Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Kid in Upper 4

In my July 27th Blog I wrote of the strange meeting that I had with an old friend and co-worker of my fathers. He had actually been at the hospital when I was born and was the inspiration behind the World War II advertisement for the New Haven Railroad called "The Kid in Upper 4". (I mistakenly called it "The Kid in the Upper Bunk" in my blog.)
I have since found a picture of it and will show it here along with the text.
"The Kid in Upper 4"

"It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake ... listening ... staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.

Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things - and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop ... the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway ... a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often ... that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station ... the mother who knit the socks he'll wear soon.
Tonight he's thinking them over.
There's a lump in his throat. And maybe - a tear fills his eye. It doesn't matter, Kid. Nobody will see ... it's too dark.

A couple of thousand miles away, where he's going, they don't know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.

Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand enroute - it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you - it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner - it is so he ... and thousands like him ... may have a meal they won't forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.
The New Haven R.R."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...this was great, Ginnie. I had to go back and reread what it actually was. I thought perhaps it was a article in the newspaper. An advertisement for the RR? Amazing! So poignant and well done. AND I must say....very timely for today's world as well.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I really enjoyed it!

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This advertisement inspired me to open an advertising agency, and later, to shift careers and go into talk radio. Thank you for posting it - it hearkens to a time when patriotism was a given, when copywriters were copywriters, when men who sought meaning could find it even on the bulkheads of a commuter train.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice of the advertiser not to mention that the kid in upper 4 might never come home again. This sort of nostalgia during the war helped a lot to keep americans from undestanding what they were sending their boys to. Using the war to help sell product is another gloss that should not be overlooked. Wotta' country.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This particular advertisement was the specific inspiration for artist Bill Phillips, who just released reproductions of a new painting entitled, "I Will Hold You In My Dreams."

It was a different railroad, and probably a different year but those of us who remember just a little of those times also recall the sacrifices at home and overseas endured by all. You can see Bill's painting at:


3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across the original article "The Kid in Upper 4" (half of it) but it has the author's signature at the top Ronald R... not sure of the full name the initials look like a.i.(maybe?) Can you tell me more about this article?

9:21 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Hi Jennifer: I'm not sure of what article you are referring to. The person who actually wrote the ad was my Dad's friend Nelson Metcalf, Jr. who was 29 in 1942. After I met Mr. Metcalf again (years later in Pinehurst, NC) he sent me a copy of an article he'd written in 1992 for the "Harvard Magazine". It describes in detail how the ad came about, who the illustrator was...etc.
I'd be happy to fax (or mail to you) a copy of his article if you are so interested.
My dad set the type for the ad so it's always been a matter of pride for us.
Thanks for your interest. Ginnie

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ginnie, I too would like to learn more about the provenance of the ad. cyrustelk at hotmail dot com is my email... Perhaps I could send you a SASE ?

11:31 AM  
Blogger Dan Zimmer said...

The artist was Edwin Georgi, a famous advertising and magazine illustrator of the period.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Trishymouse said...

Just learned about this today as this ad was featured in Journey Stories, a traveling exhibit part of Museum on Main Street out of the Smithsonian Institution, here in rural Minnesota. I appreciate your information very much. Thanks for sharing!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today I bought a vintage (1942)WWII prayer book for soldiers and sailors, distributed by a church in Troy, Ohio. In a pocket in the back cover I found an anonymous, handwritten copy of Metcalf's ad. I am so glad to have found your blog so that I can put it into context. I'll always wonder what happened to the young serviceman who was moved by that ad enough to copy it...it wasn't just civilians whom it touched.

8:05 PM  

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