The Shorpy Archive
 
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
 
Join and Share

 
Social Shorpy

To love him is to like him. Our goal: 100k "likes":

 
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:

 
 
 
 
Member Photos


Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

 
Colorized Photos


Colorized photos submitted by members.

 
About the Photos

Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600
VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Big Four: 1940

Big Four: 1940

May 1940. "Cairo, Illinois -- Big Four Cafe." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

Not so long gone

The Big Four Cafe was, indeed, located next to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St Louis RR terminal at the intersection of Commercial Avenue and 2nd Street in Cairo. The Tri-City Bus Company also had a stop there.

The CCC&SL is long gone, and the tracks were pulled up decades ago, but the derelict hulk of the station and attached buildings were only recently demolished. If you google map the address (200 Commercial Ave), the more recent satellite view will show that the buildings are gone; however, the slightly older steet view shows the buildings in tact (if very much abandoned and derelict).

Revitalizing the glory of the Beanery Queens

More on Beanery Queens.

Railroad Beaneries

We had a cafe at the railroad yard at Champaign, Ill., complete with the requisite Beanery Queens ! It's long gone, as are the old yard office where I was a telegrapher.

Skip

Beanery Queen

Waitress? Chews gum and calls every guy "honey". Cocks hip while writing down order. Heart of gold.

Hoghead is going to beans.

I suspect what we’re looking at here is a Big Four railroad bunkhouse and beanery. From reading a few things on the web about the Big Four in Cairo, I get the impression it was what we would call today an ‘away from home terminal,’ for guys working out of Mt. Carmel, Illinois. The railroad provided bunks for the train crews while away from home, and had an obligation to provide a hot meal 24/7. The eateries became affectionately known as ‘beaneries,” and would serve meals to the public as well. Beaneries have long ago disappeared from the railroad landscape, but any self respecting rail still goes to beans, not lunch. Can anyone guess what a 'beanery queen' was?

Had the wonderful opportunity to work the Springhill interlocking at Terre Haute, Indiana, controlling train movements over some of the old Big Four track there. Met dozens of really nice rail fans who made it a point to come and see the old lever plant at Springhill. Today the signals and switches are controlled with a computer keyboard, and the tower is part of a museum. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right.

Big Four

The cafe was probably named for the New York Central's subsidiary, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, popularly called "The Big Four." The Big Four ran through Cairo and had a Cairo Division.

Eponymous

Are those the Big Four sittin' on the bench out front?

The Quartet of Hunger

With relative valuation of that 25 cents one has the buying power of just about $4 now; a nice bargain for a breakfast, if you could find it. It's amazing how little really changes in the end--we see ourselves everywhere & everywhen.

Just perfect

Almost TOO perfect; the electrical cable emerging from hands-in-the-lap gent number two.

Breakfast is on me

Obviously the big four are sitting right out there on the bench. Tell ya' what I'm gonna do fellas, I'm gonna treat you all to the most important meal of the day so you can have a good start. For just 8 bits, I can afford it and can even leave a big tip.

Shoe Shine

I reckon one of those guys was waiting for his first shoe shine customer of the day so he could go in and get his 25c breakfast. It was probably 90 degrees in the cafe.

Yum

Bacon, ham, eggs and coffee only 25 cents. I could go for that right about now.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2014 Shorpy Inc.