In an email to me, my dad had this to say about his own days on Amtrak, commuting four days a week from Philadelphia to edit Travel Holiday magazine:
I remember the rag trade crowd from my own Amtrak days. Some of them can complain longer and louder than anyone I’ve ever heard, but they’re great in emergencies — pushy, funny, indomitable. One day, a young kid got separated from his parents in the Newark station and got on the train by mistake, leaving his parents behind. How scary can that be? The conductor, a grumpy Italian we called Toscanini, wouldn’t help the blubbering kid, so the garmentos stepped in, locating a cell phone (those were the early days of cell) to call Newark station and get word to the parents, calling ahead to Metropark to arrange for someone to meet the kid, comforting the poor lad, etc. etc. It was a combination of commedia dell’arte and Yiddish theater, which pretty much represented the garmentos’ ethnic milieu. I still see some of them at fashion events at Drexel. It’s like seeing college classmates or army buddies.