UP Streamliner Postcards

The first postcard today wasn’t issued by the Union Pacific, but it gives a clue about who rode that railroad’s first streamliners back when they operated just ten times a month. The back of the postcard, which is postmarked May 7, 1941, says, “Dear Aunt: We are in California again. It seems we are in the way most of the time. How are you and Janice? You better come out while we are here. . . . Carl & Julie.” Given that the card was sent from California to Ohio, the impression is that the writer–presumably Julie–considered transcontinental rail travel to be completely routine.

Click image to download a 0.4-MB PDF of this postcard.

The card’s return address is 327 Country Club Drive, San Gabriel, California. Southern California housing prices weren’t as inflated in 1941 as they are today, but this Spanish Revival house–shown in the Google street view photo below–is 3,446 square feet and located directly across the street from the San Gabriel Country Club golf course–is an upper-middle-class home in any era. When it was built in 1926, the average American home was only about a third of its size.

The card’s recipient didn’t live in such a luxurious home. Though the card is addressed to Blanch Beck at 5205 South Front Street, Fremont, Ohio, Front Street doesn’t extend beyond the 1200 block either north or south. But a 1940 census record reveals that a Blanche Beck lived at 525 South Front, so Julie must have misaddressed the card. Google street view reveals that 525 South Front isn’t as fancy as 327 Country Club, but it is a little larger than its neighbors and on a larger lot. In addition, Fremont was undoubtedly a more prosperous town in 1941 than it is today. But, though we have a pretty good indication that Carl and Julie rode the City of Los Angeles streamliner, we don’t know that Blanche ever did.

While the postcard doesn’t appear to be issued by the Union Pacific, the lengthy description of the City of Los Angeles on the back suggests that UP had some input into the card. For comparison, below is a card featuring the same train that was definitely issued by the Union Pacific, though its description of the train is much briefer.

Click image to download a 0.3-MB PDF of this postcard.

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