• Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by ExCon90
Mr. Norman's posts reminded me of an indispensable feature at ticket windows back in the day: a thing I'll call a stamp tree, holding a few dozen rubber stamps with names of the destination stations most often needed at that ticket office. If there was no stamp for a desired destination the agent would write it on the ticket (printed on tinted, watermarked Association Ticket Paper -- was it green for first class, and some other color for coach?) with a fountain pen, often in beautifully legible copperplate. As I recall, a whole series of blank tickets would be on hand, with different numbers of perforated coupons. If someone wanted to go from New York to San Francisco and return, there would be a blank available with exactly the right number of coupons for DL&W, NKP, C&NW, UP, SP, WP, D&RGW, CB&Q, and Erie, if that was the route desired by the passenger. If there was no preprinted ticket on hand for that routing, you got to watch the ticket agent fill in every intermediate junction point on all the coupons. Since the present custom of having one queue, with the next person going to the first available window, was unknown at that time, you looked at the lines, picked the shortest one, and hoped that the person ahead of you wasn't buying the ticket described above while the lines on either side of you were moving briskly.
  by Ocala Mike
And ExCon90's recollections are spot on. I seem to remember when my mother bought that "accordion" ticket at the NYNH&H window at GCT, she held up the line for quite a while. The poor guy behind us just wanted a one-way ticket to Stamford or some place. Those ticket agents seemed to take pride in stamping the destinations perfectly centered in the box provided, and showing off their cursive handwriting skills when they had to write in the destinations.

Along those lines, and still at GCT, there was a guy who manned the chalk board in the Arrivals Station who had incredible handwriting, and took great pride in putting it on display on that board. He would get the track numbers on an old Telautograph machine, and dutifully post the track number next to the train name, all by hand; no Solari board or computer screen in those days.
  by JimBoylan
"The Situation in Flushing (Mich.)" by Edmund G. Love, published in 1965, but set in the 1910s and 20s, tells of the Grant Trunk Western ticket agent on the night shift who was a bit under the influence. Someone asked for a round trip ticket between Flushing and the West Coast to be picked up in the morning after whatever available reservations were obtained. Of course, if he made a mistake or spilled ink on the ticket stock, he had to start over on a new strip. Eventually, he had spoiled all of his 6 coupon strips (GTW - Parmalee Transfer - Santa Fe) and had to change the routing West of Chicago so he could use 8 coupon stock. There were many more mistakes and reroutings as he ran out of shorter ticket stock. The elderly lady, who had never been very far from home in her life before, spent almost a month seeing a lot of the United States before she got back to Flushing, Mich. Anyhow, this is an example of perforated strip coupon tickets, as opposed to multi page booklet tickets stapled together, which were also used in various places and times.
There may have been 1 extra coupon on the strip, to be detached and retained by the Agent for his records.
The Pennsylvania RR's Ticketeer machines, which printed on a long roll of perforated card stock, were capable of multi coupon undetatched tickets. I don't know what the length limit was. I remember buying a round trip "fill in the blanks" ticket where the 3rd coupon was the agents stub, to be detached and retained by him.