The Railroad Advertising Cat

Part Three: The Chessie in the 1940s

Most of the calendars printed in the 1940's showed Chessie and her family's concern and sacrifices for our country. These calendars are the most popular and sought after promotional items today.

The 1940 calendar showed a contented Mom and her two small kittens snuggled up and asleep in Chessie's No. 9 upper berth. Peake, laying above them in a hammock, is quietly keeping guard over his little family.

The 1941 C&O calendar shows Chessie contentedly sleeping against a blue sky full of stars. This picture was used to depict the C&O's prayers for peace and solidarity in an otherwise troubled world.

In 1942, Chessie and the C&O turned their thoughts to the fighting men in the war. Once the U.S. entered WWII, Peake, who dearly loved his country, promptly enlisted in the military. Alone in his army visor cap, he graced the 1942 calendar.

Chessie also devoted herself to the war efforts while Peake was away. Chessie, destined to stay at home and look after the twins, graced ads selling Defense Bonds. She also did her best, through magazine ads, to show the public how the railroads were contributing to the war effort by moving men and equipment.

The 1943 calendar showed Chessie sleeping on a train's floor so that a soldier could sleep in HER berth. In the 1944 calendar, we again find Peake far away from home, dressed in military gear and ready to fight. He is taking one last look at his favorite "pin-up girl" and rereading one of Chessie's letters to him.

The 1945 calendar shows Chessie dreaming of the return of her hero. After the war, Peake who was obviously wounded but proudly displaying his medals, heroically returned home. The 1946 calendar shows Chessie's family being reunited. In the background, you can see a torn Japanese flag.

After the war, Chessie and her family continued to advertise the ever changing C&O System. Demand continued to exceed supply of the new calendars, even though the C&O printed large quantities. The public was so enthralled with Chessie and her family that they even offered her presents in exchange for her calendars.

In 1947, over 250,000 calendars were given away. This calendar shows Chessie sleeping under a Christmas tree while the twins played with a model of the C&O's new sleek turbine locomotive and its lightweight stainless steel cars.

In 1948, the C&O printed 425,000 copies of its yearly calendar as well as a small pamphlet showing each of the calendars published in the previous years. As with most of the early items promoted by the C&O, this pamphlet has become a much sought after collector's item. The 1948 calendar shows Peake and the twins watching a new C&O streamliner flying down the tracks.

Part Four: Chessie Collectibles
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