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Bill London: 1942

Bill London: 1942

December 1942. Melrose Park, Illinois. "Chicago & North Western RR. William London has been a railroad worker 25 years -- now working at the roundhouse at the Proviso yards." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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RR grime

From the goggles and collar buttoned up to his neck, to keep cinders and such out of your eyes and off your body as the engine goes down the track, he could've been in engine service. Or, from as dirty as he is, could be a roundhouse employee, maybe uses a cutting torch or somesuch tools and would need eye protection. More than likely a round house or shops employee. Either way, he is leaning on the drawbar on the front of a locomotive.

[As noted in the photo caption, he is a roundhouse employee. - Dave]

You didn't wear your work clothes home. At the end of the shift you went to the changehouse and changed out of that garb and put on you regular clothes.

Mama would beat you for coming into the house in those clothes. Not sure when they got washed. I've talked to folks here in town whose menfolk worked in the shops here and talked about just that topic, but I can't remember what they said.

Like to know what that button on the bill of his cap says.

Ashes by Now

Looks like he has spent a lot of time inside boilers, including the shift he is on.

Starting to see some gray under the hat. Much as people like steam engines the amount of grueling hard labor it took to keep them running compared to the diesels was one of the major reasons they disappeared so quickly once WW2 was over and industrial resources were realigned.

Fark R.R.

The People, Yes

This guy's mug is what Carl Sandburg meant in 1936. Without guys like this, who knows where the country would be?

Re: What Do You Say, Girls?

I think his eyes are beautiful. Perhaps with a good shave, a thorough bath, and a dandy set of clothes, this gent could be a handsome rake. Also, not to stir up too much controversy, but why do you think that 'Girls' are the exclusive judges of whether a man befits the tag of "Handsome Rake"? Are men the sole judges of a woman's beauty?

Working etc.

All the flippin' livelong day.

The colours!

Yes, of course it's ridiculous, but some part of my brain thinks that the past was actually in black and white.

Now wait a second

Working on steam locomotives was a dirty grimy business, and smoking in that age was not only acceptable but often encouraged. To criticize his dirty demeanour and appearance is reprehensible. He was one of the hard working railroad men who helped the U S win the war and should be remembered as such, not criticism based on modern standards. Mr London, I salute you.

I wouldn't vouch for...

his pulmonary quality of life.

Pall Mall

Outstanding, and they are MILD!


I got yer respirator right here, pal...


Smoking will be the least of his worries.

Good Standing

Looking at what he is wearing, and how much grime he has, I would guess he is a "Member of Good Standing" of the Boilermakers Union.

What Do You Say, Girls?

Something tells me this guy won't qualify for the "Handsome Rake" category.

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