LATL 50 – the Kilroy Kar: Adding Insult to Injury
By Ralph Cantos
The management of Nasty City Lines NEVER missed an opportunity to ridicule or denigrate the staple of American urban transportation, the city streetcar . NCL’s “Reign Of Terror” unleashed on streetcar systems across America was ruthless. NCL management would stage media events to showcase the retirement of dependable trolleys in favor of inferior, rubber-tired transport, in the most demeaning way possible.
In Oakland, California, the media was invited to watch as almost 100 Key System trolleys were set afire for all to enjoy (the sick bastards).
In Los Angeles, NCL shenanigans took on a different form. The 1947 retirement of the class “C” Sowbellies gave NCL management yet another chance to put down the cars that had faithfully served the City of LA for decades. Sowbelly #90 was painted up to announce the end of the U line. The unflattering graphics applied to the #90 “GOOD BYE-U-LOVEABLE-U” got the message across to all who saw it. (Click here to view this article and image.)
Still looking for yet another opportunity to have some fun at the expense of these dependable cars, LATL ran a contest on a local LA radio station. The winner of the contest, Mrs. H. Coffman of West LA, was presented with the winning prize, Sowbelly #50. Just what the HELL she was suppose to do with #50 was anyone guess, as the formation of the Orange Empire Trolley Museum was still a decade into the future.
These two photos taken by ARROW STUDIOS photographer Arthur Petersen on a cold rainy day at South Park Shops document the handover. The #50 had been decorated with KILROY WAS HERE graphics, a phenomenon that swept over the USA , and indeed the world, during and after World War II. LATL Operations Manager B.M “Barney” (Buffoon) Lerrick was there to hand Mrs. Coffman the title to the #50.
After the crowds had dispersed, the #50, by now one of the last operable Sowbellies, was stripped of any useable parts and taken to the vast Vernon Yard. Once there, #50 joined #90 and more than 100 other Sowbellies to await scrapping.
The fun was over!
Ralph Cantos Collection
RALPH-YOU PROBABLY KNOW THAT “HATCHET MAN LARRICK” GOT WHAT HE DESERVED-A NICE COMFY JAIL CELL!
I doubt if there are many people left who rode the Sowbellies and the Standards in regular service, but sometimes I wonder what they thought when friends or relatives who lived on lines with PCC cars told about the smooth ride and comfy seats, while they rode cars that were noisy, drafty and had wooden seats.
I RODE PACIFIC ELECTRIC FROM MY BIRTH TO END . AND LOS ANGELES TRANSIT ON LAST DAY MARCH 31, 1963 … AS AS CHILD I WANTED TO BE A STREETCAR CONDUCTOR . … MY Great Grand Father was a Motor Man on the Oak Knoll Line .. 1905 to 1950 .. Pacific Electric in to Los Angeles and NO FREEWAYS, yet . Aliso Street ….. HAPPY TIMES ….