Sleep Going to Keep Going: Pullman War Ads, Part 1

When I started researching for the story I posted a few weeks back about how the Nazis didn’t actually plan on attacking a substation at Grand Central during World War II, I amassed quite a lot of information about the railroads during the war. There are many facets to the story – from the gigantic posters that were installed in Grand Central to raise money with war bonds, to the movement of troops and materiel during the war—with railroads carrying 90% of the military’s freight, and 98% of its personnel, trains were an integral operation on the home front.

As a graphic designer, advertisements have always captured my interest. Wartime advertisements are something that have appeared on the blog before, with this post about the New York Central’s war ads. Although almost, if not all, of the American railroads published ads depicting their contributions to the war effort, there is a particular rail-related company that has a massive body of work when it comes to wartime ads which is rather impressive.

The Pullman Company, most notably known for their sleeping cars and porters, was extremely active during World War II. Despite being broken up in 1944 due to an antitrust case, Pullman advertised throughout the entirety of the war, often promoting the fact that their cars were one of the primary means of transportation for soldiers to get to their ship-out points, and later for their returns home.

Other advertisements asked the public to either refrain from riding trains or in sleeper cars unless absolutely necessary (at one point sleepers were restricted from operating over routes under 450 miles, yet public ridership was also up due to the rationing of gasoline), or to make sure that if unable to make their reservation they don’t just no-show, but cancel in advance so no space is left unfilled. In one case, an ad shows a furloughed soldier stuck in a station unable to return home to see the birth of his child as the train was sold out. Thankfully, someone cancelled their reservation last minute, allowing the soldier to return home. Another ad asks whether a soldier will make it to his own wedding, complete with a picture of an exasperated bride. This soldier likewise waits for a last minute cancellation on a sold-out train. My favorites, however, may be the ads containing the corny catchphrase, “Sleep Going to Keep Going.”

At the outset of the war troops moved in the standard Pullman sleepers that had been serving the general public prior. Eventually new sleepers were produced, devoted solely to troop transport. Riding the train as a soldier could be quite a claustrophobic experience—the New York Central operated cars with three-tiered foldable bunks, accommodating a total of 39 men. Besides the soldiers, additional riders may have included a higher-ranking military man designated as the “Train Commander,” a Pullman porter, or a railroad employee operating as an escort and liaison to the Commander. Another car operating as a field kitchen served three or four troop transport cars—initially out of baggage cars converted for that purpose, and later in specially designed troop kitchen cars.

As part of my collection of advertisements and timetables, I have a rather large assortment of Pullman ads—large enough to split it into multiple posts. Enjoy a little look back with the first part of my collection of digitally-restored Pullman advertisements below.

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Santa Claus is coming…

If you believe the Pennsylvania Railroad, Santa Claus visits all the good boys and girls while they are asleep tonight, even if they happen to be in a railroad sleeping car. Does that make conductors and trainmen Santa’s helpers?

And if you don’t believe the Pennsy, it looks like the Central seems to think that Santa will take a visit to all the overnight trains tonight. So who are we to disagree?

Wishing all readers of I Ride The Harlem Line, whoever you are, if you’re still out there despite my lack of posting for the past few years, a very happy holiday and new year.

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Smartcat Sundays: The Puppy Timetable

For almost as long as humans have been walking on this Earth, we have used hats. Whether they be for protection from the elements (with or without cat ears), for symbolic purposes, or simply for fashion, hats still remain an important part of our wardrobe to this day. Some historical figures are even well remembered for their hats, like Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hats, or Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. Today’s little bit of railroad history is an unofficial railroad timetable distributed by a hat salesman in Oneida, New York. The subject has come up on this blog before, where I have admitted my love for unofficial timetables.

If you ever wondered why many railroads began explicitly printing “Official Timetable” on their publications, it was certainly in response to the practice in the later 1800s and early 1900s for local businesses to distribute self-made timetables for the nearby train station with an ad for their shop on the other side. The marketing concept is both effective, and still commonplace today. If someone has something that is functional and useful that they will have close by that has your ad on it, there is a higher likelihood that when that consumer needs something, they will turn to you. Whether it be the unofficial timetable of yesteryear, or the box of matches (although not quite as common these days), fridge magnet, or wall calendar of today, all of these products are useful but also make you remember a particular business.

Although I try to focus my collection on the Harlem Division, it was hard for me to resist this purchase. Beyond my love for unofficial timetables, this card was probably the most quirky examples I had ever seen. And how can one say no to a cute puppy hiding in a hat? If I was looking for a hat in Oneida, surely I would have purchased one from Mr. Stone!

Unofficial Timetable
And how could you ever forget W. A. Stone, with this cute puppy timetable?

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