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1950s city buses

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  • 1950s city buses

    This bus drove on the streets of Phoenix in the 1950s. It is on permanent display (with another bus and a trolley) next to the central transit terminal. Because it is behind bars I had to get really close with my wide angle to get this clear shot of it. I didn't get any information on its maker.

    I wonder if the Buck Rogers-style ornamentation was a local affectation, or if this was widespread. I don't recall the Seattle buses being as nifty as this.

    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    If it's Art Deco I'm probably going to like it - I love this one! It would have looked great on the Kalakala ferry (now in very sad shape)


    • #3
      I'm guessing but it looks like a GM motor coach. They had an unusual front window.


      • #4
        I rode the Kalakala (Kal-aw'-kal-aw (pronounced with the same contempt for linguistic orthodoxy as Puyallup, Sukwamish, and Tahuya) for many years as a young fellow. For those not in the know., the Klakala was a Puget Sound ferry boat build in 1935 with a "streamlined" shell added sometime later. It looked like a soap dish with portholes chugging from Bremerton to Seattle in the 40's 50"s and 60's. You could look down the engine room door from the car deck and watch the rocker arms operate in a row about 12 feet long. Big old slow direct coupled air start reversing diesel. Look at the link. Nice bit of nautical history:

        But I hijacked the thread. Back to topic:

        I rode a buncha old busses too. The city busses I rode to school in rotten weather were Flexibles (I think) built in the late '30's. Air cooled six cylinder engine three speeds. Power steering? You jest. They steered with something like a ship's wheel. They would run their routes in the slipperiest weather when even the wreckers stayed holed up in their garages. The windshield wipers were linear driven from an air cylinder; they went from side to side instead of sweeping in an arc. They had some Art Deco details but in general they were Depression Utilitatian.

        Our later busses looks exactly like the OP photo but the "eyebrow thingies" were much smaller. That front window was vast. It was like looking out a bay window.
        Last edited by Forrest Addy; 11-24-2008, 01:41 PM.


        • #5
          I had less than a thousand miles of driving experience at the age of 16 when I took school bus driver's training and started driving a school bus in SC in 1962. I got a route where I logged about 100 miles a day, and I was paid $35 a month.

          The bus was a 1958 Ford with a four speed manual transmission and no power steering. The steering wheel looked like something off a yacht, and it took several turns lock to lock. The engine was fitted with a governor set at 35mph. Since the governor was a simple fuel flow restrictor, it would run a little faster if I feathered the throttle to get the proper air-fuel mixture. I'm glad I paid attention in science class.

          It was great experience for a youngster, and I learned a lot about a lot of things driving the bus.

          People would have a stroke nowadays if you suggested having a 16-year-old drive a school bus with 60 kids on board. That's a shame.

          Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.


          • #6
            It's a Fageol Twin Coach, built in Ohio by the Fageol brothers after they left their Oakland, California truck (and bus??) company that would eventually be renamed Peterbilt.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Forrest Addy
              I rode the Kalakala (Kal-aw'-kal-aw (pronounced with the same contempt for linguistic orthodoxy as Puyallup, Sukwamish, and Tahuya) for many years as a young fellow.
              I've always enjoyed pondering the linguistic similarity between the Indian name Issaquah in Washington state, and the Indian name Iroquois in New York state, and the impact of the plundering nation that translated them to the written word. If the names have any common history it's disguised by the spelling modern (mangled) pronunciation.

              The Kalakala was long ago towed to Alaska where it rotted for years in the fishing industry. It was then towed to Seattle where it rotted in Lake Union hoping to gather interest in her restoration - at least it was out of the salt water. It never came. I've lost track of where it is rotting today, but I've a feeling recent extreme scrap prices made her path to recovery less certain.

              They made a mistake by accepting federal monies and once that was done the vessle could not be rented out or used in any way as a money maker, and that was a shame. I'd attempted a couple times to rent it as a party boat for a bunch of bikers - we'd ride on, have fun, spend the night on board in temporary state rooms, and with a live band. They couldn't allow it. It was a charity raiser idea and that didn't happen. It would have gotten a lot of press for the boat and that didn't happen. The old saying applies, sarcastically, "we're the government and we're here to help".


              • #8
                The City of Edmonton ran those same Fageol buses in the fifties also. But with the fancy do-dads removed from the roof. Was looking through some of the stuff my mother left behind, and found a child's transit ticket from that era. It says "strip of ten, 3 1/8 cents" on the back.