New Trip Coming Up Even At Journey's End, Published 17 February 1947When I woke in the morning. The Rocket was hustling throush Eastern Illinois. Past our namesake Ottawa, we flew, and then paused only long enough in Joliet, Illinois, to let the natives get a look at us. Joliet is the home town of the Press Gallery's Gene Griffin, of the Chicago Tribune, who is now an Ottawa resident.
The RocKet, I found, was a comfortable train, and a pleasant one. Its dining car service was up to the Rock Island standards I recalled as far back as 1933. Though they don't talk much about it, the Rock Island feed you as well as any railway in the country.
I got off at 63rd street, and hustled cross town to the New York Central's 63rd street at Woodlawn. Then in a matter of minutes. The Mercury arrived. It came in so fast it overshot the station and everybody had to rush up a couple of cars. The Mercury had a real head of steam up that day.
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I made for the last car, a dream of daylight riding. I felt lucky again in striking the same porter I had last February. I found out this time his name is Clifton White, and he has a graciousness, a courtesy, and a friendliness that I should think ought to be a model for all porters. Among all the many good porters I have met in the States, I'd say Clifton White was the model for all others. Maybe you'll meet him some time. He's the kind of fellow who, if you tell him your name, he'll treat you as if you were a president of the company. He's a credit to his race, an honor to his railway, and I am sure, a man admired by all who travel with him.
This Mercury, as I have said before, is a sort of modernistic train. The observation car has glass down to the floor, and is ideal for a sun bath on winter days. It has seats facing sideways and seats facing the back. The little settees are so cleverly arranged that you can see what you like, sit in the shade as much as you like, or soak up all the sun you like.
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The other Mercury cars are attractive, and one feature you will admire is the enormously large lobbies between cars. They are too big to be designated as vestibules.
The diner is almost unique on this continent in that the whole car is given over to dining. and the cooking department, or galley, is in another car. But this resplendent coach is more interes ing even than that; it has little alcoves for two. semicircles for six, and you can accommodate unusual numbers in its roomy interior. You can face the aisle, as you eat, or sit in the orthodox way, facing either the front or the back of the train.
The time is always too short on the Mercury. There was a brief look, at Lake Michigan just east of Michigan City, Indiana; then the ellipses getting into Kalamazoo; the attractive outskirts of Ann Arbor; finally the interesting exhibits of Henry Ford's Greenfield Village; including a rebuilt Grand Trunk Station purportedly to have come from Canada: and finally the lengthy railway yards of Detroit itself.
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From the Motor City to the Capital city is an old story. No need to go over it now. But as I write these lines. I look back over a trip that took me more than 9,000 miles and 15 states. As I begin to write "Finis" to all this, my mind goes back to outstanding milestones. I recall my first day in the west, climbing to Bufalo Bill's grave at Denver. Then there was the delightful breakfast with the spectacular percolator at the Babb home in Cheyenne. I'll not forget "Old Faithful" blowing steam against a blue sky, the "Paint Pots" in pastel shades bubbling through eternity, the glorious sweep of the Columbia River, the Oregon firs at McCredie that night we went up to see the Southern Pacific engines go over the Cascade Summit, the first glimpses of the Pacific, that's all down in the mind too. Alcatraz., incrediblv blue sea and barking seals at Del Monte, the gateway to Southern California at San Luis Obispo, finally, Los Angeles. Then the highlight of the trip. Hollywood, with its stars, its scenery, its sky, its sights. Without further use of verbs let me string together a swim at Balboa Beach. lovely La Jolla, the color and life of the Calexico - Mexicali frontier of Mexico, the Grand Canyon, the kindlv ghosts of a dead civilization at Santa Fe, buying a new tire at Rocky Ford. Colorado There was the heart-warming hospitality of the Rock Island's Mr. Schwartz, the courtesy of Superintendent Branch, the trip in the diesel of The Rocket. Finally, the smooth ride of the Mercury hurrying me back to work. So this finds me. already at my chores, back from far places, but still sighing for new sights to conquer.