By Mike Governale
Gilbert Hunt was a trolley and bus operator for Rochester Transit Corporation (the predecessor organization of RTS) from 1907 to 1948. When Gilbert retired in 1948 the Democrat & Chronicle published a story about him and his impressive collection of Rochester transit passes which he amassed over his long career. That collection is now up for grabs…
That’s Gilbert (above, left) shown standing next to his trolley at Plymouth and Brooks Avenue in 1907. And
this was the story that ran in the D&C on Sunday, February 22, 1948:
Rochester History Reflected In Collection of Bus Passes
Those $1 (oops, $1.20) weekly bus passes come and go, seemingly forever.
The old ones are the plague of the fellows who sweep out the buses every day.
But there’s history in them thar’ heaps of multicolored cardboard.
One man who has been appreciating that fact ever since the first weekly pass was issued Oct. 27, 1934, is a bus driver, Gilbert H. Hunt of 38 Arbordale Ave.
An employee of the transit company for 41 years and a bus pilot for the last 12, he has a collection of all the passes ever issued by either the old New York State Railways or the present Rochester Transit Corporation.
Keys to Remembrance
Well known for his dependability and courtesy by his “regulars” on the Chili Center and Hinchey-Pixley routes, Hunt says he collects the passes “just to look back on and remember what was going on.”
In his fat scrapbook of passes, he has a picturesque record of the “trends of the times” which have affected Rochester through the years.
This record is found on the half of the pass that carries either an advertisement or a poster calling the public’s attention to some event, cause or interesting fact.
The first pass pictured Kodak Park and with two simple words pointed out that Rochester was “Kodak City.”
A year later, the first anniversary of the pass was commemorated with the picture of a birthday cake with one glowing candle.
Through the years the growing community endeavors of Rochester were given repeated attention. Groups such as the Boy Scouts, the American Legion and the Shriners each had stories of accomplishment to tell.
A key to the times was the pass of Oct. 5, 1935, which told where to find choice Rochester rental vacancies.
Then the change came—first the call to defense, then support for the war effort—and the passes faithfully record the appeals.
First of these came on the pass of Sept. 20, 1941: “Join Red Cross 1st-aid class.” Then, on Nov. 1, 1941: “National Defense Work. 1,000 men and women wanted. Jobs available for those who qualify after 10 weeks of intensive training in all-night classes. Board of Education.”
After Pearl Harbor they came thich and fast: “Save their lives—be a volunteer Red Cross blood donor”; “Get your training at National Youth Administration Work Shops”; “Quiet Please! Defense workers are sleeping during the day”; “Buy more war bonds”; “Have you a spot in civilian defense?”; “Win with tin”; “Save Waste Paper.”
Here is the book that Gilbert was shown holding in the D&C article.
A few months ago I received an email from Mr. Hunt’s granddaughter, Carol who holds the collection today. She is looking to find a new home for this impressive piece of Rochester’s history…
My grandfather drove the trolley for 41 years and was a bus pilot for 12 years and passed down to our family a complete collection of all the bus passes ever issued by either the old NYS Railways or the Rochester Transit Corp.from Oct. 27 1934 – April 11 1953. I have no idea what to do with this collection. Do you know where I might be able to sell this collection? Would you like to see it? He was written up in the paper back in 1949 when he retired.
I have no idea how much this collection could be worth. I just know I can’t afford to buy it myself. I have seen individual passes sell online for anywhere from $5-$20 depending on the condition and the artwork shown on the pass. There are somewhere around 1,000 passes – I’d say most of them are in good to fair condition. However, many are glued into a ledger and cannot be removed without damaging them. So they’d likely have to be sold as a set. And I suggested to Carol that the collection not be split up, anyhow.
I also suggested that she donate the collection a local museum or library, but it seems her family could really use the money. So I agreed to post her message here.
If you are interested in purchasing this amazing collection, please send an email to [email protected] and I will connect you with Carol directly.
UPDATE: After seeing this blog post, Gilbert’s grandchildren decided not to sell the collection but instead keep it in the family.
Here is a look at just a few pages (click on any of these images for a larger view)…
Again, if you are interested in purchasing this amazing collection, please send an email to [email protected] and I will connect you with Carol directly.
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Tags: Gilbert Hunt, Rochester, Rochester NY, Rochester Transit Corporation, Trolley and Bus Passes
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on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 at 9:40 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester Subway, Rochester Subway Stories, Train/Railroad Stuff, Transit + Infrastructure.
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Truly a rare peek into history. Many of these paper tickets just don’t last. Awesome to hear the family wants to keep them in the family. Hopefully one day it finds it’s way to a library or museum.