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Instant Message: 1942

Instant Message: 1942

November 1942. "Chicago, Illinois. These pneumatic tubes in the Illinois Central Railroad yardmaster's office connect him with the general office." Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Dress for success

I am always amazed at how men and women during the war years always seemed to be well dressed at work, often despite their occupations. This man has dress shoes and well pressed, creased pants. My uncle, who worked for many years as a lithographer in NYC, would go to work in a suit and tie, change into work clothes in the printing company's locker room, do a day's work, then change back into his suit and tie for the trip home.

No new thing under the sun

We used a pneumatic tube system on the Milwaukee Road until the late 70s, just as the caption says: connecting several yard offices with the central office. I have to wonder if Milwaukee officials were ‘inspired’ by the IC device. The system we used was really not up to the task, and I suspect it came from some department store that had quit using it for handling sales cash. The three tubes, about a mile each in length, were all exposed to Milwaukee’s freezing, moist, winter air. Need I say more? One night a new kid on the block weighed about 100 cars, and he asked the yardmaster what he was supposed to do with the scale tickets. The yardie, never having read “How to Win friends and Influence People,” barked at the kid to put the XXXXXXX things in the XXXXXXX tube to Muskego. So the guy did. Without a canister. For about two weeks, every now and then a scale ticket or two would come fluttering into the main office from the West End. Yes, they reweighed the whole cut of scalers.

Scrap metal

Never mind giving extra tires to Uncle Sam -- the quantity of iron in that tube machine looks like it would be nearly enough to build a Sherman tank from. I wonder when it got scrapped.

Vital piece of equipment

The ubiquitous coffee can is an essential piece of the apparatus.

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