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Errand of Marcy: 1943

Errand of Marcy: 1943

        The shutter clicked as she fingered the cold steel of the pistol in her purse. "No one suspects," she muttered under her breath, fixing her gaze on the Nazi spy at the front of the coach ...

April 1943. "Baltimore, Maryland. Crowded bus carrying people to work at 8 a.m." Photo by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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The stranger in the back of the bus.

The young man in the back of the bus watched the beautiful spy with intentional vigor. He wondered silently to himself if he could pluck up enough courage to approach her as the exited the transport, even though he was only a teenager, he felt like a man when he was near her.

Whew, now I'm all flustered after writing that

"Crowded bus"

This particular image is uncaptioned in the Library of Congress archive, which was offline when we posted this yesterday, so I had to improvise, being unable to check the adjacent photos for captions. Which would have revealed this shot of the same riders, labeled "Crowded bus carrying people to work at eight a.m." We've amended the caption to reflect this.

Below, at center, a similar coach photographed by Marjory Collins in the Baltimore Transit Co. garage.

Natty Boh

Top left of the picture is an ad for National Bohemian Beer, known affectionately by locals as "Natty Boh."

Noir, With A Web of Horror

I think that older woman is her mother.

And that knowing look on the face of the young woman says she knows you know that is what she will look like in a few years, so she'll have to catch some other prey, sans madre, over margaritas in a darkened corner of a waterfront bar.

It'll be a courthouse wedding and the honeymoon will be over all too soon when the groom meets Mama the first time.

Marble Steps

Outside the windows a blaze of white rolls by. This was a regular sight on Saturday morning when walking through the side streets on the way to "The Avenue" in Highlandtown.

See previous

Shorpy has previously posted several exterior images of these vehicles which were always referred in that time as trackless trolleys. A much quieter version of the look alike Diesel engine bus.

[Actually the caption here should have said "bus." The trackless trolleys don't have the oblong oval window seen here. -Dave]

A real femme fatale.

No wonder it was in the envelope marked 'killed'. Wonder who her victim was.

Baltimore of the 1940's was a lively place.

Looks like a far cry from the grim, depressing city I lived near in the 1990's.

A man could die happy

That woman didn't need a gun, her look could kill. The steely gaze of the true femme fatale.

Not a Streetcar

Cool photo. But these intriguing folks are not riding a streetcar; Baltimore never had the type of PCC streetcar with standee windows as seen in this photo. It's either a motor bus or electric trolleybus. The original caption says "trolley" which was sometimes used as a term for trolleybus at that time, so there you have it.

Shorpy got it Right

We are NOT on a bus. This is a "PCC" streetcar, a standardized design created by the "Presidents Conference Committee" just before WWII intended to be universally operable by every streetcar system.

[Actually, the caption should have said "bus." We have amended it to reflect the correction. - Dave]

Noir indeed

Y'all should get together and write a screenplay. If only we could find a Barbara Stanwyck look-alike to play the lead.

High Couture

How many of us ever had a hat made of the same fabric as our coat?

In Vogue?

Possibly one of the best fashion shoots of the war years - she's very cool, very stylish.

"No one suspects...

An old woman", she thought. While her husband waited patiently behind her to hustle her out of the car after the deed was done, his thoughts were more on the National Bohemian he'd have when they got home.

She's a Looker

Enough said.

Shorpy Noir

The gumshoe watching behind her tried to appear inconspicuous by turning up his collar, but you could tell he was a Fed by the crease in his fedora.


FBI agent "Buck" Knife sat behind her looking for a safe place to stop and confront the Axis of Evil that had infiltrated the bus - as well as the security of America itself - while his partner, Harold "Buffalo" Nichols, grasped firmly on the pole, peering at the woman through his thick lenses waiting for her to make even the slightest move.

Continue the story?

Unbeknownst to her, sitting just behind the back door of the bus, over her shoulder, in the fedora, her overseer (and future lover) scanned the sidewalk for the Nazi's contact. The woman sitting beside her wondered if she herself had been that pretty when she was young. And the boy in glasses, staring right at Marjory Collins, now knew -- once and forever -- that he wanted a camera.

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