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Mrs. Information: 1943

Mrs. Information: 1943

January 1943. Chicago, Illinois. "Mrs. Marie Griffith, manager of the information room, at one of the boards listing rates to points all over the country at the Union Station." Photo by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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In the lady's shadow -

the town where I was born, Hugo, OK. The town where I grew up, Idabel, OK, is not listed, but my mother has often spoken of riding the train between Idabel and Hugo.

Nice to see the old home town on Shorpy

Even if it's only written in chalk. Hempstead, Texas.

Up and down the board

Stock brokerage firms had wall-to-wall boards with current up-to-the-moment stock prices, at least into the 1960s. Bookie joints also had boards.


I'm astounded at the quality of the penmanship. Maybe at the start of a shift but after a long stretch, you'd start to 'slur' your writing. Impressive. No erasers = no mistakes?

An inefficient system

And the railroads knew it, even at that early date. By the late 1940's the first punchcard ticketing data systems were being experimented with to eliminate boards like this. Unfortunately, they wouldn't need to utilize and improve such new technology for long. These days Amtrak could probably store all of its destinations and rates on a Commodore 64, so sparse and limited is its service.

1956 election

I remember that on election night in 1956 the major networks were tabulating the results of the Ike-Adlai presidential election in a similar manner. When I was in the Air Force in the late '60s we still tracked critical equipment and circuit status by hand in Maintenance Control at Ramstein Air Base by hand, though we used grease pencils on Plexiglass by then. We've come a long way.

A dusty job

I note that Mrs. Information is wearing a duster to protect her dress from the chalk dust. Also, did the train fares really change so frequently that they needed to be recorded in this manner?

Similar to Military Standby in the 60s

When I was in the Navy in the 60s I could travel on leave with the airlines as a military standby passenger for a reduced rate. It was strictly space available but it usually worked quite well for me. This was probably an outgrowth of the tradition of the FURLO fares from the WW2 era. I don't think it is available anymore. It probably wouldn't work well now since most flights today are usually overbooked.

Furlough Fares

Furlough fares were a permanent thing. Amtrak continued to offer a 25% active-duty military discount until well into the 1980s, at least, IIRC, heck they might still have it. Reservists and National Guardsmen were not eligible unless they produced orders showing they were in an active duty period. A green I.D. card was normally required.

Also well into the Amtrak era were clergy fares, and discounts for blind passengers, either traveling alone or with a human or canine escort. These were a real pain for agents, since they continued to be administered by regional "bureaus" which issued coupon books, and some of them had odd discount rates, like 10.5%, etc.

In pre-computer days, all tariffs, passenger and freight, express and baggage, for all modes, were VERY complicated.

Furlough fares in WWII

From 1940 until early 1947, a special rate was charged to members of the armed forces travelling at their own expense. It was good in coaches only, and priced at 1.25 cents per mile with a return limit of 30 days, later extended to 90 days. I note that the "FURLO" fares (listed in the fifth column) from Chicago to Dallas, and to Houston, were 50.54 percent of the fares in the fourth column.

Military fares?

I'm guessing FURLO was for special military furlough fares, given that this is 1943.

These are strictly railroad fares--if you wanted a sleeper, you'd need to pay the first class rate plus the Pullman Company's charge for the room. And they seem to be just fares out of Union Station, so the rate to Davenport, IA is most likely on the Milwaukee Road via Savanna, IL. Most travelers would just walk a few blocks over to La Salle Street Station and take a Rock Island Lines train direct to Davenport.


OK, I understand OW and RT, 1stCl and Coach, and the 3-Mo period for an open RT ticket. But, what's "FURLO"? And why is it set at 90 days, rather than the nearly identical 3-Mo?

Also, curious why about the way the classes were split across the board. Looks like OW-1st, OW-Coach, then RT-Coach, followed by RT-1st, judging by the different heading colors and the prices.

Rail historians? Anyone?

Thanks to Inflation

Chicago to San Antonio in 1943: $40.16; this is equal to $540.36 in 2013 dollars.

[Adult fare on Amtrak's Texas Eagle from Chicago to San Antonio is $256. - Dave]


This message board makes the code machine shown here earlier
look like child's play!

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