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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ralph Waldo Strickland, April 18, 1980. Interview H-0180. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Passenger and freight trains

Many passengers came from the countryside into Charlotte to do their shopping. Strickland explains that the railroad company hired a woman who stayed with passengers' children so that the adults were free to run their errands.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ralph Waldo Strickland, April 18, 1980. Interview H-0180. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LU ANN JONES:
What kind of freight would be going out?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
They had local freights back them days. They had that LCL stuff, that's "less cargo lot." Had these check locals. Course, they had solid car too where there'd be a private load of freight going to a place. They'd always set that off. They had what they called a check local. The conductor had his way built, and he go along up here at Mount Holly and Lincolnton and Cherryville and all them places. If you had a piece of freight, they had one boxcar, a pile of gear, a keg of nails, a bale of cotton or whatever it was, he just set it off there. Go over there on the platform and set that stuff, just deliver it. Back in them days, they didn't have no trucks and these super highways. The railroad companies, they done practically all that freight business. That's before they had these automobiles and these super highways. Now the trucks, they've got it now. Back them days, same way with passenger trains. When I first come here, they had a traveller's aid. They had a colored woman that helped the women with the babies. All these people around, they come from Monroe and Hamlet and all these little towns, they come to Charlotte and shop, come up here and spend the day. Twenty-one get here about 11:00 in the morning, then there'd be 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening, he come going on back yonder. They'd come go to Charlotte. Back in them days, Duke Power had the streetcars on here. There was only 43,000 people here in Charlotte when I come through Charlotte. It was just a little old town. You could get ten blocks from the square up town. Either way, from the and side streets, you done run out of stores. You done run out of business, you'd be out yonder, residential section, virtually in the country. There wasn't only 43,000 people here. This was a small town.
LU ANN JONES:
What did this traveler's aid lady do, the lady who…
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
Martha Worley was her name. These ladies come in, they inquire from her which way to go and where to go. The stores up town, Belk's, Ivey's and all those places up town. She'd tell them where they was and kind of direct them and keep them safe. Tell them what time the train's going to leave and all that stuff. This colored woman, she shelped the ladies. Some of the ladies had small children. Everybody rode the train. That streetcar come down College Street and come in that area. Come off College Street down around that area, down right by the Seaboard passenger station. He'd stop right there. When the passenger train rolled up, all those people get on that streetcar and come on around that area, back up Tryon Street, right on up through the south side all the way through town. Duke Power, they had streetcars back them days before they had any buses or anything.
LU ANN JONES:
Were you friendly with the streetcar conductor…
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
Yeah, I used to know some of them boys that worked on that. I knew Oscar Miller. I knew several of those boys, conductors on the streetcars. Trolley cars, they had the wire and everything.