My 80th Railway: The Rebel Route, Published 15 August 1944.For a long time I have yearned to watch the miles go by, ensconced on the cushions of the Gulf. Mobile and Ohio Railroad's crack streamliner, The Rebel. Consequently, you find me being steamed alive at the bus terminal in St. Louis. I was to take a Rebel bus belonging to the railroad, across the coffee-colored Mississippi, and there in East St. Louis. Illinois, catch my orange and silver train.
I was sitting in the bus. shortly after, quietly simmering to a slow boil, when up walked a beautiful lady in sky blue outfit, with a you-all accent you could cut with a knife. She was the hostess on the train, and a former school teacher from the state of Mississippi. With her was a student, hostess, another Mississippian. Their speech was so picturesque, that I could make money in Ottawa with them, just charging people admission to hear them talk. It turns out that the senior hostess and I had a bond of friendship, because we both knew the Mississippi Central Railway, which runs through her home town. She wondered how I had ever heard of the M.C.R., but I told her I had friends on The Citizen editorial staff who kept me posted on such things.
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So we rolled across Old Man River, and in due course were delivered to this delightful little streamliner. Outside, you could fry a fish anywhere on the sidewalk, and what was happening to me then should not even happen to me in the next world. (Yet people ask, it can't really be any hotter in St. Louis than it was here, can it?) But inside the train, it was a lovely spring day. This Gulf. Mobile and Ohio. I might say. is an amalgamation of the Gulf Mobile and Northern, and the Mobile and Ohio. Both railways were headed approximately nowhere. But now that they have amalgamated, they have begun to go places. The result is one streamliner runs down to Mobile. Alabama, and the other swings into New Orleans.
What I like about these Rebels is that, although they are streamliners, they put on no swank. They are designed for the common people who have no surplus cash to spend on fancy stuff. You can ride a Rebel Streamliner cheaper than you can any day coach in Canada.
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Speaking of Alabama, we have two renowned Alabamans in Ottawa. Lewis Clark, first secretary of the U.S. Embassy, is from Montgomery, Alabama, the old Confederate capital, and Col. Bankhead, commercial attache, is from 'Bammy too.
This little train had no diner, but had a buffet farther up, where you could stand up and have a snack. I think you also could have food brought back to you. if you wished. It had an informal atmosphere about it that I liked.
The name Rebel strikes some Canadians as incongruous. But never let it be forgotten that Rebel is a proud word down south. It represents all that went down to defeat in the war between the states. The south might have lost the war, but never its spirit, never its soul. Once in a while you hear somebody give the rebel yell in the movies, and Ottawans look on stolidly. I remember Bing Crosby, during the picture in which he depicted the life cf Stephen Foster, being given the rebel yell at the end of a singing triumph, and no one here knew what it was all about. Perhaps I have unduly elaborated on this stimulating label, The Rebel, but I wanted to explain its significance if I could.
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All too soon it was time to get off and I disembarked at Columbia, Illinois, and went over to the Columbia Grill to wait for my Rebel bus. There I promptly got into an argument not a hard thing for me to do, about Canada. The otherwise intelligent lady, formerly secretary to a railway official, thought we in Canada still paid taxes to England! I was able to clear away a few misconceptions, but before I did, I had gathered quite a crowd. Another hour, and I think I would have had needed a soap box. I was busy outlining the relationship of Canada to the Empire, and explaining our war effort, when the honk of the bus ended the open forum. I was invited to come back. Maybe the W.I.B. will send me down there some time to sell our war effort to Columbia.
In that part of the States, misconceptions about Canada were rife. I was almost stunned, when in the office of the G.M.& O. buying my ticket, that a fiftyish man showed surprise when I showed him a Canadian five dollar bill.
"Do you have money like that?'" he asked. bewilderedly. "I thought you used the English system."
"You mean pounds, shillings and pence?" I enquired.
"That's it." he said.
I told him we had abandoned it hundred years ago. and he seemed surprised
I guess news travels slowly tn St. Louis.
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This episode exactly fits the story of Hank O'Day, former umpire, one time in a Chicago barber's chair, during the year when some cities had daylight saving and some had not. Hank was going to St. Louis, and somebody remarked:
"St. Louis is an hour behind, isn't it?"
"An hour behind." says Umps Hank. "Heck, it's a hundred years!"
Next, we ride a fancy streamliner called the Ann Rutledge. of the Alton Railroad,