Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:12 pm

Mr. Norman's posts reminded me of an indispensable feature at ticket windows back in the day: a thing I'll call a stamp tree, holding a few dozen rubber stamps with names of the destination stations most often needed at that ticket office. If there was no stamp for a desired destination the agent would write it on the ticket (printed on tinted, watermarked Association Ticket Paper -- was it green for first class, and some other color for coach?) with a fountain pen, often in beautifully legible copperplate. As I recall, a whole series of blank tickets would be on hand, with different numbers of perforated coupons. If someone wanted to go from New York to San Francisco and return, there would be a blank available with exactly the right number of coupons for DL&W, NKP, C&NW, UP, SP, WP, D&RGW, CB&Q, and Erie, if that was the route desired by the passenger. If there was no preprinted ticket on hand for that routing, you got to watch the ticket agent fill in every intermediate junction point on all the coupons. Since the present custom of having one queue, with the next person going to the first available window, was unknown at that time, you looked at the lines, picked the shortest one, and hoped that the person ahead of you wasn't buying the ticket described above while the lines on either side of you were moving briskly.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Ocala Mike » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:38 pm

And ExCon90's recollections are spot on. I seem to remember when my mother bought that "accordion" ticket at the NYNH&H window at GCT, she held up the line for quite a while. The poor guy behind us just wanted a one-way ticket to Stamford or some place. Those ticket agents seemed to take pride in stamping the destinations perfectly centered in the box provided, and showing off their cursive handwriting skills when they had to write in the destinations.

Along those lines, and still at GCT, there was a guy who manned the chalk board in the Arrivals Station who had incredible handwriting, and took great pride in putting it on display on that board. He would get the track numbers on an old Telautograph machine, and dutifully post the track number next to the train name, all by hand; no Solari board or computer screen in those days.
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