An Advertising Executive Commutes Every Day To New York City!

The other day, alert “06880” reader Rick Davis was poking around the interwebs.

He found a site run by Yale University. It’s filled with photos from around the country, taken in the 1930s and ’40s.

They’re pretty mundane. But their very ordinariness tells a fascinating story about life in a different, simpler era.

A group of shots taken in September, 1941 by John Collier shows the morning routine of an “advertising executive in Westport, Connecticut, who commutes every day to New York City by train.”

Apparently, that daily commute was worth noting.

Check out Collier’s photos. And think about how different — and similar — the commuting life in Westport is, 73 years later.

The home of the Westport adman. (Photo/John Collier)

The home of the Westport adman. (Photo/John Collier)

John Collier Yale archives 1

“A family breakfast at 7:15 a.m., just before the head of the house dashes for the 7:40 commuter special from Westport, Connecticut.” (Photo/John Collier)

A last cup of coffee before leaving for the train. (Photo/John Collier)

A last cup of coffee before leaving for the train. (Photo/John Collier)

The commuter leaves home. (Photo/John Collier)

The commuter puffs on his pipe as he leaves home. (Photo/John Collier)

"Westport commuter arriving at the station for the train to New York City." Not a bad parking spot! (Photo/John Collier)

“Westport commuter arriving at the station for the train to New York City.” Not a bad parking spot! (Photo/John Collier)

 For more from the Yale Photogrammar archives, click here.

19 responses to “An Advertising Executive Commutes Every Day To New York City!

  1. The accessories may have changed, pipe, suit etc, but still driving to the train, wonder if the train was on time

  2. I think this was part of a Life magazine story about commuting from Westport.

  3. Where did you get these photos? That’s my grandfather, Phil Schuyler, my grandmother Jessie Schuyler, my Uncle Phil, Aunt Phyllis and, I assume, my Aunt Betsy with her back to the camera. Maybe my mother, Joy, was away at college? That’s her as a baby in the oil painting on the wall. That’s their house at 4 Over Rock Lane. My only guess is that my grandfather, who owned his own PR firm, cooked up this photo shoot for some reason.

  4. Joyce Barnhart

    I love mundane things like this from history, showing the small details of life. With the adman at the passenger door, I suspect his wife drove him to the station. Notice that the surface is unpaved, must have been some mess when it rained.
    And how super is it that Jono could id his family?

  5. I’m still trying to understand how he (Mr. Schuyler, it seems) scored that parking spot getting to the station in time for a 7:40 train – picture must have been taken on a Saturday morning! Certainly by 1960 (next stop Willoughby) the Westport commuter was no novelty worthy of a magazine story. Great sutff – I agree the photos of everyday life in Westport back then are fascinating.

  6. Of course, I just noticed that he is getting out of the passenger door, and the spot is marked with a no parking sign – must have been a drop off by the dutiful 1950s wife!

  7. Hahahahahaha.

    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Here’s one more from the same series, as he kisses his wife goodbye. It does appear that she’s leaning over from the driver’s seat.

    Terry Sauer

  9. Thanks for unearthing these Dan. And what a treasure for Jono.

  10. Great find and another incredible “small world” story. I knew Phil from my days at the Longshore tennis courts and I did not recognize him here.

    Also, wasn’t he your boss when you were writing sports pieces for the Westport News in high school (and Phil was the sports editor)?

  11. A. David Wunsch

    Dan , thanks for these photos. John Collier was a distinguished photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA ) under Roy Stryker, documenting the effects of the great depression . This was the greatest team of documentary photographers ever assembled in the US and employed such people as Walker Evans , Ben Shahn, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein and Dorothea Lange. A web search will bring up many photos by these people. . Here is a link to Collier’s flickr site:

    A. David W.
    Staples 1956

  12. Next stop Willoughby

  13. Marybeth Stevens

    Marybeth Tormey Stevens

  14. Marybeth Stevens

    Thank you, Dan. This could have been my father, John Tormey, except for the pipe. A bit later, commuters out our way – North Ave. & Easton Road, hired a bus to the station to save gasoline.Perhaps other neighborhoods did as well.

  15. Adam Schwartz '75

    Dan, you’ve opened up a wasps nest! I’ve lived in Burbank, CA for 20+ years and Lockheed pulled out around 1991 so I never really understood completely what Lockheed was to Burbank. But over the past 20+ years I’ve come to know Lockheed IS Burbank, even today. So I did a search on “Burbank” and came up with close to 200 pictures from 1942 all taken at Lockheed. I just posted it on the local Burbank Facebook page and I’m guessing people are going to go nuts over these pictures. Thank you Dan for posting this story. What a gem…