National Postcard Week
May 5-11, 2013
Courier-Nurse on The El Captain and The Chief trains with the Santa Few Railroad.
The Courier Nurse was equivalent of the early airline stewardess. They were registered nurses, young, attractive and wore colorful uniforms. The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad used them on the two most heavily traveled chair car trains, the El Capitan and the San Francisco Chief. The role of the nurse was to help with passengers who became sick en route, elderly passengers needs and mothers with babies and small children. With over 400 passengers on the El Cap during the peak periods, the Courier Nurse was kept busy.
Out of 4,000 candidates, a select few were chosen to be Courier Nurses. On May 5, 1940, my mother Elizabeth (Betty) Widen (Shumway) made her first run on the Santa Fe Railroad between Chicago and Los Angeles. She worked as a Courier Nurse for two years on the Scout, and economy train and the El Capitan. Once she helped deliver a baby. Her last trip was in September of 1942
card by Karin Gilbert