On the off chance you happen to see one, my guess is that an old transit badge either evokes a warm-fuzzy feeling of yesteryear, or zilch! In my case it’s a warm-fuzzy feeling that transports me in time to the 1950s. Back then I would board a city bus with my mother for her weekly downtown shopping trip; and once in a blue moon dear old dad would take me along on one of his occasional out-of-town bus journeys. In fact, it was one of those trips that turned out to be the really big transit event of my life: a ride on a shiny new double-decker Greyhound bus—a Scenicruiser—to St. Louis. My father and I boarded it in Evansville, Indiana, and were seated in the right front row on the top level looking out over the lower roof of the bus—courtesy of a friendly Greyhound driver who was caught up in the excitement of a little boy.
As that big magical Greyhound gently swayed and floated east along local highways my love affair with public transportation was born, and badges—well, let me explain about the badges.
In the days of yore a bus driver’s uniform had real class, something akin to a fireman’s or policeman’s uniform. The crowning jewel of that uniform was the driver’s badge, which was almost always worn on his hat. Back then a bus driver’s hat wasn’t one of those cheap baseball type things that every other yahoo seems to wear nowadays. No, I’m referring to a classy example made of wool and leather with a braided band running across the top of the bill that bus drivers, train conductors, taxi drivers, policemen, firemen, mailmen and even the guy who delivered your milk once wore. Such a uniform inspired confidence, and on a bus driver you knew you were in the hands of a real professional.
Now hold on! I’m not trying to insult anyone here; it’s just my lament that, like so many things in our current throw-away society, class has been left in the rear view mirror by today’s public transit agencies. But things are what they are, which brings me back to those wonderful transit badges of bygone days.
Okay, I’ll admit it: I am a collector with eclectic interests (antique telephones and old crucifixes are among the things that catch my eye). The desire to find yesterday’s odd little treasures has seen me spending countless hours scrounging around flea markets, yard sales, antique stores and, starting in the early 1990s, on-line auctions. All-in-all I have no complaints about my collecting experiences, except when it comes to transit badges.
Coin and stamp collectors have oodles of webpages, books and magazines to help them along; antique telephone collectors have no less than two major organizations and countless books for information; even collectors of transit tokens have a place to go and two big hard-bound reference volumes. (By the way, those collectors are called “vecturists” and they have their own association: American Vecturist Association.) But, when it comes to collecting transit badges, there’s nary a jot or tittle to help out!
In other words, if you collect transit badges you are on your own. That’s always been a minor irritant to me which is one of the reasons I started this modest webpage. Alright, so maybe it won’t be one of those big Internet success stories; but maybe, with some help from fellow eclectic collectors, a small hole will be plugged in the collecting world.
My name is Darrell and I invite other eclectic collectors to send along any questions, advice, photos, information & corrections so we can make this webpage “the” place to go for others like us!
POST SCRIPT: As you explore this web site, please keep in mind that it is a work in progress, which means that I’m daily adding more information to what’s here. My goal is to keep adding bus/streetcar/trolley histories until I have all known North American companies from ca. 1900 through 1970 (give or take a year). That’s likely an unobtainable goal since in 1930 alone there were 3520 interstate bus companies operating in North America with 14,090 vehicles running 318,715 route miles, which translated into 7.5 billion passenger miles. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot, so stay tuned!
And one more thing:
Before I pipe down, let me state that I take full responsibility for the accuracy of my research, any grammatical errors, “missspppelleed” words, puns and occasional editorializing, and to make it clear that these in no way reflect on those who have generously contributed to this work. Oh, and since I’m not being paid by someone to research and write this stuff, I’m going to indulge my colloquial instinct and write as though you and I were sittin’ barefoot in a porch swing passin’ the time of day!
(PLEASE NOTE: THE BADGES AND INFORMATION ON THIS SITE ARE FOR REFERENCE USE ONLY. WE DO NOT BUY, SELL OR TRADE TRANSIT BADGES! The purpose of this page is to share information about collecting transit badges. All photos and artwork displayed on this site are from personal collections and are used by permission of the owners, or are in the public domain. If requested, we credit badge photos to the owner. We gratefully welcome additional information and/or corrections, questions, comments, new badge entries and especially badge photos. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.)
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