Belly Up to the Rolling Bar … Soon,
For many years, my Aunt Jane and my Uncle Don lived in Darien, Connecticut, which is about an hour by train from New York City. Don worked for a marine insurance company that was headquartered in lower Manhattan and, along with many thousands of others from southern Connecticut, he commuted by train into “the city” every day.
Jane drove him to the station each weekday morning, where he caught one of the New Haven Railroad commuter trains for the ride into Grand Central Terminal. From there, he took the subway down to Wall Street, then walked several blocks to his office. I did the math: my uncle spent about 17 hours a week commuting to and from work, and so did thousands of others living in southern Connecticut towns.
(They still do, but in the 1950s and 60s, probably 90 percent of those commuters were men. If you could afford to live in those wealthy suburbs and work in New York, then the wife’s “job” was to run the household and raise the kids.)
The morning ride into the city was quiet, but the ride home was something else entirely. As part of the consist, every one of the New Haven Railroad’s outbound commuter trains included what was known then as “the Club Car”. It was essentially a rolling bar, complete with bartender, and to say that those cars were popular at the end of a tough day would be a gross understatement. Metro North, the commuter line that took over service between New York and New Haven, phased out the last of the Club Cars in 2014.
But hold on there! Metro North has just announced that the bar cars are going to be brought back! The first one is scheduled to go into service sometime in 2018. Good news for thousands of commuters, although I must say they don’t look as homey as the originals.
I’m not sure this qualifies as the first indication that a return to the Golden Age is imminent, but it’s a damn good start!
Yes Jim I do remember the old bar cars, as they were also called on the old Penn Central commuter lines, when they were phased out, they would set up a stand on the platform at GCT & you could buy your “beverages” & snacks as you were boarding your train home. If I recall I think this also was done at Penn. Sta. for the LIRR commuters. Oh well, it’s a nice touch they are bringing back.
I was unaware of that (obviously) and should have mentioned it. Isn’t it nice to know that civilized travel is still available somewhere!
The Long Island Rail Road still has bar service on one train: The Cannonball. It’s an express from Manhattan to Montauk that runs only from May to October (eastbound late Friday afternoon and westbound early Sunday evening) for city folks wanting to spend the weekend on the East End. You can order drinks from your seat. http://web.mta.info/lirr/hamptons/reserveservice.htm