After five or so years of very limited domestic travel due to the war, Americans in the late 1940s and into the 50s were ready to hit the road, and the rails, and the air and the water! To go along with the renewed interest in travel was a new travel magazine, Holiday. Several years ago I ran across a big stack of these magazines from the yearly years of its publication. The ads alone were worth the buck each I paid for them.
After spending untold hours browsing through these, I came to the conclusion that travelers in the post war years had more options than we have today. Train travel was still a major part of travel, especially for those who were traveling to the American West. Busses were an alternative to trains, especially for shorter trips. The auto was becoming the American-conveyance-of-choice. Ships were not just for pleasure cruises – they actually took you to a destination, and air travel was moving up fast.
The train ads tend to push the long distance trip, and for many Americans that meant a trip to the West. As you can see, the ads focus on convenience and pleasure. The trip itself was part of the adventure.
My husband and I actually made one of these train trips to the west back in 1995. Of course that trip did not live up to my expectations of 1940s glamorous train travel, partly because we opted for a small compartment and were stumbling all over each other for two days. That, compounded by the fact that the air conditioning was non-functioning, and the “club car” sold beer for only 30 minutes every evening…
But Lin at Vintage Voyager made a similar trip recently, and had quite a difference experience. I’m almost ready to give it another try. But only if the children are as well behaved as the little girl in yellow below, and if there is a “dress code” like in the 40s, and if we pack a few bottles of gin and vermouth…
Posted by Em:
The adverts are beautiful. I have always had romantic notions about a train trip in Canada or maybe one through the national parks.
Monday, August 2nd 2010 @ 4:00 PM
Lizzie, I’m with you. If they are all dressed in 1940s gabardine and snappy fedoras, I’m there!
Monday, August 2nd 2010 @ 5:57 PM
Such a Great Post and Images , I love That
Tuesday, August 3rd 2010 @ 2:54 AM
Posted by Terry Banderas:
Just saw your stuff on Flickr also. Love these advertisements.
Tuesday, August 3rd 2010 @ 5:39 AM
Posted by Beth:
My husband and I keep thinking about doing a train trip but mostly just think. I did do a bit of research on it. We do travel a bit in our tiny camper.
Tuesday, August 3rd 2010 @ 7:34 AM
Posted by Lin:
what *fantastic* ads! I’m trying to remember my outfits… i think I kept it snappy but my memory is bad. You know, I have to admit, that long trip on the Southwest Chief I made on my own, so I had plenty of room. I must say the service was fantastic, but I do get the impression that the staff may get let down by the aging equipment every now and then.
There’s definitely an upswing of tourist traffic on these trains now, and it really is well worth it. I only wish I could have got off to explore. Tip: I found the tickets on the City of New Orleans to be among the cheapest to pre-book. We fitted two of us in that cabin and it was a great trip!
One plus to the economic downturn: less freight, and all the trains running more or less to schedule!
Wednesday, August 4th 2010 @ 1:35 PM
Posted by Lin:
ps. definitely pack the gin. And a mixer. The wine is a bit expensive by the glass with dinner *cough*
Wednesday, August 4th 2010 @ 1:37 PM
Posted by Lizzie:
Lin, I’m sure you were the snappiest woman on the train!
Next up: Bus ads! Stay tuned…
Friday, August 6th 2010 @ 5:06 PM