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Fare Maiden: 1943

Fare Maiden: 1943

June 1943. Washington, D.C. "Hattie B. Sheehan, a streetcar conductor for the Capital Transit Company." And if all you have is bills, no problem. Photo by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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From the window route sign, it appears that this streetcar is from the 14th Street line, Route 50 (Short or cutback service) from the Bureau of Engraving to 14th & Decatur Street.

How Sweet It Is

As attractive as Ms Sheehan is, she brings back memories of the TV show "The Honeymooners". It starred, as Brooklyn's most famous Bus Driver, Ralph Kramden, brought to life in hysterical performances by Jackie Gleason. The sitcom played from 1951 through 1955, initially on the DuMont network and later on CBS. The cast included Art Carney as Kramden's Sewer working Buddy, Audrey Meadows as Gleason's gutsy wife and Joyce Randolph as Mrs Norton. A local TV station WPIX will show some of the Honeymooner episodes every so often as a fill in or inserted into a NY Yankee's rain delay. On Christmas Day after their Yule Log burns out, they'll have a Marathon of these shows. As old as they are they're still very funny.

Attached is an ad for a Ralph Kramden children outfit, not unlike Hattie's.

More on Hattie

At age 18, Hattie Lucas Bennett married Emory P. Sheehan in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in their home county of Rockingham. By the 1940 census they were still living outside Harrisonburg, with Emory working as a bookkeeper and Hattie in a shoe factory. According to records of Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg, Emory died April 9, 1945, when he was about 44. She lived until July 2, 2000. Her brief obituary in the Harrisonburg Daily News Record the following day notes that "she was a bus and streetcar driver for D.C. Transit during World War II."

Don't forget to buy tokens

Twin City Lines Minneapolis/St. Paul changers had pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and a double height section that stuck out above the top for tokens.

Glen Echo

The amusement park was still a popular streetcar destination in 1943. Hattie probably kicked up her heels at the Spanish Ballroom on more than one occasion.

Non Cents!

There were no tubes for cents or half dollars on those belt changers as a general rule. That changer most likely had 2 tubes for quarters, 2 tubes for dimes and 1 tube for nickels or 2 for nickels and 1 for dimes. Also, Gunther's beer was brewed in Baltimore City, MD.

[You're right about the half dollars. She has a Johnson Universal Changer, which could accommodate five tubes in any combination, though according to the original patent not halves: "The coins according to their particular denominations are deposited in the coin tube elements... element 1 being designed for dimes, the element 2, for pennies, the elements 3 and 4 for nickels and the element 5 for quarters. Of course, any number of elements of a particular denomination of coins may be used..." -tterrace]

Streetcar Nellie

Washington Post, October 10, 1943.

Hillbilly Songs of Motorwomen
Resound Through Car Barns

Providing leisure-hour entertainment for their fellow “motormen” at their lounge opposite the carbarn at 14th and Decatur sts. nw., are four women operators of the Capital Transit Co., all of them girls from the hills who break into rollicking folk tunes when the day’s streetcar run is ended.

Mrs. Hattie Sheehan, known to her friends as “Streetcar Nellie” is a smiling 30-year-old operator, who breaks into songs learned back home in Harrisonburg, Va. Although “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” is not confined to the mountains, it is a favorite with Mrs. Sheehan who explained yesterday that “it was a good theme song for us.” …


Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters ... and what?

[Half dollars. Or not; see comment above. -tterrace]

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