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rank fiction to national magazines; his recent story,
"Revenge," made Collier's. Donald M. StefFee, of Brooklyn,
leading United States authority on high-speed train operation
and schedules, sells articles regularly at top rates to Railroad
Magazine and occasionally to newspapers; long at West Side
with Cumiskcy, he is now on the N.Y. & Chic. (NYCent).
Both Steffee and Sidney Goodman, another Penn Terminal
clerk, are chess champions as well as Avriters; Goodman is the
author of the new book. World Chess Championship, 1948,
issued by Chess Press. Bert Bemis, once of the Omaha S: Den-
ver (CBR;Q), writes for Coronet and similar magazines; while
a former clerk in the Washington (D.C.) Terminal— name
withheld by request— is now one of America's highest paid
naval writers, Roy V. McPherson, just retired from the Utica
(New York) Terminal, has sold numerous articles to Fate
magazine and to newspapers.

Professor W. Jefferson Dennis, of Parsons College, Fairfield,
Iowa, is the author of several other volumes besides The
Travelling Post Office; his Tacna and Arica (Yale University
Press is the standard text on the subject. He was once a clerk
on the Des Moines X: Sioux City (CRrNW) in Iowa. Clarence
E. Votaw, author of both Jasper Hunnicutt and Patriotism,
was a clerk on the PRR's Pittsburgh &: St. Louis who
became an assistant division superintendent; retired at
Fountain City, Indiana, twenty-eight years until his death at
ninety-five in 1948, he was an energetic traveler. Christian
worker, woodsman, and contributor to newspapers as long as
he lived. His son, \Villiam I. Votaw, left the Monon's Chic,
Monon. R: Cin. R.P.O. to become a Seapost official and, pres-
ently, one of the heads of United States Lines. Thomas J.
Flanagan of the Atlanta & Albany (CGa) is the author of books
like The Road to Mt. McKeithen and By Pine Knot Torches


(by Atlanta Independent Press), and of published poems and
prose in the Atlanta Constitution and college journals. The
late Guy M. Smith, retired from the Indpls. R: Peoria (CCC8:
StL), wrote two hooks— Romance of Danville Junction and
100 Years of Baseball (just published, in 1950).

Purely in connection with their work in the Service, numer-
ous clerks have attained national prominence as high postal
officials, or have sacrificed chances of official promotion to
dedicate their Uves to fellow clerks as N.P.T.A. workers. The
late Henry \V. Strickland, editor of The Railway Post Office
for twenty-eight years, was an outstanding example— and he,
too, was hailed as an "able and versatile writer." A former
Kansas City Star reporter, then a clerk on the Rock Island 8:
Kansas City (Rock I.), he became editor in 1915 and indus-
trial secretary in 1921. Friendly, tolerant, modest, he was
also a staunch champion of A. F. of L. imionism, and his
sudden death (on the job, June 14, 1943) was a great blow to
all concerned— including the writer, \vho was proud to have
been his friend. The magazine staff could find no picture
of their modest editor for publication when they searched
his photo files that day. Of strong Christian convictions, he
had a helping hand for all, and he wanted no profane or ques-
tionable material in the Railway Post Office.

Long known as the "Dean of Railway Mail Clerks," John
H. Pitney, of the present Boston 8: Troy (BS;M), was appoint-
ed a pre-R.M.S. route agent in 18G1 and worked on the mail
trains for fifty-five years; a song composer and community
benefactor, he \vas feted by the highest officials on his golden
wedding and was beloved by his townspeople in Eagle Bridge,
New York, for the Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church
which he built in 1882, partly in honor of the R.M.S. (Its
gable window depicts the story of postal transport, showing
an R.P.O. train.)* Similarly, David E. "Daddy" Barnes of
Kansas City, \\'ho just passed on, was called the "Grand Old
Man" of the R.M.S.; he ^vas a charter organizer and later

'After surviving three frightful wrecks, Pitney met an ironic fate in 1920-
fatally injured by a runaway R.M.S. truck, years after his retirement!


national president of the N.A.R.P.C. (now N.P.T.A.). Start-
ing as a clerk on the Rock Island's Kansas City & Caldwell, he
Avas noted for his abstemious habits, conscientiousness, inter-
cession for the rights of fellow clerks, and addiction to clean
speech. Today's Assistant Executive Director of Transporta-
tion (General Supt. R.M.S.), George E. Miller, was a
clerk on the PRR's New York & Washington and an active
Baltimore R.M.A. leader; all his predecessors in that position,
for uncounted decades, have been clerks -who worked their
way to the top. And the late beloved Honorable Smith W.
Purdum, who reached the still higher position of Second As-
sistant Postmaster General, was a clerk on the same line; a
long-time resident of Hyattsville, Maryland, he literally
"worked himself to death" on the job (foregoing all sick and
annual leave), living only three days after his retirement in
1945. He was esteemed alike by the clerks and by all who
knew him. More R.P.O. men, unquestionably, have climbed
to high Post Office Department positions than those of any
other Postal Service branch— but space forbids elaboration.
Clerk Fred A. Ryle of the Den. & San Ant. (M-K-T-Tex) was
awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroicly rescuing a trapped
railroader amid great danger in a wreck and fire at Comol,
Texas in December, 1947.

Other active clerks have made outstanding achievements in
fields outside the Service. William B. Carpenter, of the Bos-
ton & Albany (B&A), is acclaimed by the New York Times as
one of our leading Shakespearean scholars, and several other
clerks have qualified as experts on the works of Shakespeare
and other classicists. Clerks in New York State, Florida,
Missouri, the Dakotas, and elsewhere have become leading
state legislators. And just at random we take note of such
men as Judge M. S. Morgan, prominent Texas jurist in Who's
Who (once with the R.M.S.); Labor Commissioner "William
J. McCain of Arkansas (ex-Little Rock and Forth Worth,
MP-T&P-CRIRrP); Brigadier General Thomas C. Dedell, late
army hero and Utica Public Safety Commissioner (a clerk for
forty years); Dr. K. J. Foreman, Professor of Philosophy and
Bible at Davidson College (who subbed under Greensboro,


North Carolina, R.M.S. office); John F. Stahl, featured by
Ernie Pyle as hiking from Panama to Texas at fifty-seven (a
former clerk); several clerks who became talented artists with
pen or brush while remaining in the P.T.S., such as Roger
Gaver (N.Y. & Wash., PRR), Otto Augsburg (Superintendent
District 3, Chicago, retired), and the late George Risinger
(Dodge City & Trinidad, Santa Fe); \V. H. Strauss, leading
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, industrialist (ex-N.Y. R: Pitts.,
PRR); and numerous other prominent leaders in professional
fields of every description— not to forget the many P.T.S.
officials, like Virgil Jones (Chapter 15), who have been as-
signed to reorganize the postal system of some entire foreign
country— Turkey, Germany, Japan, the Philippines, or some
other nation.

As for the myriad amateur composers and talented mu-
sicians within the P.T.S. , this topic is closely linked with that
of the few songs and other musical pieces which deal \vith the
Service. Larry G. Cowe, one of the famed N.B.C. Trouba-
dours, is a clerk out of Pocatello, Idaho. Several unpublished
P.T.S. compositions, some of them circulated in duplicated
form, have been written by clerks in New York's Penn Termi-
nal, including "In the Good Old R.M.S." and "The Boys of
the R.M.S.," by Barney Duckman (1939, 1941); "There's a
Story I Must Tell," by Charles Haller of Jamaica (1941); and
"A Day in Penn Terminal," a piano solo (1945) by Herman
Hammerman of Brooklyn. (Hammerman's song, "Land of
Hope," with words by Guiterman, was published by Empire
Music.) Two other P.T.S. songs have been privately pub-
lished or circulated somewhat— "Railway Mail," by Joseph H.
Grubbs, retired from the Seaboard's Washington &: Hamlet;
and "Mail Train," by this writer. Ladies of the N.P.T.A.
Auxiliary have produced two songs, both composed by clerks'
wives; and Mrs. Harriet Locey's "National W.A.R.M.A.
.Loyalty Song" (1945) is perhaps the best Service song yet
written. It was preceded as their official song by an earlier
one, "Auxiliary Day" (1935), by Mrs. E. J. Mullins and Mrs.
I. L. Johnson. The only known railway mail song issued as
standard sheet music, other than the "Loyalty Song," was the


Burlington Railroad's number, "The Fast Mail," by A. M.
Bruner (1897) but it did not mention clerks or mail-sorting.
A work of this kind should not close without mention of
at least some of the more undesirable conditions within the
P.T.S. which can be corrected, and which the N.P.T.A., as
well as many officials, are attempting to remedy as rapidly as
possible. In fact, such conditions are very often not the fault
of Department heads, but rather the result of insufficient con-
gi-essional appropriations or of the unjust provisions of exist-
ing laws. (These constructive criticisms, like our future
recommendations, represent the views of the authors as private
citizens and not, necessarily, those of P.T.S. or N.P.T.A.
heads.) Thus it is now illegal to ship livestock next to the
engine on a train, but still permissible to spot R.P.O. cars
with human occupants in this dangerous and rough-riding
position! (The P. L. R: R. discourages, but does not prohibit
the practice.) There are other unsafe practices still needing
correction, although one of the worst— operation of single-
unit branch trains with gasoline motors and R.P.O. unit
housed together— has just been legally prohibited; and the
last of the dim and dangerous old oil lamps formerly used have
just been eliminated.

The terminals, P.T.S., are particularly the subject of
troublesome discrimination imder the law. Terminal clerks
are lower paid, for the maximum grade is held at two steps
below road levels; they are allowed no study time or time for
correcting schemes and schedules (though their time slips
show spaces for same); they have been recently again denied
the privilege of eating, washing up, and changing work clothes
on official time, as is justly enjoyed by train clerks. The same
applies to P.T.S. Air Mail Fields.

Others— notably, the road men— are seriously concerned
over such things as the recent expansion of time deficiencies in
assigned working schedules, whereby most o\ertime and extra
trips bring no extra pay (due to cutting of advance time far
below that necessary for clerks to work the required forty-
hour-week equivalent). And the advent of high-speed trains
had previously resulted in all too much "deficiency" even be-


fore; clerks do not work on a mileaore basis like railroad men.
And although a speed differential (providing extra time
credits for clerks rtmning on trains at speeds of over 42 1/^
mph) was introduced May 25, 193G, official investigations de-
clared it to be technically illegal. On November 28, 1949,
the differential was raised to 50 mph (a decided cut in bene-
fits) and was then terminated entirely June 30, 1950— the
grace period being granted only to permit the N.P.T.A. to
initiate mileage legislation in Congress. Such legislation,
planned by the association for years, ^vas introduced, using a
42-mph factor to place all road work on a mileage basis— with
deficiency eliminated; but the government disapproved it,
and Congress did not pass the law. As a result, clerks now
make many additional trips at "no pay."

Then there are such matters as the recent elimination (ex-
cept in heavy road service and transfer assignments) of
the standard ^vell-dcserved pay differential long existing be-
tAveen post-office clerks and all classes of railway mail clerks
in the P.T.S.'s favor; the "reduction" of many clerks-in-charge
through no fault of theirs; the petty technical P. L. K: R. rul-
ings, such as orders to check "all" errors and report all letter
packages ^vithout slips, which it is impossible to observe in a
busy postal car without very serious delay; the over-em-
ployment of temporary help and elimination of needed
overtime for experienced clerks; the denial of time and a half
to substitutes; the recent assignment of terminal mail handlers
(laborers) to actual distribution of primary parcel post and
similar duties, which is properly done much more efficiently
by clerks who know the routings— many small oflices and
localities are included in primary "directs;" and the economic
plight of active clerks, and particularly of retired ones, during
periods of inflation. (From 1939 to 1947 food costs rose 103
per cent, general living costs 65 per cent, and clerks' incomes
only 30 per cent— and latest pay raises involved only a
trifling percentage increase.) Betterment of such conditions
is to be earnestly hoped for; for the last two, in particular, can
result in serious losses of efficient clerical personnel in P.T.S.
organizations everywhere.


Clerks differ as to the means which should be taken to
solve such problems, although most agree that all efforts
should be channeled through the N.P.T.A. But some have
taken matters into their own hands. When terminal clerks
were reduced to their present relative grade in the 1930s, some
clerks sued the government personally for restoration, with
back pay, and succeeded; but it at least one case alleged re-
prisal was suffered by a lady terminal clerk who was reassigned
to an air-mail field one and one-half miles from transporta-
tion. Other clerks have personally presented data to congress-
men; when one exhibited his entire working equipment
(PL&R, schemes, cards, trip report, space data, and so on), the
impressed representative declared the job should pay twice
what it did. Another clerk (in the clerks' Journal) ad-
vised publicizing to all "the fun of poking letters for twelve
hours, of carrying a one-hundred-pound pouch through
crowded aisles on a 60-mph curve, of getting up at midnight
to work the rest of the night ... of breathing those sulfur
fumes for a half hour after passing that tunnel . . . those dirty
clothes on washday after a 'nice' paper run in July," not to
mention pasting scheme corrections that don't fit!

The ingenious clerk, like the one faster or slower than aver-
age, has his particular troubles. One chap on a one-man run,
on his day off around Christmas time, noticed three truckloads
of working mail waiting at the depot for his R.P.O.'s next trip.
Rather than go stuck then and delay the mail, the clerk got
into his car (standing near by) and worked up all this mail
on his own time, making no claim for overtime in his report
of the case. He was severely censured, without a word of
praise, and told not to do it again! A typical "fast" clerk out
W^est, who recently resigned, wrote, "I am tired of the dirt and
lousy conditions ... I hate to be penalized because I am fast,
by having to 'carry' the drunkards and the brainless idiots,"
i.e., slow men whose "work is full of mistakes." While an
extreme case, it is true that no excuse exists for the clerk who
is deliberately lazy or intemperate; and a good clerk resents,
for example, an insinuation that he must slow down or his
terminal's average "count" will be raised to a level difficult


to maintain. On the other hand, the efficient and hard-work-
ing clerk whose best speed is a little lower than average suffers
much undeserved persecution from his fellows. He is often
painstakingly accurate, except when he works himself into a
nervous frenzy trying to keep up with others— often skipping
lunch, he works harder than the "speed demon" in actuality,
as one veteran pointed out.

Besides other current complaints mentioned earlier, there
are such problems as the frequent loss of certain transit-mail
distribution to the post offices in cases where the P.T.S. should
properly work it, and more efficiently; the prolonged assign-
ment of clerks vice' a. C-in-C on leave, without being paid ac-
cordingly; outmoded surroundings, devoid of needed com-
forts and attractive appearance; the post-office policy of per-
mitting patrons to address parcels on one side only (often de-
laying sorting by having to turn it over six times to read the
address, or preventing delivery by loss of only label); and the
current policies regarding road grips. Not only must clerks
pay for both grips (used for government property) and carry-
ing charges, but they also must contend with congested grip
rooms and lack of lockers.

And if the facts were known about the serious mail delays
due to broken train connections resulting from the "daylight
saving time" fad, the public would soon demand its elimina-
tion—or its universal, year-round application. (Mothers of in-
fants, at least, would rally to the cause!)

A major problem, however, is that occasioned by the whole-
sale abandonment of short R.P.O.s on branch lines and the
curtailment of distribution on some through routes— both re-
sulting in slower and poorer mail service. With some excep-
tions, the former results simply from passenger service aban-
donments on the part of the railroad; and while H.P.O.s are
often substituted today, all too often a non-distributing star
route is the only replacement. While much of the distribution
may be retained in the P.T.S. and performed on an adjoining
trunk line, the local-exchange service suffers considerably.
Sometimes main-line personnel is expanded to cover branch
curtailments, but on the New York Sc Chicago (NYCent) and


Other lines, clerical force has been cut instead while connect-
ing side lines folded up. In the 8th (San Francisco) Division
alone the number of R.P.O.s declined from eighty-six in 1911
to t^venty-eight today, ^vith existing lines curtailed sharply.
The reason for the familiar current slowness of the mails in
most areas without rail passenger service will now be obvious
to all! {See Nole 22.)

Commuter short lines, particularly, present a grave prob-
lem, because their principal traffic flow is in reverse direction
to R.P.O. requirements; and if service is curtailed to only
city-bound morning trains and outbound evening ones, no
R.P.O. service can properly operate even though some passen-
ger trains remain. A vivid example was on the old Spring
Valley k New York R.P.O. (N fR:NY-Erie), which until 1940
still had one outbound morning train (serving mail to all
stations) and an inbound one to collect all mail posted dur-
ing the day. When the two R.P.O. trains were pulled off it
was useless to put an R.P.O. on the wrong-direction commuter
runs. The line's demise was a severe loss to the local postal
economy, as evidenced (at a farewell dinner to Clerk David
Gladstone) by the statements of over one-hundred postmasters
and guests from along the line who testified to the improved
service the R.P.O. had brought to the communities. As for
main lines, service on the SP's Ogden R: San Francisco has
been cut since 1915 from three to two through runs daily,
from five large city distributions to two small ones, and the
local service to nothing east of Sacramento.

Still more alarming, however, has been a recent tendency
to discontinue certain important R.P.O. runs when passenger
trains still operate at apparently suitable hours. When exist-
ing postal trains ^v^ere recently Avithdra^vn by the PRR from
the Detroit R: Mansfield and the Philadelphia k Atlantic City
R.P.O.s (in Michigan-Ohio and in New Jersey), no R.P.O.
service was placed on any of the remaining fast passenger
trains, which still leave the various termini at ideal early
morning hours for mail distribution. Over a long period of
time the Philadelphia R: Cape May (P-RSL) suffered a similar
fate, although early passenger trains still run on this route to


both Cape May and Wildwood; now all these leading New
Jersey resorts— even the metropolis of Atlantic City— are com-
pletely without R.P.O. service. The Reading from Bound
Brook to Trenton in the same State is now without local ser-
vice, though through R.P.O. and local passenger trains oper-
ate. The entire service of the Bay City R: Detroit R.P.O.— two
round trips— was eliminated when all four local trains were
pulled off by the railroad, although two new fast expresses now
operate. Possibly the lack of local trains ^vas deemed a factor
making mandatory the discontinuance of most of the R.P.O.s
listed. But it is to be hoped, certainly, that the possibility of
restoring transit distribution to all these routes— with catcher
service for "the local"— is a very real one; and there are num-
erous similar cases elsewhere needino: correction.

P.T.S. clerks have publicized some very worth-while sug-
gestions on preventing branch-line curtailments in general.
Many suggest that the Department actively advocate or assist
the survival of existing short lines with better contract offers,
intervention at hearings, and so on— particularly if a con-
tinued contract might avoid actual abandonment, with result-
ing loss of railway ratables, higher local taxes, unemployment,
poorer mail service if H.P.O.s are not put on, and hardships
to the public outweighing any money saved. (On the contrary,
P.T.S. men are forbidden to testify or protest, as clerks or offi-
cials, at abandonment proceedings.) One clerk proposes gov-
ernment-operated H.P.O.-type, flanged-wheel units on the
numerous ex-R.P.O. branch lines where freight service still
exists (". . . thus saving tire expenses . . . traffic jams and
rough roads"). Such plans, plus H.P.O.s, would help out
greatly— as would wide use of the new RDC-4 rail car.

But we would also recommend a careful study of existing
passenger schedules of all railways listing same in the Official
Guide. A surprising number of branch lines still operate a
daily trip with some sort of unit for passengers, often at con-
venient early hours for R.P.O. service and yet which are not
thus equipped. Where volume of mail justifies, possibly con-
siderable much-needed R.P.O. service could thus be begun
or restored in many areas needing it.


It is hard to believe, but even today there are those who
would do away with the P.T.S. and the R.P.O.s entirely. They
include airmail-minded leaders in high places in government
and commerce, backed by political contributions, it is
claimed; and we must all be alert to protect America's splen-
did Postal Service from this threat.

Making no pretense of expert knowledge, we might venture
to offer a few proposed general reforms or new improvements
of possible benefit to the P.T.S., in addition to those already
put forth; they are mostly ideas submitted by us to the
Department's suggestion program or borrowed from the
pages of the Postal Transport Journal. Some of these apparent
needs in employee benefits and Service improvements include
the immediate granting of twenty-six days' annual and fifteen
days' sick leave— such as is enjoyed by all other government
employees; the periodical laundering of sacks and pouches,
as done by some other countries and as recommended by
many officials; air-conditioning, a "must" in intolerably hot
weather; strong, lintless twine; printed office-and-number
registry labels, as used in other nations; and the substitution
of a modernized version of the "weight system" for the present
complex and costly space basis of railroad mail pay. Accord-
ing to clerks' claims the current system has choked needed
distributing space with storage mails, has devoured vast sums
in payment for empty return movements and other unused
space (no other shippers pay for it), and has become a general
headache to all clerks-in-charge who struggle with the forms.
One shipper figured that the government lost $85 on one car-
load of light straw hats, after figuring all postage paid and
space costs; on a weight system, a profit would show. How-
ever, new space rules eliminating paid deadhead movements
are now being requested by the Department at hearings.

Legal regulation of the size of greeting cards is a crying
need within the P.T.S., for case boxes in R.P.O. cars are
smaller than anywhere else. Besides persuasive programs or
extra-postage charges, we need the definite, statutory prohibi-
tion within the United States mails of envelopes or greeting

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