackson &: Benton Harbor, in
Michigan (October 15, 1946-July 31, 1947). It was terminated


after less than a year "because of excessive costs for factory
maintenance under private contract," -with the expensive
vehicle deteriorating to a very serious extent.

After 1946 there was another lull until the ncAv Belleville
& Wichita H.P.O. bloomed forth in Kansas in June 1948—
but that was the signal for a steady stream of new routes to
appear, without interruption, from then until the present day.
Almost one hundred H.P.O. routes are now in operation, Avith
new ones being added nearly every month. The longest run
is the new Richmond R: Sanford (283.6 miles) from Virginia
to North Carolina; while the shortest, thus far, is the Los
Angeles R: San Pedro (California, 58-61 miles). Two of the
new H.P.O.s traverse, almost exactly, proposed routes sug-
gested in the original script of this book. One, the 114-mile
Baltimore & Washington (in Maryland) restored service large-
ly along the long-defunct routes of the old Bait. R: Annapolis
(WBR:A) and Hyattsville & Chesapeake Beach (CBRR)
R.P.O.s, as well as serving new territory around Prince
Frederick and near Annapolis.

The second of these two H.P.O.s, the Goshen Sc Newrsrk
(N. Y. State-New Jersey), is already adding to the colorful
traditions of the P.T.S. It seems that for a long time Clerks
C. W. McMickle, "William Norkaitis, and Charles Sullo (and
their driver) had been slowing down the H.P.O. to wave to an
invalid brother and sister at Butler, New Jersey; and when
Christmas (1949) arrived they surprised the shut-ins with a big
Christmas party with gifts of goodies, books, and money from
themselves and others. This H.P.O. was established as the
MiddletoAvn R: Newark on November 29, 1948, only to be
slightly rerouted into Goshen and accordingly renamed the
following January 24— to the consternation of postmark col-
lectors who failed to get the Middletown standard cancel! It
replaces the old Wanaque R: N. Y. R.P.O. (Erie) and restored
service to dozens of towns on the former Middletown R: N. Y.'s
(NYSRrAV') west end— also furnishing it to the upper-bracket
Montclair-Caldwell suburban area. "The Gosh," as it is
called, has a companion route — the Wanaque R: Newark
H.P.O., which took over the east end of the N. Y. S. R: W.


(then curtailed as the Butler 8: N. Y.) on the same date. The
new VV^anaque run has established a real record for speed in
delivery; officials report one letter mailed at Ridgefield Park,
New Jersey, at 11 A.M. delivered to the addressee in North
Bergen, via H.P.O. and special-delivery messenger, at 12:45
P.M. same day!

On the human side, life on the H.P.O.s differs quite a bit
from that on the mail trains. There is no coffee man on the
H.P.O. bus; at lunch time the driver merely makes an un-
official stop at a roadside restaurant and all hands partake of
a good hot meal! To avoid going "stuck," clerks on the Jiypos
have doubtless persuaded more than one driver to stage a
slight slowdown or to linger a bit while important connections
are tied out. Styles in H.P.O. vehicles are already changing—
the once-universal red, blue, and silver color scheme is giving
way to two shades of rich maroon, with only one stripe of the
patriotic hues; and new models are even more streamlined
than early ones, many of them being huge articulated "two-
car" units which bend in the middle. The H.P.O.s have suf-
fered only a few accidents on the road, with no injuries.

The law which prohibits establishment of H.P.O.s so as to
compete with or exterminate existing short-line R.P.O.s is
presently interpreted rather liberally. H.P.O.s can be estab-
lished- wherever R.P.O. service is "insufficient;" and where
existing R.P.O. service is not sufficiently economical, frequent,
or speedy in the eyes of the Department, it has ruled that
such facilities are insufficient for the public interest. Both
of the New Jersey H.P.O.s mentioned, as well as most of those
out of Los Angeles, were established to replace existing
R.P.O.s (although railroad service continued to operate) in
the interests of economy and flexibility. Establishment of both
of our first two H.P.O.s was later followed by discontinuance
of R.P.O. service between the same termini, althougrh routes
differed. Although it cannot be proven that the new service

'Provided, according lo official policy, that supervision and garage facilities
are available, that climate is satisfactory, that grades do not exceed 6 per cent,
and that there are sufficient large post offices supplied without making the
route too long.


hastened the demise of either R.P.O., it cannot be denied that
when a mail contract is the final economic factor which en-
ables a railroad "short line" to survive, substitution of
H.P.O.s could be fatal and affect adversely many commimi-
ties served in spite of the very beneficial mail service supplied.
While a vast majority (if not all) of our current H.P.O.s were
needed very badly to provide good service, it is to be hoped
that future routes may be established more particularly in
areas having no R.P.O. service whatever. Such territories,
needing H.P.O. service urgently, include the south half of
New Jersey (with only two short R.P.O.s left); the Southern
Maryland-Northern Neck (Virginia) area, where a "Wash-
ington & Fredericksburg H.P.O." via the Morgantown bridge
(to replace the huge motor-route networks out of both cities)
would do wonders; and vast portions of New England, the
Mountain states, Oregon, Washington, and else^vhere. Simul-
taneous pouches made by a connecting line sho'^v that the
Wash. & Fred, route (in Maryland alone) would receive over
twice the mail handled by the new Bait. & Wash.

But to return to the true Railway Post Office, it too is under-
going a modern transformation. Today is the age of the
streamliner, of the swift and colorful Diesel-electric giants
which haul our transcontinental expresses. Even America's
earliest streamliner of all, the Burlington's Pioneer Zephyr,
was an R.P.O. train (Lincoln &: Kansas City); and since its
inaugural run November 11, 1934, millions of high-speed
miles have been run by P.T.C.s on streamliners— despite
crack-ups like that of the Zephyr at Napier, Missouri, in 1939.
With most of our principal trunk lines now using the new-
type equipment, schedules have been speeded by several hours
on many R.P.O.s, mails advanced beyond all previous records,
and railway mail clerks forced to work at a more frenzied pace
than ever before.

Well-known R.P.O. streamliners of today include the famed
20th Century Limited (Note S); the Santa Fe's Chief (Kan.
City & Albuquerque-Alb. & Los A. R.P.O.s); the B&O's
Capitol Limited (N.Y., Bait. & Wash.) and Continental (Wash.
&: Chicago); the Lehigh Valley's Black Diamond and Asa


Packer, which are New York, Geneva & Buffalo Trains 9, 10,
25, and 26; the Broadway Limited (see Chapter 3), electric
and steam semi-streamliner, which made its first trip on the
PRR's New York & Pittsburgh, June 15, 1902; the Tennes-
seean, Trains 45 and 46 on the Southern, whose R.P.O. cars
on the Wash, and Bristol, continuing to Memphis, are named
the Corinth and Grand Junctioyi; and so on.

To the postal transportation clerk himself a more welcome
sequel to the streamliners' advent has been that of the latest
style modern R.P.O. car. Still few in number, the new cars
are styled for real comfort and efficiency. There had been
almost no change in R.P.O. car design and furnishings since
the 1890s, but one day in April 1946 the Pennsylvania Rail-
road presented to the Department its new "dream car," the
Robert E. Han7iegan— designed jointly by railroad and postal
authorities, incorporating many clerks' suggestions. Built
at the Altoona Shops under direction of Dan M. Shaeffer, it
was numbered 5239 and named after the Postmaster General,
to whom it was dedicated at Union Station, Chicago, on April
twenty-third. This car has new safety features, wider doors,
modernized heating and lighting systems, a stainless-steel
steam cooker, large enclosed washroom and closet with auto-
matic light, unbarred double safety-glass windows, luggage
compartments, some case boxes for oversize mail, automatic
platform lights, and other improvements such as ball-bearing
trucks. It was put in service on the Broadiuay Limited (N.Y.
& Pitts.-Pitts. k Chic. Trs. 28 R: 29) on May 8, 1946 (with
collectors' cachet to celebrate), and has served on that route
(sometimes on the New York R: Washington) ever since.

Even the Hannegan leaves much to be desired, and has been
often shopped for repairs; but the newest cars incorporate
many more superior features. Specifications for such cars are
now drawn up by the joint N.P.T.A.-P.T.S. Car Construc-
tion Committee, and as a result the Milwaukee Road built a
model of one new car type which is a postal clerk's dream.
Fluorescent lighting, automatic non-stop-exchange signals,
electric hot plates that really boil coffee, electric refrigerators,
plastic table coverings, and three closets are just a few of the


ultramodern improvements included. Some of these refine-
ments have actually appeared in the newest cars, but govern-
ment experts and railroad engineers still object to the hot
plates and fluorescent lights as "unnecessary." It is to be hoped
that the committee's toned-down current specifications (which
still permit mere steam pots, strong electric bulbs, iceboxes,
and folding basins) will be revamped with enough "teeth"
to insist on all essential improvements of the Milwaukee plan,
as well as at least two rows of wide "oversize" boxes (which
need be but half as high) at every case instead of at only the
registry case. Nevertheless, excellent new cars have been intro-
duced on many lines— the El Paso & Los Angeles (SP's Golden
State Limited), the Burlington's Chicago 8: Council Bluffs
(whose beautiful new car, Silver Post, was dedicated by high
officials on March 25, 1948), on many Milwaukee Road lines,
on some Pennsy and ACL routes, and several others.

Of particular significance are two important suggestions for
radical changes in distributing equipment (in the cars) which
have been considered by the committee. One of these inno-
vations has met with its enthusiastic approval, as well as that
of clerks and officials generally— the new light"\veight rack ex-
tension and table combination invented by the late Monroe
Williams, a clerk who became a leading R.M.A. division presi-
dent and editor. It does away with the entire present setup
of cumbersome pedestals, bars, and heavy tables by substitut-
ing feather-light folding-leg tray tables alternated with "rack-
arm" extensions of the pouch rack (furnishing extra separa-
tions). First tested on the SP's Ogden & San Francisco on
April 17, 1946, it was permanently installed thereon on De-
cember thirty-first and has received hearty approval since from
nearly all concerned (there has been some objection on
Omaha-Ogden runs). The Department has made the new
installation optional in all new-car specifications; and, as it
is cheaper to construct, it is likely that all railroad companies
will adopt it for new car-building. The other suggestion,
disapproved by the committee, is nevertheless an idea for
which a vast number of clerks have continuously agitated— the
"center-case" car, with pouch rack at one end and paper rack


at the other, which eliminates the danger and loss of time re-
sulting from so many clerks having to stop to pass bagmail up
and down the alley. Most existing cars have the pouch table
in the center, and letter or paper distribution must cease
whenever pouches are passed to or from the door. It would
seem that this suggestion deserves equally prompt adoption.

A still more welcome innovation is the all-too-infrequent
air-conditioned postal car. Most air-cooled trains carrying
mail cars still omit the latter from the air-conditioned setup,
and strenuously working clerks must swelter in it all summer.
In 1910 the country's first air-cooled R.P.O. cars were installed
on the Kansas City Southern Railroad (K. C. R: Siloam Springs
and connecting R.P.O.s) by order of its president, ex-P.T.C.
Harvey C. Couch. Air conditioning was recently introduced
on the Mpls. Sc Miles Cy. (NP) run and a few others, and fur-
ther experiments are under way. Long called for in N.P.T.A.
resolutions, this improvement is desperately needed in all
warmer climates. Some officials have objected that frequent
door openings make it impracticable, but buses and trolleys
stopping for passengers much more often have been success-
fully air-conditioned in practice.

A comprehensive program of drastic reorganization and
improvement of the entire postal transport organization was
bco;un in 1946, which had its final culmination in the creation
of the Postal Transportation Service on November 1, 1949.
Improved personnel practices were to be the first step in this
long-range program, and as a result the first stage was put
into effect with the appointment of fifteen new Counselor-
Instructors, one in each division, on April 16, 1946. These
men, besides assisting new substitutes, were available to regu-
lar clerks also. (Terminated in 1950— see Chapter 3.)

The second stage of the program— national joint confer-
ences between the Department, the N.P.T.A., and the car-
riers—began just six days later (April 22, 1946). At Chi-
cago all R.M.S. officials, from the rank of former chief clerk
on up, attended their first big conference as Association, rail-
road, and air-line officers joined in the conclaves on that day.
The conference laid far-reaching plans for departmental and


field reorganization, improved distribution facilities every-
wiiere, postwar schedule changes, improved labor-manage-
ment relations, the challenge of air mail to other mail trans-
portation, faster mail-handling techniques and transportation,
and many similar topics. Many of the plans advanced have
since been carried out, particularly the establishment of "line
committees" (or "organization committees") to represent
the men of each line— as long urged by the R.M.A.— in all

The third phase— complete reorganization of the Second
Assistant Postmaster General's ofTice and all postal transport

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