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Sex Was My Racket: 1943

Sex Was My Racket: 1943

March 1943. "Barstow, California. A brakeman on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad resting in his caboose at night." Pinup reading material includes: STREAMLINE YOUR HIPS! and SEX WAS MY RACKET. Medium-format safety negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Emergency Equipment!

Look at the casing above the door. This appears to be a signal flag - undoubtedly a red one - held in place by a couple of angled nails. In case of a breakdown, the conductor would walk down the tracks, well behind the train and stop any oncoming traffic. At night, he'd use a red lantern.

I presume that the flag is there for not only easy access but also because a flag is so much easier to misplace than a big old lantern.

Railroader's kid

My dad was a railroader (machinist) and my best friend's dad was a brakeman. Now and then we got to visit the caboose. I remember lots of posters in there that our mothers probably didn't want us to see... but I also remember the main bunks being in the cupola. What a great way to sleep, with that rhythmic clicking of the rails.

Between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I commuted by rail (then the Northern Pacific, later the Burlington Northern) on a railroad pass. I went west in the early morning and came home in the late afternoon. I usually fell asleep (again, that rhythmic clicking), and the conductors would always wake me up at my home town stop. We were all family then.

Hot fingers!

@ Histry2. He's probably not smoking in bed. That's just a way to get a ~15 minute nap. One tends to wake up when the hot ash gets near the fingers! It's a tried and true tradition.

I see the light!

I have that lantern that's above his bed, my grandfather was a CNR (Canadian National Rail) railman and it was passed down to me over the years. It's built like a tank and is just as solid as it looks.

Head On Collision

These days, this photo would cause a collision of the ATSF (BNSF) and the EEOC.

Barstow, California

Still every bit as exciting in 2012.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

It looks like this guy could have benefited from a few carefully-chosen pages from the Sears catalog.

Politically Correct

Our company once bought an insurance policy that protected us from race, sex, color, creed, disability, nationality, age or any other discrimination suits that could have rendered us liable. Our broker came to the store to inspect the premises. The first thing that went were the Girlie Calendars and risqué pinups in the warehouse area.

Room With A View

Looks like more than one caboose in the photo.

Details, details

The gadget on the lower part of the door is a spring loaded hook to hold the door open when the crew wants some air. The attached string is to easily/ quickly unhook to shut the door. Since our man is dressed, I would say the cigarette is to time the nap. The lantern above is to wake up if the Engineer pulls an emergency stop.

The door dingus

is a spring latch to hold the door open - handy on moving rail cars. These are usually at the bottom corner and clamp to a small plate on the floor with a half-round projection. I suppose there was a higher shelf to mount the plate on. Normally, they come loose with a pull. Maybe this one stuck because mounting it in the middle of the door didn't give as much leverage, and so the string.

Extra Padding

Smart man. Looks like he borrowed the mattress from the upper berth, and brought a third one for good measure. Now if he can just keep that arm extended until the cig goes out...

Notice: Brakeman Smith

Be sure to sport your brand new bib overalls. Today is picture day on the ATSF.

What's it for?

So who's going to explain to me the purpose of the cord running from the door handle to the attachment on the door?

And, of course ...

He's sleeping in bed.

[A major cause of slumber. - Dave]

Ouch! Shoulda written he's SMOKING in bed.

Who's making all that "racket"?

Betty Grable?

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