Monday, July 23, 2012

Scenic Train in the Adirondacks - 1940s Style

Last Thursday Cori and I decided to get dressed up in 1940s clothing and take a train ride. This is little adventure is something we've talked about doing for a while now but because of time restraints and a lack of proper vintage clothing for Cori were not able to do. Until now!

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad runs from Saranac Lake, NY to Lake Placid, NY. You can also ride the train between Thendara, NY to Utica, NY. During certain times of the year the train offers special family events and programs. A lot of people on the train and at the stations asked us if we were part of one them. For more information about the history of the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid Railroad or for ticket and event information click here.

The view approaching the Lake Placid train station
View along the tracks
Train station in Saranac Lake
Cori was really excited the food car was selling Cracker Jacks
After the train ride we walked around Saranac Lake for a bit and went to dinner. We bumped into several people Cori knew and who didn't recognize him at first. (He normally has a goatee so people outside of our 18th century reenacting group are not used to seeing him clean shaven.) Through out the day people stopped us to chat. We talked about our involvement in living history and love of history and vintage clothing. A few people were surprised to hear that what we were doing was just for fun. It was great seeing veterans stop Cori and talk to him about his uniform and their military service.

So a little info about our clothing ...
A couple weeks ago Cori and I found a set of vintage U.S. Navy dress blues at an antique shop. And they fit him! We were excited because although we've found Navy pants and jumpers (the blue tops) at antique shops and surplus stores before, they tend to be very small. A good example is the set of WWII blues I picked up last year that hardly fit me! They guy that wore them was tiny. Anyway, we did a bit of research and learned that the markings on Cori's jumper stand for Chief Petty Officer. The patch that looks like little lightening bolts stands for Information Systems Technicians. The three stripes at the bottom of the sleeve represent a minimum of 12 years of service. The reason all the stripes are gold and not red signifies service with good conduct. (Cori joked that he would have needed to enlist at age 14 to have that many years of service.) The jumper came with a set of ribbons but after further research we discovered that the ribbons were Coast Guard and not Navy. That's OK because after a trip to the Army surplus store in Saranac Lake, Cori was able to find most of the WWII era ribbons he needed.

The only item Cori needs to complete his uniform is the black silk neckerchief. Oddly enough, its proving to be a difficult item to locate. If any one has has suggestions on where to find a U.S. Navy neckerchief or has one they would like to sell, please let me know!

My dress, which I posted briefly about last week, was made using DuBarry 2413B. Sorry, no construction pictures. I didn't think to take any. I didn't have time to make a matching belt so I wore a red one I picked up somewhere in my travels. Also my "V" for victory rhinestone pin. The buttons on the dress are new. I had red vintage buttons but decided not to take them off their original card. The shoes are original 1940s purchased on Etsy. I wore them most of the day and found them to be really comfortable.

The little plaid suitcase was perfect for carrying my camera and some other little odds and ends. I figured since I was going to be a train I should look like I was traveling somewhere. :) I had a hat I was going to wear but after pinning my hair up discovered the hat  wouldn't fit my head. Ooops! Actually that was alright because I was pretty happy with how my hair turned out. I still need some practice forming the victory rolls and getting them to look neat. My hair is quiet long and I've found that most 1940s hairstyles are best suited for shoulder length or shorter hair.

Hands down the best experiences of the day were:
Meeting this wonderful family at the Lake Placid train station. The older couple, who told us they were teenagers during WWII, were thrilled to see us all dressed up. It was like having our very own welcoming committee! They asked to have their picture taken with us and of course we said yes. Cori offered his arm to the wife and she grabbed a hold of him with a great big smile on her face. I don't think she wanted to let go! The daughter took us a side and told us how excited her parents were. We really made their day. I guess seeing us step off the train brought back a lot of war time memories. If you are reading this now, I want you to know you made our day too! It's reactions like yours that make what we do for fun so worth while.

The family we met at the Lake Placid train station
The second best part of the day was dinner, and not just because the was the food good. During dinner a waitress came up to us and said "the ladies at that table over there want to buy you two a drink." Cori made sure to tell them he wasn't actually in the service and that we were dressed up just for fun. Apparently the ladies were part of a local theater group and loved our outfits. The just wanted to show their appreciation for what we were doing. How cool is that?

Navy Dress Blues - Big Red Barn Antique shop
"Dixie Cup" hat - Major Plowshares Army/Navy surplus

Dress - Made by me using DuBarry 2413B
Belt and gloves - Thirfted
Suitcase - Gift from my friend Tracy
Shoes - GingerRootVintage


  1. You two look fantastic! What a fun way to spend a day. The pictures are perfect - they look genuinely period! :-)

    It's funny what you say about only being able to find Navy uniforms that are very small. My grandfather was in the Navy in WWII and he too was quite short and very, very thin. Interesting!

    Have you two been to visit the Intrepid in NYC yet? You'd have a ball taking WWII-era "dress" pictures there, and it's a really neat experience.

  2. If you haven't found a neckerchief yet, look online under U.S. Navy neckerchief or navy uniform neckerchief. They are very easy to come by. He'll just have to learn to tie them. Ugh. MM3 Budka USN HD

  3. If you haven't found the dress uniform neckerchief yet . . . look online under US Navy Neckerchief or Navy Dress Uniform Neckerchief. Not really that hard to find. The thing I hated about them was tying them. Ugh! MM3 Budka USN HD


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