Memories of the New Haven

The apogee of the New Haven, right before the Depression.

The apogee of the New Haven, right before the Depression.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

'The other week I took the Shore Line East commuter rail line, which runs between New London and New Haven. I noticed that the cars were from the old New Haven Railroad, which went out of business in 1968! That the cars are so old testifies both to how sturdy (if now rattling) they are, reminding me of those tough old DC 3 prop passenger planes that were flown for decades by numerous airlines, and to how old so much of America’s infrastructure is. (The official name of the the railroad was, as you can see above, a mouthful. But everyone just called it "The New Haven''.)

The old NH cars also reminded me of the old New Haven Railroad itself, with its stuffy smoking cars, itchy upholstery and, on its longer runs, especially Boston to New York, dining cars where you could even get lobster but because of silly labor rules, you had to put your order in writing.

And then I think of the weary and melancholy commuters, such as the Dan Draper character in Mad Men, sitting and smoking in a New Haven Railroad car and looking sadly out at a platform at a suburban station in Westchester or Fairfield County where a sole man, wearing a fedora and a London Fog raincoat, is pacing back and forth in the dusk.