NOVEMBER 20, 1937
We had our first trip yesterday in a stream-line Diesel engine train running on the C.B.&Q. railroad from Chicago to East Dubuque, Iowa. One of the officials of the road offered to show Mrs. Scheider and myself the whole train. The last car has a rounded end which makes it like a closed in observation platform. The coaches are decorated in light colors and look extremely comfortable. The chairs have a gadget which lets the backs tip at a comfortable angle should you want a nap.
As we walked through I was surprised to hear a radio going in the coach and I wondered if it was ever possible to please everybody or whether some passengers wished it shut off while others wanted it on. But in these days almost everybody has acquired the ability to become oblivious of the radio if they do not want to hear it, for in almost every household there is someone who likes it to play all day as an under current to any other activity. People were sleeping peacefully on the train while over the radio came some exciting tale. The stainless steel, the way one passes from one car to another with out any division is a decided improvement. I never expected to see so much stainless steel outside my kitchen!
Finally, they asked us if we would like to go up and sit with the engineer for a few minutes. They warned us that getting past the engines would be not only noisy but a trifle windy. However, we decided to see the whole of this train.
We found ourselves with rather dishevelled heads sitting beside the engineer whose keen eyes searched the track ahead even when he said a few words either to another trainman or to us. I looked at the speedometer and for the first time understood why it had been so difficult to walk. We were going at eighty-five miles an hour! The route was zoned, certain stretches were ninety mile zones, others sixty-five, especial care was taken around a new curve. The average of the whole trip is done at sixty-six miles an hour. You realize the speed much more as you sit in the front and watch the track ahead particularly if you are running anywhere near a road and can see the automobiles left behind. Before we left our point of vantage, the engineer explained to me that either his foot or his hand must depress a lever to keep the train in motion. If anything happened to him, a heart attack or any sudden illness which incapacitates him and the pressure is removed, the emergency brakes automatically go on and stop the train.
There was considerable snow yesterday as there is today, but as we passed the farms it was easy to see that this is a prosperous farming country.
We had only an hour in the hotel in Dubuque before I went to my lecture, and so the kind people who came to see me were somewhat hurried. The Girl Scouts said their usual word of greeting almost breathlessly and the Democratic ladies had barely time to present acorsage.
We made an easy connection in Chicago this morning and are on our way to St. Louis.