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Rudy's Stories
Rudy Brandt was a motorman for the Market Street Railway during the war years of 1942-43. Often he was assigned to the San Mateo Interurban. In late 1943 he joined the Pacific Electric. Below are a series of short vignettes of Rudy's experiences as a 40-line motorman.
The Wandering Shelter

Lindenville was a World War II naval housing project built along the 40-line south of South San Francisco. A small shelter was built to serve this development.

As my southbound 40 neared Lindenville, Halloween 1943, much to my surprise, the shelter had been placed on the southbound track. While my conductor left the car to telephone the barn for help, I "enlisted" a group of onboard Navy Seabees to lift the shelter to the side of the tracks. By the time the railway came to our aid we were heading down the private right-of-way toward San Mateo.

Returning from San Mateo, I discovered that the Lindenville shelter was now on the northbound track! Since we had no Seabees to remove the shelter I called the Geneva Car House for help.

The guy at the barn yelled to me on the phone, "Rudy, what the hell have you been drinking? I sent the crew down and there was no shelter on the tracks! What Gives Now?" Finally with the help of the Geneva work car we got the shelter clear so we could continue toward Daly City. 

The Night the Police Rode

Sometimes the Navy boys from Tranforan Naval Base at San Bruno would stir things up. Heading northbound at early dusk with a crowded car of naval personnel we had a small fire. The local fire department was called to put out the fire. I decided, however, to keep the 1225 "in service." It turned out that the only light that would work after the fire was the headlight. In the darkness, the sailors started to "whoop it up." In almost no time a full-blown party was going on. The noise was getting louder by the minute. 

By the time the car got to Daly City, enough residents had complained about the noise that the police stopped the car in its tracks. All on board, including myself and my conductor, were placed under arrest. Eventually a Sergeant came and asked, "What's going on?" The arresting officer stated the problem. The Sergeant asked the officer, "What are we to do with this car?" It was decided to have the Daly City police ride the car to the county line. At the county line a San Francisco police officer boarded. He rode to the terminal at 5th and Market Streets where he asked me, "where is the car now going?" I replied, "to the Geneva Car House." At the Geneva Car House the officer let myself and my conductor "go." As he vanished into the night he yelled, "I enjoyed the ride."

The Hide-A-Ways

The Railway always had an inspector (to control scheduling) stationed at Mission and Onondaga Streets. One night Mike the inspector had a dilemma. A car and its crew were missing! He jumped onto my car and announced that he would ride with me until he spotted the wayward trolley. We went all the way to 5th and Mission Streets without a sighting. As we headed outbound, an idea came to me. As a railfan wartime replacement I knew the physical plant of the Market Street Railway. I was aware of "dead" trackage that could be used for hiding--the old "quarry spur" at Daly City. At the junction with the spur I stopped the interurban. Mike and I rapidly walked up the short spur track. We found the missing car and crew. The crew had their bottles and "women of the night." The sight did not amuse the inspector. Railway careers ended.

A Late Night "Extra" To San Mateo 

A full load of peninsula-bound passengers was on board when we left very late from the 40's downtown San Francisco terminal at 5th & Market Streets. Both my conductor and I had worked past the end of our shift. 

At Onondaga, Mike, the inspector, hailed me. He instructed me to drop my passengers off at Daly City. "They can take a Greyhound bus the rest of the way to San Mateo." I knew that my car was supposed to run all the way to San Mateo. Besides the passengers had already paid their fares. When I told Mike that, "I am going to take my passengers to their destinations," he threw a fit. "You'll never get that far!" Off I went leaving Mike cursing.

My detailed knowledge of the line now proved useful. At the Millbrae Substation I brought my 1225 to a stop a few feet short of the circuit breaker. Climbing off my car I walked to the door of the "sub" and knocked. A startled stationary engineer opened the door. It was now my turn to issue instructions. "Turn the power back on the San Mateo overhead." "The last car had already passed," he quickly countered. "No, it was right outside full of people." Grumbling he went and turned on the power. Soon we were on our way.

At San Mateo everybody left the car. Since no cars were behind us my conductor and I went and had dinner. "Hell we were hungry!" Bad move. Much later we pulled into the Geneva car house. The Division Superintendent McDevitt greeted us. McDevitt said, "I don't mind you taking the people home." "But dinner" an angry Mc Devitt screamed. He wanted to write me up. 

The Bull by the Horns

Ground fog would often slow the line during the late fall. Outlined in the fog as I approached Millbrae was a bull on the track! I had only one choice. I slammed on the brakes. Fortunately, I was running car No. 1229 the only car that had air horns besides the clatter gongs and whistles. I blew the air horn repeatedly hoping to scare the bull off the tracks. The bull answered the blasts of the air horn with his own threatening bellows. 

It was a standoff between interurban and bull. Eventually the bull tired of this game. He charged full force at the 1229 knocking himself out and breaking a horn. The bull had escaped from the Millbrae Diary and the dairy's vets were called to tend to the still dazed bull. No. 1229 again crept into the fog.

Go Jump in a Lake

The 40-line crossed Mission Road at Holy Cross Cemetery at an oblique angle. I was going southbound to San Mateo. Unfortunately, I did not see a parallel southbound auto on Mission Road. At the crossing my interurban sideswiped the auto sending it out of control. When the auto finally stopped it was a few feet shy of going into a nearby lake.

Back at the Geneva car house I was ordered into Division Superintendent McDevitt's office. McDevitt gave me a royal bawling out. McDevitt decreed that I was a conductor. My days as a motorman were over. I did not want to conduct. "Nothing doin McDevitt" Unknown to him I had a letter of acceptance in my pocket from the "Queen of Interurbans" the Pacific Electric. The Market Street Railway and I parted company.

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