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Minneapolis Police Department Patrolman Keeps Traffic in Check

To finish out the week today, we have a human interest image dated to September 26, 1947, by the source. In the photo Minneapolis Traffic Patrolman, Ralph Stirratt, appears to be holding a ball while directing traffic at the intersection of Seventh Street and Marquette Avenue. His Harley-Davidson Servi-car is parked next to the traffic light.

At the time the intersection was considered to be one of the busiest spots in the Minneapolis. Today the cityscape has changed, and all of the buildings appear to be replaced by fairly modern structures.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Hennepin County Library.

47 responses to “Minneapolis Police Department Patrolman Keeps Traffic in Check

  1. Thanks for another great photo. That poor Packard is just a banged up old car in 1947. I’m surprised that we don’t see more newer cars or at least well maintained old ones.

  2. Kind of looks that way, but under magnification in a high-res photo you can see it is a ball and three of his fingers are behind it. I think it might have been brightly-colored to get drivers attention. If that was the man’s head he’d be freakish-looking.

  3. I don’t recognize the hood ornament, but the lettering on the front side, the peculiar upside down triangle right above it, and the hubcap below, all show that the car on the right is demonstrably a Packard. I’m not sure of the model, as I never knew that they produced a ‘Special’, but I would guess that the it is from the early 40’s – or thereabouts. Someone else more knowledgeable than I can hopefully give a more definitive answer to its year and specific make that it was.

    • MP,

      The 1942 PACKARD Special was either a Special Six Series 2000 or Special Eight Series 2001; both had a 120″ wheelbase.


    • The Special was the low-end Packard 6 cylinder model 110. The eight cylinder cars had One Twenty, One Sixty or One Eighty scripts on the side. I believe there was also a Super, which fell inbetween the medium-priced 120 and the expensive senior cars… It’s like they wanted to imitate Buick, don’t ask me why… Then, in mid 1941 came the Clipper and after the war the range was very much simplified.

      • I think Packard preferred imitating Buick by going down-market over imitating Franklin, Marmon, Ruxton, Stearns-Knight, Stutz, Duesenberg, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow as bankrupt/defunct luxury car manufacturers. The Depression Era winnowed out a lot of manufacturers at the top end of the market, so Packard was probably looking to sell anything that could amortize the cost of their factory.

  4. Bike cops no longer wear pants like German officers,breeches or Jodphurs for horses.,But heyl,Colonel Klink from Hogans Heroes never did either.

    • Just a sartorial reminder, U.S. Army officers…cavalry, and later, pilots, wore similar breeches too.

      I have a pair I wear when I drive my Bearcat in parades.

  5. Packard named one of the 1941 110 trim levels as the Special which if I recall correctly was below the 110 Deluxe. The Special name was applied mid-way through the 1941 season. For 1942, all six cylinder Packards had Clipper bodies except the convertible coupe and the taxi which retained the 1941 style as did the long wheelbase upper series cars.

    • Thanks for that information. I had never heard of a Packard Special from about that time period only the Deluxe and I know quite a lot about Packards – relatively speaking. Seems to have been a fairly rare car.

      • One supposes management didn’t want the purchaser of a base model 110 feel like his car was just ordinary or showing his frugality, so a ‘Special’ script dolled it up a little.

        • In the automotive world , often words like “Special” (Example: Buick) or “Custom” (Ford) were used on base or lower equipment models for the reason you gave.

    • The only discernible feature I can see is the tail-light which is the ‘streamlined’ light used from 1939-1946. The Servicar was designed to be a workhorse so municipalities expected them to last. The Servicar was the most expensive Harley-Davidson in the standard catalog. Of course you could spend a lot more on a Big Twin with a sidecar, and tons of options (which would delight a dealer) but not many bikers were looking at S-Cs as a daily rider.

  6. I really like the breeches and Puttees the cop is wearing. Those are not boots but high top shoes with leather puttees.
    My dad wore the shoes and puttees as a taxi driver in the mid 20’s. Aviators wore them in the open cockpit days along with motorcycle riders.
    Thanks for another great pic.

  7. I’m always impressed by the well-dressed people of that era. Most of the men in suits or suit clothes and the women in dresses. I think there was much more pride in personal appearance then, than there is today.

    • I agree with that thought, Tom. Now, dressing down is the new dressing up. When did it start, the late-1960s maybe? I think President Kennedy was the last President to wear a top hat if I remember right, and people used to actually dress up to fly or take a train. Both men and women wore hats, and by hats, I mean hat-hats, as in brimmed hats and fedoras for men, not a dirty baseball cap turned backward with an overly-curved, fraying brim. It’s the exact opposite for travelers now, no more dressing up, comfort is king. Who cares what you look like or what anyone else thinks, just put on your baggy sweat pants, a sweatshirt, and flip-flops – and both sunglasses and “ear buds”, of course, worn at all times inside and out. I really, really miss the era of seeing well-dressed people in public.

  8. From the period when train travel was still somewhat appealing and the major railroads had ticket offices in larger cities. Note the Milwaukee Road office. An old city directory would identify the corner.

    • Hi Robert, truth be known, train travel is making a slight comeback. Living in Colorado, a visit to L.A. to see my kids is a trembling task, yeah, Mr. Truck Driver for 35+ years, is afraid to go to L.A. Not afraid, just rather not. The train is a viable alternative. I don’t do well at airports, as with many others fed up with those shenanigans, I priced a train, $168 bucks from Denver to L.A.. Several glitches, though, it takes 30+ hours ( I could drive it in half that, easy ,for the same cost as a rental car) have to switch trains in SF, and I’m told, AMTRAK uses other peoples rails, so freight trains have the right of way, and delays are surely possible. Also, I heard, this time of year, the windows are so dirty, you can’t see out, but it’s a much more relaxing way of travel, and you don’t have to worry about falling out of the sky.

      • Amtrak does mostly use other lines’ rail (they only own something like 2.5% of the rail they operate on, and that’s entirely in the Northeast Corridor). However, legally the freight operators are required to grant right-of-way to passenger trains; that law’s been in effect since 1973 as part of the agreement to allow the major railroads to end passenger service. This past June, the Supreme Court cleared the way for Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to establish metrics for what’s considered acceptable performance by the freight railroads in granting priority to passenger trains. That case had been working its way through the legal system since 2011, with the Association of American Railroads suing to prevent such metrics from being permitted.

        • Your reference to the SCOTUS decision last June was noteworthy. After about 40 years of railroading I retired in 2006 as a train dispatcher for a class 1 railroad. This incentive in our office for keeping Amtrak on time was going home with the same amount of flesh in certain posterior regions of one’s anatomy that he/she came in with. Other railroads didn’t give a rip I can assure you, hence, the need for the FRA intervention. Thanks for the update.

  9. I always found Packards to be easy to recognize. They always featured a version of their “horsecollar” grille, a spear on the side and a red hexagon on the hubcaps. On this model the spear looks like a triangle above the “Special” logo.

  10. The Milwaukee Road train depot, I remember traffic cops were mostly bikers and wore uniforms like that. The “ball”, I believe is the kids fathers head with a cap on, and I don’t mean to challenge David, but how do you know that trike is a H-D and not an Indian, like I wondered on the Hollywood car wash post? From the back, they look very similar.

    • From the general overall look of it and the styling which is somewhat different. The H-D having a “springer” front end instead of a “girder” the Indian uses has a distinctive front fender shape.

  11. The Milwaukee Road ticket office in the background has signs advertising “Football Trains” just in case you were interested in a weekend trip to follow the U Minn Gophers.

      • Well John, the Milwaukee did go to Green Bay then. It was on their old Superior Division. Would have been a long trip though…Twin Cities to Milwaukee, then Milwaukee to Green Bay.

        • It would have still likely have been a long trip as I’m pretty sure the first trip listed is to Champaign-Urbana (U of IL) and the second (less confident here) is to West Lafayette (Purdue) in any case it does say “Follow the Gophers!” at the bottom, so unless the Packers have changed their name….

          • Wikipedia to the rescue! Right on the U of I game, but the second would have been Michigan at Ann Arbor.

  12. The streetcar tracks caught my eye. I wondered whether they were still in service. There’s quite a bend in the rail directly below the Packard’s bumper.

      • June 9, 1954 was the last ride of the Twin City Rapid Transit. Ninety-one of their trolleys were sold to Mexico City and they ran until 1984. Some others were used in the Newark City Subway before being sold on to Cleveland (the Minnesota Streetcar Museum has one of those cars).

        I haven’t found a 1947 line map, but in 1946 trolley lines 4 (Nicollet – 2nd Street NE) and 5 (Nicollet – NW Terminal) went down Marquette. 7th Street was a bus route than ran from roughly Glenwood Avenue across the Mississippi River and off the map.

  13. The block in the background was replaced by the 57-story IDS Center, completed in 1972. It is the tallest building in Minneapolis (and Minnesota). The opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore Show has scenes filmed inside and outside the IDS Center.

  14. “ To finish out the week today, we have a human interest image dated to September 26, 1947, by the source. In the photo Minneapolis Traffic Patrolman, Ralph Stirratt, appears to be holding a ball while directing traffic at the intersection of Seventh Street and Marquette Avenue. His Harley-Davidson Servi-car is parked next to the traffic light.”

    Closer examination reveals that’s NOT a ball in the policeman’s hand, but the perspective-shrunk bald head of the guy on the sidewalk behind him. Look closely…

    Bart Brown

    Sent from my iPad

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