A Chicago Traction Valentine

This "red border" Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don's Rail Photos says, "AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956." This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

This “red border” Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos says, “AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.” This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

After our recent forays to the East Coast, part of a series by guest contributor Kenneth Gear, we are back in Sweet Home Chicago for this one. Watch this space for additional posts in Ken’s series.

Although we are a few days late for Valentine’s Day, we nonetheless have many photographic gifts for Chicago-area traction fans in today’s post, that constitute a virtual Valentine to our readers. First, we have some recent finds. Next, a few color slides courtesy of William Shapotkin. Then, a bevy of classic black-and-white images taken by the late Robert Selle, one of the greatest railfan photographers.

We also have a book review, and there are two new audio CD collections in our ongoing efforts to digitize 1950s steam railroad audio for the 21st Century.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became "oddballs" on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became “oddballs” on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

Three CTA trains of 6000-series "L"/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

Three CTA trains of 6000-series “L”/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don's Rail Photos: "3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948." This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka "Sewing Machines." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948.” This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka “Sewing Machines.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 - Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 – Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It's been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It’s been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

"One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line." This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

“One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line.” This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

Color Slides, Courtesy of William Shapotkin:

"Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954." (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

“Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954.” (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 - Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954."

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 – Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954.”

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the "L" to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er "tweaking" this one to make it look better.)

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the “L” to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er “tweaking” this one to make it look better.)

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley's, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The "L" was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley’s, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street "L" train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,"

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street “L” train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,”

"Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA's Lake Street "L" at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake "L" station. At right (on embankment) is one-time "Boulevard" Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960." Don Ross: "S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924."

“Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA’s Lake Street “L” at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake “L” station. At right (on embankment) is one-time “Boulevard” Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960.” Don Ross: “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924.”

"Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA's Lake Street "L", are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time "Avenue" Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962."

“Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA’s Lake Street “L”, are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time “Avenue” Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962.”

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle "L" tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The "L" continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle “L” tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The “L” continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central "Highliner" at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central “Highliner” at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Classic Bob Selle Images

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that the late Robert Selle (1929-2013) was an excellent photographer who specialized in black-and-white. As with many other railfan photographers, his extensive collection of images got scattered after his death.

Now and again, some of them pop up on eBay, but not always identified as his work in the auction listings. Fortunately, Selle is one of those few photographers whose work can be recognized at a glance, as it is often a cut above the rest.

Over the years, we have purchased a few Bob Selle negatives, which have been featured on this blog (including three in today’s post).

In 2011, Jeff Wien and the late Bradley Criss visited Mr. Selle in Florida, and he generously allowed them to scan some of his negatives. Tragically, Bradley Criss passed away in 2016 (you can read an appreciation of him here). He would have been 55 years old on February 4th.

As a tribute to both Bob Selle and Bradley Criss, here is a selection from the images they scanned, courtesy of Jeff Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive.

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. "L" service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. “L” service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago's northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago’s northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 - Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 – Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 - Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 – Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 - Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 – Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: "The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists."

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: “The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists.”

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 - Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as "169" or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as “169” or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt's nearby. Goldblatt's was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt’s nearby. Goldblatt’s was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 - Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 – Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a "roster shot," showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a “roster shot,” showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 - Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth's dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 – Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth’s dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Book Review: Chicago Streetcar Memories

Chicago Streetcar Memories
By Kenneth C. Springirth
Publisher: ???? (2018)
Softcover, 128 pages

A new Chicago streetcar book is always a welcome addition to one’s library. Someone recently gave me a copy of Chicago Streetcar Memories by Kenneth C. Springirth, which came out last month.

As the author of Chicago Trolleys (see below), and co-author of a Chicago PCC book, I probably have a different perspective on this type of work than many people who will read it. I’ll put in my two cents for what it’s worth, but feel free to make up your own mind on these matters.

Mr. Springirth, who is about 78 years old and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, has written numerous traction picture books over the years. Looking him up on Amazon, I found at least two dozen titles going back to 1968, although, for whatever reason, I did not see this new one listed there. Another source credits him with 35 books.

This new volume does not have any ISBN information, and no publisher is listed. So, in the absence of knowledge to the contrary, I am going to assume that it is a self-published work. In recent years, Springirth has been prolific, putting out a few such picture books per year.

Usually an author collects a royalty, if he or she is lucky, from a publisher who is willing to take a chance on their work. This generally involves an editor, who works with the author. There is back-and-forth until both parties are satisfied they have done their best, and then the book is published. It is a partnership.

Self-publishing, by my way of looking at it, is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, for those authors with deep enough pockets to finance the production costs, there is the chance to keep a lot more of the profits– as long as you can find a way to sell your books in sufficient quantities to create a profit.

Having absolute creative control over your book can be the ideal situation. On the other hand, an editor is a useful sounding board, and can also elevate the quality of your writing by asking you to revise your work and do better. An editor tries to get your best work out of you. The goal of a publisher should be to take what the author has done and improve it, to make a better book.

Whether by coincidence or otherwise, this book has the same name as a DVD put out some years back by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC. However, titles cannot be copyrighted (although sometimes they may be trademarked), and any way you look at it, this is a good title. The same author also has a recent book out called Baltimore Streetcar Memories, so perhaps he envisions this as part of a series.

It is worth noting that there is no connection between the DVD put out by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC and this new book, even though they have the same exact title.  Complicating matters even further, the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD was included along with copies of Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, Bulletin 146 from the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, which I co-authored.

All the pictures in this new book, except for the cover, are black-and-white. The overall effect, at 128 pages, is somewhat like an oversized Arcadia book in their Images of Rail series, perhaps not surprising as Mr. Springirth has written a few of those also.

Unfortunately, the larger format was not put to best use, as the images in general are not very sharp and a few are downright fuzzy. I do not know if this is due to the choice of dpi (dots per inch) when the original images were scanned, or whether this somehow relates to the printing process used, or both.  In general, it would be fair to say that the images in Chicago Trolleys are sharper and more detailed than those in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book, even though our book is somewhat smaller in overall dimensions.

I don’t know why this should be the case, but it is true.

Except for a few pictures taken by the author, the bulk of images between the covers come from a single source– the collections of the late Clifford R. Scholes (1927-2018), who died less than a month ago. For that reason, it practically makes Scholes a co-author of the book, although he is not named as such, for the book inevitably reflects Scholes’ viewpoint as much as Springirth’s.

Getting all your images from a single source makes writing such a book a lot more convenient, I am sure, but it is a practice that I do not subscribe to for my own book projects. My philosophy is to leave no stone unturned, making a thorough and exhaustive search for images that will provide the reader with enough variety to make things interesting.

I keep digging into a subject until I feel I have a foundation for a book, and then I keep digging deeper. There is always the chance that if you dig deep enough, you will reach a deeper understanding of your subject than you started with.

There is a danger in using photos from a single source, and that is they reflect a singular point of view. You run the risk of having too many similar-looking types of pictures, and miss out on different perspectives.

Having such a large collection to draw upon may be useful to an author who is trying to put out several books a year. But everyone is different, and as an author, it is not the path I have chosen for myself.

When you stop searching for new material, you run the risk that you also stop learning.  And there is a temptation to stop looking when you say, “I have enough material to make a book,” even though there still might be better information out there.

I notice that in this book, there is not one picture showing the interior of a streetcar. My own book Chicago Trolleys has several such interior shots. I based my own work on the idea that history is the story of people, so I made it a point to show the motormen, conductors and riders in various situations, including paying their fares on a two-man PCC.

Although the title would tell you this is a streetcar book, the final chapter features Chicago trolley buses (although, inexplicably, they are referred to as “trackless trolleys,” a term that may have been popular in other places, but was never commonly used by Chicagoans).

One of the first rules of writing is to write what you know.  I know Chicago, having lived my entire life here.  Therefore, I wouldn’t dream of writing a book about Erie, Pennsylvania or some other city, because that is not what I know the best.  But that is just me.

Perhaps inspired by some recent Dispatches from the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, this book goes into some detail on various streetcar routes. But since this is mainly a picture book, a single page of text at the start of several chapters is not sufficient space to cover seven routes apiece, as the author tries to do.  The overall effect here is confusing, as the author tries to do too much in the limited amount of space available.

Personally, I found the maps in this book to be somewhat amateurish. They are hand-drawn, and scanned in such a way as to not be very sharp. In fact, you could say they are downright pixilated.

I chose not to use maps in Chicago Trolleys, since there were so many streetcar lines at one time that a Surface Lines map would look like a plate of spaghetti.  My book did not try to be a route history per se. But there are several maps in the book project I am working on now, and I had to look long and hard to find ones that will be easy to read, and convey the information I want the reader to have. It is not easy to do.

In my humble opinion, the text in such books should be more than a mere recitation of facts.  There are numerous sources for transit facts, such as how the Chicago Transit Authority took over operations of the “L” and surface systems on October 1, 1947 or that the last Chicago streetcar ran on June 21, 1958.  It is an author’s responsibility to provide insight as well as facts.  Yes, these things happened, but why did they happen?  What were the circumstances and influences that made this so?

Whether by sheer coincidence, or otherwise, the last two pictures in Chicago Streeetcar Memories are very similar to the ones that conclude Chicago Trolleys, and show a Chicago PCC and a Chicago trolley bus at the Illinois Railway Museum.

All in all, I was somewhat disappointed in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book. But far be it from me to discourage anyone from buying it, since a book about Chicago streetcars is better than no book at all. Reading is always something to be encouraged, and authors applauded for their efforts at preserving history for the benefit of future generations.

If you are looking for detailed Chicago route histories, I would suggest getting a copy of the third edition of the late Alan R. Lind’s Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History, which will probably remain for all time the best-ever Chicago streetcar book, and the standard by which all others are judged. Since it was published four decades ago, important contributions have been made to route histories by some of the Shore Line Dispatches.

If you are interested in Chicago PCC cars, CERA B-146 is the ne plus ultra, and our intention in writing it was to provide, at least for this aspect, a kind of updated color descendant of the Lind book, which is only black-and-white.

Chicago’s streetcar system was once so vast that no single book could do full justice to it, but we authors must continue to try.

That being said, my own recent work Chicago Trolleys provides an overview, which in my case was anything electric that ran in the Chicago area and used overhead wire instead of third rail. I also cover horsecars and cable cars, which preceded electric streetcars. My intention was to introduce the novice to the subject, while at the same time provide enough new material and previously unseen photographs to entertain even the most diehard railfan. We will leave it to our readers to tell us whether we succeeded.

Whatever my own reservations might be about it, the fact remains that you may still enjoy this new book.

While Chicago Streetcar Memories is not available (yet) on Amazon, you can purchase a copy from either Ron’s Books or the Seashore Trolley Museum.  Expect to pay about 50% more for a copy, compared to Chicago Trolleys.

-David Sadowski

New 1950s Steam Train Audio CDs:

HF-123
The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection

Howard Fogg (1917-1996) was a renaissance man, the dean of American railroad illustrators. But it is not as well-known that he recorded the sounds of steam trains in their waning mainline days starting in 1954.

These recordings were released on four LPs by the long-defunct Owl Records label between 1959 and 1969. They have since become collector’s items.

They are excellent recordings. Fogg knew everybody in the railroad industry, so he had access to railroad towers and places ordinary folks could not get to. In addition, he did his own narration, and had a great voice for it.

The four Fogg LPs are widely regarded as being classics, and the equal of anything put out by the Railroad Record Club. The titles were Power of the Past!, The Talking Giants, All Steamed Up! and The Big Steam…, Union Pacific.

These “orphan works” have been digitally remastered for the 21st century and are now available on a three-CD set for your listening pleasure. Railroads covered include the Baltimore & Ohio, Grand Trunk Western, Nickel Plate, Detroit Toledo & Ironton, Illinois Central, New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Colorado & Southern, Rio Grande, and Union Pacific.

Total time – 174:59


HD
Highball
Doubleheader
# of Discs- 1
Price: $14.99

Highball, narrated by Jim Ameche (Don Ameche’s brother), was originally issued in 1959 on LP by a long-defunct record label. Railroads featured include Colorado & Southern, Great Western, Santa Maria Valley, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. Bonus tracks feature the Denver and Rio Grande Western, Canadian Pacific, and Pennsylvania Railroad.

Total time: 77:08

Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

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34 thoughts on “A Chicago Traction Valentine

  1. Tweaked the color… ​ image561.jpg ​

    On Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 11:16 PM, The Trolley Dodger wrote:

    > David Sadowski posted: ” After our recent forays to the East Coast, part > of a series by guest contributor Kenneth Gear, we are back in Sweet Home > Chicago for this one. Watch this space for additional posts in Ken’s > series. Although we are a few days late for Valentine’s Da” >

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  2. I saw the photo of the interlocking signal at the south end of Armitage. I see that it is set up as a steam railroad (as well as the IRT in New York until recently) signal, where whatever is considered diverging clear has the red on top, with the green signal below. Had this been in Philadelphia, the signal we see would have been reversed here…the bottom green would have indicated a move to the left, while a top green would have aligned with the track switch we see in the photo. My guess is that the photo probably predates 1/21/1963, and that North Shore trains were still running, hence the shiny rails going right.

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  3. The L line car is shown as 3200. It was S200. S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924.

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    • Thanks for the correction. I was trying to read information written on the slide mount by one of those little people from the film Dr. Cyclops (1940). Or, at least the writing was so tiny it appeared that way.

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  4. The Actual name of the CTA dark green in the 1950s was Everglade Green; Mint Green
    was first used on the CTA 2000 series in 1964.

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    • Thanks for the correction. Was there an actual difference between Everglade Green and Mint Green, other than the name?

      Some of these colors were names given to automobile paints, and it is conceivable that two names could be given to the same shade. After all, there was no Pantone color matching system back then.

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      • I read in FIRST & FASTEST (can’t remember that particular issue, sorry)
        that Everglade Green had more gray in it; since color perception varies
        with each individual, to me, Mint Green seems a bit darker & ‘richer’, for
        a lack of a better description, this can be seen at the IRM looking at the
        4000s there comparing them with the 6000s that still have their CTA
        applied Mint Green, as well as the recently repainted 2000 series cars
        there.

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      • There is very much a difference between Evergreen Green and Mint Green. Between 1950 and 1963, CTA used Evergreen Green and Cream. All buses 5000’s to 8700’s came in these colors. 1964 with the 3000’s (and 2000’s L cars) started white and mint green. Standing side by side the difference is quite dramatic. Over time the older Evergreen Green tended to weather lighter and lighter, while the mint green tended to weather to a bluish shade, probably because of the pigments used. Where it gets strange is that in the 1970-71 period, possibly to use up paint stock, a few 5000-series buses were repainted Mint Green and cream! Looked a bit odd, with the dark bottom and cream top! All other repaints were in the new colors of white and mint green, though not all buses (specifically 300’s and 8700’s) ever did get redone, and went to scrap years later in original colors, as their paint jobs still looked factory fresh after 20 years.

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  5. I am confused by the photo of 453 about to make a left turn, which is stated to be from eastbound Chicago Ave. to southbound Halsted, on a diversion around bridge work. I am not very familiar with Chicago, and the routing of the diversion is not stated, but a left turn by an eastbound car would have it then going north, not south. Is that possibly westbound on Chicago Ave. about to turn to southbound?
    I always enjoy your posts, even though I am not familiar with most of the locations. Keep up the good work.

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  6. Love the collection! One thing:

    “CTA Pullman 453 is heading east on diversion trackage on Route 8 – Halsted at Chicago Avenue”
    This is actually heading west on Chicago Avenue , about to cross Halsted (but the photo is looking east). You can see what is now One River Place in the background (as well as Groupon headquarters on far left)
    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8965028,-87.6478456,3a,75y,113.75h,86.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxfAPR02q-kp9gLdjTuL10g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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  7. The E-223 was shipped directly from the CTA to IERM in North Chicago. It was never part of, nor stored with the ERHS equipment in Downers Grove. It was purchased in 1958.

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  8. Regarding car 1812, was the repaint and refitting a possible harbibger of extending the life of some of the wooden cars, only to be a one-off as the decision to phase them out was finalized?

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    • It’s doubtful, as one of the CTA’S stated goals was to get rid of all wooden “L” cars as soon as possible. The last one ran in 1957. New York still had some in use 10 years later. More likely, it was simply part of CTA’s attempt to brand things.

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      • Railcars needed painting once in a while, and I guess a decision was made to use these colors, perhaps because that’s the paint they had available at the time.

        So, the type of paint scheme used really had no connection to what was saved and what wasn’t. The wooden “L” cars were considered obsolete, and the CTA’s only consideration was how to get rid of them as fast as possible and replace them with new equipment that could run on the subways as well as the “L”.

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      • That would explain the paint job, but what about the 6000-style dash mounted headlights?

        Riddle me that, Batman!

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      • That may have been an experiment. In any event, CTA found that the dual headlights at dash level tended to blind oncoming motormen, which is why they changed to a single headlight mounted higher up on the 6000s.

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      • I’m surprised that the CTA didn’t try installing the adjustable sealed-beam headlights in place of the larger dual headlights, like the 2000’s and above. I seem to recall they installed sealed-beam lamps on the 6101-6102 and 6059-6060, albeit in the original headlight housings.

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