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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Keg Run: 1943

Keg Run: 1943

March 1943. "Beer truck on 44th 39th Street and Sixth Avenue." Just turn right at the Sandwich Shanty. Another truck shot by John Vachon. View full size.

 

Trucks & Cabs

The Trommer's truck is a 1936 or early series 1937 Federal. There appears to be a lantern or some other object between the left front fender and the side of the hood. It looks like the truck body has an access hatch to the bed so (un)loading could take place or a ramp could be attached. If this door is used for unloading, it could be a pretty dangerous may to remove kegs that could roll easily.

The truck number by the door looks like number 346, but the back of the truck shows this is be truck 187.

The cab is a 1941 DeSoto SkyView, probably a model S-8, modified by Mr. Waters. Printed on and above the passenger door the words "DeSoto SkyView." It looks like there is a NY city cab/hack medallion attached in front of the front passenger side door.

Unfortunately Mr. Waters drowned in his pool in May 1941. Ironically a short biography of him was featured in the April 7, 1941 issue of Time Magazine.

Here is an excellent article and photos of Waters' automobiles.

Re: DeSoto

I am glad to defer to the posters who identified the taxi as a DeSoto, and also thanx to Mr Mel for indentifying the dealership that sold them. As for the coal delivery truck, our house in East New York in Brooklyn took coal directly to a coal bin within shoveling distance of the furnace - this continued until the conversion to oil late 40's/early 50's. This is a great site, especially for the camaraderie among the posters, and Dave and tterrace, as well!

Thank you Peter

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to commenter Peter who added to "the rest of the story" with his update on the Zembruski family in Ct. I never dreamed they were still on the air there and that Sophie worked on the radio until 2008, when she was 90. It is so good to know that a familiar childhood radio show and family name are still playing that happy music as they did 69 years ago. That is quite a remarkable eye-opener and I had no idea it still exists, even now, when almost everything else about my childhood has become extinct, obsolete and long-gone. Thanks again Peter.

Coal truck

Thats a coal truck in front of the Chrysler taxi. I grew up in Great Neck NY and the apartment building in which we lived was heated by a coal fired furnace. The delivery man would put the coal chute through a basement window, then the super had to move the coal to the furnace which was on the other side of the building one wheel barrow at a time. I look back at that and realize he must have spent most of his time feeding that furnace, and that must be why he smelled like coal!

The Bronx Is Up And The Battery's Down

It's hard to tell, but I believe the cab is a DeSoto Skyview. Betty Garrett drove one in the movie "On The Town" with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. These taxis had a moonroof that opened allowed the passengers to see the NYC skyline. They were sold exclusively by the John Water DeSoto Dealership in Long Island City in the Borough of Queens. A story that I heard many years ago that Water was Walter Chrysler's Son-In-Law but could never confirm it.

Oh, the history ...

"I remember particularly the Victor and Sophie Zambroski show in Ct. that went on for hours"

Victor Zembruski and his teenaged bride Sophie started "Polka Time" (later renamed the "Polish Eagle Show") on WATR 1320-AM in Waterbury, Connecticut all the way back in 1934. Victor became ill and retired in the late 1960's, but Sophie carried on as sole host. Sophie herself retired, and handed the show over to her and Victor's daughter ... in 2008. That is not a mistake. Sophie hosted the same radio show for SIXTY FOUR years. She died in 2010, aged 92.

Trommer's Evergreen Brewery

Trommer's advertisements from 1915, 1913 and 1909.

Calling That Cab

I agree that the taxi is a Chrysler product, specifically a 1941 DeSoto, both per the design of the taillights and the front trim, as well as the fact that DeSotos were THE most popular make for American big-city taxicabs in the 1940s. Their Chrysler, Dodge, and even Plymouth siblings were very similar mechanically and in body style at the time, but DeSoto got the nod from the cab companies the most often. Watch for the preponderance of DeSoto taxis in photos and movies from the 1940's.

When Cabs had Legroom!

Back when taxis had rear legroom to spare! There are probably even a couple of jump seats in that Chrysler taxicab.

Two other vehicles from the good old days . . .

Taxicab looks to be a Dodge (or at least a Chrysler product) of early 40's vintage with skylight - likely with leather upholstery as required by the City of New York for ease of clean-up. In front of the taxi appears to be a coal delivery truck, my guess a Mack AC Bulldog with chain drive - that chassis saw service during WWI. I was born that year, and all those vehicles were still in service well into the 1950's.

Not since 1957

Like most odd numbered Manhattan streets, 39th is one-way westbound. As far as I know it's always been that way. The beer truck therefore must be heading southbound on Sixth Avenue, which would have become impossible 14 years after the picture's date when Sixth Avenue became one-way northbound.

The building with the mansard roof on the corner of Sixth and 39th is gone now, as is the building next to it with the Labor Stage sign; the Marriott Residence Inn now occupies the site. The building across 39th housing the Sandwich Shanty also is history. Still around, however, are the two buildings on 39th to the right of the Labor Stage building. The first one is 108 W. 39th, built in 1928, while the second, lighter-colored one is part of a much larger building with the address of 1400 Broadway.

Trommers of Brooklyn

Trommers Brewery was just outside the gates of Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn. (They had a second brewery in Orange NJ)

Famous for their all malt beer, (no corn sugar used in the conditioning.) They would be the vicitms of the brewery strike of 1949, when their chemists were locked out of the brewery and their yeast strain died. It was said to never taste the same again.

Wooden barrels in 1943, steel kegs came in after prohibition, but if they used steel, they were sent to the scrap metal drives for the war effort, although they may not have made the change yet. (Rheingold in Brooklyn was using wood kegs in '43.) There was such a shortage of beer kegs after prohibition that beer was imported from Germany, and the kegs were part of the deal.

There's a new Marriott Hotel on that far corner now.

Wartime Counterespionage

The caption could have been intentionally misidentified to help protect the nation's wartime supply of Trommer's Beer & Ale.

Trommer's

That taxi

looks like the famous yellow cab that was in many many movies and ended up at the U.S. pavilion in Montreal at EXPO 67. Movie buffs will have seen that cab in many movies from the 1940's to the 1950's, where is it now?

Traffic patterns

Unlike the time of the photo, W 39th Street is now only a left turn from 6th Ave which hasn't carried 2-way traffic in decades. The site of the two shorter buildings is now a Residence Inn. The next 2 buildings down 39th are still there.

Traffic Jam

Then and now. A few of the original buildings have survived.

Roll out the barrel

Having spent my first 22 years in the northeast and being a Polish child in the 1940s & 50's, Sundays were the day that we were forced to listen to polkas on the radio from after church in the morning until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, (and yes, we did have roast chicken most Sundays-I can even smell it now). I remember particularly the Victor and Sophie Zambroski show in Ct. that went on for hours and they must have played every polka ever written although they all sounded alike to me. Anyhoo, the exposure made us use our imagination (as radio people did) as they all had lyrics in English and so in our minds it was like our own individual mental "hit parade" envisioning how each song would be acted out. The beer barrel polka reminded me of a massive Polish party with the men rolling out ongoing parades of beer kegs, ladies dancing polkas together (since the men did not) and kids just having a riotous good time being crazy and eating themselves to regurgitation. In this picture, with the loosely-packed beer barrels, if those top rows started rolling off, the people getting hit with them would not find it at all enjoyable as I had imagined. Therefore this picture, once and for all, tells me I should re-imagine my childhood fantasies since rolling out barrels may have serious consequences. Sorry to ramble so much, it is a slow day.

Labor Stage, or Princess Theater

The caption says 44th St, but the street sign on the left says 39th, home of the Labor Stage.

[Caption amended, 70 years after the fact. Better late than never! - Dave]

 
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