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 Post subject: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 2:28 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
On the Bachmann model railroad site, there has been a recent discussion of "Jim Crow" cars, combines with a baggage section in the middle, and one end for white people, the other end for black people. A couple of these cars from the wood-car era survive today, as recently discussed here at RyPn.

The Chesapeake & Ohio did things somewhat differently, perhaps because it ran between and through states that alternately did or did not practice segregation on trains. My source for this is an older African-American woman who used to work with me years ago. She was from Clifton Forge, Va., and spoke with a beautiful Virginia accent that was a joy to listen to. She was also a wife of a veteran employee of what was then the Chessie System, and greatly enjoyed looking at my copy of "C&O Power," as she recognized a former neighbor from Clifton Forge in one of the photographs!

According to both her and her husband, the C&O didn't have Jim Crow cars as such. What they did have was a pair of signs, one at each end of a standard coach. These signs had three sides, and could be rotated to display one of three messages. These messages were "Whites Only," "Coloreds Only," and "No Smoking."

The way they were used was that if you were a black person getting on a train in Virginia, you would go to a car marked "Coloreds Only," which was usually the first one or two cars behind the head-end equipment. Whites rode behind you in coaches with signs displaying "Whites Only." This was in effect until the train passed into West Virginia just west of Alleghany, Va. At the first stop in West Virginia (which was White Sulfur Springs), the conductor would come through and "flip the sign" to the "No Smoking" side, as West Virginia didn't have segregation on public transportation, although it did have it in schools at the time. At this point, from White Sulfur Springs to Huntington or Kenova, W.Va., if you were a black person, you could then go anywhere else in the train, including the dining car.

At Huntington or Kenova, the conductor would then have to make sure everyone was segregated again, and "flip the sign" back to "Coloreds Only" or "Whites Only" as the train was about to enter Kentucky, which did have segregation on trains. This would get interesting again if the train or section of a train was headed for Columbus or Toledo, Ohio; after the last stop in Kentucky (Ashland), the conductor would have to "flip the sign" again as the train crossed the Limeville Bridge into Ohio.

I would guess the Norfolk & Western and the Virginian at least would have done something similar, and for the same reasons, as those roads also ran through both types of territory.

To my former coworker, the greatest irony of segregation on trains was that a black person couldn't buy a Pullman ticket or get a meal in the dining car in Virginia or Kentucky, yet the staffs of both the sleepers and the diners were very predominately black men!

She said she loved watching the trains of the WW II era; her kick was getting to see "all those good looking young men" on the troop trains while they were stopped in Clifton Forge!

Like many other people and organizations, the C&O didn't see the changes that would come in the postwar era. That included the civil rights movement. As a result, the C&O's postwar streamlined equipment, including that for the Chessie itself, had segregated facilities. The road apparently took the idea of "separate but equal" seriously; the cars intended for "colored" passengers were as nice as those for "white" passengers. This wouldn't take away the sting of segregation, but it certainly would imply that the road thought all were potential customers, and it would solicit the business of all.

Out of curiosity, does anybody have an example of that three-sided sign in their collections? I've never seen one, and didn't know anything about this particular practice until I heard the story as related above. I can't say it's a pleasant thing to think about, but it's part of our history still, and part of the history we need to remember.

Bonus: A shot that came through a Facebook page, tracked back to its source here. Fortunately, a sister, No. 490, survives in the B&O museum today:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=354613


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:25 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:21 am
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At QARR we had ex-N&W combine #1504 (now scrapped). It was a segregated car with the glass partition. I'll relay a true story that happened to me:

A VERY hot August Sunday, with three cars on the train sitting at the station. Two church vans pulled up at the last minute wanting to ride the train. These were from a black church. We had two cars filled, and the third car was empty with it's windows closed. As the patrons purchased their tickets, I and other crew members went to open the windows in this extremely overheated car.

As the churchgoers filled the third car, we were still putting windows up. Yes, this third car was our "Jim Crow" combine. As we finished with the last few balky windows, and the car full of nicely dressed folks with the ladies fanning themselves, I began to walk down the aisle to exit the car. An elderly black lady stopped me and said:

"You're young, but do you know what that glass wall is?", pointing to the partition. "Yes, ma'am, it is an old "Jim Crow" law partition" I said. She replied "That's right, and you know what? Today is the first day in my life that I've been able to sit on this side of that wall." (She was in the whites only section). She continued "And you know what?.....it's just as hot over here!"

Everyone laughed.


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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J3a-614 wrote:


A shot that came through a Facebook page, tracked back to its source here. Fortunately, a sister, No. 490, survives in the B&O museum today:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=354613


I believe that one of the F-19 Pacific's that the C&O converted to Hudson's was set up for streamlining, but never received the necessary metalwork. Not sure which one of the group it was.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:29 pm 

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Years ago I rode on a fantrip, in a coach that in the middle had a set of swinging doors, I was told it was a "Jim Crow" car.

I want to say it was a N&W car but I don't remember.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:36 pm 

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The heavyweight combine at Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, FL (Either SAL or ACL heritage) has the three sided signs. They had it restored at Steamtown several years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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Mark Jordan wrote:
At QARR we had ex-N&W combine #1504 (now scrapped). It was a segregated car with the glass partition. I'll relay a true story that happened to me:

A VERY hot August Sunday, with three cars on the train sitting at the station. Two church vans pulled up at the last minute wanting to ride the train. These were from a black church. We had two cars filled, and the third car was empty with it's windows closed. As the patrons purchased their tickets, I and other crew members went to open the windows in this extremely overheated car.

As the churchgoers filled the third car, we were still putting windows up. Yes, this third car was our "Jim Crow" combine. As we finished with the last few balky windows, and the car full of nicely dressed folks with the ladies fanning themselves, I began to walk down the aisle to exit the car. An elderly black lady stopped me and said:

"You're young, but do you know what that glass wall is?", pointing to the partition. "Yes, ma'am, it is an old "Jim Crow" law partition" I said. She replied "That's right, and you know what? Today is the first day in my life that I've been able to sit on this side of that wall." (She was in the whites only section). She continued "And you know what?.....it's just as hot over here!"

Everyone laughed.


Mark -

Great story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

I think it was Bob Kutella of IRYM who told me some time ago, of an interurban car that was segregated into two sections. I think he had a photo of the car with the sign in place. The car is now at IRYM and I wonder if the sign might still be there?

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 4:19 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:07 pm
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At Pennsylvania Trolley Museum we have New Orleans Public Service car 832. On the back of each seat are two small brackets for mounting the sign that divided the races aboard the cars. We don't make a point of this to visitors, but every once in a while have to discretely explain the function of the brackets.


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:25 pm 
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I think a car like that with the signs in place would be just fine, even in this PC-infested world, with the proper historical context.
It always cracks me up when people talk about how 'simpler' life used to be. I always retort with, "Yeah, things were so much simpler when you didn't have to deal with people of races other than your own, you had to worry that polio would kill you, or that you'd be drafted to go fight in WW2..." It changes, but I'd always throw out historical reminders that the 'good old days' were anything but, for a lot of people!

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Les Beckman wrote:
I believe that one of the F-19 Pacific's that the C&O converted to Hudson's was set up for streamlining, but never received the necessary metalwork. Not sure which one of the group it was.

Les


The rebuilt but unstreamlined L-1 4-6-4 was the 494. It was the last engine to have been originally built and was the last in the series, but may have been the first one through the rebuilding program, with existing sister No. 490 being the second. There was a published roster in Railroad magazine from 1947 or so that listed three F-19s (491, 492, and 493) and two L-1s (490 and 494).

Courtesy of the C&O Historical Society:

http://cohs.org/repository/Archives/coh ... -13282.jpg

http://cohs.org/repository/Archives/coh ... s-5536.jpg

http://cohs.org/repository/Archives/coh ... -24553.jpg

As built by Richmond in 1926:

http://cohs.org/repository/Archives/coh ... -24200.jpg

http://cohs.org/repository/Archives/coh ... -22735.jpg

The late David P. Morgan once commented that he thought the L-1 rebuilds were "the darkest chapter in the road's [C&O] mechanical history;" he thought the F-19s should have "gone to Valhalla" as F-19s. I'm inclined to agree with him, although I won't complain that a poppet valve 4-6-4 is still around. Now if we were to ever see the 490 rebuilt for operation, then maybe we can leave that extra metal off. . .


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3691
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Mark Jordan wrote:
At QARR we had ex-N&W combine #1504 (now scrapped). It was a segregated car with the glass partition. I'll relay a true story that happened to me:

A VERY hot August Sunday, with three cars on the train sitting at the station. Two church vans pulled up at the last minute wanting to ride the train. These were from a black church. We had two cars filled, and the third car was empty with it's windows closed. As the patrons purchased their tickets, I and other crew members went to open the windows in this extremely overheated car.

As the churchgoers filled the third car, we were still putting windows up. Yes, this third car was our "Jim Crow" combine. As we finished with the last few balky windows, and the car full of nicely dressed folks with the ladies fanning themselves, I began to walk down the aisle to exit the car. An elderly black lady stopped me and said:

"You're young, but do you know what that glass wall is?", pointing to the partition. "Yes, ma'am, it is an old "Jim Crow" law partition" I said. She replied "That's right, and you know what? Today is the first day in my life that I've been able to sit on this side of that wall." (She was in the whites only section). She continued "And you know what?.....it's just as hot over here!"

Everyone laughed.


And I concur with Les, it's a great story--and have to say it's too bad the car itself is no longer around to teach that lesson.


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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 9:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:28 am
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Location: Dallas, TX
Ben Minnich came to Dallas before 1956 to buy a Stone & Webster car for Kennebunkport. He told me that the car delivered to the museum had the Colored/white signs that were used in Dallas. When the local NAACP Chapter was asked how they felt about displaying the signs, the reply from the local chairman was that that is history and, while not correct, the signs should be shown as history, not as a recommendation of the old ways.

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 10:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Not entirely old. Tonight's news lead with a story on a membership drive from a lunatic fringe group called the Christian Knights of the KKK. Apparently they are distributing fliers, etc.....probably doing more advertising than many of our museums. I should add here that we're a major urban center, with a fairly progressive history since the 1960's of peaceful improvement of relations between the different races and continuing growing diversity, not Inbred Acres, Mississippi.......

Last week our mayor was castigated for suggesting that in addition to the National Day of Prayer, we also celebrate the National Day of Reason. Sounds to me like reason and thinking would be a good thing right about now.......and if you have to pray, reason might be the first thing to ask for on your list.

Interpreting the less pretty and certainly less morally and intellectually justifiable standards of the past as history could do a lot to perhaps help avoid making old mistakes again. We owe our communities unvarnished honesty and truth.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 11:10 pm 

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The Roanoke Chapter, NRHS owns Norfolk & Western P2 class coach #512, which was one of two lightweight "Jim Crow" coaches that were ordered when the Powhatan Arrow was reequipped in 1949. The #511 no longer exists, so this is the sole surviving example of this car type.

Attachment:
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If you look at the far end of the car in this picture, you can see the partition dividing the two sections of the car. As with the C&O cars mentioned above, this car was only segregated while in Virginia. Once it reached West Virginia and on into Ohio, both ends of the car were open to all passengers. Originally there was a swinging door in this partition, but it was removed by the N&W once the restriction in Virginia was lifted.

Attachment:
20130209_134632.jpg
20130209_134632.jpg [ 314.41 KiB | Viewed 6494 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 11:16 pm 

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When what was then Orange Empire Trolley Museum acquired New Orleans Public Service 913 (the car has since been sent to San Francisco for the Muni collection), someone pointed out the holes with brass fittings in the backs of the wooden seats. We Southern Californians learned about how the NOPSI conductors could move the "White/Colored" signs which had pegs to fit the holes, to different location in the car depending on the ethnic ratio of the passenger load. According to an oral tradition, two streetcar fans from the Los Angeles area were visiting the Crescent City for the express purpose of riding the old Perley Thomas cars. Just to see what would happen, the two young (and white) men sat down on the "Colored" side of the sign. The conductor moved the sign, and the fans moved so they would still be on the "Colored" side. Finally the conductor told them, "I know you're visiting from California and you think this is fun, but you'd better get on the right side of that sign or we'll all be in trouble."

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 Post subject: Re: Segregation in the Bad Old Days
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 2:01 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
The discussion of examples of surviving "Jim Crow" equipment tickled my brain cells, and I recalled one more. I believe East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad (Tweetsie) combine No. 15 is another surviving example. It's an RPO-baggage-passenger combination, with a divider in the passenger section, lined up between two of the windows:

http://www.johnsonsdepot.com/crumley/im ... r7/15a.jpg

Source for this image, included because it's a great source of images of the Tweetsie from the late Cy Crumley:

http://www.johnsonsdepot.com/crumley/cyhome.htm

The caption with another photo (listed as being from June of 1992) at another site says this car is now at the Spencer shops. The photographer makes no mention of the partition between the "whites" and "coloreds" sections; perhaps my "understanding" was wrong, or perhaps the partition was removed by the tourist hauler, or perhaps it was there and the photographer didn't take notice of it. That does seem a long time ago, but again, not really that far back:

http://cfordart.com/photoalbum/photopag ... lsize.html

http://cfordart.com/photoalbum/photopag ... lsize.html

http://cfordart.com/photoalbum/photopag ... lsize.html

Photo source:

http://cfordart.com/photoalbum/


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