Union Pacific M-10004 - That's One Big Pontiac!mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmGrab Bag

There once were days when associating yourself with railroads was a good thing. I'm not sure exactly when that was, because a review of the literature and personal experience tells me that railroads exist soley to be complained about. Nevertheless, here we have a photo from Shorpy that proves that on least one fine day in 1937, somebody figured that it was OK to intermix being a winner with railroading. Certainly few people have made that association ever since. Here we see San Francisco auto dealer H.O. Harrison (the old guy standing second from left, displaying a squint derived of a massive hangover) and company in Oakland, about to embark upon a reward junket for selling so many Pontiacs during that Depression-era year.

I really can't figure out the picture: Why is the City of San Francisco's M-10004 the backdrop? H.O. Harrison being a car guy, you would think that he would have snuck a '37 Pontiac into the photo as an advertising gimmick. That year Pontiac was pretty cool from just about anyone's standpoint, especially when decorated by supermodels. I mean, look at that Art Deco grill extending along the hood and over the top towards the stylized head of Pontiac (which itself is so striking that part-time Native Americans such as myself have no complaints). KILLER! Perhaps the absence of the car can be accounter for by its being towed prior to the shot at the behest of an unsympathetic stationmaster.

As it is, what we have is proof that avant guard styling did not always work (see also my offering on TrainOrders.com: It's da BOMB!). The M-1004 looks like a puffer fish with a toothache. I must admit, however, that this particular effort still beat out the awful UP angler-fish-like monstrosities that preceded it. Perhaps it was all of that chrome bling decorating the M-1004's puss that won the day. Lord knows that auto people used to love their chrome. Or perhaps it was merely a photo of convenient opportunity, an occasion for Mrs. H.O. Harrison (far left) to show off her new fur-trimmed coat to San Francisco's low-end high-society before heading off to her Aunt Martha's in Ogden. This may explain that ineffectively covered-over WWI-era lacy frump underneath - It still would have been 'to the nines' in Ogden.

And who are all of these people, other than Mrs. H.O. and her husband? Are they all salesmen or salesgirls?* If so, did not child labor laws and the Girl Scout Code forbid underage girls from selling racy cars to old men with lots of money bulging out of their pockets? Well, whatever.

It is sad that the M-1004 ran over Mrs. H.O.'s hat.

*note: Back then, employed women sometimes fell into the all-encompassing category of "men" in instances of group identification, at the same time as individually being labeled as "girls", especially before age 30 and after age 70. Outside of work, women were women, and girls were girls, except when they were married and were simply referred as an appendage, "The Missus". Things are not so straightforward today.