Sunset Limited Pre Amtrak With Automat Lunch Counter

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Twin Star Rocket

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 14, 2012
Messages
189
When I rode Amtrak's SUNSET LIMITED in spring of 1972 there was an automat car in the consist in addition
to a full diner. First and only train I rode that had one.
 

Mailliw

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
44
Wow that menu actually sounds tastier than the garbage they sell in the current cafe cars.
I'm surprised you could get hard liquor and cocktails from what's basically a vending machine. 😯
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,180
I'm surprised you could get hard liquor and cocktails from what's basically a vending machine. 😯
I'm insulted and demand satisfaction - pistols tomorrow at dawn. Name your Second, sir! Calling an Automat a vending machine is like calling a 5 star Michelin rated restaurant, a diner! Hrumphhf!

On a trip back home to NYC in the '80s, we saw an Automat and we took the kids in there. They were amazed! They couldn't believe there were real people on the other side of the wall that actually manually refilled slots as they were emptied. They, now in their 40s, still remember that visit.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,319
I'm surprised you could get hard liquor and cocktails from what's basically a vending machine. 😯
The cars had an attendant; the attendant was the one who sold the alcoholic beverages. Matter of fact, I've heard (on the "Sunset Transcon" video DVD) that back in the day the vending machines were in such a constant state of disrepair that the standard practice was to hand your money to the attendant, who would open the machines with a key and hand you your purchase. He wanted a tip for that, too...
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,002
The cars had an attendant; the attendant was the one who sold the alcoholic beverages. Matter of fact, I've heard (on the "Sunset Transcon" video DVD) that back in the day the vending machines were in such a constant state of disrepair that the standard practice was to hand your money to the attendant, who would open the machines with a key and hand you your purchase. He wanted a tip for that, too...
Ah, the SP " Run 'em off" Vending Machine days.I remember it well,but not fondly.😣
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
401
What, the Friendly Southern Pacific?:)
One of the few things that Phil Anschutz said publicly when he bought the SP was that he was surprised to find that so many people hated it. My dad, who grew up in Oregon, had a chuckle when I told him that. One clue was that even when I went to school, Frank Norris' book The Octopus was on the recommended reading list in high school. The other clue is how beloved James Hill was. Just behaving decently seemed to be a new concept.

I did some arithmetic and figured out that the regulators, senior journalists, and politicians that the Colorado billiionaire had to deal with were college kids when the SP reached the high point (or low point) of their anti-passenger campaign. Baby boomer college students were among the last passenger markets to surrender. Anschutz was dealing with people who had probably waited all their life to get even for some Friendly SP treatment.

[Note to people who believe in "forgive or forget" -- in Denver's RTD we were publicly blasted for having discontinued the East 25th Avenue line. I determined that it was part of a major streetcar service reduction in 1930. Sixty years later, people were still sore about it.]
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
401
The cars had an attendant; the attendant was the one who sold the alcoholic beverages. Matter of fact, I've heard (on the "Sunset Transcon" video DVD) that back in the day the vending machines were in such a constant state of disrepair that the standard practice was to hand your money to the attendant, who would open the machines with a key and hand you your purchase. He wanted a tip for that, too...
I made a trip on the Cascade when they tried the automat cars. Until I actually experienced it I had an open mind about the concept, but after trying it... ! I think that part of the technical trouble was that the machines weren't built to handle the vibration and voltage variations.

Of course, the diner on the Sunset prior to the automat had fallen on hard times. A college friend whose screen name was George Winslow had some intermittent income from films shown on tv and made a trip on the Sunset to spend it wisely - he thought. He ordered the "salmon steak dinner" and he said that it was flaked salmon extruded from a tin, so that it had a seam down one side. The cylinder of salmon was garnished with a single piece of parsley and served on a giant plate. George was a great raconteur with Hollywood stories, but having grown up in the San Fernando Valley he could tell SP stories delivered factually that were so sad that one had to laugh.

The irony of all this is that the NP and GN gracefully shrank their passenger service without resorting to SP style tactics, paid dividends to their shareholders and didn't raise near the public uproar.
 
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