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Crack Salesmen: 1936

Crack Salesmen: 1936

Oct. 8, 1936. "H.O. Harrison Pontiac -- 'crack salesmen' and wives 'Going East' on streamliner City of San Francisco." 8x10 acetate negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5


That is the most Beautiful train I have ever seen!

Watermarks Redux

Considering that Shorpy and his staff put in a load of time and effort, and provide us with these great pix at NO COST, there should no nit-picking because the site wishes to protect their work product. There is at least one historical photo site I visit regularly that uses a watermark that occupies 25% to 30% or more of the image. Of course, I will not name them here, as they are simply exercising their right to protect their property. They market those images, much as Shorpy does.

Star Chieftains

Love this streamlined-'30s image! If these fellows had stuck with Pontiac for another 20 years or so, then they could have been billed as "Wide-Track Salesmen." In the meantime, I'm casting a 1937 Hollywood version of this journey, in which the two jaunty-hatted women on the right end of the line would be played by Myrna Loy and Helen Broderick, respectively.

Shorpy Watermarks

I love the ingenuity of the watermarks. They sometimes blend in so well, I gotta take extra time to find them. Hats off to you, Dave! Shorpy takes me to places that resemble the photos in the old shoe box at home, when I was a kid. Kudos!

Not just the salesmen and wives

Someone's daughter is there - notice the sailor suit and the bobby socks and saddle shoes of the young lady in the middle. I can't figure out who she's related to - possibly the woman with the gloves on the left hand side of the sign.

Watermarks, again

Dave: I just started noticing the Large watermarks, and I've been a Shorpy reader since 2007. You have to do what you have to do. I've always assumed that if I bought a print, it would be removed, yes?

[Watermarks are not on Shorpy's prints. -tterrace]

Now I'm wondering if you're the same Dave from Plan 59, previously Ephemera Now, where I have purchased several "Meat" prints.

[Yes. -tterrace]

Bless you and the work you do, it always brightens my day.

Don't Mind the Watermarks

I'm an enthusiastic fan of photogrpahy and have often complained about obnoxious watermarks. They never bothered me on Shorpy. They are small, always placed so that they don't obstruct any detail and generally blend into the black & white photos well.

Dave's comments regarding pirated photos endangerng the future of Shorpy are a little alarming. I visit this site every day and really enjoy it. I'm going to make a point of finally ordering a big print of that Rock Center photo in the next month or so.

Fabulous ladies' hats!

If I'm ever transported to the past, I will definitely try to find work as a milliner. These hats are the peak of prewar whimsy; they are so optimistic and jaunty. The salesmen and their wives are so happy to have earned this terrific trip--Where are they going?


It's quaint that that locomotive could propel you from Chicago to Oakland in 39 and 3/4 hours. Of course today, with all our modern wizardry, you can make the same train trip in a little over 52 hours.


That is the curse of digitalization. Copying will not degrade the object being copied.

The second curse is that too many people think everything in the WWW is free. Hey, read the terms of use, will ya'!

On the other extreme, some providers (not, mind) think they can charge even more for digital products, although the overall costs are only a fraction of the respective pre-internet hardware product, what with tooling, stocking, transport, wholesale, retail and sell-through risk, which all are nonexistent in digital distribution. 14 bucks for the CD, OK. But 13 bucks for the same in digital? C'mon!


I rarely comment here, but I visit this site every single day.

It is one of the best, and all the Curmudgeon Crew can contribute is harping about "watermarks"... seriously??

It takes true dedication and surprisingly hard work to maintain fresh content 7 days a week, every week.

Keep it up Shorpy crew, I and others truly appreciate the daily "trips" down memory lane !!

Call Me Blind

But I can't even see it, the watermark that is, not the train


All-in-all, that's a pretty tame watermark. Well worth the ability to get to view these images in hi-res. Hope this site never goes away.


I agree with valueseekinguy that the watermarks detract a bit. I like to show off Shorpy pics as wallpaper on my work machine. I just try to choose ones where the watermark isn't as noticeable.

I also understand where Dave is coming from. Restoring old pics can take a great deal of time and work.

If it helps to keep Shorpy going, I don't mind the very minor inconvenience.

Not Impressed With The Watermark On The Locomotive

I notice lately you've been adding a "Shorpy" watermark through the middle of your pictures. I think it drastically detracts from what you are doing. As a hobby, I used to color some of the pictures for my own use but now I have extra work to remove the watermark.

[Tell that to the dozens of people who rip off our images to sell as prints on eBay. Much more of that, and there won't be a Shorpy. - Dave]

My, how times change.

"Crack Salesmen"?

Fabulous shape!

I like all the women in this salesMEN shot.

But even more the streamliner. - more shots of that amazing body please!


That has to be the ugliest locomotive I've ever seen. How that ever got through the design stage I'll never understand. I wonder what else the designer came up with if that was his best.


The Great Depression was particularly hard on auto dealers, whose revenue depended on people with disposable income. Henry O. ("H.O.") Harrison had built a minor empire of car and truck dealerships around the Bay Area (while ranching and dealing in commercial real estate elsewhere in California). He and his principal business (H.O.Harrison Company) filed for bankruptcy at the Depression's peak, but as this photo reflects, he was soon back on his feet. By the time of the 1940 census, he and his wife Daisy and daughter Margaret were living in an apartment on Washington Street in San Francisco, right on a cable car line.

39¾ Hours to Chicago!

Southern Pacific poster. This was actually taken in Oakland, which was as far as the train could go. San Francisco passengers were ferried across the Bay.

Grinning Grilles

This early diesel-electric locomotive was semi-permanently coupled to its special train set. I am told the crews did not appreciate the gaping air intakes when, for example, the locomotive encountered an unfortunate skunk on the tracks. Operated by Chicago & Northwestern, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific, the passenger demands soon outgrew its limited capacity for travel between Chicago and Oakland. It was soon replaced by a much larger train which was wrecked by sabotage west of Carlin NV in 1939.

Union Pacific

That's a Union Pacific M-10003 or 4, which my father had in a Lionel version, made of heavy cast metal, but which was quick to derail. The larger Lionel M-10000 that he had, which negotiated only double-radius O-72 curves, was much more stable. Apparently the M-1000 was the earlier version historically but probably later in Lionel production.

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