Barber shops on passenger trains?

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Barber shops on passenger trains?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:21 pm

I'm curious to learn more about long-lost "luxuries" such as barber shops on passenger trains, which were on some long-distance trains at least just after WWII.

How did they work; did the railroad employ the barber or just lease space to an independent contractor? Were the prices high? When did this vanish? And what other long-lost luxuries did post-WWII streamliners have that no longer exist: I see that some had secretaries?

No wonder they eventually lost money.
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Re: Barber shops on passenger trains?

Postby Gadfly » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:06 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:I'm curious to learn more about long-lost "luxuries" such as barber shops on passenger trains, which were on some long-distance trains at least just after WWII.

How did they work; did the railroad employ the barber or just lease space to an independent contractor? Were the prices high? When did this vanish? And what other long-lost luxuries did post-WWII streamliners have that no longer exist: I see that some had secretaries?

No wonder they eventually lost money.


One was the "news butch" who sold magazines, newspapers, sometimes cigarettes, cigars and candy. Some paid for the privilege, others were invited to walk the aisles as a convenience to the passengers. Dunno that that particular amenity lost $$ for the companies, tho.
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Re: Barber shops on passenger trains?

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:14 pm

I don't know who employed the barber, but it seems likely that he was employed by the Pullman Company. A West Coast railfan organization has, or used to have, a preserved car from (I think) the City of San Francisco which had a barber shop. On some fantrips they engaged a local barber so that if being shaved in a barber shop on a moving train was on anybody's bucket list they could experience it on that trip. On the back of the chair there was a pair of pads similar to those on a dentist's chair to hold the passenger's head steady through the interlockings -- or maybe the barber paused during the rough spots. The barber also braced his elbow on something solid; a necessity, since he used a straight razor, commonly used back in the day and popularly referred to as cutthroat razors for some reason. Exciting ...

The train secretary (almost certainly male, to observe the proprieties) would have been a railroad employee -- plenty of railroad employees took shorthand in those days. Pullman porters also did pressing en route, presumably for tips rather than being paid extra by the company.

I don't know about the prices, but everything else in Pullman cars was modeled after -- and priced accordingly with -- services provided at top-notch hotels.
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Re: Barber shops on passenger trains?

Postby Ridgefielder » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:32 am

SouthernRailway wrote:And what other long-lost luxuries did post-WWII streamliners have that no longer exist: I see that some had secretaries?

The 20th Century Limited had both a manicurist and a ladies' maid. I think some other flagships (like the Broadway Limited or the Capitol Limited) had the same. And pretty much every train that carried a club or observation car had a bartender.
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