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Train Passengers - Images Frozen in Time
31 Mar 2006 07:42:45 -0800

[random thoughts -- photos are a form of communication]

I found some old train/transit pictures I took 1976-1981 of some
terminals. In it were pics of people boarding trains or sitting on a

Some clothes styles were definitely dated -- some men still wore
fedora hats (very narrow brim by those days), some women had their
hair in a 1960s curl. But the younger people looked pretty much the
same -- styles have reverted back to the 1970s look. Some of the
people, even on a rush hour train, looked like senior citizens or
close to it.

When I looked at the people, I realized 25-30 years had passed. A
teenager then would be a full adult today, a 20 year old would be 50.
It makes one wonder what happened to those people. The older people
may no longer be with us.

I also wondered how many of those people are still living in those
towns and if any are still commuting. Given that so many businesses
have moved out of the central city to the suburbs I tend to doubt it.
Also, many of the residential neighborhoods served have changed.

At the time the telephone company was a major employer. It needed
service representatives, operators, and accounting clerks.
Undoubtedly some of the commuters I saw were Bell employees (the
neighborhood served was a rich source of that type of worker that Bell
preferred). Today billing functions are consolidated in large service
centers as are the service reps where labor and real estate are cheap.
Two large Bell office buildings downtown were vacated.

(Sometimes I wonder how geographically dispersed my own high school
class has become -- how many still live within the city, how many live
within the metro area, and how many moved out of town. For those that
moved away, why? Was it voluntary to seek something better, or was it
forced as the only option?)

I believe geographic stability -- multi generations staying within an
area -- is a healthy things. Developing roots to a community gives a
community stability and a richness.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Sometimes it was voluntary, other times
it was essentially forced (as in, move to town X if you want to
continue your employment with us; don't bother if you wish to seek
employment elsewhere.) During World War 2 my grandparents and my
mother just assumed we would always live in Coffeyville. One thing
about that war was that soldiers therein were _guarenteed_ their jobs
back when they returned. That was the law, at least in those times.
My grandfather was too old to be in the war, of course, but my father
was the right age. In 1946 when there were _massive_ discharges of
troops, the guys came back home and went back to work. The law said
'you get your job back if desired, even if the person(s) who were
hired in your place have to get dumped.' In the oil industry, they
took that to mean 'same pay or better, same job or better' and with
the technology improving even back then, there had to be a lot of
movement around the country and elsewhere. My father was offered his
choice of staying in Coffeyville at same pay for six months (all the
government required) _or_ accept a transfer to East Chicago, IN at the
refinery there, _or__ accept a transfer to Caracas, Venezuala, where
Sinclair had an operation going, _or_ accept a year's pay and get
lost. In the latter two cases, 'Chicago area' (as they described the
refinery operation in the north) or Caracas, Venezuala the job would
be 'permanent' with a substantial raise in pay.

I was only four years old, maybe five. My grandfather made the
decision for us; he was offered a position in Whiting at a raise in
pay (so that his old job in Neodesha, KS could be made available to
whomever had done it prior to the war). He grabbed it up; mother
wanted to be with her parents, so the decision was made to 'relocate
north'. Dad and grandpa came first, to find us homes; mother and
grandmother stayed behind to sell our old homes, then came the day
when the three of us boarded the AT&SF train in Coffeyville to join
dad and grandpa in the 'Chicago area' which was totally foreign to
mother and grandmother, and me as well, then being about 7 I think.
Little did I expect I would be around the area for a half-century.
Grandpa died in the early 1960's; my dad stayed on with the refinery
until 1978 when he reached retirement age. He and my mother brought
grandmother back here to Independence to live where the company known
as Sinclair had become Atlantic-Richfield. Grandmother died in 1980,
dad followed her in 1991; _still_ I chose to remain in Chicago until
it just got to be too rough for me there; in 1999 I found a job oppor-
tunity I liked much better in Junction City, KS and happily moved
away from the Chicago area, I think 52 years after I had gotten
transplanted there.

People who have been here in Independence say the town appears to be
'stuck in 1940s mode' and to some extent that is true. But my brother,
(named Daniel, in his early 40's) tells me all the changes which have
happened in Chicago since I moved away; it is hard to imagine. PAT]

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