A Little Slice of Life

By Steve Crise

The United States of America was engaged in its second year of WW II when Harley L. Kelso made this timely shot of Los Angeles Railway car 934 and Pacific Electric interurban car 1370 meeting at the intersection of Vernon Avenue and Long Beach Avenue back in 1943.


There are may sights to behold at this moment frozen in time. The L.A. Railway car is stopped just short of Long Beach Avenue to pick up and drop off passengers. It would soon depart to the eastern terminus of its V-Line run at Leonis Boulevard and Downey Road in the City of Vernon.


Pacific Electric 1370 is seen crossing Vernon Avenue in a southerly direction toward the harbors of San Pedro and Long Beach. The roller sign at the top of the car reads “Special” and all the passengers in the windows appear to be members of various branches of the military, suggesting this could be a special troop transport exclusively scheduled for military personnel only.

The “Red Spot Liquor Store” must have had a very good customer base at this location where two heavily trafficked transit lines intersected. Note the shoeshine booth has both chairs full of customers having their shoes shined.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this photo is the small girl that is seemingly framed by the photographer between the two trolleys. She stares down the track as if she was disappointed that she could not board the Special train of servicemen and is looking for the next regular service car to arrive.

Also note the absence of any noticeable grade crossing apparatus protecting the trains, automobiles and pedestrians from colliding with each other. In researching this image and comparing it to other photos taken at the intersection in our collection, we could not find evidence of any grade crossing protection being installed until sometime after the war.

Today this area is still a vital transit intersection where the Metro A-Line (Blue) interchanges with Metro bus passengers of the 105, 611 and 705 Lines.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Al Donnelly

    Nice crossing point as it seems to be fairly close to where some important pottery works were located…Wallace China and Vernon Kilns (ex-Poxon China). Quite possibly, some of those military members might find themselves dining from war emergency production dishes knocked out in that area. And perhaps some of the plant workers were brought in to walking distance of the factories by these very same electric rail car lines. Gas & rubber were rationed then.

  • Charles Wherry

    Regarding the absence of grade crossing protection at Vernon Ave; Pacific Electric’s Special Rules, which were incorporated in employee’s timetables, required, in part:

    …”Passenger trains, box motors and line cars must make a safety stop not less than 30 feet nor more than 50 feet from the near rail of the Los Angeles Railway tracks.

    Before starting, motorman shall observe in both directions and if Los Angeles Railway car is seen approaching, shall not start train until Los Angeles Railway car has

    come to a stop.”. Freight trains were required to stop and be protected by the conductor or other member of the crew.

    It appears both motormen have complied with their instructions in this beautiful Kelso photo.

  • Al Donnelly

    Oddly, the dash sign seems to read Monroe & Vermont here. Shouldn’t it be Leontis & Downey for this trip?

  • Al Donnelly

    Stan Kistler’s shot of LAMTA #1801 (ex PE #637) running inbound north shows a flagman’s shanty (?) by two benches approximately where this earlier image was taken from on the east side. Any background story on that?

  • Jim Gannon

    There are pictures around that definitely show flagmen at Slauson and at Vernon. There was one at the end of the ramp at 6th and Main too.

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Pacific Electric in Snow, January 11, 1949Pacific Electric # 969 on the Venice Short Line at Vineyard Junction. The West Blvd. Bridge is seen just behind the car. This area was just south of the old Sears Pico store on West Pico Blvd.