1940s Archive

Along the Boulevards

Originally Published April 1947

This is in the nature of a very brief report on Mexico.

For that traveling category that fares by land, there are available the international trains running from St. Louis by the Missouri Pacific Railroad with through cars from New York via the Pennsylvania and New York Central, and the traveler's own motorcar.

The overland trip by train is entirely agreeable, albeit slow: three full days and four full nights between New York City and Mexico City, with all types of room accommodations available and excellent diner service provided on the portion of the trip handled by the Missouri Pacific and the National Railroads of Mexico, although as much cannot be said for the diner service out of New York on either the Pennsy or the Central. The food served on diners after crossing the border is, in fact, provided by the Missouri Pacific and supervision is by a Mopac steward, but the staff of waiters is changed to Mexicans of an extremely agreeable and obliging order, and Mexican dishes make a somewhat timid appearance on the menu. Considering that the journey through Mexico from Laredo to Mexico City is not a particularly attractive one whether by road or by rail, there is a great deal to be said for the solid, comfortable progress by Pullman with its opportunity to loaf and sleep. The catch is that most people will want their cars once they have got into Central Mexico.

Perhaps the overland trip by highway is possessed of an added attraction because, when traveling this way, the multiple attractions of Mexico burst suddenly and most gratifyingly upon the consciousness of the traveler. Almost in an instant the tourist becomes aware of the friendliness, courtesy, and other dramatically un-American aspects of foreign travel, and of the contrast between the squalid tourist attractions and rancid commercial hotels of East Texas and the spacious, comfortable and magnificently managed tourist hotels of Monterrey which he first encounters south of the border.

It so happened that the last stopping place of this department in its southward progress through Texas was a boom town called Corpus Christi, much in vogue with the haut monde of Texas oil riggers' wives, where the unpaved streets, hub-deep in red mud, boast more one-way signs and preposterous traffic regulations than can be found in all Manhattan, and where, in the resort's most monstrous hotel, whose architecture might conceivably have been appropriate in Detroit, a clerk allowed he might consider taking reservations for eight weeks from that time, but for tonight—how absurd!

In Monterrey, the Gran Hotel Ancina was also, at the moment, full to the guards, but a well-mannered clerk regretted the circumstance extremely, refrained from making cracks about how long it would be before the management would condescend to treat a cash customer in the manner of Corpus Christi, and asked if he might be permitted to call some other hotels in the interest of getting us lodged. A room at the Colonial was forthcoming instanter, strictly on a luxury basis with open fireplace, steam heat, French windows, and glassed-in shower, prices plainly posted on the wall at $3 a day double, American money. And the clerk at the Colonial seemed very glad to have guests.

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