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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Women in On-Board Service - 1974


Date: 01/07/21 18:02
Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: MEKoch

47 years ago (1974) I was the steward on the El Capitan (S.W. Ltd) out of Chicago - train #3.  We left Chicago with five hi-level coaches, hi-level lounge and hi-level dining car.  Amtrak had just begun to hire woman to work on-board the trains.  It was a nice gesture, IF they worked in the sleeping cars or coaches.  That evening we had a nice young woman among my six waiters - Linda.  She did her work very well and was eager to please.  THe mostly older black waiters were nice to her and dinner was smooth.  Then two of the waiters came up to me and said:  where is she going to sleep??   We had a dorm car up front.  It was a typical dorm car with three high bunks; several sinks and two toilets.  Absolutely no privacy.  The older men were very anxious about her presence in the dorm car.  Linda sensed they were not comfortable.  I asked her: where did the crewbase tell you to sleep?  She said:  in the dorm!  

I knew that was not going to work and only cause trouble.  So I went to see the conductor about any possible sleeping car space.  He understood the problem very well.  He was a veteran ATSF conductor and said that Amtrak was completely irresponsible for putting Linda on this train as a waiter.  Further, his six sleeping cars were totally full.  Then I spoke with each coach attendant, and one of them said that he did not like to sleep in his room, but preferred sleeping on a pair of coach seats, so Linda got his room for those two nights.  Then on the return trip, we were equally as loaded, so Linda slept in the coach on the first night.  And we found a sleeping space on the KC sleeper (thru car to the National Ltd) on the second night.  

I went into the crewbase upon return and spoke with Jim Nolan and another supervisor.  I told them clearly that women on the trains were fine, but you must provide them a bed, that was not in the dorm car.  I put my thoughts in writing to Verne Hutson.  Nothing changed immediately, but I presented this hot potato to management.  



Date: 01/07/21 21:49
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: wa4umr

Ladies in a normally all male crew can present extended problems when the wives find out about it.  I was a Boy Scout leader and our all-male group of leaders all slept in the same tent.  Then on one campout, a mother was going to go with us.  Wives were asking, "Where's she going to sleep?"   That seemed like a reasonable question, especially since she was rather nice looking.  It turned out that we had an extra 2 person tent and we set that up for her.  The question is really a two-way question.  If I was the husband, I'd be wondering the same thing.     

John



Date: 01/08/21 15:18
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: smf2mry

I assume this situation pre-dated Amtrak, didn't the Santa Fe have an employee on passenger trains known as a "Courier Nurse"?



Date: 01/08/21 18:19
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: PHall

smf2mry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I assume this situation pre-dated Amtrak, didn't
> the Santa Fe have an employee on passenger trains
> known as a "Courier Nurse"?

And she had her own private room in the dorm car. As did the Zephyrettes on the California Zephyr and other trains too.
It wasn't until Amtrak started hiring their own crews that you saw women on train crews on a routine basis.
 



Date: 01/09/21 07:43
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: WAF

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> smf2mry Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I assume this situation pre-dated Amtrak,
> didn't
> > the Santa Fe have an employee on passenger
> trains
> > known as a "Courier Nurse"?
>
> And she had her own private room in the dorm car.
> As did the Zephyrettes on the California Zephyr
> and other trains too.
> It wasn't until Amtrak started hiring their own
> crews that you saw women on train crews on a
> routine basis.
No, they had a roomette assigned to them on the CZ
>  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/21 09:08 by WAF.



Date: 01/09/21 08:56
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: fbb37

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > smf2mry Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > I assume this situation pre-dated Amtrak,
> > didn't
> > > the Santa Fe have an employee on passenger
> > trains
> > > known as a "Courier Nurse"?
> >
> > And she had her own private room in the dorm
> car.
> > As did the Zephyrettes on the California Zephyr
> > and other trains too.
> > It wasn't until Amtrak started hiring their own
> > crews that you saw women on train crews on a
> > routine basis.
> No, they had a roomette assigned to them
> >  

On the early El Capitan, the Courier Nurse had her own room behind the bar in the lounge car (consult Santa Fe 1300 series lounge car blueprints built by both Pullman and Budd).  Later, on the Hi-Level El Cap there was a downstairs room of a coach at the vestibule for her (confirmed in Budd blueprints).



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/21 08:58 by fbb37.



Date: 01/09/21 09:24
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: Notch7

In the mid 70's I was still firing on the Southern Crescent.  As I was walking to the station to put off, Iooked up and saw a cute young brunette waitress in the diner.  My engineer asked the conductor where she slept.  He responded she slept in the baggage dorm with the old men.  He added she couldn't be safer there.  



Date: 01/18/21 19:22
Re: Women in On-Board Service - 1974
Author: jdw3460

I assume you would include the train crew as onboard service.  I nearly dropped my suitcase in Alexandria, VA in 1987 when my Amtrak train arrived under the excellent control of a female engineer.  At that time, she may have been an RF&P or CSX engineer, but I'm not sure.  But the lady knew how to handle that F-40PH.



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