Memories of Dining Cars

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Memories of Dining Cars
Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, August 08, 2018 11:58 AM
Hello all, having a lunch or dinner in the dining car with my friends or family is something I must do if this kind of service is available, unfortunately dining car services are no longer a fancy thing in nowadays. In many countries, eating in a dining car is no different from eating in a KFC above two train truck. I heard that before World War II, dining service on B&O’s Capital Limited and National Limited were the best in the State, it used to be the trump card of B&O to compete with its rivals like PRR and NYC. On other routes, services in the lounge car and dining car of NYC’s 20th Century was renowned and always fully booked.

Do you have any unforgettable (good or bad) memories about dining cars and lounge car(over all countries of the world)?CoffeeHow long did a passenger can stay in a dining car in the past? CoffeeWhat would passenger do if the dining car was fully booked? CoffeeDid Lounge car open over night in some famous named train? CoffeeWhat would be your favorite dining car in 40s to 60s even though you never used their service before? CoffeeDid Railroad sell the seat of the dining car and lounge car during World War II when the train is fully packed? Coffee

Please feel free to share you thought! Thumbs Up

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 08, 2018 1:04 PM

My Grandfather was Superintendent of the B&O's Dining Car and commisary from 1937 until his retirement in 1957.  Too many dining car memories to be able to single out just one.

The good smells from the kitchen as you walked the narrow passageway past the kitchen.  The B&O's 'Great Big Salad Bowl' to serve your own salad portion.  The complimentary demitasse coffee.  The after meal finger bowls.  The Deer Park water decanters on the tables (B&O owned Deer Park spring and sold it after Amtrak).  Customers writing out their orders - waiters were not permitted to take verbal orders.  The Steward locking and unlocking the 'bar' of miniture whiskey bottles as the train entered and left West Virginia (dry at the time).  The B&O Blue china.  Many of the dishes prepared in the diner were old family recepies.

Memories of my childhood and riding both the Capitol and National Limiteds.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, August 08, 2018 1:37 PM

Nice Balt, very nice. ...This is all gone because why? Yeah yeah Ive heard it all before, it's empty meaningless tautology and self fulfilling stupid stuff.

If, If this was a thing today it would require multiple sections.

The joys of airports and the easy going crusin' on the highways. A bag of potato chips and fast food crap.

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. 

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Posted by Enzoamps on Wednesday, August 08, 2018 9:11 PM

My adult dining car memories are from Amtrak, and I have had some decent meals.  My grandfather spent his life on the B&O, and we took the railroad for family travel when I was a child, and I am sure we dined on the train, but I don't recall after almost 70 years.

In college, my school was in the Rose Bowl Jan 1 1966.  Michigan State University, and there were special trips to the game.  There were flights chartered, special busses chartered, and yes, special railroad trains chartered.  The Santa Fe from Chicago to LA.  I remember the dining car had a lunch counter with a row of stools.  I chose that over table seating.  I'd go in there in early morning and have eggs and bacon.  I recall the scenery of canyon country going by out the window, somewhere in the great southwest.

If old stalwarts like Howard Johnson's, Red Barn, Mountain Jack's, Chi-Chis, Steak and Ale, Burger Chef, Bennigans, Ponderosa, and many others couldn't make it, why would it be strange the railroads couldn't make dining cars profitable?  Oh, and Fred Harvey's.

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, August 09, 2018 2:20 AM

I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few meals in some of the "pre Amtrak" diners. The Turquoise Room was one of the most memorable, followed by the Capitol, E-L's Lake Cities and a few New York Central trains, sadly, not the Century (didn't recieve or discharge passengers in Cleveland).

 

 Diner_Erie8 by Edmund, on Flickr

 B-O_menu_0003 by Edmund, on Flickr

 BandO_4-24-66_service by Edmund, on Flickr

After Amtrak there were still a few holdouts on the Florida trains and the twin-unit diners were still running on the Broadway. I'll hold those wonderful memories forever.

 Amtrak_TG by Edmund, on Flickr

At least the meals were completely prepared on-board in the early days of Amtrak.

Cheers! Ed

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, August 09, 2018 2:26 AM

 

BaltACD

 

My Grandfather was Superintendent of the B&O's Dining Car and commisary from 1937 until his retirement in 1957.  Too many dining car memories to be able to single out just one…… 

 

Thank you, Balt. Those are some interesting memories! I didn’t know that waiters of B&O dining car were not permitted to take verbal orders, I guess it was a great arrangement since it could prevent misunderstanding, or any unnecessary unpleasant thing happen between the passenger and the staff. As we know that B&O’s dining services were renowned which attract many people from different state, accents always cause misunderstanding and sometimes causing embarrassment. I wonder if this great arrangement was adopted by other Railroad or not. I wish you could share more interesting stories with us if you like!Thumbs Up
(Source: B&O Railroad Museum)
 

 

Enzoamps
……The Santa Fe from Chicago to LA.  I remember the dining car had a lunch counter with a row of stools.  I chose that over table seating.  I'd go in there in early morning and have eggs and bacon.  I recall the scenery of canyon country going by out the window, somewhere in the great southwest.

 

If old stalwarts like Howard Johnson's, Red Barn, Mountain Jack's, Chi-Chis, Steak and Ale, Burger Chef, Bennigans, Ponderosa, and many others couldn't make it, why would it be strange the railroads couldn't make dining cars profitable?  Oh, and Fred Harvey's. 

 

Thank you, Enzoamps. I'm so envious that you were able to ride the legendary Santa Fe train. I have seen pics of Santa Fe’s staff loading foods and stuffs from the platform to the dining car, I can see they were taking it seriously. I think it is a global phenomenon that Catering industry is one of the hardest business to last long. Class 1 railroad like PRR tried to improve their dinning service and put a lot of effort into it but turned out it lost tons of money.

 

 
(Source: California State Railroad Museum)

 

Miningman

 

......The joys of airports and the easy going crusin' on the highways. A bag of potato chips and fast food crap.

 

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. 

 

 Don't you like the Amtrak Cafe car Miningman? Smile, Wink & Grin

 

 

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, August 09, 2018 2:45 AM

Jones1945
I wonder if this great arrangement was adopted by other Railroad or not.

From what I recall this was standard practice across the U.S. and probably Canada.

 Pullman_check by Edmund, on Flickr

See notice to the right of upper red number.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, August 09, 2018 2:55 AM

gmpullman

I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few meals in some of the "pre Amtrak" diners. The Turquoise Room was one of the most memorable, followed by the Capitol, E-L's Lake Cities and a few New York Central trains, sadly, not the Century (didn't recieve or discharge passengers in Cleveland)......

 

 Diner_Erie8 by Edmund, on Flickr

......At least the meals were completely prepared on-board in the early days of Amtrak.

Cheers! Ed

 

 
This is awesome, Ed. This post makes me feel hungry now. I bet one of the target customers of the Turquoise Room was Hollywood movie stars and celebrities who worked in L.A wasn’t it? I wonder why we didn’t have fancy thing like this in the North East, maybe the travel length of the Super Chief was much longer that the train served between Chicago, St. Louis to Washington and New York. Santa Fe needed and provided some excellence dining services for passengers who need to stay on the train for a few days.

( even the advisement make me feel hungry! ) 
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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, August 09, 2018 3:13 AM

gmpullman

From what I recall this was standard practice across the U.S. and probably Canada.

Pullman_check by Edmund, on Flickr

See notice to the right of upper red number.

Regards, Ed



Thank you very much, Ed! Was there any time limit set for the passenger, for example, one hour max or passenger can stay on the table until they want to leave? Was table reserved when the passenger bought the ticket or passanger just walk in during lunch time or dinner time? Could passenger order light meal or even take away from the dining car and eat the food in their room, compartment or in the lounge car? Sorry for asking so many questions! 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 09, 2018 7:26 AM

Jones1945
Thank you very much, Ed! Was there any time limit set for the passenger, for example, one hour max or passenger can stay on the table until they want to leave? Was table reserved when the passenger bought the ticket or passanger just walk in during lunch time or dinner time? Could passenger order light meal or even take away from the dining car and eat the food in their room, compartment or in the lounge car? Sorry for asking so many questions! 

Look at the pictures and how guests were attired in the day; as compared with today's traveling attire.  While those were publicity shots, they weren't that far from the normal traveling attire for 50's & early 60's.  One got 'dressed' to travel, not necessarily 'Sunday got to meeting' dressed, but dressed to a higher level than everyday clothing.

As I recall a waiter would make a pass through the train announcing 1st and subsequent calls for meal service.  To my knowledge there was no reserved seating and no time limit on table occupancy, as long as the party continued to buy either food or drink.  What the guest wanted to order was up to the guest, light or heavy made no difference.  I am not aware of 'doggy bags' being offered.  I believe, but may be mistaken, that meal service could be arranged for passengers in their sleeping accomidations.

Waiters would make a pass or two through coach seating selling various kinds of snacks, fruits and soft drinks - similar to what airlines once offered to their passengers.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:08 AM

Yes indeed, you wrote your order in Canada. The waiter, slightly swaying back and forth would look it over, sometimes verbally mumbling back to you out loud but not sticking around for an answer. 

There was alaways 1st, 2nd, and third call for the diner. Being the worlds all time champion procrastinator, I can never recall being in in the 1st. I am normally not a big breakfast guy but the best ham and eggs I ever ever had was on the Canadian, departing White River, late 60's. Still CPR.

Last trip out to Denver, in a bedroom, breakfast and supper were in the diner but lunch not offered. They brought a box lunch instead to your room.  it was hot food though, fried chicken, very nice. That was in the 90's. 

You sure meet and socialize with a lot of people on those trips. Awkward at first but that disappears in about 1 minute. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:20 AM

I have many pleasant memories of eating in diners from 1951 on into the early Amtrak years. My first meal was breakfast in an N&W diner that was added to the northbound Pelican in Birmingham as my 16 year old  brother and I (15 years old) were traveling from New Orleans to Chattanooga . We knew about the almost universal custom that the passenger wrote his/her request and gave it to the waiter, so we were not astonished by the custom. Our next meal was dinner on the Royal Palm as we left Chattanooga for Atlanta--and passed through Missionary Ridge.

My only experience with a finger bowl came when I ate lunch in an N&W diner between Bristol and Chattanooga.

I was at first startled when I ate breakfast on the North Coast Limited--until I remembered that the NP waiters took the orders orally and wrote them down.

Even in the sixties, I enjoyed eating meals on the SOU, N&W, GM&O, B&O, ACL, SAL, IC, SFe, MP, C&O, L&N, KCS, Wabash, RI, the former NH and former NYC.

In the early Amtrak years, some of the customs lingered, especially between Chicago and Los Angeles--we had a well-experienced steward on our way from Chicago to Albuquerque who did much to make passengers' dining enjoyable. 

Johnny

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:30 AM

Quoting Miningman, "Last trip out to Denver, in a bedroom, breakfast and supper were in the diner but lunch not offered. They brought a box lunch instead to your room.  it was hot food though, fried chicken, very nice. That was in the 90's. "

Was it eastbound that a box lunch was brought to your room? My last four trips (three last year and one this past spring), I ate lunch in the diner going into Chicago. 

Johnny

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:43 AM

Deggesty---Geez, I believe it was Westbound because I was a bit surprised. This was in the 90's though. I remember thinking, holy smokes, I just had breakfast a short while ago and now they are stuffing me! 

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:54 AM

Miningman

Deggesty---Geez, I believe it was Westbound because I was a bit surprised. This was in the 90's though. I remember thinking, holy smokes, I just had breakfast a short while ago and now they are stuffing me! 

 

You must have been running late, since I have usually eaten lunch after leaving Denver (though on the last trip lunch was served in Nebraska, and I ate dinner before we arrived in Denver. (12:05 late into Salt Lake City).

Johnny

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, August 09, 2018 1:32 PM

The box lunch is an almost certain symptom of diner problems.  I remember the Amtrak-operated Panama Limited picking up about a truckload of chicken box dinners at Kankakee in 1974 while mechanical dept. guys were fixing the dishwasher.  By the next morning the diner was sorted out and breakfast was fine.  The tradition carries on - in 2009 my son and I were in San Antonio.  We had arrived on time on the Eagle, but the Sunset was delayed behind a freight train that had struck a dump truck in Louisiana.  The station agent sent us out into San Antonio with instructions to keep our receipts and be back by a certain time, and we would be reimbursed.  A large bunch of us went to Denny's a few blocks away.  Once our server realized we were all riding the train she told us about the restaurant once getting an order for 250 Grand Slams to go.

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, August 09, 2018 1:47 PM

I am reminded of the trip my wife and I took in 1989 during which we rode from Los Angeles to Seattle. We were eating breakfast out from Klamath Falls when we stopped, sat a while, and backed back to Klamath Falls--because a freight had been derailed in one of the tunnels ahead. After matters were sorted out, we started north in fits and stops. In Chemult, the steward bought food so he could serve dinner that evening--for there was no place he could have sent the passengers for the evening meal. 

While we were eating dinner in the diner (no additional charge to sleeping car passengers), we learned that the line was open--and the operating crews were relieved when we met the Seattle-Los Angeles train, wherever that was, in the night. 

Johnny

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, August 09, 2018 11:00 PM

Aah, yes. At almost every station a member of the kitchen crew would grab a little fresh air at the service door. "Lookin' em over, boss".

 P-C_1000 by Edmund, on Flickr

I wanted to replicate this on my HO layout...

 PRR_diner by Edmund, on Flickr

It was a different time, then—

Regards, Ed

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Posted by erikem on Friday, August 10, 2018 12:28 AM

My favorite diner memory was on the eastbound North Coast Hiawatha while passing through Paradise, MT in 1976. Diner was an ex-AT&SF car with a few seats at the counter and breakfast was the best french toast that I can remember.

 - Erik

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, August 10, 2018 9:33 AM

Deggesty

......Even in the sixties, I enjoyed eating meals on the SOU, N&W, GM&O, B&O, ACL, SAL, IC, SFe, MP, C&O, L&N, KCS, Wabash, RI, the former NH and former NYC.

Thank you very much, Johnny. I note not many forum members shared their dining experience on PRR's dining car, it is not on your favoite dining services list neither. Was PRR's dining services was really bad? I heard that compare to B&O, PRR's dining car served horrible food, probably at lower price, was that truth? Thank you! 

Dining car on N&W named train the Pocahantos, circa  1942. (source: pinterest) 

N&W The Pocahontas

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, August 10, 2018 9:55 AM

gmpullman

Aah, yes. At almost every station a member of the kitchen crew would grab a little fresh air at the service door. "Lookin' em over, boss".

I wanted to replicate this on my HO layout...

 PRR_diner by Edmund, on Flickr

It was a different time, then—

Regards, Ed



Your layout is awesome, Ed!

I am still waiting for a manufacturer who willing to make a PRR twin-unit dining car in HO scale. But with the help from my daughter and her boy friend, we made something spcial in the computer Geeked


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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, August 10, 2018 10:43 AM

Comment was made that no one mentioned PRR diners. I did eat lunch in the car on the train that provided  a connection with the South Wind after the PRR ceased carrying through cars; it was not worse that what I expected for the time.

I failed to comment on the service in the diner on the Nancy Hanks II (CG) and Frisco's diner lounge on the KC-Fla Special--I found both to be good.

Johnny

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, August 16, 2018 11:45 AM
1939. A lunch car and dining car formed a twin unit dining car for the train the Trail Blazer, the vehicle itself were rebuilt from heavy weight Pullman made diner, environmentally friendly, practical and good looking.

Not sure about the food, but advisements stated that dining on the Trail Blazer was economical. IIRC PRR admited that the concept twin unit dining car was inspired by the SP Daylight's d
ining car. 
 
The Lunch Car

The Dining Car. All pics from HAGLEY DIGITAL ARCHIVES.

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Posted by seppburgh2 on Friday, August 17, 2018 7:23 PM

While I can only look back via photos of dinners gone by, I can still eat like  there.  Picked these cook books up from Amazon and eBay.

Dining by Rail - James D. Porterfield, (I'll have that with the Illinois Central Salad Dressing on the side.)

Dinning on the B & O, (I'll take a bowel of the B&O Clam Chowder)

Dinner in the Diner, Great Railroad Recipes of All Time - Will C. Holloister  (pass me some more of that Corn Bread Pie Mr. B & O!)

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, August 18, 2018 11:23 AM

seppburgh2

While I can only look back via photos of dinners gone by, I can still eat like  there.  Picked these cook books up from Amazon and eBay.

Dining by Rail - James D. Porterfield, (I'll have that with the Illinois Central Salad Dressing on the side.)

Dinning on the B & O, (I'll take a bowel of the B&O Clam Chowder)

Dinner in the Diner, Great Railroad Recipes of All Time - Will C. Holloister  (pass me some more of that Corn Bread Pie Mr. B & O!)

 

Very nice recommendations, I am going to turn my dining room into a dining car.
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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 6:13 AM

If memory serves me well, and I stand corrected, but I believe it was the editorial by David P. Morgan in August 1960 Trains who mentioned that Dallas businessmen would board Miss Katy's Texas Special and ride out to Greenville just so they could order a meal in her dining car.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, August 23, 2018 5:58 AM

Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

If memory serves me well, and I stand corrected, but I believe it was the editorial by David P. Morgan in August 1960 Trains who mentioned that Dallas businessmen would board Miss Katy's Texas Special and ride out to Greenville just so they could order a meal in her dining car.

Miss Katy's dining car. Dinner

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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Thursday, August 23, 2018 7:01 AM

A trip to the Lone Star State on any of Miss Katy's fine trains began in St. Louis.  No one can pay tribute to Saint Louie best than the late great Judy Garland herself, in MGM's classic motion picture, "Meet Me in St. Louis"? 

All aboard for a journey via YouTube...and don't forget to take the trolley!

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