New in the collection: Transit tokens

Six tokens of various shapes and designs.

“On Monday, the city takes over the bus system. There’ll be a new name, Greensboro Transit Authority, revised routes, some new stops, expanded service and, best of all, a new fleet.

“For the first time since 1934 the Duke Power name won’t be on buses. Before 1934, Southern Public Utilities, with ties to Duke Power, ran the public transit service — whose origin dates to the 1890s when a tired old mule pulled a trolley along Elm Street.

“Electric streetcars came in 1902 and disappeared in 1934. Overhead trolleys became extinct here in 1956. Now, it’s goodbye to Duke’s buses.

“Duke Power leaves behind many memories, good and bad: Tokens, transfer slips, longtime route names such as Pomona-Bessemer and White Oak-Glenwood and those dreadful signs that long ago greeted black passengers when they stepped aboard: ‘Colored must step to the rear.’ ”

— From “Duke Power takes its last ride” by Jim Schlosser in the Greensboro News & Record (Oct. 4, 1991)

Before buses came to dominate public transit, Duke Power also had owned streetcar systems in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, High Point, Salisbury and Durham in North Carolina and in Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson in South Carolina.

But Duke Power held no statewide monopoly, as demonstrated by these additional tokens from Gate City Transit Lines (Greensboro), Shelby Transit, Power City Bus Lines (Albemarle), Safety Transit (Rocky Mount) Gastonia Transit and M and B Transit Lines (Burlington).

Despite its limiting name, Chicago Transit & Railfan offers remarkably detailed information on North Carolina

New in the collection: Carolina Action pinback

Pinback with the words "You and Me versus Duke Power Company" and "Carolina Action"

“From the mid-1970s to about 1982, Carolina Action seemed everywhere in Greensboro. It held press conferences and rallies to demand an elected school board and a district system for electing City Council. It held voter-registration drives. It fought proposed electricity rate and bus fare increases by Duke Power, which operated the bus system then. It took busloads of members to Raleigh to protest the state placing motorists in an assigned risk pool that meant higher premiums….

“Carolina Action introduced to Greensboro in-your-face protesting. It sent City Council member Lois McManus a snake the group said had been caught on a vacant lot the city had failed to maintain….

“By 1981, Carolina Action’s paid staff was gone and neighborhood groups became inactive. One of the young organizers said America’s youth had grown conservative and apathetic, and Carolina Action was having trouble finding recruits willing to work hard for low wages….”

— From “Group raised the curtain on political theater in Greensboro in ’70s” by Jim Schlosser in the Greensboro News & Record (Oct. 5, 2009)



At 65 mph, who needs architecture?

“… In rural parts of North Carolina where roads are small, it’s possible to see the face of a farmer coming towards you in his truck because you are both driving slowly. As often as not he will wave. (Imagine doing that on an interstate highway or a six-lane suburban throughway.) In the 200 or so years before automobiles came to North Carolina, our counties were sized based on the distance a farmer could travel on horseback in a day to pay his taxes at the courthouse, or sell his crops at market….

“Country stores, now usually shuttered, [were] spaced every few miles within walking distance of farmsteads; and country churches [rang] steeple bells at a quarter to 11 on Sunday morning to remind folks they had 15 minutes to walk to service.

“High-speed roads have liberated these older landscapes…. And on the whole, this is better. But as [Greensboro journalist] Jim Schlosser  observed, architecture began to go downhill with the construction of the Interstate…. Since people no longer slowed down to drive through cities, architects designed buildings to be viewed at 65 miles per hour, with a consequent loss of scale, texture, and detail.”

— From  “No One Drove Faster than a Horse” by Raleigh architect Frank Harmon (


Link dump dreaming of Charlotte-style BBQ

— Egyptian billionaire once washed dishes at Raleigh pizzeria.

— Still relying on MSM for your latest UFO sightings?

— Jim Schlosser returns to action with tour of Greensboro’s “ghost signs.”

Dairi-O, R.I.P.